Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to polyurethane your front door :)

If you live in a hot, humid place like Texas, your front door will take a beating. Our front door is 15 years old, and the finish had started to really come off-particularly in places where we had taped notes to the door, etc.

If you look closely, the finish is patchy and very dull.  So I went to my hardware store, got some 320 (very fine) grit sandpaper, some tack cloth (very sticky cloth used to remove dust after sanding), a can of clear semi-gloss exterior polyurethane and a fine bristled paintbrush and got to work!
Step one: sand the entire surface of the door with sandpaper-you don't have to go nuts here-you just want to do enough to rough up the surface of the existing poly. Step two: wipe away all the sanding dust with the tack cloth.
Step three: paint on your new coat in even strokes, running the direction of the wood grain. Step four: wait 24 hours for it to dry and then viola! Just like new. The entire project (apart from the drying time) took just over an hour. And the total cost was $32 instead of the $200 it would cost for a professional painter to do it.

The finished product (it will be less shiny once it is fully dry)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Our minimalist journey

We are on a journey toward minimalism. For me, this will likely never mean bare walls and countertops and sleek, modern furniture. The minimalism I strive toward is no clutter, only owning what we actually use on a regular basis, and keeping a clean, organized house. Here are some pictures of the major rooms in our home-not stark by any means, but pared down to our favorite and most used things.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Live like you are moving :)

I have been on a months-long mission to de-clutter our house by de-owning our stuff. I have read a lot about how beneficial it is for kids to grow up in a clean, clutter-free, organized house. Here are a few of the benefits: (1) their brains are able to focus on more important things than having to process the visual (therefore cerebral) distraction of clutter everywhere; (2) they pick up good habits like cleaning up quickly and keeping things organized when they grow up in a house like that; (3) their parents are able to focus more time on them rather than having to run around looking for stuff and constantly battling junk everywhere; (4) parents also benefit from the calming effects of a clean house, which shows in the way they parent; (5) kids learn to really use and enjoy the toys they own rather than jumping from thing to thing to thing in a room or house filled with a million toys. The list goes on (and those of you who know my kids are probably laughing because my kid are little hellions a lot of the time, but imagine how cray they would be in a chaotic house!) ;)

Another benefit is that when it comes time to move (and we are all bound to move at least a time or two more in our lives), the process will be SO. MUCH. EASIER. I learned this lesson the hard way. We moved a few years ago, and we were so overwhelmed with STUFF that I had to sort through, pack up and move that I wound up straining muscles in my feet that resulted in debilitating pain for many months afterward (like, I couldn't stand up through an entire pump-it-up party or soccer game) and lingering pain that still flares up from time to time. So I decided that when we moved, we would start living like we could be ready to move any time (in terms of our stuff and the way we keep our house.)  If my husband was transferred to another city or state for his job, we could be ready to roll in a matter of days instead of the many weeks it took previously.  I try to embrace minimalism in terms of keeping only what we truly use on a regular (or at least a seasonal) basis. Clothes we outgrow or don't wear for over six months are automatically out of there. Same rule for toys. We have a "one in, one out" rule for both clothes and toys now (and gadgets, etc.)  For example, I really wanted an ice cream maker, so I had to part with the chocolate fountain that I love (but seriously have used like three times EVER). :)

I also try really hard to keep up with things like making sure to quickly paint over scuffs or stains on the walls, repairing shutters that are broken in our indoor soccer games, replacing ripped screens on windows, etc. I remember the hell that getting our house ready to show on the market was, and I never want to repeat that! I hope and expect that we will be in this house for at least the next ten years, but not only would be be showing/moving ready if the time came, but we are able to enjoy our house a lot more while we are still in it!!

I have finally pared down our seasonal decorations, mementos, sports equipment, etc. to just what remains in our garage. I also thought I would be more likely to keep up with it if I tried to think of our garage like any other room in our house by painting it and adding a little decor. It actually is the most important room in our house, because we park in there and enter our house through the garage, so I want to make sure it sets the right tone when we enter at the end of a long day! :)

In short, start small, start big, just start SOMEWHERE. Have a big old pile out on your curb each month for bulk trash and donate the stuff that is still usable! Take pictures of anything you feel sentimental about. (I mean, keep the things you feel REALLY sentimental about (i.e. your kid's first pair of ballet shoes, but be prepared to be really ruthless. You will be SO glad to be FREE of the clutter. It really does change the way you live.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Easy bathroom wall redo and bench from Amazon!

