It's all about family and home right here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How to Clean Your Stove Using Baking Soda

I was joking around with the Hubs that we have come into a DIY Renaissance.  We've been opting to do a lot of things ourselves, things that we have paid to have done for us in the past.  One of them is stove top cleaning.

I admit that I am not on top of keeping a clean kitchen on a daily basis and am guilty of letting new grease pile on top of old grease and letting them hang out for ... weeks.  Below is the before picture.

And below is the after picture.  It's the first pass and I'm okay with it.  

You can see that around the burners the grease is a little harder to clean off.  Compared to what it was like before I'm totally okay with this.

Here are the ingredients you need to clean your stove top without harsh chemicals:

  • Liquid dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda

What you want to do is to make a liquid concoction of half soap and half vinegar.  Sprinkle, spray, or pour it onto your stove where you want to clean.  Not too much because you don't want to flood your stove, but just enough that the surface is wet and will stay wet for a couple of hours.

After spreading the liquid around, sprinkle some baking soda over it and let it fizz.  You want a runny paste like the picture shows below.

Let that sit for a couple of hours then start rubbing the greasy areas with a rag or your fingers.  Wipe everything off and you will have a clean stove.

For harder to remove grease spots, I sprinkled a little bit of table salt and "exfoliated" the area.  Some of the grease spots came off and some stayed.  However, I'm comfortable with the results because this is still a huge improvement from before.

My favorite part about this new cleaning method is that I have all the ingredients I need at home and it doesn't emit any harsh fumes.

That's it!  Happy cleaning, everybody!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hubby's Sugar Cookie Recipe

My husband is our family's designated dessert maker / baker.  He is such a wonderful daddy, always thinking about nice treats our daughters will like (and he probably knows that I bake in my imagination, not in real life).

My husband and I are no scientists but we are absolutely fascinated by space and deep space.  So, in honor of that, here are his Stars, Moons, Planets and Suns Sugar Cookies.

These were two different batches of cookies.  I woke up one day and found the star sugar cookies decorated like this.  It seemed like a travesty to eat them without taking a picture of them and commemorating them to Instagram for all time.  He had cookies for each person.  Awwww!

Hubby's Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together, then add egg and vanilla.  Beat/cream them until everything is incorporated, then mix in the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon before turning it out to knead until the dough comes together.  Wrap and set the dough in the fridge for a few minutes, no more than 20 minutes, then roll out the dough and cut out the shapes.  Bake in 350 degree oven for between 10-12 minutes, until the edge barely turns brown.  When they're ready, take them out of the oven, let them cool on the cookie sheet for a minute before moving them to a rack.

Fresh out of the oven these cookies are so soft and fluffy, they're so good!  They travel well because they're so easy to stack.  These are always a great "snack" to take when we go to our local botanical garden.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May Empties

Another itty bitty empties post. 

Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream
Can you believe it?  This took me 6 years to finish.  I found out during those 6 years that the best way to apply this is with a brush or a damp sponge. For 5 of those 6 years I had been using my fingers. 😶

I think it gave nice light to medium coverage. But as I've gotten older my skin has changed in texture, elasticity, and color and the cream started to look pretty gray against my skin. 

Tarte Eyeliner
Also 6 years old!  Age has not been its friend. It has become clingy and difficult to use against my looser and droopier hooded monolids.  I tossed it out. The black, olive and gold eyeliners are still ok though. 

Dr. Brandt Glow Revitalizing Retinol Eye Cream
It was ok. The Retinol made my skin flakey around my eyes, which I didn't like too much. I didn't see much happening there so I don't really have an opinion on it. 

And that's it!  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Handmade Herbal Soaps

I took a class on making herbal soaps today and I am so pumped up about it. My daughter Gummybear has sensitive skin and I've been wanting to make her homemade organic skincare stuff. So I think this is a step in the right direction.

These are the soaps I made. 

In the lavender soaps above I added almond oil, Shea butter, vegetable glycerin, organic coarse sea salt, lavender essential oil, and julienned rose petals. I was really surprised by how the salt looks like snow against the soap. It looks so decorative but it smells so divine!  I used it this evening on my daughters and myself and am really impressed with how this soap stood up to water. It didn't get soggy and our skin didn't get that tight feeling after our showers. 

The above soaps are what my instructor said were "black soaps."  He explained that they derive their name from the herbs makers mixed into them. He said that with black soaps makers put all kinds of herbs so they could offer a lot of benefits to people, rather than confine the soap to one or two herbs. The herbs darken the soaps, hence the name. 

