Monday, March 30, 2020

List: The ultimate Spring cleaning check list.

This time of year is the perfect time to start your Spring clean up activities.  You can now free your outdoor things from the murky shed and dust them off for actual use.  Your bare deck, flower beds, and gardens will soon be filled again with color and sunlight.  The birds will be filling the skies and kiddies will be filling the yards and streets.  Also, the bugs will be back.  I try my best to not let this fact dampen our joy..but, seriously, ew!

Unfortunately, our homes and lives don't get filled with Spring by magic Springtime fairies.  The Spring makeover is all a manual process thanks to our own hard work!  There's lots to do, so let's make our lives easier & feel more productive with a Spring clean up list!

Related Post:  How to refurbish a planter to make it look like new.

spring time clean up; getting ready for spring; spring cleaning; setting up your house for spring; spring clean checklist

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten important Spring cleaning activities.

1.  Start with an indoor Spring cleaning.
Give your home a deep cleaning and scrub down one room at a time.  Lift the furniture and clean underneath.  Put a washcloth on a broom and wipe the ceilings.  Scrub down the oven and sanitize the inside of the fridge.  Polish, clean, and shine everything!

Idea:  Use natural cleaners like this one to avoid breathing in harsh chemicals & to save money.

2.  Sand and stain your outside furniture.
My husband loves to spend a few days giving our patio furniture a Springtime refresh!  He starts with a quick sanding.  Then he applies two coats of teak oil.  After leaving it in the garage a few days to dry, our patio furniture looks brand new.

Idea:  This is the exact teak oil that we use on our outdoor furniture and it always comes out perfect.

3.  Dust off your lawn ornaments.
While I'm not a huge fan of lawn ornaments, I do have a few that I strategically display.  We have our stone frog for our garden and our mosaic pig for our flower bed.  Every Spring we dust them them off and display them in our yard before any planting.

4.  Set up the bird feeders.
We set up  whole bird sanctuary in our backyard and really enjoy watching over a dozen different species stop by to say hello.  This is the perfect time of year to do a deep cleaning of the area.  Turn the dirt, use natural cleaners to soak and disinfect feeders, and replace worn down items.

5.  Power wash the house and fence.
One of my pet peeves is when people Spring clean the inside of their home but not the outside.  Mold, mildew, and other grossness likes to linger on our fence and the siding of our home.  This is a great time to clean it off and leave your whole house sparkling clean.

Idea:  To save money, invest in your own pressure washer like this one.  It's way cheaper than hiring someone and will last for years to come.

6.  Cultivate the dirt outside.
It may be a little early to plant flowers for the Summer time, but it's not too early to prep.  Turn the dirt in your flower bed and garden to keep the soil rich and presentable.
I always did love the look of freshly turned dirt.  To me, it's even preferable to mulch.  We always leave the leftover leaves in the dirt while cultivating since it helps give the dirt nutrients!

7.  Launder your clothes for warmer weather.
Whether you dry clean, hand wash, or machine wash, it's time to swap your clothes!  Get your clothes ready for the warmer weather and start to pack away your bulky sweaters.  Don't forget your shoes!  Polish and shine your footwear then swap out for warmer weather.

8.  Clean out the pantry.
This is the perfect time to go through the pantry and toss all expired goods.  While you're at it, take a peek at the expiration dates in your medicine cabinet and fridge!

9.  Care for your indoor plants.
Take time to dust the leaves of your indoor plants and to cultivate their dirt.  This allows air into the soil making it harder for fungus and invaders to take root.  If you're plants are starting to outgrow their current pots, replant them in a more comfortable home.

Idea:  Spritz your plants with this inexpensive leaf shine spray to keep your plants looking healthy.

10.  Call the exterminator.
This is the time of year that ants takeover your house and move on in.  Be proactive and have the exterminator spray the perimeter of your home before the bugs appear!

