Thursday, March 5, 2015

Guide to Healthier Baking

I'm not a baker. In fact, I don't enjoy cooking either. But when I do cook or bake, I'm notorious for trying to substitute all fatty, bad ingredients for healthier options. And 9/10 those cookies that I intended to give to the neighbors, were either thrown in the trash because they were so inedible or my kids ate them with that "what the heck are these?" looks on their faces. So instead of trying to wing it anymore (when I do bake that is), I found this recipe substitution guide helpful;

Healthy Recipe Substitutions: Baking 

Read more about these here: 83 Healthy Recipe Substitutions, via Greatist.

Or another thing I am notorious for is starting to bake assuming I have all the ingredients. Again 9/10 I don't. So this is another handy list to reference from All Recipes

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Have To Have: Sweater Shaver

I was complaining to my husband the other day about the annoying lint balls that were surfacing all over our linen couch. Casually he said, "That's no big deal. We just need to shave them off." Certainly I wasn't going to shave them off and run the risk of putting a hole in the fabric so I waited for him to devise a plan. Two days later, an Amazon Prime box showed up with a Home-It Fabric Shaver. So we got to shaving. Within minutes, the fuzzies were gonzo. And my couch looked brand new again. 

We quickly whipped out all my sweaters that have gotten more wear in four months in Idaho than my eight years in Southern California and fought over who was going to get the satisfaction of de-pilling them first. No joke these sweaters were on the verge of being sent to the Goodwill because of the horrendous pills on the front. Five sweaters salvaged within 15 minutes and looking brand new.

So before you put away your winter sweaters for the season or before you toss them because they look old and worn, I encourage you to buy one of these Home-It Fabric Shavers and give new life to old sweaters, sweatshirts, and other home fabrics. 





2nd bin of fuss

You can buy this item on Amazon for $39.99. Description on Amazon: Clothes Shaver safely and efficiently removes pills, lint and fuzz from clothing, upholstery, drapes, blankets, carpets and much more. This fabric shaver safely trims only the top fuzz and suctions it neatly into a detachable bin thereby eliminating pills, lint and fuzz from wool, cottons, knits and synthetics without damaging the fabric. The large 2.5 inch shaving surface makes it fast and easy to use. By using the power cord included with the shaver, you can continuously shave without the hassle of changing batteries. Think twice before discarding your old sweater! American deluxe fabric shaver will restore your clothing and upholstery to a fresh new look quickly and easily.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

8 Things You Think Are Dirty - But Aren't

In contrast to my post about "10 Things You're Not Cleaning But Should Be," here are eight things you might be spending too much time cleaning when you really don't have to be. So before you whipe out the antibacterial hand sanitizer or the disinfectant spray one more time, check out this list of not so dirty places that get a bad rap according to Good Housekeeping

Toilet || There's more E. Coli in the average sink than in the toilet after you flush it, says microbiologist Charles Gerba (a.k.a. Dr. Germ), a professor at the University of Arizona's department of soil, water and environmental science. The seat is especially clean. "There's usually 200 times more fecal bacteria on a cutting board than on a toilet seat," he adds. (Unfortunately, that's not the case for telephones, remote controls, sponges and dishtowels!) Because you "perceive" your toilet to be dirty, you're more likely to clean it, says microbiologist Lisa Yakas, a home product certification project manager at NSF International, a nonprofit public health organization. "Those areas they don't think about are the ones that get ignored." Still flush with the toilet seat down to prevent spraying fecal matter and stash toothbrushes in a drawer or medicine cabinet, says Yakas. 

Coins || Germs prefer soft, moist environments. “Coins are made of metal, and metal has some antimicrobial properties,” says microbiologist Kelly Wroblewski, director of the infectious disease program at the Association of Public Health Laboratories. “They’re not a good place for germs to live.” In fact, copper, nickel, and silver are antimicrobial, says Gerba. “Coinage money, like dimes, nickels, quarters, generally don’t support bacteria,” says Philip Tierno, director of microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center and author of The Secret Life of Germs. “Trace metals like silver, nickel, aluminum and cooper don’t allow survival of organisms. They’re poisonous to organisms.” And like paper money, which has an antimicrobial coating, coins are dry, says Tierno.

