Friday, March 24, 2017

The Friday Five!!

We are gearing up for our spring break, so I'm keeping this week's Friday Five short and sweet. Between last minute shopping and packing, we've been ....

Cooking -- this is one of our family's favorite tastiest stews.

Reading -- the kids put a new book series on our Spring Bucket List, so we started this one this week.

Playing -- the kids are obsessed with my Words with Friends, so I've transitioned them to old school Scrabble.

Wanting -- I need some new spring booties and I'm kind of loving this blush pair.

Making -- we picked up this great sticker activity book at the Cooper Hewitt museum in New York and Cam has been working on it nonstop.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

5 Tips to Keep Spring Chores Green

Spring is finally here! That means my spring cleaning is in full force, but so is my effort to get the kiddos to help with chores. They have always had some sort of chore list, but as they get older, I feel like it's time to kick it up a notch. They are more capable of cleaning up after themselves.

But as I handed Cam a bottle of wipes to clean up her sink last week, I gave a second thought to what she was using to get the job done. I didn't really want her cute little six-year-old hands scrubbing chemicals everywhere. So I did a little research on how we can keep all of our spring chores a little greener this season.

Purchase Green Products
To start, trade out those chemical-laden products for a few green ones. You'll be keeping toxic chemicals away from you and your kids and out of the environment, too. There is a wide range of products available, but check out some of these tried and tested eco options. Also look for refillable products to help decrease the amount of plastic you're using.

Try a DIY Product
Still not happy with the green products commercially available? People swear by making their own. Trying a DIY product ensures you know exactly what you're using and helps the piggy bank too. How much time you need to make each product will vary, but start with these 25 recipes and see what is worth the effort.

Clean Indoor Air Naturally   

I love nothing more than opening every window in the house as soon as spring arrives! Letting all that fresh air in does everyone's mood so much good, and it helps sweep dust out as well. Stay away from chemical cleaners and air fresheners, though. If spring allergies prevent you from throwing the windows open, make sure you replace the HVAC filter before kicking the air on. It's always smart to service your system in advance, too.

Find a Green Dry Cleaner
At the end of winter, I send out all our winter coats and clothes that need to be dry cleaned before storing them away for next season. Conventional dry cleaning uses a whole host of really toxic chemicals. First, reconsider whether any of those items you are sending out can actually be washed by hand at home. For those that can't, look for a green dry cleaner who uses professional wet cleaning or liquid carbon dioxide cleaning.

Enforce a No-Shoe Policy

We have a no-shoe policy in our house for the kids, but whenever we entertain, I always feel sheepish about asking adults to take off their shoes, too. Consider setting up and enforcing a policy for everyone. You'll have less dirt and fewer chemicals tracked throughout your home that need to be cleaned up.

I know I'll feel so much better about enlisting the kids with cleaning help if it's safer for them. They certainly don't need another excuse for not helping!

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Griffith Energy Services, Inc. Thanks for helping to support the sponsors who support us!

Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 Spring Bucket List: 50+ Ideas to Put a Spring in Your Step!

Happy Spring Equinox!!! Despite the fact that we finally had some snow dumped on D.C. last week, the sun is out, the birds are chirping, and I'm going with spring. Which means .... new bucket list! We've been brainstorming up ideas for our annual seasonal list and I'm pretty excited to get started on this one. There are some old standbys, but the kids also came up with some pretty specific fun ideas for spring too. Have at it!

p.s. we knocked 30 items off of our Winter Bucket List -- not too shabby!

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Friday Five!!

I feel like I blinked and it's Friday again! We avoided a major snowstorm this week, but have had ridiculously freezing weather. I normally love getting out and about in the winter, but given that I was running in a tank top last week, I just couldn't bring myself to haul my winter gear back out again. So I feel like we've spent a lot of time indoors the last few days. No problem. We found a lot to do ....

Cooking -- we went to the Dead Rabbit last weekend for an Irish fix and the kids tried corned beef for the first time. They loved it so much that I made one of my fave easy recipes this week.

Reading -- we picked up Who Built That? Modern Houses: An Introduction to Modern Houses and Their Architects in New York this past weekend and we are all loving reading it together! I have an irrational dislike of Nicole Kidman, so I don't plan on watching the new show Big Little Lies. So, instead, I'm listening to the audiobook in the car. 