When you Spring clean?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Life: Friday Ramblings

The above picture makes me real happy because...
...we have blinds!!!  After a year and two months of being on display for our neighbors, we've got blinds!!!
I refused to put up a curtain or temporary shades because I'm a spoiled brat that wanted Nantucket blinds.
My protest paid off because the hubby finally agreed to invest in my dream window treatments.
He limited me to the bay window as pictured and our sliding glass doors for now.
Our next investment will be indoor shutters for the bedrooms, but that's a ways into the future.
We may be quarantined, but at least we now have privacy.  That's called looking at the bright side!

I'm wishing my father in law...
...a very happy belated birthday.  His birthday was earlier this week, but we had to cancel our celebration.
My FIL is a kind, generous soul.  He also happens to be a good time and loves a great joke.
We're blessed to him have in our lives.  I'd like to wish him many more years of health and happiness!

Current events solidified my opinion that...
...Andrew Cuomo should be the next president of the United States!
I'm typically not political, but his leadership is the only thing giving me comfort during these scary times.

We began our Spring clean up with...
...sanding and staining all of our wooden patio furniture.  This includes our table and rocking chairs.
Ok, so by "we" I mean my husband..but I've been entertaining the kids so he can get the job done!

I can't stop laughing at... 20 month old son every time he dramatically screams "Mama mia".
My little squish monster has suddenly adopted lots of my most commonly said phrases.
Some are cute and others are inappropriate, but at least he's learning, right??  Sigh..

Mo Willems in the man because...
...he's doing a daily YouTube episode called Lunch Doodles for the kiddies.
My daughter is loving this time with her favorite author of her favorite books, the Pigeon series!
She's been taking time to learn how to draw her favorite characters and incorporate them in her own stories.
I hope Mo Willems realizes how much these videos mean to the kids.  I'm now big a fan of his, too!

I beaming with pride because...
...of my baby girl that has stepped up and become a little adult recently.
She reads bed time stories to help her baby brother nap on schedule.
She entertains with more stories or silly games to keep her baby brother on the potty.
She cleans up messes, acts responsible, and sets timers to ensure her classwork is done.
She even gets excited to set the table and make simple things like salad for us to eat at dinner.
If anything comes from this, it's that I see what a wonderful young lady my daughter has become!

What are your Friday Ramblings?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Life: Happy abdominoplasty anniversary, to me!

This upcoming Saturday is a one year anniversary of my most recent life changing event.
On March 28th, 2019, 
I elected to have an abdominoplasty to fix a horrid case of diastis recti.
This was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made since it came with significant health and financial risks.
I'm glad that I took the risk because while the surgery was voluntary, it had high impact on my health.

I'll get into some details of the surgery below without getting too detailed but first, an explanation.
The picture below is the only bloodless one I have of the surgery which is why it's there.
It's a recovery photo taken about 5 hours after my release from the hospital and 3 hours after surgery.
Here comes the explanation..  My daughter looks completely crazy because daddy had to do her hair!

my diastis recti experience; real abdominoplasty experience; tummy tuck experience

After giving birth via c section for the second time, my stomach muscles broke apart.
This condition is called diastis recti.  Doctors may measure the separated abdominal wall by fingers.  Mine was about three fingers width apart.  In addition to the discomfort and umbilical hernia caused by the broken belly, the muscle tends to sag over your c section scar leaving you with a pouch.  The third part of diastis recti is when the muscles separate, similar to when they naturally separate during pregnancy
your muscles bow out giving your belly a rounded shape.
Long story short - I was really, really unhappy with my post pregnancy belly because of the pain and look.

I went to several doctors and they all told me the same thing.
1.  I was making matters worse by working out.  This stiffens the muscles and emphasizes the roundness.
2.  My weight loss attempts were also in vain since they bring more notice to the pouch and bulge.
3.  Surgery is the only thing that can effectively fix diastis recti.

This left me in quite the conundrum.  ...& you all know how well I do with those..
First and foremost was my health.  I was honestly depressed and suffered from postpartum, but I was otherwise healthy.  This surgery, like many others, is risky and can lead to life threatening conditions.  The second though was recovery.  The doctor said that I would be back to work within two weeks, but I couldn't pick up my son for a month.  For the record, my then 8 month old son was gigantic for his age.  The third was the cost.  The surgery would cost an out of pocket expense of $10,000.  Spending that kind of money on myself was unthinkable and selfish.