Dog Kisses || Slobber can be gross, but it’s not necessarily germy. “The dirtiest things around the house are the humans,” says Larson. “Everything has germs on it.” But not all germs are created equal. “A human bite is much worse than a dog bite,” she adds. “Saliva has antibacterial products in it.” And remember the hygiene hypothesis? Kids may get an immune-system boost from exposure to animals. “Children exposed to greater microbial diversity are less likely to have allergies,” says Wroblewski. “They exhibit better immune systems.”
Your Jewelry || Like coins, jewelry made from real copper, nickel, and silver makes a bad home for germs, says Tierno. That’s especially true for silver, which is less likely to be made of a composite and can actually kill germs. (Some bandage companies have even made products with silver nanoparticles as an antiseptic.) The metal prevents germs from replicating and dividing, says Tierno. So feel free to swap silver necklaces with a friend.

The Backyard || “Dirt is dirty, but that’s different from being germy,” says Elaine Larson, RN, PhD, associate dean for research at the Columbia University School of Nursing. So what’s okay when it comes to kids? According to Larson, “unless there’s a lot of poop from animals,” crawling around in the grass is perfectly safe. “There are lots of bacteria in your garden, but they’re harmless to human health,” says Wroblewski. “It’s germy, but the germs are not pathogenic.” Watch out for sandboxes, though, “because cats poop in them,” says Gerba. “They carry parasites your kids can pick up.” If your child has a cut or scrape, keep him out of the dirt, which “usually contains large numbers of bacteria,” says Tierno. “These ordinarily don’t hurt you unless you have an open wound.” Sometimes the organisms may even produce antimicrobial results.
Door Handles || Contamination is all about “high-touch surfaces,” says Sasha Madison, MPH, manager of infection prevention and control at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. Many people keep them open, which means the knobs stay surprisingly clean. “Doorknobs aren’t touched as much as people think,” says Gerba. And they’re usually made of inhospitable metal. “Bacteria and viruses are not going to live there very long,” says Wroblewski. One caveat: “The doorknob on the [restroom] entrance has more germs on it than the exit,” says Gerba. It turns out that only 67 percent of people rinse their hands with water after using a public washroom, and only a third of those use soap. Try to steer clear of hand dryers, which can spray around germs.
Trash Cans || “Bathtubs are germier than trash cans,” says Madison. “There are many organisms, but they’re not all dangerous.” To sterilize your wastebasket, or anything else, use a disinfectant like chlorine bleach, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. Experts also recommend killing bacteria in the kitchen, where you may not want the smell of these products, with white distilled vinegar. “It’s clear, it leaves a nice shine, and it’s safe for pets and children,” says Duberg. Trash cans are also generally dry (assuming you use a liner). “Organisms can’t survive without water,” says Tierno.
Urine || Yep. That’s right. “Urine is sterile,” says microbiologist Donna Duberg, an assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at Saint Louis University. Feces, not urine, are the problem. That’s why microbiologists worry more about the kitchen and about raw meat, which may contain E. coli and salmonella from feces.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tackle it Tuesday: Get ORGANIZED

Now that the hype of new years dieting and career resolutions has died down some, it's time to focus on our overflowing closets and disorganized cabinets. I know, I know there's never a good time to conquer the clutter but think about it this way -- Your mess is inefficient. It's causing you stress and anxiety. And this dysfunction signals to your your brain that your work is never done causing you to feel overwhelmed and unorganized not just at home but in all aspects of your life. Can this stress be prevented? Absolutely!! But you have to be willing to change some old habits and work at it. Just like anything in life. If you're needing some simple tips on how to conquer the chaos, keep reading...

|| 10 Commandments of Organizing || 

1. Keep like with like. To keep things sensical and logical, you should always put away items with like or similar things. If they’ve put something away in a random place, you're more likely to not remember where you put them which results in overbuying. The end result: you have several of the same things resulting in more clutter and more time needed to organize. Once you've figured out a logical home for them, be consistent in always putting them away where they belong.

