Fall Bucket List

Since fall is here, school has been back in session. It feels like the time between now and Christmas, then New Year flies while the rest of the year slows down. Most years, I have worked in busier retail positions that have had me feeling like all I did was sleep, eat, work, repeat. This year, it’s been much slower. I’m hoping things pick up again but with all this time, I have already bought some pumpkins, made my first pie, got my first pumpkin spice latte and my girls are already excited about fall.

Since I don’t have too many hours at work, I have decided to compile a list of my fall bucket list activities I don’t get to do as often now

1. Pumpkin patch.Every year my mom and dad take my girls to a particular pumpkin farm that has games, activites- it’s the highlight of their fall. We are going this weekend and I can actually go with them this year. It will be my first time actually being able to attend.

2. Bake my mom’s harvest cake. It’s not a favorite, but it’s still become a tradition. It’s kind of an apple spice cake type cake and I can only really eat 2-3 pieces total but it still feels like it’s officially fall when I make it.

3. Ace Nano next month, and maybe even get the book finished. It’s going to be book 1 of a series I started last year. I already have it planned out and this is going to be my biggest writing project by far.

4. Start my collection to be that obnoxious house for both Halloween and Christmas- the one you can see from way down or up the street.

I love decorating and I think thanks to me loving and making decorations, my kids are also obsessed with holiday decorations.

5. Do at least 10 Fall/Winter/Holiday/birthday DIY tutorials and possibly start a DIY youtube channel. I have one about dream interpretation started, I’m just waiting for us to pay our phones off through our current provider so we can switch to a new provider- then I’m getting a new phone and I’ll start doing Youtube again.

6. Get the book I’m working on finished and ready for editing. I’m about half way there (60 some pages in, looking to get into the 120-130 range then end it). I wanted to have it ready to sell by Christmas but that won’t happen, I’m wanting to get it out around Feburary-March of next year. The first was published back in February of this year.

7. Sell out of my tie-dye shirts this coming month. I’m going to be teaching a class and I’m hoping I’ll be able to come close to selling out when I do it. I already had to build one size back up, sold out in one sale. I’m hoping selling in person will help me sell out.

8. Get some great pictures of my 8 year old. It’s “not fair” to her that most of the pics are of the 3 year old but one poses and the other doesn’t. She is finally starting to enjoy having her picture taken but it’s still a bit of an aggravation getting her to hold still in a pose long enough to snap the shot.

9. Plan and organize my first party. We just bought this house 2 months ago. We have space for people to park, a yard we can entertain in and a house we can also entertain in so I’m wanting to plan out my first party in our new house.

10.

 

What are some of the things on your bucket list? I’d love ideas to do with my kids.

Anyone else doing Blogtober?

I totally forgot this was a thing, but decided to do this with 4 websites.

Since I’m letting my “primary” site expire (it was an experiment and it filled it’s need, so the special extras are expiring), I’m going to use this challenge this month to up my content on all four niche sites.

I’m going to try to keep with the fall/Halloween theme but also thinking winter/Christmas/Thanksgiving- crafts and of course, allergy friendly recipes.

 

This will coinside with a major holiday promotion I’m starting today as well as prep for Campnano next month, so I’ll be leaving one challenge to enter another.

If anyone is doing Blogtober, I’d love to see some links in the comments

 

Decluttering to Move on a Tight and Busy Schedule

I have largely been inactive on this site due to finally closing on a house we have been trying to buy. We cut the lease on our apartment and have one more week to have our stuff out, we have been living here for about two weeks now.

Like most couples with kids, we have school schedules along with work. He works close to 50 hours a week and I’m part time but since school is starting and I work in clothing retail, my schedule has been crazy busy. We knew we were possibly going to move but due to the first loan falling through (blessing in disguise), I put off starting to declutter and pack- for fear of jinxing us. I am now regretting not starting, but we have almost all our items moved and are in the process of unpacking.

Most of the websites say to start seriously packing about a month before the move, start with nonessentials but we decided to move in to the house as soon as we had our new bed and move stuff over as we had time. You can even find tips for 3-4 months before the move. When you know you’re moving and have that much time, it’s easy to declutter, pack neatly and even plan and hold a yardsale.

We also had reasons, we didn’t want a ton of cardboard boxes clogging up both homes so we decided to pack several boxes then reuse. I started with the same 3-4 boxes, but it wasn’t working. I had a neighbor give me one box and my parents gave us several others. We still have managed to move a full 4 bedroom townhome over to the new house- with only about 10 extra boxes. We already had several totes, I’m in the process of switching from storing things in cardboard to totes.

