Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Babyliss Nano

*UPDATE: My babyliss arrived in the mail earlier than expected and so far, I love it! I've used it to curl and straighten my hair and it works wonderfully! It heats up in one minute and when I used it, I only put it up to about half the heat(30) because it heats up to 450 degrees and I think if less heat works on your hair, it'd probably be better for it. And I was surprised to see that it does have the 4 year manufacture's warranty! I was so excited about that!
Curly hair using BaByliss Nano
Straightened using BaByliss Nano
straightened w/braided headband

A couple of days ago when I plugged in my straightener, there was a pop sound and a spark and then it was dead. I've had this cheap straightener for a number of years so I wasn't too surprised, but I was surprised that on the very same day my straightener broke, my curling iron, which is the other of the two that I use almost daily, broke as well. Seriously, what are the chances? But honestly, I really was not that sad about the straightener because I'd been hoping for some time now to upgrade to a nicer one, one that doesn't pull my individual hairs out while I'm straightening and one that does a better and quicker job. But I also couldn't reason spending the money unless my other one died.

I had done some research before hand and first thought about the Chi, Babyliss or Hair Art and then narrowed it down to the second two after reading lots of reviews and talking with my sister who is an amazing hair dresser. In the end I decided on the Babyliss because it has the longest warranty being 4 years, if you purchase it in store; which I didn't because it's $40 cheaper if you buy it on Amazon.com. So I didn't actually buy the warranty but if a product has a warranty for that long, it means it's a good product and one you can count on. Oh and the other nice thing about this straightener (and the others if you get the 1 inch plates) is that you can make your hair curly/wavy as well. Not the tight curls, but the looser looking curls or waves. Now I'm waiting for my straightener to arrive in the mail though it'll probably be another week before it arrives which means I'll be wearing my hair in a ponytail for the next week with my bangs in a head band braid or something like that :).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Home decor

I've added a few great home decor items to our house recently. A couple were do-it-yourself type projects. One I did with my friend Lindsay and we followed a tutorial that can be found here. I printed out a large photo of my family, bought an art canvas from Michael's and we mod podged it on there to make our own canvas photo. It turned out great and it was a lot cheaper(like $30 less) than what I spent to do it at Costco last year. Sorry that this picture is blurry. I'm not the greatest photographer :).

I found this bench at a yard sale. I really like it. It fits perfectly in our front room; the perfect spot to sit down and put your shoes on.
And last is another picture. When my sister got married recently, she got a picture of the temple they were married in, framed, in brown-and-white and it had the name of the temple and the date they were married. It looked beautiful and I wanted one. But when I checked Deseret Book to see how much it'd cost I decided I'd try and do it myself. Lindsay helped me find a better quality picture online of the Washington D.C. temple, then I edited it in Picasa, changing the color to sepia and adding the date we were married and the name of the temple and then I sent it off to costco.com and printed it out as a 16x20. I love the way it turned out and the most expensive thing ended up being the frame which was $15. So I spent $20 total instead of $200. Yay!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scheduled

I am a very scheduled person. I have a schedule for myself and my family and we follow it pretty closely. Sometimes things come up and a nap will have to be later or earlier in the day than normal, but for the most part we try and stick to the schedule because it just makes life easier when it's so busy.

This week Elisabeth started ballet. We've told the children they can do one sport and one instrument at a time once they turn six. But for the next 3 weeks Elisabeth has two sports(each practice twice a week) that will be overlapping as one is ending and another beginning, and it's tough. Now we have ballet Monday, piano Tuesday, soccer Wednesday, ballet and soccer Thursday(and soccer games for Char Thursday) and most of her soccer games are on Friday though there are two on Saturday. On top of that Charlie has soccer which doesn't have practices but they have two games a week and Scott's the coach. So we have to divide and conquer sometimes. Writing all this down reminds me of that talk given in general conference about not over scheduling your children. I don't think my children are over scheduled with one sport and one instrument, but it sure feels like I am over scheduled and it's just going to get worse when these little kiddies are all six years old: we'll be trying to get to 8 different activities during the week. That sounds hectic. I will become the chauffeur.

