Thursday, January 29, 2015

10 Things You're Not Cleaning But Should Be

As if picking up the toys and dirty clothes around the house isn't enough, here's a few more items that need our attention. Thanks to Carolyn Forte, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute's resident cleaning expert, it's important we don't overlook these 10 areas if we truly want our homes to clean and germ free. 

1. Kitchen sponges
Soaking up bacteria is all in a day's work for your kitchen sponge, so unless you want to "clean" your dishes with a germy sponge, you need to disinfect or replace it regularly. The easiest way to disinfect - toss it in the dishwasher. 

2. Between appliances
There may only be an inch (or less) between your refrigerator and the countertop, but that crevice can trap a lot of dirt. Use a long duster or thin vacuum attachment to clean out all the nooks and crannies. Taking a toothpick and running it along any small creases is also a very good way to get the grime dislodged.

3. Reusable grocery bags
Cloth grocery bags are great for the environment, but they're no different than other fabrics in terms of care. Run your reusable bags through the washer regularly to remove any lingering food bacteria, turning them inside out before you toss them in. Pay attention to the bag's fabric when selecting a dryer setting.

4. Refrigerator bins and door shelves
You probably wipe down your fridge's interior shelving already, but don't forget about the rest. Regularly pop out the door shelves and bins, and wash in warm, soapy water to get rid of food bacteria and spillage.

5. On top of things
Out of sight, out of mind? Not so much. In addition to the top of the refrigerator, there are lots of other "tops" that need cleaning as well. Some common forgotten spots: the tops of light fixtures, cabinets, and the mouldings around doors and windows.

6. Ceiling fan
Speaking of being on top of things, just because you can't see the dust accumulating atop your ceiling fan blades doesn't mean it's not there. To keep the dirt from swirling around the air, Forte recommends using a duster like the Wool Shop's Lambswool Ceiling Fan Duster.

7. Small electronics
Did you know that your television remote is one of the dirtiest items in your home? Nowadays I'm sure the kid's iPad has to be a close second. How many times do you clean off the iPad? Or other small electronics like your cell phone and headphones? All those can can rack up tons of germs. Clean these items frequently with a disinfecting or alcohol wipe but make sure to use a cell phone-friendly cleaner.

8. Broom
Yes, you need to clean your cleaners. Brooms are great for getting rid of pesky dust bunnies, but in the process they can get trapped in the bristles. Swish the broom head around in warm, soapy water, or vacuum with a handheld attachment (then be sure to clean out the attachment).

9. Hats, scarves, mittens
Like any other piece of clothing, outerwear picks up dead skin and bacteria. Regularly run your hats, scarves, and cotton mittens through the washer. For leather gloves, wipe down with a leather cleaning wipe.

10. Gym bag
You wouldn't consider not washing your clothes after a tough workout, so don't forget about the bag that transports them. If your tote is machine-washable, toss it in the laundry frequently. For a bag that doesn't fit in a machine or can't be washed, wipe it down inside and out with a damp cloth and sprinkle in some baking soda to help absorb odors.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Crock-pot of the Future (plus 33 three ingredient meals!)

Crock-Pot Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo 6-Quart Slow Cooker 

I've said this before and I'll say it again -- I love the crock-pot. Wait. I should rephrase that. I love the idea of the crockpot. For some reason, I just don't use it like I should. And I know a lot of moms that feel the same. But I bet you have no clue that there is a crock-pot that can be told via smartphone what to do, when to do it.

Imagine being in a meeting or in the school pick up line and getting dinner started. Pretty rad if you ask me. With the free WeMo App you can adjust cooking time, temperature, turn on, shift to warm or turn off. Now that's how dinner should be done.

If you're needing some easy and effortless crock-pot meals, I love these 33 three ingredient slow cooker recipes from Totally The Bomb. With the Superbowl (GO SEAHAWKS!!!!) on Sunday, I think a must try is the Rootbeer Honey BBQ Wings. Yum!