Here are some tips I have come up with with moving quickly on a busy schedule

Tips for Packing Up the Old House

1. Don’t be afraid to recruit help- Packing, moving and taking inventory of your stuff while two kids are running around unpacking boxes can take a lot of extra time. Recruit someone to help with watching the kids.

2. If it’s not a major move (across state lines or the other side of the state), you don’t need to waste money on a moving van- We have a truck and other family members with trucks. If you have any friends or family members with trucks, recruit them. Just paying gas money saves on what you would pay a mover.

3. Recruit your kids to help- your kids will be just as excited and as nervous about the new house as you are. Give them some boxes and have them pack their toys, games, clothes and anything else of theirs.

4. Don’t stress if you can’t get everything sorted before moving but if there is anything big you are definitely replacing, put it to the side. You may be at the end of your lease so you don’t have the time to slowly move, or you could be like us- not wanting to jump the gun then having the house close super fast, you could even be dealing with an eviction. No matter the reason, you’re needing to be out of your old house/apartment fast but you have all the time in the world in your new home. If you’re down to the last month, or last three weeks but you both work 40 hour weeks, find someone to come with you to help watch your kids and move as much in one day as possible.

5. When you’re packing, look at each item you’re putting in boxes and ask “do I really want to take the time to move you?” If the answer isn’t a “yes” enthusiastically, you may want to toss it.

6. Use your kitchen and bathroom towels to pack up glass and breakable items. It gets your towels moved and helps protect

Tips for Unpacking at the New House

1. While unpacking, throw in the 1 year rule. If it’s a nonseasonal item, if you haven’t used it in six months give a serious thought to when you last used it. If you can’t remember, or it’s been well over a year, toss in the donate/sell or trash box.

2. Make sure you keep the three boxes- “Donate/Sell,” “keep” and “toss.” This is one of the primary tips I have read in all organizing, decluttering and cleaning advice pieces but it’s very important. When you have your “keep” box full, put everything immediately in place. If a nonessential is

3. If you move boxes you still had packed from your last move and you haven’t touched them, you may want to rethink holding on to them. There is a good chance that the items are nothing more than dead weight. If it’s a box filled with your children’s art work, there is a website Artkive that will turn them into a book for you and will even keep and dispose of the drawings. That way, you have the pictures but they will be neatly compiled in book form and won’t take up too much space (or get ruined as easily)

If you don’t have the money, you can also scan the drawings on the computer and save them under a file on your computer, you can even go on a self publishing site, like Lulu Publishing, and create a picture book yourself.

If the boxes have clothing items you’re trying to save “for when you lose those extra X pounds,” maybe keep one or two quality pairs of pants, but just donate or give them away to someone who wears that size now. If they have misc stuff that you’re just afraid to give up because you don’t want to replace, just remember that you haven’t used it since before your last move- you likely won’t miss it. Those boxes (we all are guilty of moving unopened boxes around from home to home) are the easiest way to declutter.

4. Go through your shoes. Chances are, you are holding on to several pairs you never wear. If you have multiple shoes that are very similar (I personally have 3 pairs of black boots- a pair of ankle boots, mid-calf and knee high- I had more but got rid of all the others, I had a favorite pair I wore 24-7 but finally had to get rid of them. After getting rid of the favored pair, I started collecting boots trying to find a pair that could replace the ones I liked and ended up with about five or six pairs of black boots I didn’t like, so I kept one of each length and wear them all occasionally)

5. Pick easy targets- most of us have ended up with large collections of kitchen gadgets that we don’t really use. It could be that somehow you now have 5 spatulas but only use 2. You could continue to save all the others for when the others get old and let them take up precious space, or you could give them away or sell them and get them out of your kitchen. Take a look around your kitchen, it’s usually one of the easiest targets. Look for canned and boxed food past the exp date, open packages of food you tried then didn’t like or gadgets you had to have and never used. Choose the bathroom next and find all the cosmetics, soaps, cleansers and medications past their exp dates, small sample or travel size shampoos and soaps you don’t use and anything else that is taking up room. Getting those two rooms will give you the motivation and energy to go through the other rooms to get them in shape.

 

These are 11 decluttering and moving tips I have found so far. We are still in the process of moving, so when we finish and get everything posted, I’ll make another list of the other tips I used.

