An Uncomplicated Life Blog: July 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017

How To Get The STINK Out Of Your Clothes

Whether it's workout apparel or you left a load in the washer for a day too long, use this method to get odors out of your clothes

I made a huge mistake a few weeks ago. I started a load of my laundry (as in, MY clothes only, not the kids nor the husbands) on a Friday night and forgot about it until Sunday afternoon. Why I thought I'd want to do laundry on a Friday is beyond me. Like I was actually going to remember I threw in a load, put it in the dryer and fold it all on a Friday night, right? Foolish. Anyway, I remembered it on Sunday afternoon. It smelled horrible, as I predicted. I ran the wash again, put it in the dryer in a timely fashion and... The clothes STILL stunk! Has this ever happened to you? Or have you been in a workout class when you smell something, and realize it's the "old sweat" in your workout clothes that just never seems to come out? Yeah, I've been her too. Read on for the perfect way to get that stink out of your clothes, whether it's from the gym or a forgotten load that went funky in the washer.

I had been told from my crunchy friends that vinegar gets that smell out, but I wasn't sure how to do it. I crowd sourced on my Facebook page how people use vinegar to de-stink clothes, and the responses were all about the same. Yes, use vinegar, but also use baking soda. Of course! Seriously, is there anything that stuff isn't good for?! I use it in my homemade face wash (that has completely cleared my hormonal acne - I don't wear any foundation or concealer anymore!) and it gets the smell out of your fridge if you put a box in it, so of course it'd clear out stinky clothes.

Now, my clothes smelled BAD. Not only were they forgotten in the wash but they were also mostly my workout clothes, some of which I've had for ages (because when you invest in amazing yoga pants like these, you get to keep them for 10 years and they still look great). Most people said they let it soak in their washer, but I wanted a good 24 hour soak on these stink bombs so I did mine in a bucket, because leaving clothes that long in a front loading washer has left me a little leery, and rightfully so.

Here's how I got the stink out of my clothes! You'll need:
- medium to large size bucket (like this one)
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 10 drops of essential oil (I used a blend called Purification because that one helps de-stink things, but any non-citrus oil would work)
- warm water

Start filling the bucket with warm to hot water. Add the drops of essential oil to your baking soda so that it will evenly distribute in the water. Oil and water don't mix, so you have to add the essential oil to something that will carry it through the water to evenly reach all your clothes. Add the vinegar and baking soda (it will foam up). Only fill the bucket about halfway, so you have room to add your clothes.

Let clothes soak for up to 24 hours, but at least two hours. Make sure to store away from children so they don't spill it everywhere! Then, put the clothes in a normal wash cycle with detergent like you typically would. My clothes didn't smell like vinegar, nor did they smell strongly of the essential oil I added - they just smelled like clean, fresh laundry!

If you've ever left your clothes in the washer too long or have stinky workout clothes, use this simple trick to get them smelling fresh again

It's pretty easy to get the stink out of your clothes, although it is a bit time consuming with the soak time. Hopefully I wont forget a load in my laundry for that long again. But if I do (and let's be honest, I will) forget and my clothes get stinky, I've got this easy way to de-stink them!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Girl Time Activities

Painting With A Twist is a great way to break the "dinner and a movie" mold of date night and is a blast for girls night!

My sister was in town over the weekend because my husband had an irregularly long work trip that spanned the whole weekend in addition to the regular work week. So he did me a solid and flew my sister out to Dallas to help me manage my rascals I mean sons keep me company. A few days before she arrived, I found out I'd have the opportunity to partner with Painting With A Twist and I thought hey! This could be a fun night out with my sister. She's artsy. I'm wanna be artsy. So I scheduled my nanny to come for an evening and we got some quality time together with paint and wine.

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The schedule at the Dallas location was full of different themes and events we could attend. They even had children-friendly classes, although paint + my children = a hot mess, therefore, I opted for a child-free event. And, I think the kid events start at age 5 or 8, so we're still a bit too young for it. Anyway, since my life revolves around childcare, it just so happened that the event we could attend was called "Stormy Night." We'd be painting a cloudy city line with a bridge over water.

We were the first to arrive and introduced ourselves. Quickly, we learned this was a BYOB event and we hadn't brought any wine. Boo! My sister isn't a big drinker, and I was driving, so we settled for water. As everyone else rolled in, we realized that we were the sober minority. Our leaders, David and Victoria, were extremely outgoing and welcoming.