Our bathroom wall has bugged me since we moved in three years ago. The previous owners had hung a full-sized towel bar randomly way high up on the wall on the opposite side of the room from the shower--and, in total pet peevery, had hung it slightly crooked. I removed it from the wall, but they had internal anchors, so it pulled two big holes in the wall. We didn't have any of the paint to match (not sure why they went with a sage when the cabinets are blue/gray, but hey--whatever.)  So I hung some canvases over the holes, but it didn't look right. So I decided to patch the holes and paint 12-nch stripes on the wall in white to cover them.

Then I went to Michaels and got some little wooden crates that painted white and hung on the walls over the patched areas and filled them with flowers and an oil diffuser. Much better! But the wall  still looked kind of empty, and we needed a place to store a few supplies for haircutting (I cut everybody in our family's hair), so I found  great little white wooden storage bench on Amazon. I love it! It was cheap, cute, and super easy to assemble (took about 20 minutes).  Here's a link if you want one! (It would also look cute with some baskets in the bottom to hold towels (or shoes if you made it an entry way bench).

Next step is to replace the ugly can light in the ceiling with a chandelier, and then I think I'll be very happy with our bathroom--finally! :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My tiny and always-organized "wallet"

For years I had a huge wallet that took up a lot of room in my purse and was always stuffed with receipts, change and all manner of outdated cards and junk. Not to mention how hard it was to struggle my ID out of the little plastic pocket when I needed to hand it over at the airport, when buying adult beverages, etc.

So in the spirit of making life a little easier, I got a mini accordion card holder so now I only have the cards I actually need/use and no room to load it up with junk! :). It folds open so each card is very easy to get out and use!

How to organize and remember to use gift cards

I love gift cards! I love giving them because you know it's a gift that will be used and appreciated, and I love getting them! I just have a very hard time remembering to use them because we keep them in a drawer at home. Not helpful!! So in an effort to organize them and get them in a spot where we'll remember to spend them, I got a small accordion file from Target where I made the categories of cards that we have and now keep it in the (locked) glove box of the car so they are always with us!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to go plastic-free with kids!

So I'm not a total paranoid freak, I promise. I just don't love plastic. I know that a few years ago, BPA came out as a culprit in plastic that is potentially linked to cancer. I know there are many BPA-free plastic options out there. But I just prefer to avoid it for several reasons: (1) who knows what else may be in there that we just don't know is harmful yet?; (2) it's not super durable when it comes to many dishwasher sessions; (3) it eventually begins to scratch and and stain, no matter what kind it is! Sooo . . . we have been slowly eliminating plastic over the past few years. I know it seems like a tough thing to do if you have kids, as most kid-marketed things are plastic, but we've found some products we love!

First, our LunchBots stainless steel bento boxes. I love them because they are durable, affordable, and they don't require little containers within containers, so there's only one thing to throw into the dishwasher at the end of the day! They fit easily into a standard-sized zipper lunch bag with a plenty of room left for a drink. I think they're superior to the planet box bentos for several reasons: (1) they are far more affordable; (2) they are deeper so you can put larger fruit like strawberries in there without having to cut them up; (3) they have a compartment large enough for a full-sized sandwich. 
 Klean Kanteen stainless steel sports bottles with a silicone top. They make big ones--enough to hold plenty of ice and water for outdoor sports and camps. They have a sling available so you can carry them over your shoulder. They come in all sorts of great colors! They are leak-proof (truly.) My only minor knocks: they haven't yet come out with an insulated bottle that works with the sports spout. They have an insulated bottle, but the sports spout doesn't fit with it, but they swear they are working on that (I called to ask!) Also, the paint will eventually begin to chip a bit in the dishwasher, but still well worth it to be able to not have to wash them by hand! :)
I also love the Zulu glass sports bottles with the flip-top lids. No straw--yay! They lock tightly so they won't accidentally spring open, and they don't leak. They are fairly shatter-proof (Zane actually did break one in his t-ball dugout, but it came into pretty fierce contact with the metal bench.) :)  Given the fact that we broke one, I prefer to use them for my husband and myself, but would be great for older kids as well. The Zulu bottles are available at Target!
As for day-to-day drinking and eating ware for the kids, we all drink out of glass jelly jars, which you can get in the canning section of your grocery store. In the three or so years that we have all been drinking out of them (starting when my daughter was four and my son was one), we have only broken one! :) Our kids just eat on our regular ceramic plates and eat with regular metal silverware. The reason for all of this is actually twofold: (1) no plastic; (2) it teaches them to be careful and responsible with their stuff!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to change the way you think about food.