If you have had to move quickly or downsize homes, how did you handle the decluttering and packing? What were some ways you kept your sanity? I’d love to hear.

 

Education.com Contest- open to Kindergarten through 5th Grade

The same website that gives worksheets for elementary school kids of all ages, is now holding a contest. The deadline is Halloween and winner will win 500 towards a college fund, 1000 donation and a lifetime membership to Education.com for their teacher.

This contest is made to inspire creativity in the form of story telling and art.

There will be one winner from each grade, K-5th and the details can be found on the website. Go to Education.com (here) for all details and to enter

 

Prize

Six (6) students will be selected to win the following:

  • $500 to contribute to future education expenses.
  • $1000 donation for their school or local library.
  • Premium lifetime membership to Education.com for their educator.
How to apply

Students will need to do the following by October 31, 2019 to apply:

  • Obtain a completed consent form signed by the applicant’s parent or legal guardian.
  • Respond to the following prompt in the appropriate format (listed below): Describe a time when you were having so much fun, you didn’t realize you were learning something new!
    • Kindergarten students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write about what is happening, or ask an adult to write a sentence or two describing your picture.
    • 1st grade students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write 1–3 sentences about it.
    • 2nd grade students: Write a short story (5–8 sentences) and create at least one picture to illustrate it.
    • 3rd grade: Write a short story, journal entry, or comic strip.
    • 4th grade: Write a short story, journal entry, poem, or comic strip.
    • 5th grade: Write a personal narrative, short story, poem, or comic strip.
  • Submit the above to our judges:
    • Via email to contest@education.com.
    • Via standard mail to:
      Education.com
      401 East Third Avenue
      San Mateo, CA 94401
      Attn: Limitless Learners

 

Are Any of These “Fad” Diets Right For You?

Anyone familiar with dieting has likely heard of a few of the new diets put out. Some are best as medical and have no health benefits outside of those who need them (Gluten free for example) and others can boost your overall energy and wellbeing, while helping figure out if you need to avoid any foods or not (Whole30)
Some fit the bill perfectly if you have combinations of medical issues that have recommended diets (Paleo can easily fit the bill if you have a mix of medical issues)

This is the first post dealing with the different dietary options. These are some of the more well known- some lifestyle, some best bets for medical and others can help with weightloss.

 

Plant based– This diet involves eating mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds and nuts- anything found planted and very little meat or animal products.Some people take it to vegetarian levels, but many do continue eating meat and sea food.

In this diet, you eat mostly grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. The reasoning behind taking most animal products out and eating mostly grown foods is focused on sustainability and the concept that our ancestors ate very little meat- they had to kill the animals themselves, so their diets weren’t high in meat. It is thought that they didn’t have the lifestyle diseases like we have now- diabetes or obesity especially and this is a very low artificially processed diet.

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Vegan is typically a lifestyle change than just a “diet”- where they not only avoid eating meat, eggs or anything like honey (anything that comes from animals), they avoid using any products, clothes or cosmetics that use animal products at all. This is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle choice- based typically on morals. This is a wonderful way to live, if you’re healthy and can handle taking all animal foods out of your diet- it’s not for everyone, though. Vegan isn’t a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle based on ethics and morals. The only problem is that some people get sick when taking all animal products out. Other people don’t get sick and swear by that diet being the “magic pill” but like all diets, it’s not going to work for everyone.

If you’re not ready to take the full steps to become a vegan, you have the options of full or partial vegetarian. There are some vegetarians that consume no meat and others that only consume seafood.

Many vegans started as vegetarians and it can be a huge step towards full veganism. Other options are to find non cruelty cosmetic, skin and hair care brands and start reading ingredients in everything you purchase to make sure no animal by-products are listed. There is also a one month Vegan challenge- Veganuary that helps you make the switch.

Gluten-Free– this is a very beneficial diet if you’re Celiac, intolerant, have certain autoimmunity issues or a few other medical problems BUT it’s not beneficial at all for people in good health. This diet eliminates wheat, rye, barley and anything with any form of those three grains. Gluten is the protein that adds to the flavor and texture of bread and other baked foods. There is nothing inherently wrong with it and a diet rich in whole grains (which the GF misses) is one of the best. Whole grains are much healthier than white (bleached and enriched). If you eat gluten free, have no medical issues and choose to use substitutes you may find yourself gaining weight. You’ll likely gain because gluten free foods have much more sugar added than normal grains to make up for taste and texture differences. If you do see a dramatic difference (positive), you may want to speak to a doctor because it could be something wrong- either something like an intolerance or as severe as Celiac. Gluten is out of your system within a month, so one month gluten free should be a decent indicator if you actually have issues with it. Common symptoms of an intolerance are bloating, nausea, diarrhea, gas, heartburn and some people even say joint and head pain goes away on the gluten free diet. It should really only be followed if you have a medical problem and going gluten free helps eliminate the symptoms.