Playing -- the kids were obsessed with Monopoly Deal on our train trip. It's almost more cutthroat than the regular Monopoly!

Wanting -- I need some new slip ons for spring and have my eye on these gold Vans.

Making -- Cam's continued sewing everything in sight and has made several things from this cute accessories book this week.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Statue of Liberty + Ellis Island

We just spent a great long, albeit insanely freeing, weekend in NYC. In fact, it was so freaking cold that I hardly took any pictures -- my hands needed to stay bundled up! Nevertheless, I thought I'd share a few highlights of our trip. It had been a while since we'd taken the kids and a bunch of things just fell in place for a quick jaunt. So we took the kids up last Friday on the train, which was a first for them. It's so much easier than flying or driving (plus, we tested out a bunch of new travel games and activities, so keep your eyes peeled for an update post on those in advance of spring break!).

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Friday Five!!

We are headed out of town for a long weekend. Unfortunately we are headed into snow and cold weather, BUT, I'm still excited to get a little bit of a break for everyone. Before we packed up, here's what we were up to ....

Reading -- Kane has been reading Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back So You Want to Be a Jedi? and LOVES it. It seems like a great retelling and he gets a kick out of the jedi lessons, including some guided meditation techniques. And I just started Never Let Me Go.

Making -- Cam requested playdough this week, which we haven't done in forever. I whipped up a batch of her fave marbled glitter variety and she went to town.

Cooking -- did you catch our 30 Days of Dinner from this week? I still think the Fennel-Crusted Pork Chops with Potatoes and Shallots will be a monthly fave.

Wanting -- I've been painting my own nails for a while now, but I love to get one good mani every season. I kind of love this bright embellished cuticle mani.

Playing -- we've been playing a lot of games this week, but Just Desserts is one of our favorites. Maybe it's just because I can't have sugar.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

5 Tips for Spring Cleaning Prep

This winter hasn't been particularly harsh, but for some reason I've had the itch to kick off spring cleaning for a while now. Maybe it's just because our kids seem to have amassed a ridiculous amount of stuff this winter or because we've all had a never-ending cold, but I'm ready to whip our house into shape. In years past, I've let the cleaning impulse simmer only to lose my mind finally and start upending closets willy-nilly. Since then, I've become much better about preparing for spring cleaning, and I have a few tips to share.

Plan in Stages
I break down any real cleaning effort into three stages: purge, organize, and clean. Going through these sequentially seems like a lot of work, but I find that it really saves time in the end. There is no sense cleaning toys you end up giving away. I like to start on a level of our home and go through one stage at a time for all the rooms on a floor. 

Involve the Entire Family

I always loop our kids into a cleaning effort. It helps teach them to be responsible, to take care of their things, and to appreciate the daily efforts of maintaining a household. If they balk, I let them know that they can help make the purging decisions or that I can ruthlessly do it for them. Think of some ways to make it fun for them, too. Whip up a silly product like cleaning slime or turn making labels for their stuff into an art project.

Take Stock of Supplies
Go through your cleaning and organizing supplies and make a list of what you have and what you need. Planning ahead ensures that you have whatever you need to get the job done once you get started. I also find that buying supplies in bulk makes the effort more cost-effective.

Outsource Maintenance
There are several home maintenance items that you'll likely need to outsource to the pros. Plan ahead for things like sprinkler system, pool, and air conditioner maintenance. Service providers book up quickly, and you don't want to wait until you really need these systems.

Make a Schedule
It's easy to let all of this slide, so I like to make a schedule to hold myself accountable. It doesn't need to be a Martha Stewart-worthy calendar, although Martha has a great checklist that I use as a starting point. Making a simple list with dates for each stage is enough. I always like to give everyone a reward for crossing items off the schedule. Let the kids pick a small prize for doing a good job organizing their rooms. You don't want to go overboard, since a big part is of spring cleaning getting rid of excess things. A little incentive never hurts, though!

This might seem like a lot, but with a little bit of planning, I find these to be effective tips that get me started on spring cleaning. Now I just have to tell the kids.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Merritt Heating & Air Conditioning. Thanks for helping to support the sponsors who support us!