Blog, Health and Wellness, Home & Garden, Recipes, Uncategorized

Pre-vacation cleaning

My household is getting ready for a week of vacation. In preparation, I have spent time trying to fit two week’s worth of activity into one! There is always so much to do before leaving. Maybe some people can just pack and go. I’m not one of those people. A perfectionist of sorts, I like to have the house cleaned from top to bottom before departure. This is in addition to wrapping up all my work responsibilities, packing, last minute shopping, and laundry. I absolutely love returning to a clean house.

Something you might find of interest is what I am using since going on my chemical reduction spree. My all-purpose cleaner of choice is a water-vinegar-essential oil combo.

What you need:

All-Purpose Spray Bottle (Target had a 32oz bottle in stock)

12 oz water

12 oz vinegar

10-15 drops of essential oil (lavender, lemon, grapefruit are all great choices)

Directions:

Combine ingredients and shake vigorously a few times prior to each use. Clean away as usual!

According to Livestrong.com, “Common white and cider vinegar have a 5 percent acidity, which is why they make effective cleansers and home remedies.”

When used in conjunction with baking soda (as an abrasive) I’ve found it to be very effective at cleaning and freshening. Particularly useful for attacking scum buildup in sinks, bathrooms, shower stalls, etc. It is also fun to use this combo because it is reminiscent of a 6th grade science experiment the way that it fizzes and bubbles. It’s the little things in life that bring such joy.

Happy Healthy Cleaning! So.excited.for.vacation!!

A.Lockhart

 

 

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Blog, Family, Home & Garden

Hasta Pronto, Sweet Kidlets!

J, L, C and J left for Costa Rica this morning! I woke up at 3:23am to the sound of the taxi pulling up the driveway. The kids were excited. J quote “I am going to Costa Rica, Heidi!” C quote “Let’s get this show on the road!” After some quick, last-minute hugs – they were off!

It’s clearly bitter-sweet. We are 99% so excited for all of them. The fun, the adventure, the “out of the norm”, the experience – (plus the free-vacation-lodging for us) – are all amazing things we would wish for anyone! The fact that they were given an opportunity to say “yes” to fear, and they actually did it, is brave, courageous, and makes me proud.

However we will definitely miss them. The opportunity is no longer there for a quick dinner, or a play date. A last-minute Happy Hour with L, or a quick pedicure. But that’s ok. It’s more than ok. It’s awesome. It’s a different way of living for us, as well! Facetime, long visits, and quality, extended time when we are face-to-face will be awesome. Even these last 4 nights as house-guests has been extremely fun, no stress, and truly a joy.

But that bitter-sweet 1% that is bitter – well, it isn’t even what I listed above, it’s that fact that I have to look at this today  –  while they are basking in the sunshine!!!!

snow

Adios, for now!

H Bloomer

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Blog, Home & Garden, Uncategorized

Taking down the Christmas Tree

I had the day off today because daycare was closed. So, today I did two things I haven’t done in awhile. One, I went outside and played with my kids in the snow. Two, I took down the Christmas Tree before January. Both small miracles. I’m not exactly an outdoorsy person in the wintertime. Can’t exactly remember the last time I was outside when the temp was below 32 degrees F. (Besides just skittering between building to car and back.) I’m not really cut out for the cold. My motivation for going out today was to “practice” for tomorrow. Who knows why, but I signed up for a New Year’s Day 5K spontaneously yesterday. Wish me luck.

As for the tree, let me just say it was a lot easier putting up than taking down. Our kittens discovered the tree a couple of weeks ago. They’ve made daily treks up and down the tree since then, disrupting lights, garland, and ornaments. As if untangling lights after being in storage for a year isn’t challenging enough…try untangling lights while they’re still on the tree! I’m excited to have a jump start on organizing my home back to “normal” after the holidays though.

Tonight we are off to a fun family celebration for New Year’s Eve. Party ends at 9p-which normally would bum me out on New Year’s, but I’ve got a chilly 5K to run tomorrow!

Happy New Year’s Everyone!!

Best,

A.Lockhart

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Friendship, Home & Garden, Parenting, Risk, Shopping

To Gift or Not To Gift, THAT is the question!

Over the years, I have had many great friends who I love dearly…some who I have known forever, some for a pretty long time, and some I have just met. Through it all I feel grateful and believe that friendship of any time period or deepness is one of our greatest gifts to have, and to give. However I ALWAYS struggle with what to do around Christmas time as it relates to gift-buying.

I love to buy and give gifts. It is fun, rewarding, and exciting. However, it is also expensive, and sometimes awkward to for the person you are gifting, if they didn’t gift you back.

What do you do with your friends around Christmas time?!

Some of my various traditions

  • Trading a bottle of wine
  • Dinner/Happy Hour
  • Baking together
  • Playdate with the family
  • and of course – a Gift Exchange!

Overall, it’s the time I spend with them, no matter what we do or give or get, that is the greatest gift of all!