As she says, "the crock-pot is a magical box that you put raw food in and wonderful meal pops out!" Why wouldn't we work these into our dinner rotation?!?!

To purchase the crock-pot above or read the rave reviews, click HERE.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Homemade and Healthy: Superbowl Party Dips

Recipes via SHAPE
Throw on the table with a spread of veggies, pita wedges and blue chips and you've got a plethora of healthy options to munch on while the Seahawks crush the Patriots!

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Preview: Must Have Fashion Essentials

Hello from Idaho!!! The last six months have been absolutely nutty for my crew. As if four kids under six wasn't enough, I decided that it was time to move on from the everyday grind of Southern California. It was a fabulous eight years but after having the twin girls and being raised in WA, I desired something different for my family's future. I've got nothing but love for Southern California but it was time to get to a more affordable, slower pace of life. So here we are in Boise, Idaho!! The past three months have been such a breath of fresh air and everything we hoped it would be.

Sadly there are a few drawbacks to living here. A big one for me: No Nordstrom. But heck right now, all I do is stay bundled in a big jacket waiting for my blood to acclimate to winter weather so there's part of me that could care less. But I am learning to make due with the stores they do have and am getting more and more comfortable with shopping online. Luckily in Boise, I don't feel the pressure to keep up with what's hot on the runway but I do like to stay in the know of the up and coming trends. According to Glamour magazine, 2015 is predicted to be a pretty great year in fashion. Below are some of the essential items for a chic year ahead --

1) Striped Shirt

Praise the Lord this is hot because my entire closet is filled with stripes. While they say it's big for 2015, it's also so classic they predict it will be in the rotation forever. Style it with everything from a party skirt to blue jeans. Start a collection with your favorites and it will quickly become an obsession.

2) White Jeans

Again, happy to see this one! White jeans are back and more transitional than ever. While they're forever a summer favorite, they can be just as acceptable in the colder months. Layer with a chunky sweater and booties and your favorite white jeans become multi-season staples.

3) One Shoulder Dress

The one-shoulder dress is going to be a 2015 favorite. The shape has been in hibernation for a few years, and we can't wait to see it make a comeback. From the winter cocktail dress to the summer sundress, this trend is a must-have for the coming year.

4) Gingham Skirt

I never thought my mother's bridesmaid dress pattern would make it into the current fashion must have's but the gingham trend is also getting a reboot for 2015. Shop for a piece that dresses up the traditionally casual pattern. Our current favorites are made of the most feminine silk chiffon.

5) Pair of Menswear Flats

Unfortunate for my husband and his distaste for flats, flats are continuing their reign through the new year. If you haven't already stocked up, slip your toes into a more masculine loafer or brogue. There's something strong and modern about a more menswear-y style right now.

6) Sweater Dress

Knits are not only for sweaters. We spotted knit pants and tops in past seasons, but 2015 is going to be the year of the sweaterdress. Don't go too tight—this isn't meant to be a body-con situation. Opt for a style with a little more flare or tailoring to make it modern. 

7) Camel Coat

Classic camel continues to be a must-have neutral when it comes to outerwear. More exciting than basic black, this hue goes with every pattern and color under the sun—definitely worth the investment. Notice her shoes in this picture -- see #5.

8) Classic Trench

For slightly warmer days, make this the year you finally invest in a trench coat if you don't already own one. Whether you pick up a less expensive option or decide that it's worth the splurge, you can't get more versatile than a tan trench coat.

9) Evening Pants

Speaking of parties, 2015 is going to be the year of evening pants, we are sure of it. Whether you pick a high-waist style or a pair that's slung a bit lower, we are loving slightly roomier cuts with a bit more movement for a luxe, flattering look. 

10) Denim Dress

The hottest denim silhouette for the new year is...drumroll, please...the dress! Traditionally boxier in style, a denim dress works with sky-high heels for a night out or with moto boots for a Saturday morning. 

11) Gladiator Sandals

For summer, make sure you have a pair of gladiator sandals on hand. Though recent years' styles have trended toward a more minimalist version, more bold straps and ties are coming back with fervor for this year's warm-weather months.