In mine I put crushed mint, Rosemary, oatmeal flour, Rosemary and spearmint essential oils, Shea butter, almond oil, and vegetable glycerin. I wanted this soap to be refreshing and open up the nasal passages. We'll see how it goes!

The above are soaps infused with apricot kernel oil, vegetable glycerin, shea butter, and grapefruit essential oil. These were actually the left over soap I didn't get to use as the class was winding down. The point of making this soap was to make rose petal soap. 

These rose petal soaps are supposed to be single use soaps. Basically, if you don't like the soaps at public restrooms, you can take your own rose petals (dried or artificial) dipped in soap, and use them to wash your hands. You can toss the rose petal afterwards. 

We also made bath salts!  This is my Rosemary bath salt. 

And this is my lavender bath salt. Too bad that the girls JUST graduated from baths to showers earlier this week. 

That's it for now!  Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

April Empties

Another small empties post. 

L'Occitane Ultra Rich Face Cream
It came out seeming to be thick and ultra rich but once applied and blended out it ended up being not that thick.  I do wish it had been a smidge more moisturizing.  It smelled really nice though. I don't know if I'd buy it but I'd use it again in a pinch. 

Leole Water Drop BB Aqua Makeup
Had this for the longest time.  Finally finished it up and felt so satisfied to say goodbye to it. I remember really liking it several years ago but I think my skin changed so much since then. My skin now is a little darker, drier, and more mature, and I think water makeup is not moisturizing enough for my skin now. Also, the shade is wrong on me and because my skin is drier this makeup really makes my eye area look crepey.  

And that wraps up last month's empties. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

4-Minute Yoga: for Arms

Hi everyone!  Welcome back to my blog. Today's post will be about this new workout I've been doing to keep things entertaining. Before I show you what I've been doing I just wanted to say I've never taken Yoga in an instructor-to-student setting and I am pretty sure I barely know what I'm doing. I'm just a woman who sees these Pinterest posts and tries to do them at home. 

So, here are the poses I do:

I don't know the guiding principle of yoga like this, like if you're supposed to hold these poses for a certain number of breath counts or a certain number of seconds.  I use the Gymboss timer to tell me when it's time to change poses, otherwise I could hold all the poses except the 2nd one for minutes.  That 2nd pose is hard. I can only hold it for 10 seconds in the first round. Every round thereafter decreases by 2 seconds. 

This is how my Gymboss timer is set up for this yoga sequence:

I think I should increase this up to 30 rounds. That will take me up to 6 minutes, so not a bad thing. 

Since I know so little about yoga, I'd welcome any tips or instructions.  

That's it for this post. Have a great day y'all!

Friday, April 15, 2016

6-Minute Workout: Toning and Strengthening Arms

Losing weight and getting stronger is becoming increasingly important to me as Gummybear is learning to walk. In a few short weeks she'll be able to walk on her own and in another couple of weeks she'll be running. I plan on taking Jellybean and Gummybear out to the park much more frequently and I'm going to need to lose some weight, get stronger, and gain a little stamina so I can keep up with them. Cuz let's face it, kids are Energizer bunnies. They just keep going and going and going. 

Because I have almost no time in between working, taking care of the kids, and trying to do some household chores (I've already said I'm not a KIT mom), I can devote 10 minutes or less each day to working out. It's sad, but it's only temporary. For the past 3 weeks I've been doing 5-7 minute workouts, focusing on strengthening and toning my arms. Here's one set of them. 

Above: Arm Lifts

Above: Shoulder Presses (hip swinging optional)

Above: 90 Degree Rotations

Above: 180 Degree Rotations

Above: Dead Lifts and Extensions

Above: Tricep Lifts

Okay, okay, you caught me. I'm totally making up the exercise names but I think the pictures give you a clear idea of what the exercise is. I think my names are better that what the video calls these exercises: Dumb 1, Dumb 2, Dumb 3, etc.  And, by the way, the workouts are from Jung Dayeon's FigureRobics Figure Dumb workout video.

I use 8-pound dumbells and I picked the exercises I wanted to do. I don't follow her 4 sets of 8 reps as in the video. I use a Gymboss (free from the App Store) timer and do 28 seconds of each exercise AMRAP (as many reps as possible) style. 

So, the above is what the Gymboss timer looks like. I've got this set to 12 rounds. This way, I go through all 6 exercises and do it again before calling it.  Boom!  You just did a 6 minute workout! 

Within the first week of doing this I noticed a tiny bit of definition in my shoulders and by the third week I've noticed increased strength. I'm still 35 pounds overweight but I feel really really good knowing I'm that much stronger now than I was at the beginning. 

