Our Favorite Homemade Cleaning Products

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We used to buy all the big brand cleaning products, they did a good job and made everything smell good. Then we had children and everything looked dangerous. One by one we trashed all our everyday products. It seemed like the kids were licking and putting everything in their mouths every second our backs were turned. So we looked up all natural do it yourself recipes and we are so much happier! We don’t have to worry about the kids licking, touching, or breathing in chemicals and we’ve saved so much money!

All Purpose Cleaner

In a spray bottle, fill half with Distilled White Vinegar and half Water. We also add about 20 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil but any scent is fine, and adding essential oil is optional. We use peppermint oil because other than liking the scent it is also supposed to be a pest deterant.

Glass Cleaner

If we can’t get a window or mirror clean with a microfiber cloth alone then we use this mixture. In a spray bottle, fill half with Rubbing Alcohol and half Water, then add 1 Tablespoon Distilled White Vinegar.

Drain Cleaner

This is best used for regular use in keeping drains clear and smell free and from getting clogged up, not for when the drain is already clogged. Use 1/4 Cup Baking Soda then slowly pour 1/4 Cup Distilled White Vinegar over the Baking Soda. Wait 1 Hour. Then pour Boiling Water (careful!) down the drain. We usually like to do this once a week just after washing and emptying the sink.

Air Freshener

In a spray bottle, use 1/2 Cup Distilled White Vinegar and 1/2 Cup Water. Then add 15 drops of your favorite scent of Essential Oil. We use different scents for different areas. Lavender in the bedrooms. Orange in the bathrooms.

 

Our Kids Top 10 Favorite Movies

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These movies and movie series are the ones that have been played over and over and over at our house. Some of them have been played so many times that we’ve had to buy them again after the dvds were damaged from being wrestled out of their cases so many times by little hands. So if you don’t yet own any of these movies then we highly recommend them!

Despicable Me

We have all of the Dispicable Me movies plus the mini-movies. The kids love the minions!

Toy Story

The kids love to act out different scenes themselves and with their toys. And they really enjoyed Mr. Potatohead after watching this movie.

Finding Nemo

This is a favorite bedtime movie. All of the under the sea colors and songs calm the kids down. Sometimes they even fall asleep watching it.

Turbo

The kids think talking snails are entertaining. And after watching this movie they usually like to play racing games with each other and with their toys.

Kung Fu Panda

These movies are high in action and energy. Great for right before going outside. Don’t be surprised if your children start doing kung fu moves, ours jump all over the bed while watching these movies.

Ice Age

Animals and dinosaurs! The favorite of this series of movies is Dawn of the Dinosaurs but the kids really enjoy and ask for all of them. They think a lot of the antics are funny.

Shrek

Our boy loves Shrek mainly for making all kinds of gross noises. And we hear a lot of yucks and laughter for these movies.

Meet The Robinsons

Another bedtime favorite movie. Really sparks the imagination.

Madagascar

All the animal toys always come out after these movies.

Rango

Animals in the old wild west. Our boy really enjoys acting out scenes from this movie and playing cowboy afterwards.

A Happier You – 28 Day Challenge

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Everyone can benefit from a little extra happiness in their lives. But sometimes you need a little help finding that extra happiness. Well this is a 28 day challenge for you! And at the end of the 28 days, hopefully you will find some new habits that work for you! Need more motivation? Do these as a family! You are in control of your own happiness. These exercises are not just meant to be done once. Try it once and if you enjoy the assignment for the day, repeat it the next day! The goal here is to give your happiness priority in your life.

Day 1 Expose Yourself to Nature

Add some houseplants to your home. Go outside and find something in nature to bring into your home for decoration. Even sticks in a nice vase will work. Change your screensavers and background images to pictures of nature. Surrounding yourself with reminders of the great outdoors is a mood booster. And just maybe you will be more motivated to spend more time in nature.

Day 2 Think of Three Funny Things

Think of three funny memories, stories, pictures, funny faces or things your kids have said recently. They should be funny enough to make you laugh again or at least make you crack a smile.

Day 3 Write Down Your Worries

Writing down things that worry you or stress you out helps clear your mind of negative clutter. And putting that negativity down on paper puts it into better perspective. When you are done, think about how the worries benefit your life. They don’t! Look at the list one more time then throw it in the trash!

Day 4 Add Turmeric to Your Diet

Lots of health benefits to adding turmeric to your diet. Add a dash to your food or into your tea. Look up the health benefits.

Day 5 Eat Some Dark Chocolate

Chocolate improves your mood and produces feel good emotions. Dark chocolate has antioxidants and heart healthy flavinoids. Eat Some Dark Chocolate.