12) Boho Tunic

I'm a big fan of this style! On the heels of last season's fringed suede bohemian style, this summer's look is a little looser and more hippie-chic. Whether it's a maxi skirt or flowy cotton tunic, you're going to want a '70s-inspired piece when summer comes.

13) Retro Polo 

If boho summer styles aren't your thing, retro prep is definitely something to dive into for 2015. One of our favorite staples is the crisp polo shirt. Be it color-block or striped, traditional cotton or a thicker sweater knit, stock up on the style as the new year begins.

14) Tailored Shirtdress

Shirtdresses are here to stay this year, and we couldn't be happier. What makes 2015's silhouettes modern is the tailoring. Asymmetrical hems, nipped-in waists, and elegant midcalf lengths make this band of cotton dresses much more thoughtful than last year's oversize boyfriend style.

15) Chic Carryall

The carryall bag that's both on trend and practical can be hard to find, but designers are coming to the rescue with chic, oversize bag options that don't stick out as too casual. Grab a luxe tote-size carryall in buttery soft leather or velvety suede. The style is large enough to hold your life within it but chic enough to take with you everywhere.

16) Ruffles

Ruffles are the epitome of feminine charm, but you don't want to look like you're wearing a bad '80s prom dress. In the new year, wear ruffles with simple hemlines, understated peplums, and tiny accenting trims. Don't go for anything too structured or stiff with this trend—it's all about movement.

To see the entire list, click HERE. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Motivating Monday: JOMO

JOMO [jo-mo] n. 1) An acronym for The Joy of Missing Out.
Guy #1: I had a great day, went on a hike and didn't check facebook.
Guy #2: Good day?
Guy #1: Yeah pure JOMO.

I came across this article in Parents Magazine and thought it was fitting to share. As a backlash against FOMO - aka Fear Of Missing Out - the term is a rebellion against saying yes to everything, and is about giving yourself the space to think and experience things without freaking out about what you 'should' be doing instead.

My hope with this post is that you will be intentional about embracing the here and now with things that make you happy. Don't get sucked into the devil'ish world of social media that makes you feel like you have to be busier than you are. You all know that feeling. Enjoy your week and try to embrace those JOMO moments.

The header read, "#JOMO is the new #FOMO because #YOLO.

The constant barrage of parenting humblebrags, pin-worthy pedicures and perfectly posed and filtered pics of well dressed, angelic children is causing us to miss out on what's right in front of us. So, bid adieu to that nasty FOMO and embrace JOMO. Let everyone else hustle to keep up with the Joneses while you enjoy the relief of doing your own thing, no matter how un-Instagrammable it may be. Start by:

Just say no -- When everyone's volunteering for a PTA committee but you choose to binge watch Orange is the New Black instead, JOMO! When your friends invite you to Happy Hour but you'd rather since along to the Frozen soundtrack with the kids (again), JOMO! Only say yes to plans that truly excite you. Who cares if you don't get tagged in that photo later?

Keep it real -- Find IRL (in real life) experiences that mimic sites you enjoy most. If you're always pinning craft ideas or recipes, take a cooking class or pick up art supplies and get creative with your kids. Crave connection? Join a mom's group for real life social meet-up.

See the bigger picture -- For each image of a child quietly reading a book, there are hundreds of un-photographed moments where his behavior is...less than ideal. The next time you're staring in awe (and envy) at a photo or status update, remind yourself that you can't compare your insides to someone's outsides. The best moments happen off camera anyway.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Miracle Tennis Shoe Cleaner: Fingernail Polish Remover

Why hello!!!!!! Gosh it's been a while. Again. Since June I believe. Whoopsy. Summer absolutely kicked my butt when it came to anything me. Instead I schlepped four kids under six to and from multiple states, tore down and assembled more pack' n' plays than most people do in their entire life, and attended to infant teething twins that refuse to eat anything but Legos and leaves. I can't promise I'm back consistently but I've been dying to tell you about this new cleaning tip so you got me today.