The first opinion I got was my husbands.  He lived with me and knew my true mental state.
He eventually encouraged me to get the surgery although he protested for over a month.  He felt my body was perfectly fine, that I only needed to impress a man that was already impressed, and that $10,000 should go towards an amazing vacation.  Everyone else was a toss up.  The opinions tied between me being a selfish idiot with a minor flaw to this being something I had to do for myself.
After flinching in pain from a little cough and being in tears trying on a dress, I booked the surgery.

My anxiety was through the roof because of the risks of surgery and my fear of anesthesia.
The surgery was totally worth that.
The pain was worse than any previous surgery.  Yep, worse than both c sections and a spinal fusion..
I was released from the hospital only a couple hours after the four hour surgical procedure.
I had to wear and empty two painful, disgusting, bulky drains for two whole weeks.
I had to have those drains removed at two separate occasions while being wide awake and unmedicated.
I couldn't lift my son for a month but I could hold him.  I had to watch family do it instead.
I had to live in a horribly tight body binder for six months and then sleep in it for another six.
I have a scar in the shape of a smiley face that goes from one hip to the next.  It's fading nicely.
I needed a revision surgery on my belly button 8 months after the surgery that hurt and restricted me again.
My savings account still hasn't fully recovered from it's hefty withdrawal a year ago.
The surgery was totally, completely worth all of that.
My only regret is not paying for fat removal.  I kid, I kid.  Diet & exercise never scared me!

Despite the negatives, I'm no longer depressed.  I no longer have thoughts of my pregnancy I'm ashamed of.
I can wear clothes and bathing suits with confidence.  I don't cry when I look in the mirror.
I work out and can see the progress - I have abdominal muscle definition!
A year later and I'm happier with myself than I've ever been in my entire life.

Long story short, H A P P Y  A N N I V E R S A R Y  to my belly !  !

Do you have a special anniversary that you privately celebrate?

Monday, March 23, 2020

List: Ten family activities to do this Spring.

While Autumn is my favorite season, Spring is a close second.  The birds have returned and began entertaining me through the office window.  The flowers have begun to sprout bringing some color back to the dull world.  Despite the abundance of rain, the happy feeling of Spring is here and has us smiling!

Our Springs are always busy between the large amount of birthdays and holidays.  In between those exciting events, we still like to enjoy some small Spring pleasantries.  Here are ten things that we hope to make time for this season.  We also hope that those April showers save themselves for when we're asleep.

spring time activities; things to do in spring with kids; entertain kids

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten Spring activities to do this year.

1.  Plant your vegetable garden and flowers.
Every year for Mother's day I ask for one thing and that's to plant a garden as a family.  I really enjoy this time spent together and my kiddies love it even more.  To see their faces when they get to pick a vegetable is great and the pride when it's cooked is even greater.

Idea:  Try this vegetable garden starter kit to save money instead of buying expensive seedlings later.

2.  Host a scavenger hunt party for the kiddies.
It's no secret that the kiddies love to hunt for Easter eggs, so why not extend the fun?  Using the left over plastic eggs, put together a scavenger hunt throughout your home and yard.  If done right with some tricky clues, this could be a fun and challenging event that they'll love.  The eggs could lead to an ultimate prize to be shared throughout the group.  Lead them to a bucket of water balloons or a cake for an outdoor food war.  Get creative!

3.  Give your patio furniture a quick refresh.
If you love wooden furniture as much as I do, your patio is bound to have a few dulled out pieces.  This is the perfect time of year to freshen up your furniture and bring it back to life.  After a quick trip to the hardware store, I hope to spend a day sanding and staining my favorite pieces.  Every year my hubby lobbies for a rod iron patio set to avoid this..

Idea:  We use this exact teak oil on our furniture each year and the end result is fabulous.