Day 6 Dance for 15 min

Get your heart pumping! Feel too silly to dance? Do a cardio workout instead. The point is, get moving! Feel like doing more than 15 min? Dance until you drop!

Day 7 Foot Massage

Give yourself a foot massage. Even better? Get someone else to do it.

Day 8 Listen to Positive Music

Listen to some upbeat music that tempts you to sing along, exercise harder, dance around your kitchen.

Day 9 Smell Lavender Before Bed

Smelling the scent of lavender before bed is supposed to help you sleep deeper. And restful sleep is very important. Add a light scent of lavender to every bedroom to promote better sleep throughout your home.

Day 10 Meditate

Breathe in positive energy through your nose and exhale negative energy through your mouth.

Day 11 Declutter

Pick a drawer, a shelf, a cabinet. Start somewhere small and get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year. Put things where they belong. If you get rid of a little clutter everyday or at least once a week, at some point you might actually be clutter free!

Day 12 Plan A Week of Outfits

Plan a week of nice outfits, flattering outfits that fit you properly and make you feel good. Then wear them! The time you save trying to plan outfits for the day can be spent doing something else.

Day 13 Prep/Plan Tomorrow’s Meals

At the end of the night, get everything ready for tomorrow’s meals. Pull out all the pots and pans you will use, set out all the dry ingredients. Chop/mix and prepare as much as you can and put it in one area of the refrigerator. Tomorrow you will enjoy easy meals.

Day 14 Tea Time

Take a tea break. Sit down and drink a warm or cold glass of tea. Commit to staying seated until you finish. Take the time to really enjoy some quiet time. Bonus points if you sit outside.

Day 15 Think of Three Beautiful Things

Think of three things that are beautiful and inspiring to you. Maybe you can think of nature scenes like sunsets, your children’s smiling or sleeping faces, artwork that you really enjoyed.

Day 16 Be Grateful

Take the time to appreciate everything and everyone in your life. Really be grateful for what you have and remind yourself that there are less fortunate people in the world.

Day 17 Do Something Nice

Show your appreciation for those you love. Maybe cook their favorite meal, bake cookies for your family. Write a letter, give a gift, donate to charity. Do something positive for someone else just to be nice, no strings attached.

Day 18 Take Happy Pictures

They can be silly pictures of your children, your pets, even yourself! Play photographer for the day.

Day 19 Probiotics

Start taking a daily supplement of Probiotics or eat some yogurt or fermented food. Make your gut happy.

Day 20 Fresh Air

Go outside and get some fresh air. Live in the city? Go to a park. Take a walk, even go hiking! Sit at the beach. At the very least, open some windows!

Day 21 Start an Active Morning Routine

You probably already have a morning routine, add in a few minutes to make your bed then do a few stretches and push ups. You don’t have to get down on the floor or do a lot. Just lean up against a dresser or your bed and do three or more. The point is to get your blood circulating. Then brush your teeth and get dressed and get on with your day.

Day 22 Eat Fruit

Make sure you have fruit in your daily diet. If you’re already ahead of the game and eat fruit then try a new fruit or a new recipe.

Day 23 Straighten Up

Sit up and stand up straight. Good posture is good for your core and makes you more productive.

Day 24 Watch a Comedy

Stay in or go to the movies and find a good comedy to watch. Better yet, watch a comedy with your entire family. Laugh at the movie, don’t hold it in!

Day 25 Eat Some Walnuts

Look up the health benefits of walnuts then add them to your diet. They are good for your brain!

Day 26 Wash Worries Away

Take a long, relaxing shower or bath. Make the time for one! Imagine all your stress and worries washing off of you and going down the drain. This is best done near or at the end of your day so you’re not thinking about what you need to get done or hurrying so you’re not late for something.

Day 27 Eat a Vegetable

Just like fruit, make sure there is at least one vegetable in your daily diet. And hopefully you already eat your veggies and can try a new vegetable or recipe. Trying new foods adds more variety to your diet and makes you more open to try new things.

Day 28 Reflect

You made it! Take today to celebrate following through on a challenge and reflect on what you enjoyed doing. Make them part of your daily or weekly habits. Better yet? Start all over tomorrow or make yourself your own 28 Day Challenge to a Happier You full of things that you enjoy doing. Thank you so much for participating!

What would you add to your 28 Day Challenge to a Happier You if you had to do it again?

 

 

 

Family Health Tips

 

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Good health is so important. Keeping your family healthy shouldn’t be hard. Just small changes can make a big difference. We didn’t really try to be healthy until our second child was born and my parents moved in. With so many people in one home it was time to get healthier! We’ve noticed that we all have more energy, we’re getting sick less often, and we just feel better overall. These are just basic health tips, we’re always looking for more strategies for being healthy and I’ll be adding more health related posts soon!