I normally wouldn't have let Elisabeth's sports overlap but I signed her up for soccer without talking to her which was my bad, and she really didn't want to do soccer again, she wanted to do ballet. Ballet classes begin working on their recital numbers this week for the Winter recital and if she wanted to be a part of that, she needed to start now. She'll also need to do soccer again in the Spring because when I signed her up for this particular group you pay for the whole year and stay together with your team so life will speed up again during that time, I'm sure. Anyway, life is busy and we're adjusting to the new schedule but it's working out. If I can come up with enough crock pot meals that my family likes, I think we'll do crockpot dinners on Thursday each week and maybe Monday too (on Elisabeth's ballet days) because ballet is during normal dinner prep time. It worked out well this week, but I'm running low on crock pot menus. If any of you have favorites you'd like to share, please do.
This is what Elisabeth wears to ballet lessons: pink tights, pink ballet slippers(though she wears sandles when not in the studio), a custom made red and black leotard and her hair up in a ballet bun. Ballet is the strictest of all the dances which is part of the reason I like it so much. You can learn a lot in ballet, and not only about dance but about discipline, hard work etc. if you have a good instructor. If you are good at ballet, you'll most likely do really well in any other type of dance because it's the core or the foundation for all the others. I did ballet a little when I was younger but switched to Jazz in my teen years. I was on the dance team in high school for two years and then on the cheerleading squad for two years so I danced quite a bit. I took a tap class at BYU too which was a lot of fun. Anyway, Elisabeth has been dancing on her own since she was a baby. She finds instructional books and movies on ballet from libraries that she checks out and will practice with them on her own. I'm excited that she can finally be a part of a dance studio. She seems to have a natural talent for it, and I'm not going to lie, she has the perfect build for a ballerina. We did a couple of trial classes at different studios before I decided on this one and she has loved every minute of each class she's taken. I'm excited to see how she does over the years.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The bathroom is finished!

We finished the bathroom today! Yay! It took quite a bit longer than originally planned but we didn't know about all the mold and mildew and that we'd be having to put in new floor etc. It was a lot of work. Scott's been working nearly every night since the week before Labor Day weekend on this project and we're so happy that it's done and that it looks nice. Scott did an amazing job! Here are the before and after pictures.

BeforeAfter:










And a list of what we did: Scott tore out the linoleum, a layer of the wood flooring underneath, bleached the next layer and put a coat of primer on it to seal the mold/mildew, put on a new layer of wood, put in cement backer board, tiled, grout, sealed the grout, caulked edges, marble slab in the entry, I painted and antiqued the vanity(actually I did all three vanities in our house- many thanks to my neighbor Samantha T. who showed me how to do this!) and a picture frame we've always had in there, we put in new hardware on the vanity, we got a new vanity top, sink and faucet, new light fixture, new shower curtain, bath rugs and hand towels and I picked up a couple of decorative items at a garage sale that were perfect.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blender waffles, pancakes and 'ice cream'




I find that making food in blenders makes my life just a tad bit easier. This way, instead of getting out my hand mixer, washing a bowl, and the mixing spoons, I just put everything into my blender, whiz it up and it's done. And I even have a nice pouring spout so I don't have to get out measuring cups when I make things like pancakes or waffles. Here are a couple of recipes I've come up with that we like(well I came up with the breakfast ones but the 'ice cream' one is actually one of Robyn Openshaws):

Blender Waffles
1 1/2 c milk(if you double recipe, don't double the milk; start with 2 c and then once you've blended everything, if you need to add a little more milk, do it then)
3 eggs
1/4 c butter, softened
1 tsp salt
2 c whole white wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder

Place wet ingredients in blender, then dry, and blend together. Pour about 1/3 c into center of waffle iron.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (these are almost more like crepes, but easier to work with than crepes: you can still pour it on your griddle and flip them with a spatula. I came up with these when I had a lot of eggs on hand, a lot of cottage cheese from Costco I needed to use up, and not enough milk. I usually double this recipe for our family of 6. Sorry I don't have a picture of these yet. I'll add one the next time I make them. Just imagine typical pancakes but thinner.)
6 eggs
1 c cottage cheese
3/4 c whole white wheat flour
1/4 c milk
1/4 c melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Place wet ingredients in blender, then dry and blend until mixed together. Pour 1/4 c sized pancakes onto griddle warmed to 300 degrees. Cook until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side until golden brown.