4.  Create a rain dance routine.
Spring is known for the inevitable downpours.  Rain may be important, but it isn't fun.  On a rainy day, blast some Native American tribal music and try to learn a rain dance.  For double the fun, research a local pow wow happening near you and go for a day of fun.

5.  Visit a local petting zoo.
While I'm not an animal person, even I have fun at a petting zoo in the Spring.  This is the time of year that the weather is bearable. Heat + animal poop = no thanks!  In addition to the good weather, it's also the time of year for B A B I E S !!  You'll all have a blast learning about the wildlife and snuggling some soft baby animals.

6.  Volunteer to help refurbish a local park.
Many local parks, beaches, churches, and memorials look for volunteers this time of year.  They are looking for volunteers to dedicate their time to help refurbish them.  I've seen requests to volunteer for cleaning, planting, and even painting spaces in local communities.

7.  Make your own bird feeder.
I'm not the best person for a DIY, but my kiddies love a good project.  Have them make their own bird feeders to hang outside their bedroom window.  We use safe material, smother it in all natural peanut butter, and then roll it in bird seed.  You can DIY a birdhouse too, but the only thing that ever moves into mine are wasps.

8.  Visit a local farmer's market.
This is the perfect time of year to browse a farmer's market for some local products.  My favorite item to purchase is local honey.  It's a great tasting way to fight allergies from Spring pollen.  Be adventurous and try some of the free samples.  You may stumble upon your new favorite pie!

9.  Go to your local park or beach to fly a kite.
This is such a simple thing, yet it's something many of us don't think of in our old age.  A few years back my baby girl wanted a Frozen themed kite for her birthday.  We had lots of laughs and exercise running around the park trying to get the damn thing to fly!  Remember, whether you actually fly the kite or not, your attempt is bound to make memories.

Idea:  My kids had a blast making their own kites with this DIY kit.  

10.  Make a butterfly garden.
Last year we visited a lighthouse.  While we were there, an attendant showed us a butterfly garden planted by the boy scouts.  While I don't want butterflies in my yard because they scare me, this is a pretty neat idea!  All you need are a few planks of wood, dirt, and seeds of flowers that attract butterflies.  If you're using a pot, try planting a butterfly bush.  It's an invasive plant, but the butterflies love it.

Idea:  We planted (2) of these bushes in our yard this year.  It attracted butterflies AND hummingbirds.

What are your favorite Spring activities?

Friday, March 20, 2020

Life: Friday Ramblings

I'm stilling laughing at...
...Nanny's response to "Can you please give Thor a treat for going out?"
She literally poured about 15 treats right out of the container and onto the deck.
When I asked "Why did you give Thor three days worth of treats?" she said "What?  It's a snack.".
Either she doesn't get the concept or she thought he was too skinny.  You never know with her.. LOL

I'm wishing a heart felt...
...Happy St. Joseph's Day to all the Josephs out there!
A special wish and prayer for my son, Papa, and brother on this past St. Joseph's Day!

I thought my son was injured when...
...he screamed the word "HEAD" loudly and with the word lingering for about 30 seconds.
It wasn't until I finally said "What's wrong with your head?" that he finished his thought.
"HEEEAAAADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD, shoulders, knees, & toes.."
He had me frantically checking him for injuries when he was just singing a silly song.

I'm scratching my head because...
...I need to find a good replacement for toilet paper.  The entire island is out of it!
The coronavirus panic has prompted everyone to stock up of mass piles of toilet paper.
Well, we're actually out of it, so now what do we do?!  Anyone want to sell us a roll for cheap?

We were all smiles when... son asked me to read our family photo album as his nighttime story.
We had lots of laughs as I flipped through and captioned all of our favorite photographs.
He joined in on the fun gasping and screaming words that didn't make any sense.
My favorite is when he saw himself wearing his Incredibles pajamas and insisted he was Jack Jack!!

I'm not sure how I feel about...
...Mr. Softee making his rounds throughout my neighborhood already.
It's still technically Winter, people!!  It's way too soon to increase our calorie counts with this!