Drink More Water

Stay hydrated! Staying hydrated is so important to your body. Water keeps your body functioning properly and aids in metabolism.

Cook From Scratch

The less processed your food is, the better! Less processed foods have more vitamins and less preservatives.

Exercise

Great to boost your metabolism and burn off that fat. Exercise in the sun and get a good dose of Vitamin D.

Fruits and Vegetables

Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables as much as you can into your meals and snacks. Full of vitamins and minerals to give you energy and boost your immune system.

More Fiber

Keeps your blood sugar regular, your family regular, and keeps you full longer. Need more energy? Add more fiber!

No High Fructose Corn Syrup

This stuff is so bad its banned in some countries. Start reading labels! High fructose corn syrup can be found in almost anything. We were so surprised at the amount of food and drinks this stuff was in when we started reading labels.

No Soda

Almost all soda has high fructose corn syrup. There are a lot of companies starting to make real sugar versions but its better to avoid soda altogether. All that sugar is bad for your health on many levels. Can’t cut that craving? There are soda flavors available that can be added to your water.

Eat Less Meat

We love meat, but eating less of it has made us have less stomach trouble and feel better. Love a good burger? Try meatless black bean or mushroom burgers.

Less Salt

Everything in moderation. Look for no salt and low sodium products. Add salt sparingly to your food. The best way to use less salt, add more spices!

More Spice

There are so many health benefits in different spices. Chili powder boosts your metabolism. Turmeric is an antiinflamatory. Garlic helps circulation. Most spices have multiple benefits. And the best part? They add so much flavor to your foods and drinks!

What is your best health tip or experience?

Bad Weather Indoor Activities

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Staying indoors during bad weather is a good idea. But now what? Its always nice to take advantage of a bad weather day by spending some quality time with your family. Here are some ideas for indoor activities.

Modeling Clay

The possibilities are endless, have some on hand or look for online recipes for making your own.

Drawing

Use crayons, colored pencils, markers, make artwork and hang it up.

Coloring Book

Great practice for coloring inside the lines and many coloring books contain activities like mazes and puzzles.

Make Homemade Cards

Make cards ahead for birthdays, just because, and holidays. Can also be a good time to get creative for invitations for your next family party.

Reading Time

Everyone can pick their favorite books and read together.

Create a Book

Everyone can make their own stories, illustrations, and books or work together to make a unique family book.

Big Box Fun

Save a big cardboard box or several and get creative! Everyone can take turns with the box or work together to really turn it into something great!

Dress Up

Always fun to dress up in different costumes and pretend to be different characters. Take it a step further and make new costumes. Maybe even make a play to surprise your next visitors.

Jewelry Making

Make some jewelry trying different techniques and materials. Make them for yourselves, each other, or for future gifts.

Bake

Cold day? Great way to warm up the house. Make cookies and cupcakes to decorate.

Puzzle

Work on smaller ones or get a big one and work on it together. Make it more challenging by hiding the picture or not telling anyone what it is.

Board Game

There are so many fun board games for all ages. Play against each other or in teams. Winner gets to pick the next game.

Movie Time

Find a new movie to watch together or let everyone pick their favorite. Bonus points if you make a fun snack together.

Exercise

Being stuck inside is no excuse to not be active. Pick an upbeat workout video to try and laugh at each other not being perfectly coordinated.

Learning Time

Great time to find something new on the internet to learn about and share with each other. New discoveries are being made everyday.

Puppet Show

Make a puppet show individually or in teams. Bonus points if everyone makes their own puppets.

Make a Fort

Use sheets, the dining room table, chairs.

Camp In

Set up camp somewhere inside. Pitch a tent, pack snacks, sleep on the floor.

Scrapbook

Have a pile of pictures that need to be put in a scrapbook or album? Work together and be creative. You could also look at old family albums. Learn/teach about your family tree and enjoy telling family stories.

Decorate

Make decorations. Have a holiday coming up? Get a head start on putting up decorations. Make seasonal decorations.

 

 

 

 

Easy Ways to Make A Happier Home

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Sometimes we all need some cheering up. Home should be a happy healthy place to escape from the negativity and stress of your family’s outside lives. There’s always room for more happiness in your life. Home is a good foundation to build security and comfort to your life and to your family.

Natural Light

Let in the light! Natural light is healthy and helps lift your mood. If you need privacy then let light come in the top half of your blinds, above eye level. Sheer curtains also work well to let in the light without sacrificing your privacy.