Victoria had a unique accent that wasn't quite German but definitely wasn't from a romance language. Later, we learned that she was born in Brazil but moved to Sweden and served on the Swedish army for years. How one goes from the Swedish army to a painter I'll never know (side note- I thought they were such a neutral-based country, I wasn't even aware they had an army! I mean, every country has one but... It's Sweden! They never fight because they're so passive aggressive, right?!)

Victoria got on the stage and began leading us through the steps on how to paint our backgrounds. I got so into it, I splattered paint all over my DSLR camera! Thankfully, the lens cap was on. I even got a little on my iPhone. That's when I decided I'd better put away the expensive electronics. My sister, on the other hand, leaned over and was like, "You know what would make this more fun? WINE." Fortunately, there was a gas station across the street and she's an advanced painter. So while everyone else finished up their backgrounds, she went on a booze run and came back with the finest Pinot Grigio to be found at a convenience store.

Blank canvas
Completed background
After the backgrounds were done, we used chalk to outline how the city line should look, and where we should put the pillars of the bridge. Then we went to town filling in our lines with acrylic paint. Turns out, painting straight lines isn't my forte. My bridge turned out a little more abstract than I intended... Or, perhaps that was the wine, it's hard to say.

We wrapped up a little later than the class was planned for, but they told us that would happen at the beginning. I guess we were supposed to use a stencil for the bridge, but our instructor wanted to teach us how to free hand it. No wonder my lines were so shaky! I needed a dang stencil. That's my story, anyway.

The finished product! Mine is on the left and my sister's on the right.
This was a super fun and unique way to spend an evening! I'd say there were more people on date nights there than women together having an outing, but it would be fun either way. All too often we get caught in the "dinner and a movie" trap for date night, and "dinner and wine" night for girl night. Break the mold and do something different for your girl time activities! We were able to chat the whole time, laugh at each other, enjoy some fine gas station wine and get out of the house at Painting With A Twist. They have a bajillion locations around the country, so click that link to check them out!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Preschool Drop Off Tips and Tricks

Dropping your child off at preschool can be traumatizing for both parent and child. Use these tips for an easier school drop off!

It feels weird to be writing this in the middle of July. Especially since I've just dropped my kids off for one of the remaining weeks of their summer preschool camps. Down here in Texas, the school year starts back up in August and goes until May, and I wanted to get this out there before the first wave of kiddos goes back! Ahhh, preschool drop off. This may even apply to older students, but since my kids are just in preschool I don't have experience with that yet. I do, however, have a great system down for dropping HAPPY (read: no screaming and no crying!) kids off at school and have seen plenty of parents make mistakes that only makes the situation worse. Read on for some funny tales of preschool drop off, and my tips and tricks for making it easier on EVERYONE (including you, your kids, your kid's classmates and other parents). 

If you've been to a preschool drop off, you know what I'm talking about. It's like a war zone those first few weeks of school. Complete chaos. Screaming kids, clueless parents, everyone is in the way, nobody can hear anyone else. Seriously, a baby-infused war zone. I absolutely dread the first few weeks of school because it's such a zoo getting my kids into their classrooms!

Preschool drop off doesn't have to be a nightmare of tantrums and crying if you follow these easy tips

There's the "frantic mom" who woke up late, doesn't know where her purse is, doesn't understand how to take a lunchbox out of a backpack and hang it on her child's hook, loses her older child because shes's taking so long trying to get everything together, doesn't understand how to use an iPad for signing in, doesn't know if she's paid tuition, lost her shot record sheets, and on and on. This mom annoys me, but I feel for her, since she looks so frazzled and frantic. I want to slip her a Xanax and say, "Go home and pour yourself a big glass of wine and take this. It's ok. School is a whopping 5 hours long. Your child WILL be ok without you for five hours!"

Then there's the "explaining mom." Ohhhhh, this one gets me! I don't even feel for this mom. She holds up the whole line by monopolizing the teacher's time with every small, mundane and unnecessary detail about HER child. There's 12-16 kids in the classroom sweetheart, I promise you the teacher isn't going to pay that much attention to your kid, remember what you're telling them, or really - care about that level of detail. They have a system down. Let them be the teacher! Let them be the leader! Shut up about your kid already! You're making every other parent and child wait while you give your speech about your child. You create hallway backups and add to the anxiety of other kids. You are a figgin problem!