I was highly impressed with...
...a promotional "gift" that I received as gear promoting our newest initiative at work.
It's a little rectangle that sticks onto the camera space on your lap top.
This eliminates the need to cover the camera with a piece of tape to ensure privacy.
...because we all know that we cover the camera up with something just in case, right?!

I'm really, REALLY happy because... doctor finally found a medicine that works for me!  The ringing in my ears has STOPPED.
After months and months of listening to that distracting sound, my doctor prescribed Singulair.
At first I was hesitant to take it because I ignorantly grouped it with the dementia causing meds.
After a little bit of research, I learned that this medicine does the exact opposite.
There are even some studies that prove it can help dementia patients.
All that I know for fact is, it cured my ears and I can finally say that I can hear!!!

Note- The above picture is from way before the quarantine, but with all the COVID19 talk consuming the internet, I opted to avoid that conversation.  We have followed social distancing & have not seen Nanny, sadly.

What are your Friday Ramblings?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

TV: The Man in the High Castle

When we moved into our new home a little over a year ago, we gave up cable.
We replaced our subscription with Verizon Fios for streaming services through the Amazon Fire TV.
It made perfect sense because we were already happy subscribers to Amazon Prime.
With the exception of Thanksgiving morning, we haven't even missed cable a little bit.

This path led us to the show that everyone was talking about, The Man in the High Castle.
By everyone, I mean my fellow "streamers".  You know, our comrades that also ditched the cable bill!
We constantly heard how interesting, fast paced, and  j u i c y  this show was.
With the final season on the horizon, we decided to give in and jump on the bandwagon.

tv show the man in the high castle review; honest TV review; amazon prime tv review

What is this show about?

To sum this up as quickly as possible, it's a sci-fy show based on alternative history.
The show begins with a parallel universe where the Axis powers win WW2.  The USA no longer exists.  Instead, the country is split into three territories.  There is the Nazi controlled territory, the Japanese controlled territory, and the free zone.  The show follows several characters in all three territories, plus Germany.  As with most wars, there's an active resistance group which is led by a mysterious man known as The Man in the High Castle.  This man collects films that depicts different parallel universes and the different outcomes of the war.

Was this show confusing?

After watching Lost, I swore to stay away from shows that time jumped or had multi-verse characters.
In my defense, I didn't realize this was a sci-fy show until season 2.  Shame on me...
That aside, it wasn't as confusing as I thought it would be.  There were a few times I had to pause and reflect, but these were minimal.  Overall the different universes and story lines meshed and flowed well.

What did you like about the show?

I found the alternate universe really interesting!  Note- This was the main setting of the show.
To see the difference between Japanese rule and Nazi rule was eye opening.  The show really did an excellent job of bringing this alternative reality to life.  It was both intriguing and a little scary.  In addition to the false history lesson, the character development was phenomenal.  These actors brought the characters to life.  They not only perfected the main characters that the show revolved around, but they brought to life their alternate personas flawlessly.  

What did you dislike about the show?

If we're being completely honest, if it wasn't for season 1, I wouldn't have finished the series.
Season 1 did it's job of captivating the audience.  It was done in a way that the viewer was left intrigued in their ignorance.  All seasons after were done well for the show's purpose, but I wasn't a fan of that purpose.  I mean, if we're being honest, parallel universes are pretty dumb.  They also did a poor job of explaining the hype of the first season.  Who is the mystery man of the high castle?  I know we meet him, but who is he really?  How do the films get to the main universe, or better yet, why do they get there?  I felt as if these were crucial to understanding the show.  Another thing that left me feeling some sort of way was how they killed off almost every main character and in the lamest possible way!  SPOILER ALERT - The only deaths that served the character's justice was John Smith and his wife.
..also, the ending.  The ending sucked.  It was an anti-climatic ending for a climatic show...

Is there anything else you think the viewer should know?

This is the first show I watched as a streaming series.
I really disliked that the entire season releases at once.  This encourages us to binge watch and takes away some of the fun of getting into a TV show.  Even worse, I noticed that there's no real consistency to when the seasons get released.  There was mulit-year gaps between different seasons.

