Friday, March 28, 2014

Never Spring Clean AGAIN!!

The last couple of years of my life have been hectic, to say the least. I don't know about you, but when I have clutter in my house...I feel like my whole life is cluttered. It can make things seem more crazy an unmanageable than they really are.

At my last residence we were crammed for space (which created even MORE clutter), so I came up with a cleaning schedule that allowed me to keep things tidy a little bit at a time. It helped me regain my days off from my full time job. More time...isn't that what we ALL need?!

The key is to break it up into sections. You will have daily chores, weekly chores and monthly chores in a rotation. The days and rotation can be changed around. For example, I used to clean out the fridge on Tuesdays because our trash day was on Wednesday morning. Now it is Thursdays so I have flip flopped a few things around to make it more cohesive. There are very cute ideas out there to have your weekly chores displayed. Just check out the one I found over at Atkinson Drive! Super cute right?! I personally just use a tabbed, Excel spreadsheet. I have a tab for daily, weekly monthly and my husband has a tab for his monthly tasks as well. Once we got into a routine, we didn't need to check the list.

Now that we are moved into out house, we needed to touch up the list and get reacquainted with it..

So let's go!


Tidy Couch
Pick Up Toys
Put Away Random Items  (mail, etc.)
Disinfect Kitchen and Bath Countertops
Pick Up Kids Rooms
Make Beds
Scan Yard for Dog Poop

Depending on the age of you kids, they can complete some of these tasks or help with them. My 15 month old helps when we pick up toys and my 4 year old does a great job at making his own bed. I never allow my kids to clean with chemical cleaners, however when I am using them I will give them a damp cloth so that they can "clean" with me!


Sunday -       Walls (windows, baseboards, wall scuffs and ceiling dust bunnies)
                       Vacuum and wash floors upstairs
                       Time for monthly chore

Monday -      Put away laundry and straighten up closet
                      Tidy shoes by doors and in closet
                      Clear unused shoes, coats, hats, etc. to closet

Tuesday -     Dusting
                      Vacuum and wash floors downstairs
                      Clean off desk and pay bills

Wednesday - Clean out fridge
                       Clean and touch up pantry
                       Empty vacuum
                       Gather trash

Thursday -    Clean toilets
                       Scrub sinks and tubs
                       Windex mirrors and surfaces
                       Refill q-tips and toilet rolls

Friday -          Wipe down kitchen appliances
                        Vacuum and wash floors downstairs
                        Clean kitchen sink

Saturday -       Laundry
                         Wash couch cover and blankets (if needed)

This list can be totally customized for your home and your family. I realize that not everybody wants to vacuum and wash the floors three times a week. We have large dogs so our needs may be different than yours. Also, you will have your own rhyme and reason to what you want to do on what day. I like to do the bathrooms and kitchen stuff later in the week in case we have friends stop by over the weekend and I like to straighten up closets after the weekend because we might have gone out and gotten nicer shoes and outwear out that we don't use often. You will find your own way...the important thing is that you break it up into small amounts each day. The great thing is, the more you do it, the EASIER the cleaning is! The first week or two might be tough, but if you keep it up each week will feel more like a touch up. And your house will remain clean!


January -   Wash curtains

February - Clean ceiling fans and light fixtures

March -      Closets (mine and kids - including gathering stuff for goodwill) 

April -         Outdoor windows and siding

May -          Clean doors and spray barriers for spiders

June -           Clean rugs/carpets

July -            Bathroom cabinets inside and out

August -       Vents and hire duct cleaning if needed

September - Kitchen cabinets inside and out

October -      Appliances (dishwasher, oven, washer, etc.)

November -  Bedrooms (move large furniture and clean under, flip mattress etc.)