I grew up in the 80's. Our pantry was always chock-full of spaghetti-o's, little debbies, cheetos, you name it. If it was processed and full of sugar, artificial colors and saturated fat, we ate it. I was a naturally very slender kid, so it wasn't until my mid 20's that it all started to catch up with me. So I did what any body-conscious woman of the early 2000's did--I went on a low-fat diet. I mean, I became the queen of diet soda, "light" and "fat-free" foods. My pantry didn't look much different--same brands, but the diet version! I was one walking low-fat carbohydrate. And you know what? It worked. I lost a lot of weight--about 20 lbs, to be exact, and I kept it up for over a decade.  Then my body began to slowly break down. I got joint pain, chronic foot pain and generally felt crummy. But I sure looked good in a swimsuit! ;)

The truth is, I kind of buried my head in the sand about what was slowly becoming common knowledge about the importance of whole foods, and the chemical shit storm that was processed--espeically fat-free processed-foods. As long as it was fat free, it was for me! Then I began to do some reading about nutrition. And began to realize that no matter how skinny I was, if I didn't feel good, it didn't mean I was healthy.

So began the great pantry evolution of 2013. We slowly began to buy more whole foods to replace the baked cheetos, low-fat cookies, crackers, sweets, etc. We began to slowly edge out artificial colors and sweeteners--even my BELOVED Coke Zeros had to go. I drank those things like it was going out of style.

I changed my snacks to almonds, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, guacamole, fruits, etc. I had avoided many of those things for so many years because I was afraid of gaining weight. I began to cook more--much more. I used olive oil (another once-dreaded-by-me fat). I made healthy meals with lean meats, veggies and fruits, some from my own garden.  I replaced Coke Zero with water or sparkling pomegranate juice. Our pantry lost a lot of its color. It gained a lot of real foods that actually required a little effort to cook them. Our freezer is now devoid of the frozen diet meals that I lived on many nights.

In short, we began to eat "real food." I transitioned from my 30-minute elliptical workouts to actual strength training classes.  I built muscle. I put on fat. I gained weight. I am no longer rocking a size two. I am a size six. And I have some cellulite. But you know what? I feel a whole lot better. My feet don't hurt. My joints don't ache. I am a whole lot stronger. And what does a 36-year-old mother of two need to look like a bikini model for anyway?! (Not to imply that I did!)

I want to teach my daughter (who is a very solidly-built, muscular little girl) that healthy is beautiful. I want her to love her body for what it DOES more than what it looks like. I want her to find her value in her character more than her waist measurement. Is it hard sometimes to live in a city like Dallas and be bombarded with size zero, fake-boobed, bikini-model types all around? Yes, honestly it sometimes is. And if they are truly eating and living a healthy life and get to look like that, then power to them. But my guess (from my personal experience and the experience from others I know who have struggled with body image in the past) is that many of them are denying their bodies some pretty important things to look like that. Or are pushing their bodies beyond healthy. I know I was.

So now I'm the girl who drinks the (non-skinny) margarita sometimes. I eat dessert when it is served to me. I dig into guacamole.  I even on occasion eat a cheeseburger. And I don't feel guilty about any of that anymore. I feel healthy. And I still recognize that I am in good shape and am proud of my body--much more for what it can do than for what it looks like.  So I've changed the way I think about food. It is not the enemy. It is not the savior. It is not the pacifier. It is nourishment for the cells of my body so that my body can be healthy and strong for myself and my family. It may have taken me 36 years to gain this perspective, but I am very grateful to have it. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Solo Cup Dispenser!

I'm not a fan of plastic cups (or plastic period) but my darling husband insists on buying them. No matter how carefully I stack them, they inevitably wind up strewn all over the pantry by mid-week, so I decided to get a dispenser to hang on the wall of the pantry! I LOVE it. Here's a link to it on Amazon:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Displaying Kids' Art!