This next 'ice cream' recipe(though actually no dairy) is one of my favorite healthy treats to make, along with a healthier version of peanut butter popcorn--which I need to put on here one day-- Coconut Bliss and Peanut Butter Cups. This is a recipe that requires some preparation. You need to soak your almonds the night before and you need to make this at least several hours before you serve it so it has time to freeze. I sometimes halve this recipe because it makes quite a bit, and I still have plenty to freeze for later. Also, just know that fresh almond milk goes bad after a couple of days so if you decide to save some of your ice cream and almond milk, either make it shortly there after or mix it all, and freeze it in a larger tupperware container. The coconut meat is something I have in my freezer from when I used to buy Thai coconuts all the time to use the coconut water in my pink smoothies. I still make pink smoothies daily, but I buy the canned coconut water now because the price of real coconuts has gone up and it's quite a bit cheaper to do the canned way now.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream-Robyn Openshaw

4 c water

1 c soaked almonds(soaked overnight and drained; becomes about 1 1/2 c)

2 1/2 c thai coconut meat

2/3 c chopped dates

1 Tbsp vanilla

2/3 c peanut butter

1/2 c plus 1 Tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 c pecans, chopped


Blend water and almonds in high power blender until very smooth. Pour out 2 1/2 c into a jar and refrigerate, leaving the remainder(about 3 c) still in blender. Add coconut, dates, vanilla, peanut butter, maple syrup, and salt to blender and blend on hi until smooth. Freeze mixture in ice cube trays. When ready to serve, put reserved refrigerated almond milk in high power blender and blend on hi speed while gradually adding the frozen mixture cubes(or make half a batch at a time, saving some of the liquid and some of the frozen cubes for later). Blend until the mixture is thick like ice cream. Sprinkle with pecans on top right before serving.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Random pix of the kids

Here are some pictures of the kids from the past couple of weeks(I'm putting them all in one post b/c I'm feeling lazy)

Superhero?
Twinners in PJ's


Going for a walk
Jane's love. We have a rule that the blanket needs to stay in the crib/play pen so she can only have it when she sleeps. But sometimes her siblings take pity on her and give in :).
Finally Jane likes swings! It has taken almost 18 months for her to learn to sit in a swing without screaming. And we can only give her the lightest of touches when she's on the swing. She likes to just sort of sway in the breeze :).

Elisabeth's mouth injury

Labor day, the kids and I stopped at a neighbors house for a few minutes. While we were outside visiting, they took out a washer toss game for the kids to play. The washers are about 5 inches in diameter and metal. I was turned away from the game talking, when I heard Elisabeth cry. I turned around and saw her standing about 3 feet away from another younger boy. They were facing each other and she was holding her mouth. Apparently one of the washers he was throwing hit her in the mouth. I went over to her to have a look and saw she was bleeding. I had to run after Jane who had walked far away, and left Elisabeth for a moment to the care of my neighbors; one got her ice and another held her and was catching the blood in his hand.

I couldn't tell how bad it was until after we got home and she'd iced it for awhile and had time to calm down. She has a big cut on the inside of her upper lip near her front teeth, two little cuts on the front of her face just above and just below her lips, and then it also hit her gums near her top teeth. That's the part we're most concerned with. The good news is that the tooth just next to her front teeth was already missing(a baby tooth recently lost) which is where she was hit. The bad news is the front tooth just next to that spot is a permanent one and was also hit and it's now a little bit wiggly. We went to see the dentist the next morning. He took some pictures and said that the pictures look alright for now but that the injury looks pretty bad and that if the nerve endings are going to die, it usually takes some time before that happens, sometimes up to six months. If it dies, she'll need a root canal. Root canals are awful things so we're praying that won't be the outcome(Scott gave her a blessing too). She missed a couple of days of school because her gums/teeth have been giving her pain and we're icing it around the clock. I went to her school this morning to get homework from the teacher and told him what was going on and asked that when she comes back to school that she not be allowed to go out to recess for about a week, and no sugar because it intensifies pain and is also bad for teeth. We'll see how everything turns out.

Elisabeth is sitting next to me now, reading this as I write and she asked me to include that after we went to the dentist(I got a babysitter for the 2 kids who are not in school), her and I went to Jamba Juice and then to Michael's and got a dolphin art project for her to work on :).