The next mom I see often is the "clingy mom." She can't seem to walk away after she's dropped off her child. She hugs him or her several times, reminds the child that she loves them very much, and right as she's about to walk away so the next family can deposit their kid in class, she steps over you to go back into the classroom and kiss the kid again. This usually (no, ALWAYS) results in that kid losing their sh*t, screaming and crying for mom. This mom makes a big deal of her exit and in turn causes a total scene. I'm convinced this mom loves drama and all eyes on her. Once she has everyone (rolling) their eyes at her, she has to put on a show of how much she loves her child and how hard it is to leave.

Then, friends, there's the moms like me. I've got the lunch box out, backpack on the hook, and kid signed in on the iPad in less than 30 seconds. I give my child a high give or a quick kiss on the cheek, and immediately leave the scene. I trust the the teachers have got the situation under control. And guess what? If they don't, I know I'll get a phone call! Efficient, quick, in and out is my style. And guess what? My kids are the ones who don't cry at drop off, are self assured and confident. No be mistaken, I wasn't always this mom! I had a learning curve - even with each kid. I've been the clingy mom and I've been the frantic mom. It's because of my mistakes that I'm able to confidently give you these tips.

My sweet peanut on his first day of preschool last year

Here's the thing: The longer you drag preschool drop off on, the worse it is for your child. They have time to understand that mommy is leaving. It builds anxiety. They cling to you as opposed to getting interested in a toy or activity the teachers have out, ready for their arrival. The longer you make preschool drop off and the more anxious YOU are, the worse THEY'RE going to be. And once you have a crying kid, other kids start to cry, and you've created a whole mess of preschool drop off. So here are some tips, mamas and daddies:

1) Do your research. Email the teacher, headmaster, principal, or parent coordinator a few(ish) weeks in advance so you know what they expect of parents at drop off. This will prevent you from being the frantic mom! If they don't allow juice (our school doesn't) then you'll know not to pack it. If they want your child's lunches out and placed somewhere, you'll know to have that ready. You'll be familiar with the sign in procedure and have a heads up on the general process. The more you know, the calmer you are and in turn, the calmer your child is. Win-win.

2) Make it fast. Whatever the protocol is at your school, learn it fast and do it efficiently. At our school, parents are responsible for hanging backpacks on their child's hook and getting lunches out and placed on a shelf, then signing their kid in. There's a rhythm to it. Learn it and make your life easier.

3) Don't block the hallways. As soon as your child is dropped off, get out of people's way! Our school is a small church school, so any parent that assumes a conversation in the hallway is in EVERYONE'S way. I'm not saying don't say hi to parents you know or don't socialize, just move it to a location where kids aren't waiting to be dropped off or picked up. Also, probably not at the top or bottom of stairs, either. Man, people love to stop there and chat! No. Don't do that.

If you've got a kid headed to preschool this fall, congrats! You've just gained a few more hours of freedom and are providing them foundation skills they'll use for the rest of their educational career. Early childhood learning has been proven essential for future success in and out of the classroom. High five to you, parents! Just please... Don't be any of the "moms" I listed (at least, don't be her for long - we all make mistakes!) Use these preschool drop off tips for non-crying success this fall! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

DIY Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet

Easy to make and customizable, these DIY bracelets diffuse your favorite essential oils all day long!

It's been a minute since I posted anything essential oils related. It was a massive bummer to have to take all those posts down since they were, by far, my post popular posts, and frankly, it made me not want to talk about essential oils at all anymore. But I'l licking my battle wounds/destroyed page views and moving forward! Something cool that I know that I can talk about is making your own diffuser bracelet. What I like about this is that it doesn't look any different than a regular mala bead-type bracelet so the diffusing part is under wraps, but your body heat and the lava rock keep those oils coming at you all day long. Affiliate links used.

Another cool thing about this is that you can make it to reflect your style. I loved the amber and jade combination, but you could literally do any color combo, size of bead, shape of bead, etc etc that fit your style. The key part, if you want to use these as an essential oil diffuser too, is to include a porous rock that will absorb the essential oil and react to your body heat to keep it "activated" (or diffusing) on you for as long as you wear the bracelet. I went with a lava rock because it's extremely porous and the essential oil I used soaked right in. In fact, I added the oil three days ago and it's still going strong (I have the bracelets sitting right next to me as I type this).

I threaded mine on elastic, and working with elastic takes a little getting used to. I learned a few tricks as I went, so no - this DIY isn't as easy as picking out beads, cutting string the length of the circumference of your wrist, beading and tying a knot. Read on for the tips so you don't get frustrated!