Have fun with your workouts!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Home Organizing Tips: Functionality is Key

I have been on a Spring Cleaning kick for a couple of weeks. But with 2 kids I have to break big projects into phases because it's just impossible to get everything done at once. Plus, I am spending way too much time on Pinterest and have decided to make some DIY organizers to keep costs down. 

TIP: Organize by Function

When I was in high school and college, I was very neat. I had a place for everything and everything had a place. Anything extraneous could be banished to a single junk drawer and I purged it every year.   

But now my husband and I are working parents and it's really hard to stay as organized as before. We found ourselves accumulating piles of stuff. As soon as we cleaned it off by putting it somewhere we'd accumulate a new pile of stuff. Same story with kid toys. We made a shelf for the toys so certain toys went in certain shelves. But it just ended up with toys getting stuffed into any shelf that had space. It was clearly working only 50%. 

So, right now I have 2 big projects: 1) build a family command center and 2) give the kids their own room. They are both coming along slowly, but at least I've started on both. 

For the family command center, the entire kitchen will eventually be it and I'm a little bit more ahead on that than Project #2. Here's what I have accomplished:

1.  A mail collection box. You can't see it but mail gets dropped through a slot in our door. My husband and I used to pile the mail in places all along the route to the kitchen as well as the kitchen counter. We'd have piles on a toy cabinet, the piano, the dining table, the breakfast bar, and finally the kitchen counter. Now, with this DIY mail box (cereal box, adhesive design paper, 3M Command strips) we have a consolidated place for mail that we can check every few days. Eventually, I will make a couple more boxes for the mail we get for my in-laws and parents. 

2.  A dedicated place for the shredder. My husband used to have to move the shredder out of a closet every time he wanted to use it. This was a contributing factor to the piles because it was such a chore to get it from the closet, make space for it, and clean it before returning it to the closet. Now that it's on our laundry counter (which is in the kitchen) it's really easy to plug in and it's right next to the recycling bin. Most importantly, it's out of reach of the kids. Shredding junk mail has never been easier and we've been successful at keeping piles of mail down. 

3. A landing spot for before and after school jackets and backpacks. I placed this against our laundry wall right next to the door where the girls and I go out and come in from the outside. Since my toddler is toilet training right now, this is the PERFECT place for her backpack. All her wet clothes can go straight into the wash after we get in. For my infant, this is the PERFECT place for her bag because I can get her formula, bottles and pacifier from the dishwasher 2 steps away and diapers and wipes from an under counter cabinet also 2 steps away. I attached the pegs to the wall with 3M Command strips, a godsend!

It's not perfect yet but we're getting there!  In all of this, it's been important for my husband and I to suffer - nay - pay homage to our lifestyle, our organization styles, the layout of our house, and our morning and evening routines to make our home as functional as possible.

I hope this little tip has helped some of you and stay tuned for more because this is definitely a work in progress. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

DIY: Weekly Menu Board Loosely Inspired by Pinterest

Are Pinterest crafts even for real?  It just seems like so much time and effort and materials and money go toward making a DIY project worthy of Pinterest. Here's the inspiration for my DIY menu board. It's so pretty and has planned out dinner items and a grocery list Post-It. 

I don't think I'm that creative with decorations and I really don't want to have to type and print menu items out into little strips, and I am probably too lazy to put in the effort. But I recognize the value of having tried and true recipes ready to go. 

That said, here's my version of a DIY menu board below: 

It is a DIY dry erase menu board magnetized to the fridge. I was telling the hubs the other day that eventually the entire kitchen will be my command center. So why not put the food related stuff on the fridge?  

The dry erase needs some elbow grease when erasing and having recipes on cards could help with head scratching moments when I'm trying to build the menu for the week. But this is better than what I had before (paper and pen) and looks cuter too. 

What I used to make this board:
1) adhesive magnet sheet
2) cardboard
3) adhesive design paper ($3 from Target)
4) clear contact paper. 

Based on the size and shape of the cardboard, cut everything to fit the cardboard with the magnet sheet on one side and the contact paper as the final layer on the other side. 

Our grocery list is from the $1 section at Target and works just fine. It would probably make my life easier if I did have some dinner items on a card or something so I don't have to think so much about what's for dinner. But we'll see. For now I'm pretty happy with this little board. 

Do you want to see what a Daddy's Pizza looks like?