I would recommend The Man in the High Castle.

What are your thoughts of The Man in the High Castle?

Monday, March 16, 2020

List: Ten children's movie scenes that make me laugh as an adult.

With the Disney+ app, I've had the opportunity to share some of my favorite childhood movies with my kids.  As expected, it's been lots of fun to share these pieces of my childhood with my babies.  What was unexpected, was the new experiences that I would have watching them.  As a child, many scenes went over my head and out the front door.  Now they got me laughing like it's the first time I've seen them.  The worst is when I realize that I'm old and boring enough to relate to some of them!  I also like to look at my babies with a side eye to make sure that they aren't giggling at the dirty jokes..

adults laugh at children's scene; dirty disney scenes; family movie night recommendations; movie night with kids

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten kid's movies that adults will enjoy too.

"I hope you're happy, but most of all, I hope the guy that lives here is a TAILOR!"
He says this as he's being forced to put on an over sized Santa suit and take a trip down a stranger's chimney.  You don't realize how creepy Santa Claus really is until you view it as a cynical adult.  Just saying!
The Santa Clause collection can be found here.

2.  Mulan
"Say that to my face, you limp noodle!"
Assuming this was a comment on the character's backbone, I really want to use that insult in real life.
The Mulan collection can be found here.

3.  Toy Story
"I think you've had enough tea for today.  Let's get you of here, Buzz."
I realize that Buzz is a little drunky pants over that cup of tea, but I wonder what I thought as a child.  This is a great way to get kids either really intrigued to try tea or dead set against ever having a sip!
The Toy Story collection can be found here.

4.  Enchanted
"The steel beast is dead, peasants!  I set you all free."
In my youth, I laughed because he was stabbing a bus.  Now I laugh because he thinks they are peasants.  As a child I never looked at the prince twice.  Now I realize how sexy James Marsden is, even in that frock!
Can be found here.

"It's not a dress.  It's a kilt.  Sicko!"
I never caught onto this one until my then two year old daughter called me "Sicko!" when I rocked a robe.  After a double take, she explained that's what the Grinch says to his dog when he wore a tablecloth.  Um, do we need a chat about acceptance?  Just because a person may wear a tablecloth...
Can be found here.

"Damn.  How can you give Kris Kringle a parking ticket on Christmas Eve? What’s next, rabies shots for the Easter Bunny?"  Assuming I knew Kris Kringle as a child, the rabies reference still would have went over my head!
The Home Alone collection can be found here.

-Ariel blows into a pipe leaving the grandfather covered in black soot on his face.-
While this isn't a quote, I crack up every time I see this now!  I mean, just imagine this happening in real life.  You'd be laughing your butt off.
The Little Mermaid collection can be found here.

8.  Tangled
"You should know that this is the strangest thing I've ever done!"
Flynn Rider says this as he's fighting a sword wielding horse with a frying pan.  Even after seeing this scene a million times, I still crack up whenever I watch it.  It never gets old!
Can be found here.

"I've never liked your spinach puffs."
Even as a child I would've voted this film for funniest Disney movie, despite not fully appreciating this line.
The Emperor's New Groove collection can be found here.

"It's a run by fruiting!"
This was absolutely one of my most favorite movies as a child.  My favorite scene was always when he smashed his face into the cake and screamed "HELLOO".  If only I had a dollar for every time I imitated that "hello" in my lifetime, I'd be rich..seriously!  I always laughed at this movie, but not at this line.  In my old age, I now get it and crack up every time!
Can be found here.

What children's movie scenes do you find the funniest as an adult?

Friday, March 13, 2020

Life: Friday Ramblings

easter cookie jar; easter kitchen decor

We gave a warm welcome back to... Easter cookie jar!  Those who know me, know that I love a giant cookie jar for my counter.
When my grinning pig cookie jar is away, a festive, season themed cookie jar replaces him.
With Easter around the corner, my Easter Bunny delivery man takes center stage in my home.
Can anyone else believe it's already time to change cookie jars?!  Where does the time go?!

