Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cookbook Challenge: March Update

Well I have officially only completed one recipe for my Cookbook Challenge 2013, from my cookbook during the month of March :( Despite my lack in quantity of recipes this month, my one recipe definitely was top quality.

I made the Pollo a las Rajas and it was amazing. When you're in the park, you can find this recipe at San Angel Inn Restaurante at the Mexico Pavillion in EPCOT. I've never had it there, but I kinda want to go and see how delicious it is.

I didn't take a picture of this recipe because to be honest, it was an ugly dish. It does not look appetizing at all, but it tastes amazing. Jeff had three helpings of it and I had two. It is definitely a recipe I will make again, but next time I will cut it in half because it makes a ton.

Hopefully next month I can pick up the pace and get on track for completing all of these recipes before the end of the year.

Recipe Count: 5 of 99

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bathroom Organization

Hey guys, sorry about posting this a day late. Yesterday was my birthday and I decided to take the day off :) I guess that is one of the perks of being your own boss.

The first thing I did when I embarked on Spring Cleaning our bathrooms was take a look at the wonderful checklist I got from The Happier Homemaker. Most of the things on the list are pretty basic deep cleaning tasks; Cleaning the toilet, cabinets, baseboards, etc. What I was interested in doing most was organizing and clearing out what wasn't needed in our cabinets.

This is what the cabinet in our master bathroom looked like before emptying it out. Nothing had a designated place inside the cabinet, so its all just piles of stuff. Lots and lots of disorganized stuff. There was so much stuff in there that it completely covered the bathroom counter when it was all laid out.

Jeff's family always gets him a bottle of Ralph Lauren cologne for Christmas, but I can't remember the last time he actually wore cologne. The one in the red box is the newest addition to the unintentional collection.

It took me around an hour and a half to go through everything and throw away all the junk, plus organize what we were going to keep. Luckily Jeff was on campus working late and the baby was asleep for the night, so I had no interruptions.

Bottom Shelf (L to R): my haircare products, basket of my everyday face stuff, makeup bag, lotions.                          Middle Shelf (L to R): cologne and perfume, sunscreen, drawers with misc feminine items, basket of nail polish etc.     Top Shelf (L to R): Extra soaps & travel sizes, misc first aid items.
This is what the cabinet looked like when I was done.  Now everything has it's own little space, and hopefully it will stay that way for an extended period of time (well at least until we move). The best part about cleaning out the cabinet is that now I can find exactly what I need when I need it. Plus when we move, we know exactly what we have and wont have to move anything that needs to be trashed.

Sew Thinky Thursday

Well this weeks theme for Sew Thinky Thursday is : 
If you were a quilt block which one would you be?

Base your answer on what you use most, or what is more metaphorically you. Please try to link to an example, or show a pic of the block if you have one so we'll know exactly what block you mean!

This one took a bit of thinking because I really couldn't imagine myself "being" a quilt block. So I walked away from the computer and started doing the chores I should have been doing in the first place :) Then it dawned on me exactly what block I would be... 

A Wonky Log Cabin! 

I was raised in a very traditional home, but I branched out and developed more of a wild side in my early college days :) Now I think I have eased back into a slightly more traditional mindset, but I still have that free spirit inside.

Red/Aqua Wonky Log Cabin
via uptemily on Flickr

Wonky Log Cabin
via Milky Robot on Flickr

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pinterest Challenge

Pinterest Challenge
I found this awesome challenge the other day from Sarah over at Mama's Got It Together, and I got really inspired to do it. Basically you take all that time you spend pinning awesome projects, and use it to instead make some of those awesome pins come true for yourself.

Since we are moving at the end of May, I thought this would be a great way to make our new place (even though I have no idea where that place is yet) feel more like a home. I already have a Pinterest board full of about 14 projects, I might have a couple extra :), and I can't wait to get started on some of them!

Each month on the 15th, Sarah is going to have a link up for everyone participating to show off all their handiwork. I am really looking forward to this, and I am so glad Sarah has come up with it.

What inspires you to get projects done?

Monday, March 25, 2013

William's Finished Berenstain Bears Quilt

A couple weeks ago I got William's quilt back from being long-arm quilted by Kathy over at Stitch by Stitch, and it looks amazing! This is the very first time that  I have had a quilt that I had made quilted on a long-arm and I could not be happier. Kathy did an amazing job, and it turned out better than I ever could have expected it to!