Yummy!!!  Ok, that's it for now. Have a great dinner!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Empties

It's been a pretty dismal month on the skincare side of things.  I'm starting to think that I just want to buy sampled sized products from now on. Throwing caution to the wind I want to have a mini tantrum and yell "I don't care about the value anymore, I just want products I can finish in weeks... Not years!"

I finished ONE product even though I have pictures of 2 products. 

This sample of Glam Glow...  I don't even know what it does or how to use it. First of all there was so little product in the pouch and a huge air bubble that I didn't know if it was supposed to be a mask or a leave on treatment. I assumed it was a mask because it was a little bit gritty. I applied it before I stepped into the shower with the intention to rinse it off at the end of my shower. I swear I wasn't more than 2 minutes into my shower when the baby woke up screaming and my husband came to get me. So I don't even know what this stuff is supposed to do. 

Excuse my chipped nail polish. This product was a birthday gift from my brother in 2010. Yes. I've had this for FIVE AND A HALF YEARS and just finished it. I learned from my mom to keep creams and lotions in the fridge. Anyways, this is a really thick eye cream that I think would work best on mature dry skin. I started using this as an all over face and neck cream just so I could finish it. It is really thick to the point of staying tacky and sticky on my skin for up to 10 hours. I liked it because I felt that it hydrated my skin for 24 hours. I really wanted to be done with it because it sat on top of my skin for hours and turned my face into a flyaway hair trap.  I hate the feeling of hair getting caught on my face or lips because of products I used. It's akin to walking into a spider web for me. Yuck!

Anyways, I'm working hard to downsize so that I can keep just what I need and/or make my own skincare. 

Does anyone ever feel the same as me about products that just never end?

Thanks for reading!  

Easter Productivity, DIY: Raised Bed for a Vegetable Garden

I have been telling my husband that we need to get into the holiday spirit so that we can let our girls have fun childhood memories. So we looked into an egg hunt at the Rose Bowl and planned out the logistics and said we were going to go.... And didn't.

We instead built a raised bed and started planting some veggies to teach our kids how to be "close to the earth" and to help cut down on grocery expenses in the near future. 

This is the raised bed we built. I bought the wood scraps from Home Depot for 50% off for a total of less than $5.  There are 4 2x10x4' fir boards. 

The first raised beds I ever built were a little more complex. This raised bed is held together with 8 3" brackets, 2 on each corner, and 1" drywall screws. 

It really seems like such travesty for an English Major like me to use these National Geographic magazines but they were just sitting around for years, gathering dust and cat hairs and growing those disgusting little silvery bugs.  So I saw this thing on Pinterest where they suggested we use cardboard under the soil to kill the grass. We just subbed it with the magazines. I hope it'll work just as well. 

We centered this clay pot contraption (there's an Arabic name for it but I don't remember what it is) that my husband's cousin gave us. It's a water reservoir that will allow the water to seep out into the soil. Then filled soil around it. 

We planted Swiss chard, kale, radishes, tomato, and watermelon in here. I know Pinterest has lots of ideas for marking what you planted but we had Yogurtland spoons lying around so why not?  

Today, just 4 days after doing all this, the radishes have sprouted!  Awesome!  Now to look up radish recipes. 

My biggest lessons learned: my kids will have just as great of a time being kids as their friends and not everything has to be Pinterest-perfect. 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 4, 2016

DIY: Moisturizing Green Tea Sugar Scrub & The Benefits of Olive Oil

I would not characterize myself as into holistic medicines and remedies but I guess I must be one of those hippy types after all. Whenever I have skin problems I veer towards natural and simple skincare. The motto that applies to 95% of all my problems is: Natural is good and the fewer ingredients the better. 

So, to quickly sum up the skin ailments that are affecting my life I've listed them below as concisely as possible. 

1.  Jellybean's ashy dry skin. 
2.  Gummybear's baby eczema spots. 
3.  The itchy, bumpy, thick rashes on my calves from my first pregnancy. 
4.  Enlarged and clogged pores and dull skin from ditching face routines after having kids. 

This is my DIY moisturizing green tea sugar scrub for the face. I use it to tackle problems #3 and #4. The ingredients are sugar, green tea, and olive oil. As an exfoliant it has done wonders for my skin in buffing away the dead skin cells and even managing to slightly shrink my larger pores. Also, it has helped with clearing the surface congestion on my nose. After using this the left over olive oil locks in moisture so that my skin stays slightly damp and ready for moisturizer. 