2. Think before you buy. Impulse purchases are the death of any organizational system. Buy something? It needs a home. Go through the exercise of planning out every desired item. Where will this live? Do I have room? If the answers are "I don't know" and "No," give it a pass (plus, you'll save money).

3. Everything has a place. Keep it there. And save yourself the frustration by putting it back right after you use it. Save yourself the time moving it from here to there. Do it the first time.

4. Honor your memories - then throw them out. No, I'm not suggesting you toss your wedding dress. Some memories are too sacred, and deserve a place in your home forever. But movie stubs? Old train tickets? If you're amassing a stack of "memorable" paper, it might be time to rethink your saving strategy.

5. Put things away. Just do it. Hang, fold or launder your clothing at the end of each day. Sweep through the playroom and clean up all toys off the ground. This should actually be something you train your children to do every night. That is not your job. Clean the kitchen; don't leave a dish in the sink, clear off your counters. Heaping piles of clothes, toys and dishes is the downfall of many a clean home. I know you're tired at the end of the day but spending a few minutes every evening before sitting down to relax will make your life so much easier in the long run. And allow for a more productive start to the next day.

6. Reuse and repurpose. Being organized doesn't have to be expensive or pretty. You need to get over all the pretty Pinterest pictures that everything has to match. Instead of buying a whole new set of containers or bins, start reusing what you already have, like shoe boxes and toy bins.

7. Command everything. A command center has room for your keys, wallet, bag, and any other day-to-day necessities - and it's the secret behind a super-organized home. You'll never have to search if you get in the habit of leaving them in their resting place.

8. Set a daily routine. And stick to it. Routines are the backbones of organization. If you're taking time every day to put things back where they belong, file your papers, and make your bed, your home will thank you. Ending the day with an organized home is a truly wonderful feeling.

9. Start small. If you're not already an organization master, start with the little things - sorting through papers, setting up a command station - before moving onto the big tasks, like revamping your entire closet organizational system. Enjoy the immediate sense of accomplishment, which will spur you on to bigger and greater future projects.

10. Don't get overwhelmed. Remember that you are in control of you, your stuff and your life. If you set your mind to staying organized, it will no longer feel like a chore. Feeling stressed? It's okay. You're allowed to take a nice, long break.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Uses For Old Things: Mug Rack

14" tall stainless steel mug tree; $25 Crate and Barrel. 
I love re-purposing old things in new ways! Thanks to HGTV, here are three clever ways to use a mug rack or "tree" to organize some loose ends around the house. Their "branches" are perfect to hang objects. 

Jewelry: No more tangles when you hang your everyday jewelry. 

Original source: HGTV

Scissors: All kinds of cutters can fit neatly on the pegs. 

Original source: HGTV

Ribbon: Slide on the spools and you can cut off pieces as you need them. 

Original source: HGTV

Other items you can hang; washi tape, rubber bands, keys. If you don't want to spend a lot, hit up your local Dollar Store. They usually have wooden ones there that you could paint to match any room in the house.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Design 101: Everything You Need to Decorate Your House

We are currently in the early phases of building a home and it's become all consuming. I don't know how anyone ever did this without the inspiration of Pinterest or the Internet. I came across this fun, informative decorating article in Architecture and Design that I thought was worth passing along. Some of the diagrams you could do without but some are fantastic. 

One of my favorites - How to Decorate a Mantel. But I also liked the one on how to style a bed, the rug size and placement diagram, and picking the right paint. I mean, c'mon how many times have you stood at the paint counter with glazed eyes when they ask if you want eggshell or semi-gloss? Thanks to this handy diagram, you'll look like a pro! 

