Five Minute Fix: Cleaning the Microwave with Lemons

I ignored put off cleaning the microwave for far longer than I care to admit. It was disgusting. Finally when something reached out and grabbed my arm last night after using it I decided it was time to acknowledge the filth.

I remembered a trick I used to use back in the day for cleaning the microwave — something about lemons — but forgot the exact science. It could wait another day.

So this morning while I was wandering around aimlessly looking for something productive to do I remembered the disaster in the microwave. I quickly googled “lemon to clean microwave.”

Boom! It was easy as I remembered.

  1. Put some water in a microwave safe bowl
  2. Cut a lemon in half
  3. Squeeze juice into water
  4. Put lemon halves in water
  5. Nuke for 2 minutes
  6. Keep door closed for 5 minutes after it’s done running
  7. Wipe the microwave down with a sponge

Seriously — it doesn’t get easier or faster than that.

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There’s a Chef in My Kitchen!

Logan is 2 years and 4 months old now and really such an awesome little boy. He loves helping and learning new things so lately I have been having him help me prepare food in the kitchen. We have a little step ladder that he stands on next to me at the counter or we sit at the dining room table and work.

So far he has helped me make lemon bars, chicken tortilla soup, egg salad, sandwiches, meatballs, and french toast. For the helping I’ve had him add ingredients, mix, spread condiments, and assemble. He does really well and enjoys the processes.

I don’t remember how old my bigger kids were when I first introduced them to cooking and baking but I believe they were pretty young, too, probably just not this young. My daughter has been baking for as long as I can remember and does a great job at it. I think introducing them to the kitchen at a young age is a great way to create memories and share my love of cooking and baking with them. I hope they will all love it as much as I do when they are adults.

Okay.. This is him eating, not cooking, but food is food right?
Okay.. This is him eating, not cooking, but food is food right?

I read an article earlier this week about when to start kids in the kitchen, beginning with the age group 3-5. I was happy to realize we are already ahead of the game! While Logan doesn’t crack eggs or measure the ingredients yet he pretends to and is happy just doing the tasks I give to him. When he gets a little older and more comfortable with what we do I’ll teach him those skills. A big and unexpected plus I noticed last night was that while we were making meatballs the process was also helping him practice math and numbers. It was thrilling to hear him tell me the correct amount of cheese pieces we needed to add to the meat when asked “We have two how, many more do we need?”

It can be a little nerve wracking at first having a little helper who wants to be involved but I think just relaxing and enjoying the moment really makes it much easier. There will be messes and mistakes and sometimes a possible melt down or two but getting calmly through those moments are also teaching experiences. No need to freak out if salt gets dumped all over the floor, just explain about being careful. No need to worry if the ingredients aren’t measured correctly, it’s all learning coordination for them. I think making a big deal about how delicious the food tastes is important too, it builds confidence and encourages them to eat foods they might not normally try.

Have you introduced your kids to the kitchen at a young age? What were (are) your experiences?

After 15 Years — Getting Past the Idea of Perfect

I am a slacker. A procrastinator. A perfectionist.

Perfectionism (psychology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Perfectionism (philosophy).

Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.[1][2] It is best conceptualized as a multidimensional characteristic, as psychologists agree that there are many positive and negative aspects.[3] In its maladaptive form, perfectionism drives people to attempt to achieve an unattainable ideal, and their adaptive perfectionism can sometimes motivate them to reach their goals. In the end, they derive pleasure from doing so. When perfectionists do not reach their goals, they often fall into depression.

I’ve had pictures in storage, still in the processing envelopes, from since I had developed them, going back 15 years. I’ve needed to put them into albums for so long and thought of it as such a huge project because I wanted them to be in order and in nice thoughtful albums. Instead of putting them in albums though the pictures dating back to my first sons birth just sat in a big box in my attic.

On Saturday I found an empty album in the attic while looking through some clothes. I don’t even know where the album came from, but on a whim I grabbed it and all of the photo envelopes. I immediately went downstairs and sat in the dining room quickly putting the pictures in the empty slots. I didn’t put them in order first, or waste time thinking about it; I just put the photos in the album one by one until I was done. It took about 30 minutes and I was moving quickly.

There were a lot of memories that I was hiding away because I was letting perfectionism stand in my way. Letting that idea go was freeing though and now we all have memories to look at and enjoy. And the best part — no one cares that they aren’t in order.