December -   Furniture (wipe all of wooden furniture legs, undersides and vacuum and treat couch)

Monthly (my husbands):

January -        Appliances (fridge coil, dryer hose and vents)

February -      Closets (including gather stuff for goodwill)

March -          Garage (bring down bikes and declutter)

April -            Hedges and bushes

May -             Clean patio furniture and grill

June -             Wash dogs clip nails

July -              Garage (clean and despider)

August -         Paint touch up

September -    Change furnace filter and change smoke detector batteries

October -        Gather leaves and debris from under bushes

November -     Garage (hang bikes and bring in holiday bins)

December -     Wash dogs and clip nails

The monthly chores are pretty self explanatory and can be changed as well. Again, the idea is to break up the traditional spring cleaning so that you can be more efficient and not overwhelmed. By rotating you will never have to spring clean again. It really works!!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Running Attire Tips for Novice Runners

I remember my first BIG race. I had done local 5K's, but this time I was ready for more. I had signed up for Disney's Race for the Taste 10K! I was there at the start...and I was feeling rather intimidated. I had on a cotton tank top, a cheapo running bra from Wal-Mart, cotton blend capris and a pair of cheaper Asics that I thought were great! I looked around me and saw the thousands of other runners all messing with big watches and messing with laces of shoes that looked streamlined and fast. Oh and I didn't see any cotton. There I was. A noob.

Now that I'm looking at the pictures, I see that I had make-up on.

That race was October 7th, 2007. I remember it like yesterday. I also remember that a man came up to me during the after party at the finish and was chatting. He asked me, "So, are you a runner?" and I said, "No." Once I got back home to Ohio, I swore to myself that I would really make an effort to change that. So I started reading and researching online. Next thing you know...I was dressing the part and acting the part! It really wasn't about looking right, it was all about feeling right and being comfortable in the correct clothing for running. So today, I have decided to put together a short list of what a beginning runner can do to help themselves get to that comfort level much faster than I did!
I'll start from the head and work my way down:
Hair - Should be back out of face. There are also many different types of hair bands to help. Some of the best are Bondi Band and Sweaty Bands. Hats can also be great for sun protection as well as keeping your hair back. I have a wicking Nike hat that I use for the summer. I picked it up at Marshal's for $10 or so.

Eyes - There are contacts that contain UV protection right in them (however, I hear they are pricey). I personally use hats and/or sunglasses. Sunglasses should have grippy rubber on the nose piece to help from slipping. I personally lose and break sunglasses like its my habit, so I prefer to get mine at Target. You can find the Ironman brand there for less than $20.

Headphones - For safety, many races prefer that you don't use them at all. However, if you chose to run with headphones, they should be water resistant. For the last few years I use mine only in my left ear and I tuck the right one under my shirt. When you are running on the street you run into traffic, so you can see oncoming cars If you only have the left earbuds in than you can hear the cars that are approaching from the back. It makes for a much safer run for you. It is also good to run occasionally without them at all, especially if you plan on running a race the prohibits them.

Face - No makeup is necessary. Really. DO, however wear sunscreen and chapstick that contains a UV protectant!!
Shirt - No cotton. None. Wicking clothes are everywhere...and they work! They will keep you dryer and less chaffing. You can get great items that will last you forever right at Target or Kohl's! If you plan on running in the dark (even dusk or dawn) you should have at least one neon shirt. For cold weather get some performance fleece...also can be found fairly cheap. cotton sweatshirts. They will make you miserable...I've been there.

Bra - There are many good brands on the market. Some of you women that are more busty will want
to look at Panache brand. I have also heard good things about Moving Comfort. There should be no reason to "double bra" anymore. I like the Champion high impact line that they have at Kohl's. I own an Under Armor one too, which I don't care for as much. This is one of those items that you will want to spend a bit of money on. If you buy a good one and take care of it, it will last you years.