I might be late to the party and I don't doubt this fab secret is old news on Pinterest but if you don't know about it, you're going to love it, especially if your kids brand new school shoes already look like they ran through the mud fields. The dirty part I'm talking about is the white part of the rubber sole and toe. My kids have converse so there's a lot of white rubber exposed and it drives this perfectionist bananas when it's grimy looking.

The solution: FINGERNAIL POLISH REMOVER. Put a good amount on a cotton ball or round face pad and rub the white rubber with a decent amount of force. Don't worry the polish won't ruin the material or coloring of the shoes itself. The dirt on the white sole will disappear before your eyes and you'll have a pair of shoes that look brand spanking new.

*If shoes are super dirty, you may need to use a toothbrush to scrub with soap and water first.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The gift every Father needs...

Stumped on what to give your dad or husband this Father's Day? All men loves tool and gadgets. And it's expected that all dads know how to fix everything. So it's only fitting that you buy him the most awesome pocket tool - The Leatherman Super Tool 300 Pocket Tool. This fun, efficient gadget has 19 tools in 1. And is currently on sale on Amazon. Orginally $87, now $65.

And don't forget the protective cover - the Leatherman Sheath. Comes in brown or black for only $14.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wear it Wednesday: Too Taboo

The sun is showing it's face more and more and it's time to talk toenails. The beauty experts are encouraging us to be wild and bold in our picks this summer. The trends include intense colors of the rainbow; bold blues, vibrant oranges, electric greens. And my personal favorite - bright fuchsia.

Thank goodness for the fuchsia. Call me boring but I can't stomach looking down to a Kool-Aid color blue on my toes. To me a bright fuchsia screams confident. Put together. Classy but knows how to come out and play. A fuchsia manicure or pedicure looks great with everything from classic denim and navy to sleek black and is eye-catching on any skin tone.

Wondering what fuchsia hue has my attention? You better believe I'll be sporting this on my toes this summer.

Essie nail color is Too Taboo - part of the Essie Neon Collection.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Make It Monday: Margarita Chicken

Two things I love: margaritas and the crock pot (or slow cooker). Oh wait - chicken too! This Make it Monday post combines all three of those to make Margarita Chicken. And guess what? Your kids can not only eat it, they will love it too! No worries - there is no tequila in the recipe.

Thanks to Red Tricycle, I found this versatile, low fat chicken recipe from Crockpot Gourmet that you can serve over brown rice, couscous, quinoa or over a bed of greens with veggies and a citrus vinaigrette.

But let's talk crock pot though first. Four problems I see with the crock pot -

1) People don't use it enough.'s soooo easy. Throw in the ingredients (no thawing necessary), walk away and come back 4-8 hrs later to a homemade meal. Now why are you complaining about dinner again?!?!?

2) People think you have to be a "mom with kids" to use a crock pot. If you're single or a couple, just buy yourself a Food Saver and vacuum seal the leftovers. Note to moms; you too should do this. If you're already cooking, why not make a little more, vacuum seal the extra and wah-la you have yourself another meal on another night that will literally take seconds to heat up.

3) People associate "crock pot" with unhealthy. That's incredibly naïve. There are a gazillion recipes online and crock pot cookbooks that cater to people's dietary needs; vegetarian, low-carb, Paleo to name a few.

3) People think that once warm weather hits, that it's time to put the crock pot away. So not the case. Not all crock pot meals are cold weather soups and stews. In fact, there are several light, delicious summery meals that will save you from standing over the stove on a hot day.