This is just one example of a way I am trying to get past a glip in my personality traits. One example of how I  am trying to free myself from the self-imposed pressure. Do you have this perfectionism trait also?? Do you find that it holds you back from getting things done? Have you ever really thought about it? If you are a chronic procrastinator like me I suggest you ask yourself why and if it even hints to wanting things you do to end up larger than life, or perfect, why not try to let that idea go and just get whatever it is done. I’m telling you — it feels good!

Last Day of July! Updates on the Updates

This is going to be an update to my last post (or maybe last 2?) I received so many great ideas, shared experiences and pieces of advice from so many of you and I have to say thanks! Parenthood is tricky business and all the tips and tricks help make navigating through it much easier!

Vitamin Drop/Gripe Water Update

Well, I didn’t get to post yesterday because I slept late and then had a pretty rough morning. Real Henry has been a real handful and we decided that it was because of the vitamin drops with iron. We aren’t sure of course but have decided to do an experiment and stop giving him the drops to see if his discomfort settles down. I figure it will take a day or two to get the iron out of his system and then we will decide what to do from there. I know for a fact that iron messes my stomach up horribly so it’s quite possible that it is seriously causing him some pain!

Kai from Oh Darling Let Us Be made a good point in the comments the other day that babies have a reserve of iron in their systems that will get them through until they are 6 months. She had some other good points and the best advice was to make decisions that were right for you and the baby. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about the iron reserve so I feel confident that stopping the vitamins won’t cause a major catastrophe, if any trouble at all.

While the gripe water helps a lot its temporary relief and doesn’t fix the problem. Also after some more reading on Kellymom I found that it said we really shouldn’t rely on products like that, we should actually solve the problem. I haven’t researched their opinion on the drops yet though. Of course I’ll do some more research but for the next few days I won’t be giving the drops to him and I’ll see where that gets us. Everything is conflicting and trial and error at this point lol

Depo Provera Shot Side Effects, Baby Blues or Post-Partum Depression

Other than a fussy real Henry things are doing okay here. While Aidan’s sister was here the other day we got into a discussion of birth control and it dawned on me that I got the Depo shot before I left the hospital. A light bulb went off and I decided to look up the side effects.. Sure enough depression is a common one. Within 24 hours I felt better just knowing that my moodiness and sadness might just be a chemical imbalance because of the shot. My anxiety has lessened just realizing that it’s possible that the depression was self caused. Does that make sense? I feel like I have more control over it. Weird or not, I do feel better but will still monitor myself. All I know is that Aidan better make that urologist appointment soon because I won’t be getting another shot!

Don’t Leave Meeee!

Speaking of Aidan, he goes back to work on Monday and I admit that I am dreading it! It’s been a pretty rough week and I know it’s going to be really hard next week when he can’t help e at all. I’ll get through it though, I just have to channel my 21 year old self when I had two babies under two and took care of them just fine.

Another Newborn Trick: Fresh Air

Yesterday when real Henry was fussing I decided to take him outside to see if that would calm him down. It was a trick that I remembered working when Regina was an infant and blog Henry got a chance to play on the porch with his bubble machine. It worked! Both babies were happy and I was relieved! We stayed out there for an hour and even though it was super hot and humid the quiet made such a difference for everyone. After that the rest of the afternoon seemed much more manageable. I wish I could go for walks with them, that would definitely be a big help but my stomach is still really sore. In time though that will be a daily activity I imagine!

Dresser Research for the Nursery Update

We almost ordered a dresser from PBKids yesterday (and the day before)  because I received a 20% off coupon in email. We didn’t pull the trigger though. The dresser is really nice and much bigger than what we have now but the price is $900 and even though we have 20%  off that just took away the amount that we’d have to pay for the shipping. Not a great deal. So we are waiting. IKEA has a similar dresser for $250 and I can’t shake that out of my head. Sure the quality won’t be the same but come on that is like $700 less. $700! I think I am just going to try talking Aidan into that option. We could also get a chest, a toddler bed, shelves and organizing stuff and still not reach the $900-1,000 price tag of the PBKids dresser. Reality bites when you aren’t a millionaire but there are always options and smart decisions to be made :)

Okay well, I think I’m done blabbing today, thanks for listening! I hope you all have a fantastic Friday (omg it’s Friday already?!) and a great weekend! Thanks again to everyone who has shared their labor and newborn experiences! It really means a lot to know we aren’t alone with our struggles and advice is definitely always a plus!

Cluster F$#@ing! Owww!