Belt - should get a belt. Where do you put your phone? Do you hang onto it? Do you use an arm band? I used to do both, until I found SpiBelt. Now it gets tucked in there with my nutrition and off I go. They have waterproof versions, however I just buy the basic one and take a ziplock out with me if it looks like rain is on the forecast.
Pants/Shorts - Again, no cotton. You can find a variety of inexpensive pants and shorts out there. They also have capris, skirts, name it! Your body type will determine what you feel comfortable in. I for instance, cannot wear shorts or skirts for longer distances because my thighs chafe. I have found that I can get semi-compression shorts that are about halfway down my thigh and those are the most comfortable for the heat. For cold weather, get a pair of running tights. I found mine at Marshal's for a steal! You can also get good deals at

Undies - No cotton. You catching on to the theme? There are running underwear available, however I have found that the best thing for me (because this is a personal thing, after all) is to buy the Barely There boyshorts. I have a ton of them...I love them.
Socks - Say it with cotton. For the first few years I ran in just white cotton socks. Then I bought a couple of Asics socks (which I still use..they aren't bad), but I will say I love my good running socks. I have a pair of Balegas and a pair of Injingis...LOVE both. When you go to buy your shoes, pick up a good pair at the running store...and onto that....
Shoes - Every runner loves to find a great fit in a shoe. These things don't just happen. They are guided by experts!! If you are new to running (or even if you have been for at it for awhile) and are looking to switch your shoe, please, please, please do yourself the favor and head to your local running store to have them analyze your shoe and/or gait and fit you properly. Take your current shoe with you and have them look at it. They love this's like reading palms for them! Based off of wear pattern they will give you some options. Be honest about your price point...they can work with you even if you don't want to spend a bunch. Running shoes can be expensive, but well worth it for a good fit. Trust me, you would rather spend money on a shoe than a doctor when you find that you have injured yourself due to the wrong shoe. Once they bring you out your choices...try them out. Some stores have treadmills in them so you can run on them, if not they won't mind if you take them around the block to get a feel for them before you buy.
Well, I think that is everything! After I got into the right gear I found myself more comfortable, cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter and able to concentrate on my paces! I was a real runner after all!
Here's a picture of my friend Vicky and I running the Goofy Challenge in 2012.
Are you a runner and have a comment or question? I'm no expert, however I love to talk running and share info and stories!
Feel free to email me at

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cleaning a Cool Steam Humidifier

If you are anything like me, you fill up these cute little guys and notice some gunk in the base, but think, "I'll clean that tomorrow." or "It's almost the end of the season...I'll do it before I put it up."

I have cleaned mine a couple of times now this year. It really isn't that bad! The key is knowing what you need, and getting it all out and ready before you start.

Items Needed:

White Vinegar
Old Toothbrush
Paper Towel
Magic Eraser (optional)
Empty Kitchen Sink (yes, this is a rarity in our house)

 First step will be to empty any remaining water out of the reservoir and base into your sink. Once it is empty, pour a good amount of vinegar into the tank and slosh it around for a couple of minutes. This breaks down any slimies that are growing inside the tank. Dump the vinegar out and rinse it once or twice with some warm water.

Now take a small bowl and pour about a half of a cup into it. You will dip your toothbrush into this for cleaning all of the nooks and crannies. Speaking of nooks and crannies...look at this gross stuff that had found it's way into the cap grooves!

 Look all over the inside and out of your humidifier and scrub anything that looks whitish (like calcium deposits), slimy or mildew.


Pretty sad that this things says RIGHT ON IT....disinfect weekly. I suppose that depends on how much you use them. But, I'm willing to bet that if I had been doing this weekly, that I wouldn't have any slime in there anyways! Hmmm...

Now after you get all that you can with the toothbrush, use the q-tip to get into the super small places.


Take the remaining vinegar that you haven't used out of the bowl and dump it into the base. Slosh it around a couple of times and then rinse with warm water. I dried mine out to show you how clean it got....SPARLKING!

If you have resistant white spots, use a magic eraser. That should help clean them right up!


There you have it! A clean little froggie, or penguin or elephant...or that cow (he is amazingly cute isn't he?!?)!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What is a Geocache?

A couple of years ago I was inspired by a Facebook (Dis, WISH, racing, etc.) friend, Lily, to look into a hobby of her's called Geocaching. Simply put, it is a hide and seek game of items that is worldwide.