I had an absolute blast...
...picking out my babies' Easter outfits!  This is Nanny's job, but she asked me for help this year.
I had so much fun picking out their outfits that I may want to do this every year!
I opted for matching yellow outfits for the kiddies plus a much needed fedora for my son.

I'm still hysterical laughing at...
...this weekend's out of town festivities with my crazy aunt.
While I'll avoid all of the insane details, I'll share the part that had me laughing until tears.
She decided get a new haircut with bangs, but she never learned how to style them.
Instead of figuring it out, she put her bangs into a little pony tail on the top of her head.  But, WHY?!

I can't stop binge watching...
...Disney's Fairy Tale Wedding TV show.  Each episode has me wanting to redo my wedding!
I can't even imagine what the price tag would be on one of these weddings, but they look worth it.
They even got my hubby pretending not to watch and talking about vow renewals.

We had quite the scare when... daughter's fever hit 104.2 degrees earlier this week.
The doctor isn't sure exactly what she caught other than that it's a virus.
Lots of Tylenol, chicken soup, and lukewarm bathes later, we can finally say she's better!

I smile every time I pass...
...our tulip plants that are just starting to pop out of the soil to say hello.
Is it me or wasn't it just Spring, like, yesterday?!

We have finally given in and...
...invested in blinds to cover our windows!  We have been living with no window treatments for a year.
We have a four panel sliding glass door in the back and a four panel bay window in the front.
With two story homes behind our ranch, we have been on full display for a little over a year.
We found a man to quote us for some inexpensive window treatments and decided to purchase.
Luckily we found the guy that is hired by Home Depot so we avoided the large chain mark ups.
WHY are shades so expensive?  Thousands is an insane amount to spend on something so unexciting..
We'll have to wait another year to do the rest of the windows, but they at least have temporary treatments.
Here's to me fighting my OCD with mismatching window treatments.

What are your Friday Ramblings?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Book Review: The Alice Network

Winter is a great season to curl up in a ball and read a good book.  With all the germs going around this year, I had more time to read than usual.  While I read through a few books that were OK at best, one novel really stood out in a good way.

The book is titled The Alice Network 
The novel was written by Kate Quinn and read by Saskia Maarleveld.
The unabridged version was 15 hours and 7 minutes long.

the alice network; kate quinn; historical fiction; world war 2 novel; ww2; world war two; novel about female spies; book review; world war one novel; ww1

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Review:  The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Many books take a chapter or two to suck you in, but The Alice Network hooks you within the first few pages.  This book is classified as historical fiction, but I view it more as fiction set in the past.  It is a juicy, fast, and fun read, but it definitely isn't something I learned from.  Learning something may not be a qualifier of historical fiction, but it's certainly an added bonus!  The author did a great job developing the characters while strategically intertwining their story lines.  Her writing leaves the reader intrigued chapter after chapter with new questions to be answered.  Bottom line - this book is the complete and total opposite of boring!

This novel is two stories combined into one.  The Alice Network begins with the introduction of one main character, Charlie St. Clair.  Charlie's timeline was more modern, taking place only a few years after the end of World War II.  Shortly after, the reader is introduced to the second main character in the novel, Evelyn Gardiner.  Both main characters embark on a life changing journey together with a handsome Scotsman to escort them.

In between their journey, the author takes us back in time to give us insight on Evelyn's past.  While we got minor insight into Evelyn's childhood, her timeline was centered around her part in WW1.  We quickly learn that Evelyn was a recruited spy that was stationed in France for her first stint.  It is during this time that Evelyn Gardiner meets an enemy that brings Charlie to her door in the future.  The author stays away from unbelievable coincidence and focuses on fate from free will.  She did fate well!    The reader learns of Evelyn's past as Charlie does making it an easy transition through timelines.

This is a story of justice and perseverance, but mostly of self confidence and self discovery.  Every character fights an inner battle until they learn they hold the power to control their destiny.  The most powerful message and main theme of the book is that you are enough. a realistic way.  There was no superhero strength here.  It was all about the power of wits!