I've been getting lazy lately and have used this scrub with Johnson's Head-to-Toe baby wash. I drizzle a little bit of baby wash into a palmful of sugar scrub, then slather it on my face and neck. The baby wash washes everything off but the little bit of olive oil that remains keeps the skin from getting too dry. But it's definitely not as effective as when I use the scrub by itself, so I'd recommend to not skip moisturizer. 

On my legs the scrub has sloughed off the thickened dead skin cells and left fresh skin ready to drink up the thin layer of olive oil I rub over it. Here's the before picture below. 

And here's the after picture below. 

The scrub took off the top layer of flakey skin so that the olive oil could work its magic.  It didn't happen overnight. It was more like a "heal from within" type of thing. 

With my kids, they're tickled by the scrub so I don't use it on them. But I do rub olive oil on their problem spots. It takes a couple of days, maybe 2 weeks, but all of Gummybear's problem areas are cleared up. No rough patches and no flakes. 

Jellybean's dryness is a result of her class being persnickety about washing hands. They wash hands for everything, which isn't a bad thing, but her hands are so dry it's just not natural on a 2-year-old. So I mix olive oil with the baby wash during her shower and I put olive oil on her skin afterwards. The oil absorbs into her skin plumping it up with some moisture and there are no fragrance or preservative ingredients like in traditional moisturizer to irritate her skin or leave bad tasting residue behind. We just started her skincare regimen a few days ago so we have yet to see lasting improvement. But that's ok. 

The thing about natural remedies is that they take time to work their magic but they do work. I hope you all will give it a try. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February Empties!

I love the feeling of finishing a product!  It gives me a great reason to shop my stash or go out and see what else is on the market. I honestly don't know if I want to buy skincare products in bulk to save money because I will grow so bored of using the same thing year after year. However....  I have diapers and formula to buy so hard reality may have to win out again. 

Regardless, here is a picture of the finished products for February. 

My crowning achievement here is the finality, sure as gone, doneness of the Kate Lorraine Collagen Vitamin Creme. This took me 2 years to finish. The reason I bought it was that it was made with placenta (bovine). At the time it was said that the nutrients from the placenta would help rejuvenate the elasticity of the skin. I don't know if it really worked or not but this cream was very moisturizing without feeling heavy. 

The other proud moment was finishing the Stila Lip Glaze in Kitten. Done, done, done!  I'm currently not into lip glosses or glazes or anything of that texture because I can't kiss my kids when I have that stuff on. But in the interest of finishing stuff off I'm wearing this at work, at night when I sleep, and other times when I'm not with my kids. 

I also got a couple of samples out of the way. The Fresh Black Tea Age-Delay Cream felt nice. I could see myself spending money on it. Not sure if it will live up to its age-delaying claims but it sure did moisturize nicely. The other sample was some Shiseido serum.  There was only enough product in it for one use so there's not much to tell.  And that basically wraps this post up!  

I feel really happy about getting back into makeup and skincare, like I've got part of myself back again.  

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Returning to Blogging + KIT Mom

Hi there!  Is anyone here anymore?  I'm coming back to blogging after a long hiatus learning how to be a mom of two under 2!  I've really missed blogging and having my own identity outside of being "Mama."  The thing is I don't think I can keep this just makeup and beauty related because - let's face it - I have no money for splurge purchases and I have barely found time in the morning to do my face. 

So, what am I going to put on this blog?  Life stuff!  That probably will include beauty issues, mommy issues, wifely issues, and anything I need to get off my chest. As a nod to my humble beginnings on the blogosphere my first post after this one will be beauty related (because I have actually finished a moisturizer!).  I don't know if I can commit to a post a week, but maybe a post every 2 weeks. I'll do my best. 

My first order of business is to get something off my chest. I confess right now that I am a mom that does NOT have it together. I take care of and love my daughters, but that's about all I'm doing. I can fix dinner for my family and get dishes done. But as far as cleaning the house?  Doing laundry?  Getting our vegetable garden started?  Nope. I'm barely mustering vacuuming the floors once a month. I just don't get it.  I see other moms at daycare who manage to look presentable at 7:30 in the morning with hair and makeup done and dressed to give power presentations.  Did they wake up at 5 to get themselves and their kids ready?  Because it is chaos in my house in the morning with me trying to get my toddler and infant fed, dressed, changed, and ready to go at the same time. If getting up at 5 is the secret then I guess I'm flipped because I sure as heck do not want to get up before 6. I mean, I haven't slept through the night since the third trimester of my first pregnancy and I am so tired in the mornings that I need all my available time to sleep. I'll say this again: I wish there was a parenting manual on how to be a KIT (keepin' it together) mom.