There are a few different host sites, however the more popular one is

To start out, I downloaded a free trial onto my iPhone and went for a walk with my son. On the app, it said that there was a cache hidden only a couple of blocks from my house. Could it be? We walked over there. Stood there looking at a house. Now what?!? I was uncomfortable walking around the house staring at it, but it had to be there right? So I literally stood on the sidewalk and tried to see it from there. Then I walked up by the porch...could it be that close to a house? The whole thing made me very uncomfortable. The neighbor lady saw me looking around and came out to help. She had two sons a couple of years older than mine and they themselves were cachers. She said, "Well, you were close!" She took me around the side of the porch and near a door...she crouched down and lifted up a branch from a bush. There it was!! It was a bigger container and it contained a travel bug. A travel bug, as she explained to me, is a trackable tag that is placed into a cache and has a mission. Some are placed by firemen and want to have it's picture taken in as many firehouses as possible. Some really want to travel overseas. Some are looking to go to Disney! She suggested that if I want to continue, that I take the bug. So I took it, went home, logged it and dropped it in Michigan the next week. At that point, I was hooked!! I was trying to get as many as I could and I even got my husband and my dad involved. It was becoming a family hobby!

Skip over two years...we are now placing our own geocache and my son is old enough to really be involved!! If you have kids, or even if you don't...I highly suggest that you try it! It's a great way to enjoy nature and get outside. Many times you will get some exercise in as well ;)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

St Patrick's Day Reuben Pizza

It's a tradition in my household to have Reuben Pizza  the night of St Patty's Day. A few years ago, I was looking for a lower calorie option than buttery grilled Reuben style sandwiches goopy with cheese and dressing.

So I opened my pantry and saw a pizza crust mix...and the light bulb came on.

Reuben Pizza

pizza dough (homemade, boxed, or deli)
water for mix
olive oil for dough and pan
1 can sauerkraut
1 bag shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 lb shaved deli corned beef
honey mustard or thousand island dressing
chives (optional)


Preheat oven to 500°

Prepare the dough per the package instructions. I normally use deli dough, homemade dough or JIF boxed mix, however I was short on time couldn't find deli dough or JIF in my local Giant Eagle, I settled for a bagged mix I hadn't used before. It wasn't great....but pretty decent, considering. Anyhow, once it is mixed up,  oil and cover it and place it in a warm place for at least 10 minutes.

Once it's done with it's warm nap, go ahead and pound on it and flip it around a bit. Once it's ready, stretch it out onto the greased pizza pan. Mine was a little on the small side...

 Now, for a lighter option use the honey mustard as sauce. A little goes a long way, so start with a couple of blops and use the back of the spoon the smooth it around. If you are not so worried about the calories, feel free to use the dressing. Either way, it is super yummy!

Open your can of kraut (you can use a jarred or bagged kraut too, but you will only need about a half of a cup for this pizza). Spread the kraut over the dough.

Now you are ready for the meat! Take the corned beef and roll it. Use kitchen scissors to cut it into a topping sized bite - see below...

Once you have liberally covered your pizza with the beef, sprinkle on the cheese to your liking.

Place it into the very hot oven for 5 minutes to start. I always check it after 5 minutes, but usually need to add a couple more. Once the crust looks slightly browned and the cheese is melty, go ahead and take it out. You can garnish it with some snipped chives if you'd like...I think it adds a yummy flavor!

This delicious pizza hardly seams like a lighter option, however I find that it is less greasy than the sandwich and easier to portion control. And my husband LOVES it which is also a win win!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Irish Slutty Brownies

Irish Slutty Brownies, or as I like to sometimes call them, Irish Sluts, are something that I can up with a couple of years ago. I don't remember how or why. I usually think of this kind of thing because I have some sort of treat in the house that we won't eat as a stand alone. Maybe I had mint Oreos? I don't know.... we go...on our way to deliciousness....


1 pkg Mint Oreos
1 pkg Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix
1 pkg Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
1 pkg Mint M&Ms
3 Eggs
Vegetable Oil
Whipped Cream (optional)
Festive Sprinkles (optional)

I didn't add the amount of water or vegetable oil, because depending on what brand of mixes you buy it may vary slightly. If you have about a cup of the oil in your pantry, you should be good.

Now, just like the original slutty brownies, things will be healthier and taste better if you made everything from scratch....feel free. I'm taking the shortcut to the yummy stuff.