Honey and Fitz

The simple “formula” to creating the perfect mantel vignette lies in creating a visual triangleSteven and Chris show us the way with 5 easy steps.
#1:  Center a large piece (art or a mirror) on your mantel
#2:  Add something with movement to the left.  I struggle with understanding what “movement” means exactly but I think it means a pairing of items in varying height that cause your eye to bounce between them (hence movement).
#3:  Add something with visual weight on the right (to counterbalance the movement element on the left). See…a triangle is forming.
#4:  Layer in a couple of additional framed pieces in a cluster.
#5:  Balance that on the opposite side with a couple of accessories (books or decorative boxes) in a cluster of varying heights. 

How to Style a Bed

Rug Size and Placement

Burlap and Lace

Choosing the Right Paint

Kirsten and Danielle

For the entire list, click HERE.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meals on the Go: 25 Three Ingredient Smoothie Options

Fire up your blenders, folks! While smoothies aren't anything new, they are a quick and convenient way to get a blast of nutrients, including protein, carbs and vitamins A, B, C and more. Thanks to the Daily Burn, here are 25 three ingredient smoothies that are nutritious, energizing and sure to satisfy every type of craving.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sweet Sunday: Festive Valentine's Day Desserts

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without sweets for your sweeties. This year shower your little ones with love by making them an extra special homemade dessert. Whether you’ve got ten minutes or two hours to spare, we’ve got an option that your Valentines will love. Here are a few of my favorites from Susie Foresman's list over at Red Tricycle. These will make you want to eat your heart out!

Chocolate & Pink Vanilla M&Ms Bark

Get your mini chefs involved in whipping up this simple but impressive treat from Food Family & Finds—just melt some chocolate and candy melts, swirl them together, then let the littles go to town topping with sprinkles and candies and breaking it into bite-sized pieces. Click here to get the full recipe.

Deep Dish Red Velvet Cookies

Red velvet is the perfect pick for Valentine’s Day, and this recipe from Show Me the Yummy is an easy way to make your loved ones smile. It’s the perfect size for sharing, and it gets even tastier with the addition of vanilla ice cream and some chocolate syrup. To grab the recipe, click here.

Glazed Strawberry Muffins

For a lighter dessert, whip up these pretty muffins from Garnish & Glaze. With strawberries dotted throughout and a lightly sweetened glaze on top, this one is sure to be a hit with your whole crew. Click here to snag the recipe.

Raspberry Bites

If you don’t have time to break out the apron and make a dessert from scratch, no worries. Keep it simple and stress-free with this cute idea from Saucy’s Sprinkles. Just pop high-quality chocolate chips into raspberries and let your tots gobble them up. Click here for all the details.

Valentine Puppy Chow

If your kiddos are fans of classic puppy chow (AKA muddy buddies), chances are they’ll love this Valentine-themed twist on that classic snack from Whimsy & Hope. It’ll come together in ten minutes flat with red velvet cake mix, M&Ms, and chocolate. Click here for the full recipe.

White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

Keep things a little lighter but just as festive with this delish mousse recipe from Something Swanky. It may look complicated, but it’s actually super easy to pull off using an instant pudding mix, cool whip, and some raspberries. To get the recipe, click here.

Didn't see any you liked, find more HERE

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Deal Alert: Dyson Vacuums

If you and your significant exchange Valentine's gifts, now might be the time to hint at this dynamite Dyson deal at Target. In my previous life before kids, I owned a cleaning company so I get asked all the time about cleaning products and equipment. My take on vacuums - you can't go wrong with a Dyson.

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete Vacuum is a very popular vacuum that gets rave reviews is on sale for $487.49. Originally $649.99. It is not available in stores but you do get free shipping since it's over $50.

Another popular, more affordable, smaller animal vac option is the Dyson DC44 Animal Digital Slim Cordless Vacuum Cleaner. Orginally $399.99, on sale for $299.99. This one is also available only online but you'll still get the free shipping. 

For everyday use for carpets and hardwood/tile, a great option is the Dyson DC65 MultiFloor Upright Vacuum. Originally $499.99, on sale for $374.99. This particular vacuum is available for store pick-up. 

To see all Dyson's on sale at Target - click HERE.  The Target website doesn't give specific sale dates - just that they are "temporary price cuts." If you've been wanting one of these beasts, don't delay! Happy cleaning!!