Even though there wasn’t a lot of time between when I stopped breastfeeding blog Henry and started breastfeeding real Henry there have been some things that I had completely forgot about breastfeeding in general. More specifically, I forgot all about cluster feeding.

Are you familiar with the term? If you are a breastfeeding mom, or were in the past, I am sure you remember it all too well! Even if you had long forgotten about cluster feeding (the way I had) I’m sure just reading the term brings you back in time.

In the off-chance you need a refresher, or you haven’t gotten to the point in your baby’s life that you’ve become familiar with cluster feeding, I’ll tell you what it is.. It’s hell. Just kidding (sort of!) These short periods of time aren’t really a lot of fun for you or your boobs but it will give you something to talk about! ;)

Basically the baby wants your nipple in his or her mouth for most of the day for about 1-3 days. It can be slow torture if you aren’t expecting it and can really put a damper on any plans you may have. The phase passes for a while and everything returns to normal before it retakes over your life for a few days again.

Cluster feeding happens about 4-6 times during the baby’s first year. Usually, the first time is within the first few weeks of life and then about once a month until 3 months. Then again at 6 & 8 & 12 months. I found with blog Henry each time it was for less time and by the end of his first year it was only about a half-day long event. It’s rough in the beginning though, I won’t lie. Most research seems to think that cluster feeding is a way for the babies to stimulate your milk production and I have to agree. It only makes sense!

So, if you are a first time breast feeder don’t get discouraged or think there is something wrong with your sweet little baby when he or she suddenly turns into a boobie eating monster. It’s normal and necessary. Just accept it, hunker down, watch a lot of tv or read a lot of books and sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat when you can. The phase will pass and in the end you will have enough of a milk supply to keep up with your growing baby. Also, keep in mind that once the few days of torture pass your baby will return to their regular eating schedule and don’t let me forget to mention all of the calories you’ll be getting rid of!

Right now I am going through the first cluster feeding with real Henry and it is a serious pain in the boobs. My nipples hurt and I am exhausted but knowing it will end today at some point or even tomorrow is the light at the end of the tunnel for me. Babies grow so quickly and I like to think of this time as a way to bond closely with them, it’s not ideal in the sense that you can’t control when it happens but it really does force you to slow down and focus on just them while it is happening.

Does anyone remember the torture they went through with their own babies and cluster feeding? Do you have any tips to get a first time breast feeder through these stages? Horror stories and lovely stories are welcome!

A great breast feeding resource that talks more about everything breast feeding is KellyMom.com check it out if you ever have any concerns or questions, I’ve found it to be very helpful!

Burnin’ Down the House

It’s only 7 am and I’ve already faced two failures. The first would be waking up late and the second was nearly burning down the house. While these aren’t what I consider epic failures they were both enough to get my ass moving.

Waking up late is self-explanatory and even though it was only by ten minutes, those ten minutes normally are filled with coffee time. This just threw me off of my game. The big kids got up and out to the bus on time just fine though, so all’s okay.

Nearly burning the house down, however, is not something I’m used to at this early hour. This failure was due to me trying a new cleaning trick before I consumed enough of before mentioned coffee.

Last night I made a pot roast for dinner but had the burner on too high while it was cooking. That resulted in a half-inch of burnt meat, sauce, and veggies stuck to the bottom of my enamel pot. I didn’t want to deal with it last night, so I left the pot on the stove to clean this morning. I wasn’t smart enough to put the lid on the pot though so the whole house stunk horribly this morning.

Coincidentally, I had just read an article the other day about cleaning the burnt food off of dutch ovens without the need of soaking the pot for days on end. Yay! Something new to try! Smart lady I am decided (still half-asleep) that I would give the method a go immediately. Instead of using my common sense and re-reading the article I attempted to do it by memory.

I put water in the pot, dumped a lot of baking soda in, stuck the lid on, and set the burner to high. (WRONG.) Then I went upstairs to wake Aidan up and decided I’d check the directions. They said I should have brought the water to a simmer, added some baking soda, and start to scrape the pan with a wooden spoon. No biggie, my approach wouldn’t change the outcome much. (WRONG AGAIN.)

After Aidan was awake, I came back downstairs to the smell of burning beef, grease, or something that could only be described as horrible. Sure enough, my approach did make that much of a difference and the pot was boiling over into the burner. Flames were shooting everywhere. The roast was super fatty and a grease fire was starting. I held my breath and shut off the burner. The fire quickly stopped. Thank you, house keeping gods.