When it comes to trying to display our babies' art, we've tried it all--shadow boxes, frames, tape to a wall, etc. But anything that requires too much effort results in the art never getting switched out to show off the latest and greatest. So after surfing around on some minimalist blogs for art display, I combined a few things I'd seen and came up with our art wall! I went to Michael's and found letters, some great, large, funky clothespins and some thin rope. I went to Target and found the perfect paint color for us. Then it was time to get to work!  Steps:

  • painted the wall our turquoise color
  • painted our "art" letters with white paint then polka dotted them in espresso paint by dipping a hot glue stick in the paint and dotting it on the letters, let them dry, then hung them in the center of the wall with hot glue
  • nailed two nails into opposite corners of the wall
  • looped the rope through the coils of the clothes pins and then tied the rope to the nails.  
  • clipped up my favorite pieces!
the beauty of this approach is that the clothespins can accommodate any size art--and you can freely move them around along the rope to fit your favorite masterpieces.  It also makes you choose the best of the best--and inspires your kiddos to do their best so their latest work can "make the wall." :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

In case your car battery dies!

Genius. No jumper cables needed! This car battery jumper works through the cigarette lighter port of both cars! Now I feel a lot safer in case I find myself in a situation where I need to get-or give- a quick jump safely! :). Found this little gem on the auto aisle at Target! :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Iphone to home speakers-wirelessly-for dummies!

I am not the most tech-savvy gal around, so this post is very exciting for me to write.

Back story: we got a stereo system hooked up to our home entertainment stuff a couple of years ago, but it's all hard-wired. When we wanted to hook our iPhones to the speakers (which was only worth the beating when we have parties), we had to open up our entertainment center, dig around for the cable to connect the phone (which we invariably misplaced or mis-identified, plugged into the wrong port, selected the wrong input, etc. and then our phones were tethered to the stereo. And our guests couldn't play their music through our speakers unless they had the same make and model of phone that we do, because the cable was only for our phones! Boo.

It's not as though bluetooth technology to wirelessly play your music is new, but I didn't realize (1) you could make it all work with (relatively) old, (relatively) cheap speakers; (2) how easy it is to use; (3) how inexpensive it is.  Thanks Logitech (and Amazon!) :)

Here's a link to the bluetooth adapter:

And here are the steps:

Plug it in to the outlet.
Connect it to the speakers with one wire.
Push the pairing button.
Jam out to Jagged Little Pill Mumford & Sons in your living room till your heart's content! ;)

Pantry fun!

We have moved to primarily buying/eating bulk foods in place of the vast array of baked cheetos, cookies and crackers that used to fill our pantry. This means healthier food and less packaging waste, which I love. And a prettier pantry--especially now that I found the chalkboard stickers and chalk pen to label it all on Amazon! The chalk pen is awesome--it looks like chalk and is designed to use on a chalkboard surface, and it wipes clean with a damp cloth. LOVE IT!  Here's exactly what they are:



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A great car trash can-finally!!

I can't handle a messy/trashed-out car. My kids don't seem to care whether I can handle it or not. I'd love to be those people who never eat/open goodie bags/unpack backpacks/eat lollipops in the car. But we are not those people, and accordingly my car often winds up being a hot mess. Until I found this little jewel-the Rubbermaid car trash can at target. It straps around your console so it's not going anywhere, and it's right where the kids need it! I can still easily reach it from the front seat, and it is plenty big for empty drink cups, etc. Thank you Rubbermaid!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Great way to store swimsuits

Few things annoy me more in the summertime than being ready to head to the pool and having to dig around for matching swimsuit tops and bottoms. Now that Ryan has started wearing tankinis, that's waaay too many tops and bottoms for one swimsuit drawer! So we decided to go vertical: we got an over the door show rack and manages to get all 24 Fogel swimsuits organized on one door! We have our rash guards, cover ups and swim towels in the stacking racks inside the closet! We are going to be a well-oiled pool machine! ;)

The Ultimate Beach Bag (for real)

As VERY frequent pool goers in the summer, I have learned what I need in a beach bag-and in my pool accessories. After scouring Amazon and Google and reading every review on every bag that looked promising, I settled on the Whale bag by Saltwater Canvas on Amazon. It comes in many colors, but I went with black so Larry wouldn't feel silly when he takes the kids on his own! :). Here is why I love it:

First, it stays upright on its own-even the handles stay up!  It is super roomy in the main compartment-room for our four towels and plenty of extra space for cover ups, etc.
Second, it has tons of exterior pockets all around to store all sorts of things (such as the four pair of identical green goggles we got so we never have to argue over who gets what color)
And (cheap, waterproof) flip flops and pool (cheap!) sunglasses in a rubber waterproof case. . . 
And sunblock so we don't have to dig down to the bottom of the bag or worry about something pressing down on the button and spraying it all over our stuff . . . 
And a little hook to clip out waterproof money holder in so we don't have to dig for change when we want a sno cone. . . 
And a perfect place to hook the Dri Cat iPhone case (rated for a depth of 18 feet) so I can take all the underwater pictures I want!-it comes with a carabbeaner and a lanyard so you can keep it attached to your body hands-free in the pool! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How to get rid of SPAM emails and take control over your inbox

I hate SPAM. I really, really do. I've missed so many truly important emails because they get lost in the absolute flood of SPAM. As you have probably noticed, junk mail filters are worthless. I mean, they weed out the random malaysian porn emails and stuff, but do nothing to cut down on the floods of emails from companies, non-profits, etc. that bury the email from your kid's room parent telling them to wear their carnival t-shirt on Thursday. No bueno.

Sooo, I decided to fight back. Starting in January, I made it my mission to eliminate SPAM, one annoying sender at a time. I became absolutely ruthless about clicking "unsubscribe" from every single email that I deemed junk. It is a bit of a painstaking process, but it is the only way to really cut down on SPAM. At first it feels like you are accomplishing nothing because there are still so many, but over the months, I got less and less and now I go entire days in a row without a single unwanted email. It is GLORIOUS.

Now that I have my SPAM under control, I also make it a point to clean out my inbox completely at the end of each day to make sure I haven't let anything fall through the cracks. It's like the "one-touch" rule for paper mail--you touch it once and it gets immediately paid, filed or pitched. No good comes from letting mail pile up--paper or electronic. It's a recipe for dropping the ball.

When I started this mission in January, I have over 11,000 emails in my inbox.   Now I have three. It takes discipline, but like any habit, it forms quickly and you will be so glad you stuck with it! I feel so much more in control of my life.  :)

UPDATE: AWESOME tip from my friend Chris--go to and you can mass-unsubscribe from stuff you don't want and you can roll the rest of your subscriptions that you DO want into one daily email rather than having to be constantly bombarded!

Another good suggestion from my friend Renee--maintain one email address for humans and guard it religiously (i.e. never use it when you shop online, etc.) and another one for all the other stuff. :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How to make school mornings better.

So mornings can be brutal. Absolutely brutal. We are that family that likes to sleep until the very last minute and then rush around like headless chickens. We Fogels can sleep like nobody's business. So here is how we took some of the beatdown out of our mornings, even with a child who STILL cannot (will not) dress himself:

The Kindergartener:
Alarm clock. We took Ryan to Target when she turned 5 to pick out her own alarm clock. We lay out her uniform the night before and when her alarm clock goes off, she gets up and dresses herself and comes downstairs. Larry has her cereal and juice waiting for her at the table. While she eats I fix her hair, then she gets her shoes on. She is pretty self-sufficient.

The Preschooler:
Lord love a duck. Zane is just difficult. He refuses to dress himself and needs a lot of prodding. So we try to make mornings as prod-proof as possible. He sleeps in his school clothes (unless it's picture day or something) because I refuse to struggle a groggy, cranky child out of PJs and into school clothes. He is also not a breakfast kind of guy, but I refuse to send him out the door without anything in his tummy or to stand there and prod him to eat, so he drinks a breakfast shake out of a straw cup, which we hand him as soon as we roll him out of bed. Then I carry him downstairs and he goes potty and then sits at the table in a coma while I get his shoes on until it's time to go.

The Lunches:
We make them the night before and stick them in the fridge so we can shove them in the backpacks on the way out the door. Larry loads the lunches in the backpacks while I get dressed. (Though I am totally unashamed to be that sh#@show of a mom at drop off in her pajamas. This is the blessing and the curse of going to a very close-knit community school. You already know everybody, they already know all your junk and you can just be yourself. Even if yourself is in jammies.)

The Car Loading:
Larry loads the backpacks in the front seat and buckles Zane in the way-back (we carpool with neighbors, so we sit the kids in the order in which they get out). Zane might be the only nearly-five-year-old who refuses to buckle himself. But whatever. We have learned to pick our battles.

The Shoes/Jackets/Backpacks:
These are all stored in bins/on hooks in the laundry room, which is on the way to the garage. We can just grab them all on the way out the door.