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Start by mixing the cookies up in a medium sized bowl. Follow the instruction the back of the box for the mix. This will be your bottom layer of the bar. Once it is mixed up, spread it into a greased 9x9 bar pan. I used a shallower 9x11 pan here, but I would use a deeper 9x9 next time...the bars were a bit over capacity, as it were.

Now open your may eat one. You'll have some extras. Now pop them onto the cookie mix. You might want to avoid using the broken ones. It doesn't really matter, however I found that spreading the brownie mix became a pain when the pieces of Oreos were coming up as I spread.

Once the Oreos are nuzzled in there, you can start mixing your brownies up. Again, follow the packaging. I found that the dark chocolate ones taste best with the mint, but I suppose you could use whatever flavor you'd like.

Once the brownie batter is ready, go ahead and pour it in over the Oreos. Take your minty M&Ms and sprinkle them on top of your brownie batter.

Place them into your pre-heated oven and bake them for about 35 minutes. This should leave the brownie mix gooey and fudgy. If you like your brownies a bit more done, I'd check them at 35 and maybe add a bit more time. Once done, let them cool quite a bit before cutting into them. It can be a messy mess, if you don't!

Garnish them with some whipped cream, or go ahead and make a brownie sundae out of them! Beware, they are VERY rich....and yummy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Driving to Disney Series / Step #3 - The Final Report

Well...we did it....and it was a success! We drove from Cleveland, Ohio to Orlando, FL to spend one day in the Magic Kingdom. Yes, it seems silly - four days in the car for one day at a park. The math doesn't add up. But after this LONG and very cold winter it was totally worth it for one day of warmth and happiness. Read on for the details of how we made it happen :)

**If you hadn't seen my previous posts about our plans to drive to Disney World you can find them here and here.

Our trip started out by a surprise by my parents. My dad sent me a text offering their minivan for our trip so we would be more comfortable. I knew that with all of the activities and snacks that we had planned for the kids, that the extra room would be wonderful, but it also added on the extra expense of gas. After talking it over with my hubby, we agreed that the minivan would be a good choice.

My dad came over to swap out the cars and I started packing on Saturday while my husband was working. We all had one "overnight" bag with jammies and one outfit for the next day for our stopover hotel. Those were on top with the goody bags that I had prepared. We pulled one up at a time. It worked out great!!

Another thing that I prepped was our clothespin timeline. I pulled up a bing map of our drive and figured out the cities that we should be at after each hour of driving. When I say should, I mean if we had no stops (which was rare in between pins). For us, this meant that we had 15 pins total.

  1. New Philadelphia, OH
  2. Marietta, OH
  3. Ripley, WV
  4. Beckley, WV
  5. Wytheville, VA
  6. Fancy Gap, VA
  7. Statesville, NC
  8. Rock Hill, SC
  9. Columbia, SC
  10. Walterboro, SC
  11. Savannah, GA
  12. Brunswick, GA
  13. Jacksonville, FL
  14. Palm Coast, FL
  15. DISNEY (On this pin, I just colored a little Mickey head.)
On the drive home I just reversed them and the Mickey head was now "home".

Each clothespin we took down we had a little celebration...and it kept my son from asking "are we there yet?" because he could clearly see how much longer we had to go. Here's a picture of my hubby and I. You can see how and where we installed it into the van:

We left at 3:30am on a Sunday. One of the first things I did was to pull up an app on my phone called Waze. Waze is an interactive community based navigation and traffic app. You can use it while driving to notify you of upcoming turns, police, hazards, etc. If you have a passenger, that person can update the app anytime you see a hazard, traffic jam, police and then you will receive points. Not that we are speed demons, but sometimes if we were going 7-8 over it was nice to know if an officer was up ahead. never know if that officer is having a good or a bad day!! It also alerted us if there was objects in the road or a car on the shoulder. I cannot say enough good things about this app!! I LOVE IT!!!!