Moral of the story - USE A CROCK POT. And make this meal. :)

Margarita Chicken
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup limeade (frozen limeade works)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix rice, limeade, orange juice, water, garlic and cilantro in bottom of crock
  2. Add chicken to crock and sprinkle the top part that is not covered by liquid with the cayenne pepper and salt and pepper
  3. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours
Note: You may want to use an oval crock for this so the liquid not be as deep and the chicken will not be submerged.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Carb Cycling 101

Carb cycling. Hmmm. I'm intrigued. You? Most of you reading this have been brainwashed to think carbs are the devil. Not so. If you know anything about anything you know that there are good carbs and bad carbs. And the right balance of carbs, protein and fat is imperative for your overall health. Chris Powell, trainer from ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" swears by carb cycling to lose and maintain your optimal weight loss results. Powell explains that high carb days rev up your metabolism and low carb days maximize weight loss. The theory is that when your body keeps alternating between modes, you create the perfect balance to weight loss. So what is carb cycling? In the following paragraphs, you'll learn the basics of carb cycling, four different carb cycling plans - Easy, Classic, Turbo, and Fit - as well as the basics of how to execute this on a weekly basis.

What is Carb Cycling?

Carb cycling is an eating plan with alternating high-carb and low-carb days. It’s that simple. It also has built-in reward days or reward meals (depending on the plan you’re following), so you can still eat your favorite foods on a regular basis. Sounds pretty much perfect, right?

While each plan has a different mix of high-carb and low-carb days, each day works basically the same:
  • Eat five meals—no more, no less.
  • Eat a high-carb breakfast that includes both protein and carbs within 30 minutes of waking.
  • Eat your remaining 4 meals - either high-carb or low-carb, depending on the plan you’re following - every 3 hours.
  • Choose approved foods (Click HERE for the printable food guide)
  • Drink a gallon of water.
How does it work?

In order to lose weight, our bodies need the right combination of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats. Here’s why:
  • Protein builds and maintains muscles and these muscles burn calories like an inferno. Protein also breaks down more slowly than carbs and fat, which burns even more calories and helps you feel fuller longer.
  • Carbs are the preferred fuel source for your muscles and organs, and they come in healthy versions (vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes), and not-so-healthy versions (cakes, cookies, soda, doughnuts, candy, and many processed foods).  Healthy carbs are also crucial for burning calories, and since they break down more slowly than those not-so-healthy carbs, they keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady, and they also keep your calorie-burning furnace hot so it burns more calories!
  • Healthy fats (unsaturated fats) eaten in moderation help the development and function of your eyes and brain and help prevent heart disease, stroke, depression, and arthritis. Healthy fats also help keep your energy levels steady and keep you from feeling hungry.
So why do we alternate high-carb and low-carb days in carb cycling? On high-carb days you’re stocking your calorie-burning furnace so that on low-carb days your furnace burns fat, and lots of it! This pattern tricks your metabolism into burning a lot of calories, even on those low-carb days. It’s an amazing and well-proven process.

For this plan, carbs are considered fruits, starches (such as bread and rice) and starchy vegetables (like peas and potatoes). Reach for non-starchy veggies (like broccoli, asparagus and spinach) all you want - they don't count toward the day's calories.

What are the benefits?

Carb cycling has many benefits:
  • It fits any lifestyle.
  • You’ll learn how to shed weight and body fat, and how to make smart lifestyle choices for the rest of your life. This puts YOU in control.
  • You’ll feel better and have more energy.
  • You’ll eat the foods you love.
  • You’ll build lean, strong muscles.
  • You’ll be empowered physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Your CARB CYCLING weekly plan:

In order to find your ideal Carb Cycling plan, click on the links below to learn more about Powell's four different Carb Cycling plans -

Easy Carb Cycle
Classic Carb Cycle
Turbo Carb Cycle
Fit Carb Cycle

Remember you'll eat five times each day from the approved food list above at three hour intervals. Each meal should be around 250 calories, not including non-starchy veggies for a total of about 1,250 calories daily. Have your first meal within 30 minutes of waking and drink 1/2 your weight in ounces of water daily to fire up your metabolic engine. And if you want to see results and don't have any excuse to deviate from the plan, prep meals on Sunday for the week ahead. Pre-cook your proteins, chop veggies and store everything in the refrigerator.

Get even more details on carb cycling in Powell's books Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution, and Choose More, Lose More for Life