DIY Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet  
- Porous rock bead (like these)
- Other stone or glass beads of choice (I used these and these)
- Elastic threading
- scissor

Cut the elastic MUCH larger than what you'll need to fit around your wrist. I wanted these to fit right at my wrist (no bangle effect - that drives me nuts!) but not so tight it would leave imprints. I ended up doubling the length I initially measured for my wrist, and that made the process so much easier.

Tie a small knot on one end of the elastic. This will prevent the beads from falling off the other end. Pick a pattern for your bracelet: I did one that alternated the three beads I selected; one that did three of one separated by one of the amber beads; and on that doubled the amber and surrounded the lava rock with a jade bead. Whatever your pattern, make sure that there's a start and a finish to the design so that when you tie the bracelet together, the pattern is seamless. Example: I started the 3:1 jade/amber design with an amber bead, and ended with three jade beads. This way, when I tied it together, the pattern is the same all the way around.

After you've threaded your beads, pull them to the center of your overly large elastic. Make sure the bead pattern is the right length for your wrist by wrapping it around to double check. Then use the long length of the extra elastic to tie three knots. You'll want to pull the elastic extremely tight to tighten the knot properly! As in, I thought I might break the thread.  But this way, it wont come undone!

After you're done with all your designs, use a small plate and add about three drops of whatever essential oil you want diffused on you all day. Roll the lava bead (or whatever porous bead you decided to use) in the oil.  The three drops of oil covered all three of my bracelets.

Wear and enjoy the smell! I used Peace and Calming essential oil on mine, and was told by two people later that day that I smelled amazing. Which is hysterical to me, because I shower about twice a week... If you need a boost, you can lift the bracelets to your nose and smell directly. Some other great oils to use would be lavender and cedarwood for relaxation, lemon and peppermint for energy, or orange for a mood boost.

Like it?Pin it! DIY Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet

Monday, July 10, 2017

How Blogging Is Like A High School Lunchroom

The popular girls run the show and everyone tries to be like them

Why don't we sit down and have a little chat, mmk? I'll just pretend like you're here with me, so amuse my make believe for a sec. I think this post is going to be a mini rant and therapy session. And dang it if writing a blog post isn't a whole hell of a lot cheaper than therapy, right?! Anyway, I've been struggling lately. I've been struggling with this blog, and with the blog community in general. No, this isn't going to be a whole post dissing bloggers - there's some really great ones out there! More discussing why I'm struggling with this whole "influencer marketing" thing. And making an accurate comparison of influencer marketing to a high school lunch room. Seriously.

It seems like people now understand that blogging can be a legit career where you make actual money and can do it on your own time and from home in your pajamas. This week alone (I kid you not) three people wanted to grab drinks or coffee so that I could "counsel" them on how to get a blog started and help them up their social media game. And that's cool. There's a big market out there for that, and lots of opportunities to be had.

But is anyone else tired - I mean EXHAUSTED - of their favorite bloggers "going to the dark side" and posting nonstop sponsored content? Their Instagram feeds are full of "like it to know it" photos, meaning you'll get an obnoxious email sent to you if you like their photos with affiliate links to buy whatever is in said photo. Or they're posting about the free crap they got from some brand. Basically, every photo has "#ad" in it, if they're properly disclosing their photos. I'm talking at least 80 percent of their content is branded crap. Yeah, I calculated that statistic. Real numbers, right there.

Even their Instagram stories are full of sponsored content where all they do is link brands and add required hashtags. I'm sorry, but is it just me that finds that SO INSANELY boring?! Instagram stories kinda took over Snapchat because of the much better reach you get on them, and I see so much branded stuff it's actually more entertaining to watch commercials on TV. Because at least those are well-lit and have actors who legitimately know how to act, unlike an influencer on Instagram stories pretending to love a product they're rep'ping.

Here's the truth on the matter: I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated because I'm writing posts from my heart, that actually have things to say about things, and I'm watching other bloggers who only do sponsored work make so much more money than I do and get more opportunities than I do. Their blogs aren't entertaining or providing useful information. It's literally just a dumping ground of public relations nonsense. And these bloggers are growing and exploding and it's BLOWING MY MIND. Am I jealous? Sure. While I wouldn't post nonstop sponsored content here, I'd love to increase my income. I'd love more followers, especially if these followers engaged in pre-planned, pre-bought content.