Sort Mail Immediately

Piles of mail create clutter and add up very quickly. As soon as you receive mail, immediately throw out the junk mail, sort/pay your bills, make/add to your grocery list so you can toss the flyer, cut your coupons, and erase the stress of forgetting to pay something or adding to clutter around the house.

Clean Your Windows

And then open them! Fresh air is a great way to freshen up your home and let out the stale air. We tend to open our windows more at night for better sleep.

Fill Your Home With Energizing Citrus Scents

Citrus scents can be achieved by boiling lemons and oranges. We then use the infused water to make cleaning products that also help give our home an invigorating feel. Essential oils are also great and easy to use.

Grow Something

Plants are great for filtering the air and providing your family with more oxygen. Snake plants are easy to grow in any room and green colors are calming.

Keep Work Areas Clear

Kitchen counters, desks, sinks, most surfaces that serve a purpose should be kept clear in order to serve their purpose. How can you be motivated to make a great meal in a cluttered kitchen? Clutter equals stress, clear it all away!

Bake

Bake bread, cakes, cookies. Baking is a great way to make everyone feel welcome in your home. We try to bake something once a week. Bake with your children and with your spouse to create memories. Memories transform a house into a home.

Play Music

There is almost always upbeat background music playing in our kitchen. We do a lot of singing and dancing in the kitchen. Its hard to be in a bad mood with happy music on!

Be Grateful

Remind yourself and your family to be grateful for your home and for everyone in it. Pictures of great times spent together are great to remind yourself of all your happy memories. Be thankful for what you have.

Add Your Personality

Your home is a reflection of yourself. Make sure it is full of reminders of people and things that make you happy. Don’t have a home to impress other people. Have a home that serves you and your family. Your opinions of your home are what matter most.

Saving Money on Birthday Parties

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Birthday Parties or any Parties in general can become very expensive, very fast! But planning ahead can save you a lot of time and money. When you are trying to save money but still want to have a nice party to remember you need to get creative! These ideas have worked for us.

1. Start a Birthday Storage Tote

This has helped us so much. Use a clear tote to store reusable items, games, favors, serving platters, decorations, etc. Right now we use a birthday tote and a party tote. In the future we’ll probably use two, one for the girls and one for the boys. Great place for birthday candles!

2. Similar Themes and/or Colors

Try to plan similar themes like Dinosaurs then Jungle Animals then Zoo Safari, anything where you can use items from a previous party. All three of those themes could use similar colors for servingware and decorations.

3. Buy Supplies on Sale

Always try to think ahead to future parties and look for sales and clearance items. Ever since we’ve started planning ahead, our parties have been stress free. We like to pick up a lot of items after holidays and during big sale times like Black Friday.

4. Party at Home

Our kids love Bounce Houses and going to those indoor play places to jump around. Those parties are expensive. The best investment we ever made was buying our own inflatable and having all the fun at home. This is the one we bought. It is fantastic with or without water and keeps the kids occupied for hours!

5. Make Your Own Cake Or Cupcakes

Or better yet, let your guests decorate their own cupcakes for an activity. I love to bake so making cakes and cupcakes is fun for me but if its not for you then try to ask a friend or family member. The last time we bought a birthday cake it was $20 for a small cake, I could have made a large cake for less than $10. Lesson learned.

6. Serve Pizza and Hot Dogs

Make another activity! Personal Pizzas! Let your guests add their own toppings. And kids love hot dogs. Don’t overthink party food. You don’t have to serve pizza and hot dogs, but the point is, Keep it Simple! And bonus creativity points if you serve food depending on what is on sale at your local grocery store.

7. Use Brown Paper for Covering Tables

We bought a big roll of thick brown paper for eating crabs four years ago, and we’re still using it. At the end of every party we just roll it up and throw it away. I sometimes dress up the tables with runners and mason jars full of anything but they really work well by themselves. And the kids can decorate and make a mess and no worries!

8. Make your own Favor Bags

Send them home with cookies or special homemade treats. We also keep an eye out for small toys and stickers on sale if they fit the theme. And if not, they can always be used around the holidays for stocking stuffers.

9. Make Your Own Decorations

Get your kids involved! Use what you have around the house and surf the internet. There are so many ideas online about DIY decorations. My favorite easy decoration to make is paper chain garlands. Have fun!

10. Don’t forget who the party is for!

Make a party you are proud of and that you can afford. Be proud of all your hard work. Let the kids have fun and don’t break the bank trying to entertain them. Kids have a tendency to make their own fun. Don’t try to impress other parents, its about the birthday boy or girl! Make sure they feel special on their special day!