Our morning routine is, start-to-finish, 25 minutes from the time we roll out of bed to the time we pull out of the driveway. It isn't pretty, Zane is sometimes a bit wrinkled and we are all still half-asleep, but it is SO MUCH BETTER than it used to be where everybody was yelling at everybody to hurry up, get up, get dressed, etc.  And doing carpool keeps us accountable to leave on time. We drop the kids 10-15 minutes before school starts so the kids don't feel rushed or worried about being late. (Not that Zane would care one bit.) ;)

Drugstore Makeup

I use drugstore makeup. Always have and always will, even if we win the lottery. This involves a little trial and error, but I have long since settled on the products I like, and I don't see that changing any time soon. It saves time (I get them all at CVS or Kroger when I am there for other things) and certainly saves money. Here is the entirety of my makeup collection:

A: Milani powder bronzer (#1 Light)
B: Wet'n'Wild mega lip color SPF 15 (Birthday Suit)
C: Loreal Voluminous original mascara (Black)
D: Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer (Peony)
E: Mirra makeup brush
F: Lacross tweezers
G: CoverGirl liquiline blast eye pencil (espresso)
H: Loreal true match crayon corrector (I use this for under eye circles and to conceal blemishes)

Drugstore makeup tips:
When choosing lip color, go for something with a little shimmer. 

Don't buy waterproof mascara-it's not as thick.

When choosing bronzer I (as an olive-skinned caucasian woman) go for one marketed to women with darker skin and choose a lighter shade from that line-this avoids overly orange or pink shades.

Have fun!

How to make a free rainbow loom display tube

We have been looking for a way to display Ryan's looming creations, both for sale at our upcoming garage sale and just to keep out for fun in her room. Michaels sells them for $12. We made one for free with the cardboard core of a paper towel roll and some paint. :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

The great closet purge

We have a neighborhood garage sale this weekend, so it was a perfect excuse for a big-time closet purge! I used the 6-month rule (if it hasn't been worn in the last six months, it is gone. Period.) Now we have a pretty close to organized closet (I am awaiting the arrival of my boot organizers and a belt organizer for Larry's belts.) We are using the one-in, one-out rule moving forward: if we buy a shirt, we have to be willing to part with a shirt, if we buy shoes we have to be willing to part with shoes, etc. Baby stepping toward minimalism and thoughtful, responsible acquisition.)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How to cut down on artificial sweetener/diet soda

Like any female, I watch my calories. But I also don't want to pump artificial chemicals in my body. We have been diet soda addicts for a long time. I searched and searched for a good alternative to a diet soda. There just isn't one. They all either taste terrible or have artificial sweetener. So we just stopped keeping them at home. We no longer buy them. So when we are out to eat, we have diet soda as a special treat. I wish there was a good solution other than just not keeping them around, but if there is, we haven't found it! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to store all your kids' school papers and art crap

At least the important ones. :) I tried the whole "take a picture of the things that are really special and then chunk them" thing. But I want the actual paper that their precious little hands touched. I just don't want them strewn all over the house or stored in a lot of random places. So I got the art folder files from Amazon. They are big enough to hold the big stuff. And the accordion file system allows you to keep them sorted by month so you can see your kiddos' progress. One per kid per school year. We keep them in the mud room where the backpacks are stored so the things that are worth saving go straight from the backpack to the file. It had done my OCD soul good. :)

How to quit smoking

So here it is: public confession time. I started smoking in high school and have been an off-and-on smoker ever since. I tried to quit completely for YEARS. Years. And on the advice of a friend I walked into DFW Vapor and got an ecig kit consult. They helped me pick my flavor and my nicotine concentration. I haven't touched a cigarette since. I get that they can't bill it as a smoking cessation device and that the jury is still out on safety/health implications per pending FDS studies. But I can tell you they have no tar and FAR less chemicals than the real thing. I have noticed a marked improvement in the way my lungs feel. I will satirstep down in nicotine concentration until I get to zero. Because, you know, I want to live and stuff.

Dr. Seuss day outfit for six bucks.

Get black pants and shirt (which we all have on hand). Get yellow duck tape and color black lines on it with a sharpie. Make a tissue paper puff (look on Pinterest or just buy one pre-made at a party supply store) and hot glue it to a headband. Boom: you have a truffela tree.

Super easy bug catcher

Put stickers on a jelly jar, write name in paint marker, cut some mesh and secure around the (ring) lid of the jelly jar with a rainbow loom bracelet. Fill with leaves and catch some bugs.