The checkered sections are quilted with an allover wave pattern, the scenes have an adorable double loop pattern, and each of the sashing strips have their own patterns.
With this quilt, I did machine binding for the very first time and I don't think I ever want to do it any other way. I used this tutorial from Rita over at Red Pepper Quilts. The tutorial is really easy to follow and has lots of pictures.
I made him a Berenstain Bears quilt because I loved the Berestain Bears books growing up. They were one of the only books I would read as a kid, and now I have started reading them to William at bed time. One of my favorite parts of this fabric is the family driving in the car! You can see the double loops really well in this picture.
As always, William loves his newest quilt :)

I just love the way his little hands hold onto the quilt. It makes my heart melt :)

The quilt crinkled up so nicely after washing, and only shrunk a couple of inches. It is the perfect size for his crib. I struggled with what I wanted to do with the backing but in the end I fell in love with this polka-dot backing. It's just so cheerful.

Now I am thinking about making a matching pillow case with all of the extra fabric I have left over. I'll just stack that project on top of my huge WIP pile :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

We're Moving!

Well it is 99% official! We are moving to Houston when Jeff graduates in May! We recently found out that he was extended a job offer with Hewlett Packard, and last Friday he accepted the offer! I apologize for the amount of exclamation points, but it is very exciting :)

Now that Jeff finding a job is off our to-do list, we get to add on to the list packing, finding a place to live, renting a moving truck, actually moving, and all the other exciting yet stressful things that have to do with moving.

I have loved living in College Station for the past few years (make that almost 6 years), but I am certainly ready to move somewhere new. At first I was worried about moving to Houston because the traffic there is horrible. But now that it is getting closer to becoming our home, I am kinda looking forward to this new adventure in our lives together.

My brother and sister-in-law live in Houston, so it will be nice for our boys to see each-other more often. They're only 1 month apart in age, so it is really nice when we can get them together and play.

We've already put together a budget, and we have done tons of research on places we would like to live. When we go to Houston to visit Jeff's parents for Easter weekend, we're going to go look at some places and hopefully find where we are going to move.

I get very anxious when it comes to this kind of stuff because I don't like not knowing where we are going to go or what we are going to do. I think that has something to do with my control issues :( and I like to have a plan for everything.

This will be our first big move with William, any pointers on making a move with a toddler go smoothly?

P.S. I apologize for the very wordy post :) these thoughts were floating around in my mind and I just had to get them out. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Clean a Washing Machine Without Bleach

Here we go with post #2 in my Spring Cleaning Series!

Our washing machine sees a bunch of laundry. Having a toddler is like having a walking & talking mess. Plus William is cloth diapered, so that just adds to the laundry. Well just like your vacuum, your washing machine can get dirty while getting clean.

I have seen several tutorials about cleaning your washing machine, but they all include bleach and that is out of the question in our house for a couple of reasons:

1. Bleach is pretty toxic, and not something I want in the house.
2. I'm allergic to bleach, so William might be too.
3. I really don't want the chance of our clothes getting messed up from bleach residue in the washing machine.

So instead of bleach, we're going to be using baking soda and vinegar. Super simple and together it will cost less than $5 to do this.

So first off, make sure you don't have any laundry in the washing machine. I actually had a load of darks that I had thrown in earlier in the day and had forgotten about it :( oops.

Once all your laundry is out of the way, it's time to get this cleaning party started. For this we're going to need:
  • 3 cups white distilled vinegar (or 2 cups lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • soft cloth or towel
 Fill your washing machine with hot water at the largest load setting.
Right as it starts to agitate, you want to add in your 3 cups of vinegar (or 2 cups of lemon juice). Our machine won't agitate unless the lid is closed, so I added the vinegar right before it was full and then closed the lid while i measured out the baking soda.

 This is what the water looked like right before I added in the baking soda. You can already see how murky and dirty the water is, and it had only agitated for less than 1 minute.

 Pour in your 1/2 cup of baking soda, and then let the machine do its thing.

While the washing machine is running its cycle, I decided to clean out the lint trap in our dryer. You should always clean the lint off every time you are done using it, and every now and then you want to wash the screen. Why you ask? Well check it out.

The build up from dryer sheets sticks to the screen and makes it to were your dryer can't dry your clothes as well as it should. That's why the water just sits on the surface of the screen. ( I learned this from my friends dad who has been a Sears repairman for the past 20 years). So just give it a good scrub with some soap and water, and set is aside to dry.

Now the water passed right through the screen, you should see a difference in the amount of time it takes for your clothes to dry now.

After the hot cycle of your washing machine is done, take a soft cloth ( I used a clean pre-fold diaper) and give then inside of your machine a good wipe-down. I blotted a bit of vinegar on the cloth and wiped the top of the machine right inside the lid.

This is all the residue that I was left with after wiping everything down. Pretty crazy huh? After you wipe the machine down, run another large cycle. This time on cold and do not add anything to the water. This cycle is simply rinsing the machine.