Other apps that came in handy were:
  • GasBuddy - It tells you where the cheapest gas options are.
  • iExit - It tells you what hotel, dining and gas options are at each exit
  • Rest Stops - It tells you how far till the next rest area and what they have there
  • TripAdvisor - Helped us with hotel options and dining choices
  • US PL8S - Boredom buster...the old plate game
  • Roadtrippers - We had three similar apps and used this one the most

Now, onto the activity bags. After this trip, we will pack these a little differently. My son loved the invisible ink type of books that we had. He barely used his innotab reader and he didn't like the iSpy bottle at all. We will plan on more coloring options and invisible ink for next time. The kids also didn't watch many movies. We had about 10 Disney Junior DVDs and a movie or two, but they only watched maybe an hours worth total the whole trip. After starting the movie Planes (one of our sons favs), he had requested that we turn it off and put more music on. Go figure! My daughter was happy watching out the window and looking at board books for the most part. We did listen to a lot of top 40s type music. We must have heard Timber and Dark Horse fifty times each before we even arrived to Florida. Ear worm central!

Another thing that we had fun with was a road bingo game that I found as a printable. Because my little guy had never played Bingo, I just showed him the page and told him to try to find as many of the items as he could. He had fun crossing off things as he saw them; including a semi, a bridge and a cow. I plan on making my own sheet next time with trip specific items. On our drive we go through tunnels in the mountains, those will be added. We also see many trio of crosses. There are more in WV than any other state, as the man behind them was from WV. Also, the Ohio barns! I can't wait to put this together for our next trip! :)

Many of you on Facebook were wondering about our stopover points. We played it by ear to see how far we got. I had done some research to see what stops had the best options for we had an idea. We knew we wanted to be to our hotel exit before dinner each night on the road. That way the kids would be settled and we could get a good meal before bed. On our drive down, we made it to Waterboro, SC. I had gone off of reviews on Tripadvisor, and found the Econo Lodge. The rate was just around $60 and it was clean and comfy. The man that answered our call regarding the pack n' play was also there to great us on our arrival and was VERY nice. I would totally stay here again!! The only problem that I had with this stop - there wasn't any local food options! We were trying to find a little Mexican place that had great reviews, however it appears that it was no longer standing. The lot where it was showing on the map was freshly bulldozed and had a "lot for sale" sign. We settled for Cracker Barrel which was PACKED, but very friendly and tasty.

On our way home, we wanted to make it to NC before we stopped, however we wouldn't have been in the Rock Hill area until after dinner so we settled for Columbia, SC. Again, I turned to Tripadvisor for a hotel. This time I found good reviews for a La Quinta so I booked it on Priceline for a slight discount. Being a larger chain and on a weekday, I didn't worry about the pack n' play. After checking in, we found that they had none available and ended up buying a bedrail at Wal-Mart instead. It worked out fine, I guess. One thing I didn't care for at La Quinta however, was the STRONG smell of chemical cleaners and deodorizers. They are a pet friendly hotel, so I'm sure it is a cover-up for pet smells. I had a headache after one hour in our room. I'm super sensitive to this may not bother everyone. For food, we ended up in a local Mexican restaurant, Taco Time. Now, I understand that we are spoiled by our local place, Fiesta JalapeƱo, however this place was nowhere near as good as we are used to. The produce was fresh, however my husband and I both ordered shrimp I believe it was previously frozen and not fresh shrimp (I could be wrong). Just kinda "meh", compared to what we are used to. We will probably NOT stop in this area again if given the choice.

Fun stops! We had a fun stop planned for St. Augustine on day two. We wanted to take our little guy to the Pirate Museum. My husband and I loved it, however our birthday boy was kind of freaked out by all of the skeletons, figures and an animatronic Black Beard head. It was a good stop and I'm glad we did it...once.
St Augustine Pirate  and Treasure Museum

We also toured Castillo De San Marcos, which is across the street. We spent much more time there and it was quite enjoyable. You can more read about it here. I highly recommend this stop, if you have time and are in the area.


That pretty much sums up our driving portion of the trip. Given the large amount of press for Disney's Art of Animation Resort, I don't think I will do a post on it. Let me know, though if you are interested!!


As always, questions and comments are welcomed!