I would highly recommend The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.
You can find more details of the book here.

This was a great book to fight off the Winter blues, but would also be a great choice for a Summer read.  It's a book that covers two world wars with lots of feels but limited tears!  
Have you read The Alice Network?

Monday, March 9, 2020

List: Ten products where the store brand don't cut it.

I've always been a woman that loves a great deal, plus a coupon.  That's why I typically will go for the store brand over the more expensive name brand.  While more store brands are equivalent or even better, there are some times that they don't make the cut.  In these cases, I'm a loyal consumer of the more expensive name brand products.

name brand versus store brand; store brand items that suck; store brand items that aren't good; name brand items versus store brand items; generic mucinex

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten products worth the splurge for the name brand.

1.  Mucinex
Between the germy day care and our allergies, trust me when I say that I know all about mucus.  I may even have been called a mucus queen once.  Wait, what?  Ew..  I've tried several different store brand versions of Mucinex before opting for the real deal.  It was then that I realized that Mucinex is the most effective of the medications.  After a few days of use, you'll feel the yuckies inside of you breaking up and ready to escape.
Can be found here.

There's no lovelier feeling in the world than unwrapping a virgin sponge to scrub the dishes.  Well, unless that sponge is a knock off brand!  The store brands just aren't the same.  They don't last as long and they aren't as flexible to get into all the grooves and dips of your kitchenware.
Can be found here.

If you've ever tried the store brand of coffee you know that it tastes like a burnt foot.  I know that the name brand can be quite a bit more, but it's worth every penny!  My favorite at home coffee is Folgers Black Silk because it tastes right and doesn't give me agita.
Can be found here.

4.  BIC Mechanical Pencils
I'm a bit of a royal pain when it comes to writing utensils.  Writing with a pen is torturous to me.  Due to this, I won't go anywhere without a mechanical pencil or two with me.  I've tried the inexpensive, store brand pencils and ended up donating all of them to my job's supply closet.  The lead inside the pencil was so thin that even the lightest of writing would snap it off.  BIC's pencils are perfection between the ergonomics of the tool and sturdy lead!
Can be found here.

5.  Kitchenaid Garlic Press
The first store brand garlic press that I attempted to use "juiced" the garlic instead of mincing it.  ...and no one wants garlic juice on their hands or in their meal...  The second store brand press I bought left mysterious gray streaks all over the minced garlic.  Two bad investments later, I purchased the more expensive brand and it's been cooking heaven since!
Can be found here.

6.  Band-Aids
My well meaning hubby decided to save $.30 and buy a box of store brand bandages.  These things lasted for one boo boo because of one major defect.  They don't stick on skin!
Can be found here.

7.  Saran Wrap
Sarah Wrap can be one of the most frustrating storage items out there.  If it's too thin, it's impossible to handle.  Hands up for everyone who angrily threw away a ball of plastic wrap!  The name brand is way easier to handle.  It may have a higher price tag, but less of it ends up in the garbage.
Can be found here.

8.  SnapFish Prints
I've tried just about every brand that I can think of to order quality prints and the ONLY brand that doesn't come perfect is SnapFish.  The best part is, they're typically cheaper than other photo brands thanks to the constant deals and coupons that they run!  Every year I make a photo book for my husband as a Christmas gift.  I wasn't happy with the end result until I made that switch to SnapFish years late.
Can be found here.

9.  Crayola Crayons
I'm not sure what magic Crayola has over the world of melted wax, but they rock!  Throughout the years, I've bought store brand and even other name brand crayons for the kiddies.  None of them get even close to the quality of Crayola.  They are totally worth the extra $1 a package!
Can be found here.

I've always splurged for these more expensive covers because their quality protects my hardware well.  When converting to a work phone, the organization didn't feel there was a need to splurge on a protector.  The joke was on them when their cheaper, no name brand cover led to my phone's very sad demise.  Well, it wasn't that sad.  I got an upgraded iphone & a sturdy Otterbox cover.

What name brands are you loyal to?


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