Here is a picture of the pot after my first (incorrect) attempt to get it clean:

IMG_1713Yum. I’m sure you can use your imagination to visualize how bad it was before I started. Yes, it was ten times worse.

“Are you cooking something? It smells kind of nauseating upstairs.”

Aidan came downstairs and commented on how lovely the house smelled. Then he gave me his opinion on how to clean the pot (soak it). I’m determined not to have this thing sit on my counter for countless days though and I’m interested to see if this baking soda method will work, which it probably will if I follow the directions.

I’ll be start the second attempt shortly, after the pot cools off and I can be assured adding water won’t crack it. Now I also have to wash the outside of the pot off first because it is now covered in greasy, baking soda liquid. More accurately, I’ll probably try again in a few hours because the pot is super heavy and I’m not feeling so lucky. I’d probably drop it on my foot or something. Stay tuned.

Five Minute Fix: Wrapping Text Around Your Photos

I was recently asked how I wrap text around my pictures and because I also see this question pop up from time to time I decided to write a tutorial post about it.

IMG_2016Wrapping text around pictures is an easy way to make your page or post look a little different than the normal picture posts. While it is an easy process it can sometimes be a little tricky to get the words to line up correctly so it might require some patience while you finagle your photo.

There are a few ways that you can tackle this effect but for the purpose of this tutorial I am going to be writing most my text first and then adding the pictures in afterwards.  The picture(s) can also be added as you are writing, but I find it a little easier to add them in at the end.

Before I get into a step by step I just wanted to address a few things so you’ll have a good understanding of what I am talking about.

The first thing worth mentioning is that you’ll want to have enough words in your post to make the text look full enough.  When I say “full enough” I mean that you have enough words to actually wrap around the text instead of your words ending and then having the picture overhang. This usually isn’t a problem if you are only using one picture but can be trouble if you are using more than a couple of pictures and don’t really have a lot of written content.

The second thing I want to mention is the toolbar that we will be using to format your text and picture option. This toolbar is accessed by clicking on the photo once you’ve added into your editor. Immediately after selecting media to add you are given a few options of what you can do with your photo but there are more options that don’t show up on that screen. Once you have selected and added your picture to your post you can make even more changes to it by clicking the photo in your editor. When you click on the picture in your postIMG_2040 from the editor page, little symbols on a menu will pop up. These are the options that allow you to format your picture, including the way your text behaves around the photo.

This is the toolbar we will be using to nest your photos and it offers a variety of options:

  • The first symbol (left) will allow the photo nestle in the photo like the first paragraph.
  • The second symbol from the left will allow text at the top of the picture as well as the bottom, and is the most commonly used format.
  • The third symbol from the left will move your picture to the right of the text and allow your words to wrap around it like my first paragraphs example but reversed.

*Note: These left and right wrap photos are a little tricky to align and might need a little practice. Sometimes it is hard to get the photo exactly where you want it, I don’t know why.

If your photo doesn’t end up exactly where you’d like it once you insert it into the post you can “grab” the photo and move it back into your text. To do this click the picture but don’t let go. Using the mouse drag the picture further up (or down) the paragraph.

This is the part where you need patience but it can be done! Just keep trying :)

  • The fourth symbol that in the pop up allows you to add the photo anywhere you want it but it it won’t nestle in your text.  I admit that I have never used this option and don’t know how it could be used effectively, maybe someone else who is reading this does know and can offer information.
  • The last symbol you will see from clicking on the media you’ve added to your post is a really important one. The pencil symbol controls a few things about the photo and you really should get to know this button.  With this button you can:
    • change the size of your photos* — ranging from thumbnail to custom sizes
    • add a title to your photo which is great for SEO if you are trying to improve
    • the file name can be changed, great for SEO and organizing
    • borders can be added
    • the way the photo will appear when readers click on it, a separate page or just larger

Now that we have that out of the way, here is a step by step of what to do:

  1. write your post
  2. click the add media button and select your picture
  3. click on the picture the shows in the editor
  4. select one of the symbols for your alignment options
  5. drag your photo to where you would like it to be located
  6. preview your work
  7. repeat until all photos are entered and you are satisfied
*note: If your photo is too large or small and doesn’t look correct in your text once you’ve moved it into place it can be resized by using the last (pencil) symbol.

I hope that this was easy to understand and that you will be able to use this option when it comes to changing the way your posts look. Please let me know if you have any questions about this post and I will try to clarify better. Also, if you have any other questions on how to do something, as always I’d love to help, just let me know!