When the cold cycle is done, give the machine another wipe-down (with a clean cloth) and then you are done. This is the first time I ever tried cleaning our washing machine, and I was really surprised with the results. Has anyone ever washed their washing machine? Have you found other combinations that work?

I hope this was helpful! Come back next week for posts about organizing and cleaning out your kitchen and bathrooms.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to Clean a Hoover Wind Tunnel Vacuum

Well it is officially the first day of Spring, and what a better time to start my awesome Spring Cleaning Series!  Twice a week I'm going to post some awesome and helpful posts to help get your house in shape for Spring. First up: Cleaning your vacuum.

For the longest time I have needed to clean our vacuum. It was loosing suction all the time, and it just looked awful. Now I know what you're thinking, "isn't a vacuum used for cleaning?" well yes. But after months of sucking up Cheerios and other toddler messes, there's lots of dirt and gunk reeking havoc and not letting our vacuum live up to its awesomeness.

Now I found a tutorial about how to clean a Dyson on Pinterest, but I don't have an awesome and very expensive Dyson. Our lovey Hoover Wind Tunnel was only $80 at, and I deemed myself handy enough to take her apart and give her a good cleaning.

So lets get to it. The first thing you wan to do is make sure your vacuum is unplugged, if not then you could have a nasty mess on your hands when your toddler comes to turn it on for you while working. William tried to do this twice, but then it was nap time :)

Look at that nasty mess... The vacuum, not the rest of my living room :)

I emptied the canister into the trash and then took the entire thing over to the sink for a through washing. If you don't have this exact vacuum, check your manual to see if all the parts can get wet/be submerged in water. We don't want to break anything :)

The Hoover Wind Tunnel comes with this nifty washable filter than can be removed and rinsed under running water. You're supposed to rinse it every 3 months... The last itme I rinsed ours was over 6 months ago :(

Rinse the filter under running water until the water runs clear and there is no more debris clogging it. For mine it took a couple of minutes. And yes I wear gloves to wash dishes and things. I hate the feel of slimy dishes.

This is how it should roughly look after rinsing. This was the side that was covered in dirt.

Set that aside on a towel to dry. You're going to want to let all of the pieces dry for at least 24 hours, that way you won't have a muddy mess when you use your vacuum again.
Next up is the canister. Mine had quite a bit of caked on gunk because I vacuumed up some grapes once and they stuck to the bottom. 

After a thorough washing, it looks as good as new. Again set it aside to dry for a minimum of 24 hours. 

Now this piece was the tricky one to wash, mainly because of the size and awkward shape. Plus all those little holes on the gray part were a ************* to clean. I ended up getting a toothpick to pick out the dirt that was trapped inside those puppies.

Third times the charm, let all the parts dry for at least 24 hours :)

Now while your parts dry onto the belly of the beast. Flip over your vacuum and survey the damage. I'm pretty sure most Hoover Wind Tunnels (I compared mine and the one my parents have) have those nifty red tabs to release the bottom plate.

Pry those bad boys open and you should be looking at something like this nasty mess. I took the bottom plate that came off over to the sink and cleaned it up really well and then set it to try with the other parts.

Pretty gross huh? I'm pretty sure most of the dirt in mine is from Cheerios and other random snack foods that end up on the floor daily at our house. The cheap beige carpet we have does a terrible job at hiding stains; I now realize why the house I grew up in as a child had brown carpet.

Using a seam ripper or scissors, cut all the little strings and pull them off. It helps to have a paper towel or napkin nearby to put at the gunk you fish out onto. That way you're not just putting it on the floor.

If possible remove the brush and belt from the vacuum. It makes it much easier to clean the nooks crannies, plus you can wash the brush in the sink while you're at it. Again check your manual to make sure you do this properly.

I found that an old childrens toothbrush worked great to scrub most of the dirty parts of the vacuum. Especially the hole where everything gets sucked up.

I found not 1 but 3 dirt balls like this inside there. They were caked on so I really had to scrub to get them out.

It took my about 15 minutes but I scrubbed everything down, and then took a wet wipe to everything.

I washed the brush and set it aside to dry with the rest of the parts.

Once all of the parts have dried completely, put the vacuum back together and tada... you have a practically new vacuum that should work like a charm. Oh and for those of you who are wondering, yes the cord rewind function is absolutely amazing!

Here is the mess that was left over after cleaning out the base. It looked like the vacuum had eaten a small rodent.

Well I hope this helps anyone looking for an easy way to clean their vacuum so that it works as good as new again. If you have any questions let me know :) I tried to make sure I covered everything, but if something isn't clear I can give some more advice/guidance.

Come back on Friday because I'm going to have an awesome post about cleaning your washer and dryer without using bleach.