Cheers,

Heidi

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Home & Garden

Three Easy Things to Make Household Chores a Breeze

I like to keep life simple. Order and routine is calming to me. However, it’s not always easy to keep order, routine, and simplicity while raising a three and four year old. As fast as I can pick up toys in the family room and sort them back into their designated storage space, the girls are just as fast at foiling my best efforts. Tornado-Clean Up Crew-Tornado Strikes Again is a really fun game for them. The kitchen table and rug underneath is another area where I just can’t win. My four year old eats like a bird. Tiny little pecks and nibbles, no matter how tiny the item is to begin with. She can make a single raisin last five minutes. FYI- Crackers, when eaten in tiny bits, leave crumbs e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.

Fortunately, there are three things I have done to maintain simplicity and order to at least some routines in my household.

  1. I bought only white towels and washcloths.
  2. I emptied the kitchen cupboards of excess plates, cups, and bowls to equal that of what the dishwasher can hold.
  3. I did a complete re-org of my pantry this summer, and created a printable Master Grocery List.

These three things have made my life a lot easier. They are simple ways in which I gained back some control over my time and routines and am now better able to spend my time doing other enjoyable things. I even have a separate laundry basket for the whites. When it is full, I grab it, no sorting needed, and add detergent and bleach. I kind of like how it seems almost hotel-like. A staycation every time I do laundry.

The exercise of emptying the kitchen cupboards of excess dishes was just something that needed to be done. Otherwise I was left with a cupboard still full of dishes, a full dishwasher, and some extras on the counter. We do run the dishwasher a little more frequently now, but I really appreciate being able to see my counter space at the end of each night. We have just what we need. The dishwasher is usually either half-full or half-empty. I guess it depends on how you look at it.

The re-org of the pantry has been the biggest time and sanity saver of all. You can read all about it in an article I wrote at the end of August called The Pantry Kanban Saved. I faithfully use my new grocery list every time I shop. We really do not deviate too much when it comes to food. I even organized the list so that it goes with the layout of the Super Target we shop at. What used to take me a couple hours now takes half the time.  I no longer come home with product and find that I already had two jars of spaghetti sauce either. Saving money, time, and sanity! What are your favorite money, time, or sanity savers?

Best,

A. Lockhart

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Blog, Home & Garden, Shopping

Cars, Crossovers, SUVs…Oh My!

We are on a search for a new vehicle or two. We have absolutely loved our 2003 Toyota Camry and 2008 Ford Edge. Our Camry was the car we bought right after getting married – it has taken us all over the United States, and has been there to take each of our kiddos home from the hospital, back and forth to daycare, and on many road trips across MN and WI. Our Edge has also been amazing. Its trunk space and ability to “drive like a car” have been wonderful.

However, it is time to put on a search for our next amazing vehicles/members of the family.

In a car, we are looking for: great gas mileage, high-end technology, easy to maneuver, and a great track record for transmission and other “worries.”

In an SUV, we are looking for: 7 seats, middle row bucket seats, easy to drive & park, decent storage space, not a mini-van, and also a great track record.

How do we even begin? There are so many options, in so many different price ranges. To test drive them all, it would take months!

As I embark on this journey, please shout out with ideas, feedback and advice. I will keep solid notes of all of my experiences, and ensure all of our reader fans receive a full report after the “dotted line is signed.”

Cheers,

H Bloomer

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Blog, Home & Garden

A Summer Project…. eh hem….I mean, the WHOLE summer project!

This spring we decided to finish our backyard patio. We bought a mass-builder grade home, and it had a tiny deck, with no stairs to lead into the yard, off of our back kitchen door. After selling the wood of the deck and removing it, we decided to tackle the backyard patio! How hard can it be, right? A couple thousand dollars, a week or two of work – and BAM, we’ll have an amazing patio for the the remainder of the summer! NOT!

Instead, we embarked on a stressful, “why even have a budget since it just keeps adding up?” type summer project.

The 5 learning’s I took away from this experience?

  1. I love my backyard, and having access to my backyard is something I will never take for granted again!
  2. As a project manager, being partially involved is way toooo stressful. Either be 100% involved and making all the decisions (which means being available at all hours), or hire out to a contractor to manage every detail.
  3. Don’t do a large home-project while your husband is in Asia for work, for 3 out of the 9 weeks of the project.
  4. Hiring out work is the way to go. Your time and sanity are way too valuable to drive yourself crazy doing your own project – unless you love learning new home/garden type projects and/or your have experience.
  5. Even though it wasn’t necessarily an enjoyable time, it taught me a lot of myself and how I function when the “project” is literally in my own backyard. And now, I appreciate that space more than ever! We use it weekly, typically much more than once. It is a fun place for family, neighbors and friends to gather, and the sweat and stress that went into it, was well worth the memories that will be made in this amazing outdoor living space.

Cheers,

Heidi

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