Sorry this is such a blurry picture but I had a hard time even getting one. She doesn't want anybody touching her mouth which is understandable.
Here are Elisabeth and Annabelle showing off their sticker earrings. Elisabeth says it's hard for her to smile because of her puffy lip, but I think it still looks great :)!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Honey and spiders

I ordered a 50lb bucket of raw local honey recently. I had saved a couple of 3-5 lb containers I'd gotten from Costco and other places so the other day I filled those up along with a few honey bee containers I'd saved, which are nice when drizzling honey on sandwiches. We love this honey. We love that it's local and seems to help with our seasonal allergies. We love that it's raw and contains vitamins and enzymes.

And completely changing the subject: My children think it's hilarious when they can scare me. The other day as we were walking out to the van, Elisabeth and Charlie were ahead of me, they stopped, looked down, gasped and said, "What's that?!" I looked down and saw a big black spider! I screamed. They bent over in laughter and then Charlie picked it up and showed me it was a plastic toy. My response to them was, "Ha, ha, ha. Very funny." That made them laugh even more. I'm just happy I'm able to provide some entertainment for the family(and I'm sure they learned this from their father who also finds it funny to scare me).

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bathroom remodel

Before we moved into this house four years ago, we knew we wanted to remodel a couple of the bathrooms, and perhaps all three. Two of the bathrooms have linoleum flooring and one of those has a couple of large discoloration spots in the linoleum. The vanity on that same bathroom has had two small cracks in the tile on the top of the vanity and about a month ago, another really big crack was made. I don't know if you can even call it a crack because it's right along the grout line and two of the tile pieces were coming up. So after some consideration, we decided it was time to remodel this one particular bathroom, which is the main bath. And while we're replacing the linoleum in the main bath, we thought it'd also be good to replace the linoleum in the downstairs bathroom. We knew we wanted Scott to do the remodel in order to save money. He took a free class last year at home depot on how to tile and his dad gave him a book on tiling that he has been reading, along with viewing several 'how-to' videos online. Scott started taking things out on Monday this week and every night since has been working on the bathroom. He took Friday off of work and worked on it all day, worked on it Saturday and he probably has a couple more nights of work ahead of him. I know. He is amazing. This project has taken more time than we originally planned for because once he took out the linoleum he found lots of mold and mildew where those dark spots were. There was a huge spot by the toilet and another huge one by the tub. He started to tear out wood but it got to the point where he was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the task and wasn't sure what to do next...in fact, I had taken the kids out for an afternoon so we'd be out of his way, and when I got back I noticed a phone book open on the table displaying ads for remodeling bathrooms. Scott saw me looking over it and told me that he had been hoping maybe he could just hire someone to come over and finish it before I'd gotten home and I'd never even know :).The moldy mildewy spot by the toilet. Look how black that is. It doesn't even look like wood anymore.


We said lots of prayers, called a few places, got some good advice, had a friend come over whose done similar work and then he was on his way again and feeling a little more confident. He ended up pulling up some of the wood but left a small layer, painted sealant over it and then put in new boards on top. It has worked really well. But I have to tell you, the day he took up the linoleum and the wood and had the mold and mildew out in the open, both Scott and I had some allergic type of reactions. Mine were more allergy type reactions with red, itchy eyes and Scott got a fever. Thankfully we had kept the kids outside and away so they were fine. He got it all covered up by the end of the day and we let the house air out over night and the next morning we were both feeling much better. I'm glad we got this all taken care of when we did.

During this time that Scott has been busily working, I've been trying to keep the kids busy and out of his way and also repainting our vanity and shopping for a new top, hardware, decorations and light fixtures(many thanks to my sister who has been giving me lots of advice on decorating and sending lots of pictures at my request because visualizing the end product is definitely not a strength of mine...but I'm working on it). It has been fun, but busy. Like I said before, we're hoping to have this bathroom done by Thursday this week. And then I think we'll let Scott have a break before he tears out the linoleum downstairs. But not too long of a break :). The downstairs one should go a lot smoother because there's concrete underneath the flooring instead of wood. I hope to post pictures of the finished product by the end of this next week. If any of you are plumbers(or have husbands that are plumbers) and live in Utah, please leave me a comment and we may need to call on you when we're putting the toilet back in...I'm sure Scott will also watch lots of 'how to' videos on that. We want to be sure we get it in right so we don't have any leaks and another cause to tear out wood and clean out mold and mildew.