I don't understand what people find relateable about this content. How does a photo of a protein shake get 2k likes?! How do these bloggers grow when they're basically shoving paid advertising down their followers throats nonstop? Basically, I don't get how THEY'RE growing and I'm remaining stagnant. And it's driving me nuts. Yes, comparison is the thief of joy and clearly I'm comparing myself to them and feeling bummed out. But it's mind-boggling.

In June, I resolved to blog again about the things that matter to me. To focus on a good mix of content of DIYs, recipes, thoughts and ramblings, topics in motherhood and so on. Now that we're in the second week of July, and I don't have a single sponsored post planned for this month, I'm just annoyed. I'm annoyed at the growth of the influencers who (to me) seem so fake and bought and unrelateble and frankly - unlikable. But they're growing like mad. 

My attitude is clearly a problem. I could work a little harder. And I know that the summer months are sloooowwwww for bloggers. But I wanted to start a discussion, with both non-bloggers and bloggers alike: What are your thoughts on influencers who post nonstop branded content? Are you engaged with them and liking their social media posts to have it help you in some capactiy? Are you personally friends with these people? Do you genuinely like their work? Let's discuss! Am I just in desperate need of an attitude adjustment or is this something we all find annoying? 

If I'm being totally honest, I feel like it's kinda a popularity contest where people are engaging with these bloggers because they're the "popular girls" in the lunchroom, and other bloggers desperately want to sit at their popular girl table. They don't really like said popular girl, but they want a piece of the popular girl pie. Am I wrong here?

Help a sister out. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Zesty Summer Hummus Recipe

It's SO easy to make your own hummus and so much cheaper than store bought!

I always thought people who made their own hummus were weirdos. It's so easy to just grab a container at the store, why would I go through the trouble of pulling out my food processor, getting garlic and lemon and chickpeas and making my own? And then I was trying to think of a good appetizer or snack to have out side while the boys play in the pool and I thought, heck, let me try to make some of my own so that I can control the garlic in it, and maybe just mayyyyyyybe my picky toddler will eat it. Lo and behold, he did! Not much, but he sure tried it, and that's a win in my book. Also lo and behold, it's super cost effective to make your own. Lo and behold x3, I put together this zesty summer hummus recipe in less than a minute and a half. Seriously. Post contains affiliate links.

Like I said, I wanted to control the garlic in this hummus to appeal to little taste buds. Plus, ever since I had Henry, I just don't like garlic-y foods! It doesn't taste right and it doesn't sit well after it's eaten. Pregnancy, right? Anyway, I've found some store bought stuff that isn't too dry (Grandma's Hummus which is at Whole Foods) but it's really sharp with heavy lemon and garlic. So, you know, the kids won't touch it.

This recipe gets a little zest from the one clove I included, and a big hit of flavor from the whole lemon. The sweet paprika balances out the flavor, and the navy beans add a smooth texture. If you're looking for a crowd-pleaser to serve at your next party, make this! Little and big taste buds will enjoy it, and there's nothing in it to spoil, so you can leave it out for a few hours if you're hosting a party.

Zesty Summer Hummus Recipe:
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 can navy beans
- juice from one whole lemon
- 1 clove garlic (don't use that pre-chopped crap. Get a real clove of fresh garlic!)
- 1-2 teaspoons sea salt (start with one and add more if desired after tasting)
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika 
- olive oil

In a food processor (and seriously, if you don't have one of these, invest in your kitchen and get one! It has come in so handy, so many times. If that price point turns you off, here's a mini one by the same amazing brand) put the salt and the garlic and pulse until finely chopped. The salt will help grind down the garlic so you don't get a huge chunk in your mouth, choke at your party and then offend everyone with your breath the next day!

Drain and rinse the beans and chickpeas and add to the food processor. Add half the paprika and juice the lemon (did you get this juicer yet?! I told you I use it ALL. THE. TIME) Turn the food processor on, and drizzle the olive oil in through the top until you reach your desired consistency. Since you're using half navy beans, you'll use far less oil than you would if you use all chickpeas. Yay, lower calories!

Like it? Pin it!

Taste the hummus and decide if you want to add more salt. Transfer it to a serving bowl and dust with the remaining paprika. This zesty summer hummus recipe is great with fresh veggies, pretzels, rice crackers or tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy July 4th!

Taking today off to enjoy Independence Day. You should do the same! Get outside, get a beverage and play with some fireworks. Just be safe, mmmk? Those are explosives. See you Thursday!