Paleo- This is almost the polar opposite of Vegan. You do eat a lot of fruits, vegetables but it’s higher in protein and animal products, like eggs and no grains, legumes. The Paleo diet helps avoid foods that are highly processed and not natural to our bodies. The whole point of the Paleo is to try to take you to what our ancestors used to eat, before obesity and Diabetes became epidemic but even if it’s not the best way for everyone to eat, I found with the food recommendations people made to me based on Reactive Hypoglycemia, Gluten and Lactose triggered IBS and a few other issues, Paleo is a good fit.

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Whole30 is the Paleo on steroids. It’s a very strict elimination diet made to last 30-60 days to reset your old eating habits and has a re-introduction plan to help determine any intolerance or other food issues you may have. There are several books and it’s recommended to read “It Starts with Food” prior to starting so you get the rules down. This diet is also made to make you think about your eating habits. The rules are fairly simple-
1. Don’t snack (unless you have to due to medical issues like Hypoglycemia) or are genuinely hungry
2. Eat 3 larger meals and make sure to follow their guidelines on the right amount of protein and fats. That part is important to avoid cravings and keep from getting deficiencies.
3. No desert or make shift sweets, no “Paleo” or “whole30 compliant” pasta, breads or breakfast foods like
4. (Not so much a written rule but very strong guideline)- read the books before attempting Whole30. It Starts with Food explains the plan, the journal is great to go through as you’re on Whole30. It gives a day by day play out of how you may be feeling and gives you space to write things down. The cookbook is a godsend when you’re at a loss for good, flavorful recipes or when you’re burning out. It even gives recipes for condiments but be careful if you try using the butter. They have a recipe for “clarified” butter but it still is dairy- even melted down and if you have issues with dairy, it will give you diarrhea.
5. No “cheats” and no “slips.” If you have one slip, even on accident, you have to start over from day one. That’s not for any morality reason, it’s because the diet is set to reset your digestive system and if you mess up, it can set you back.

I made it 22 days in and ended up accidentally eating something steamed in butter, so I had to start over. This 1-2 month diet helps find trouble foods, as long as you put things back in the right way (one thing at a time over the course of 2-3 days instead of everything at once)

 

I will come back with another post similar to this with another four diets and I will post further going more in depth with each diet. This is a basics- the basics of what you can and can’t eat with each. Each do have benefits but they also can be bad- no 2 bodies are the same. I can do extremely well on the Paleo diet, but other people won’t. I couldn’t last 2 weeks Vegan before I ended up on supplements and others feel great.

 

 

Book Recommendation: What to Expect series

The What to Expect series goes from pregnancy through the second year. They also have a website full of resources.

I have the full collection and used it as my Bible while I was pregnant. It comforted me when I felt like I was dealing with weird symptoms and helped me with what I needed to do to prepare for my oldest’s birth.

This series, by far, is the one I would recommend to any first time mom. Ignoring the milestones in the newborn, first year and second year when you have a delayed baby works best- it will keep you from stressing, but the rest of the books are gold.

They give tips for feeding, naps, play, and anything else dealing with raising baby. They also give tips on where baby should be and which milestones to expect, which works for preemies adjusted age in the early months.

They give small tips for moms and dads as well in some of the pages and in the front of each chapter, it gives what symptoms to expect or what major milestones and what percentage of babies/toddlers hit them in the months. The easy layout of the book makes it simple to flip to a chapter and read all about the month your baby is turning (or what month you are in your pregnancy)

If you buy these books, you won’t need other books. They will be nice to have, but this series covers everything but extreme complications.

If you know anyone who is expecting their first baby, this is a book to buy them that they can keep and use for all their pregnancies.

Baby Necessity- Pack n Play

We were given a Pack N Play for our oldest at our baby shower, my mom and dad also bought one. I would recommend it to anyone who travels with babies or grandparents who keep baby over night occasionally.

The Pack N Play worked well when we went on vacation, it stored easily in the back of the car with our luggage and didn’t take up too much space. It was cheaper than a crib, so my parents used it with both kids as babies when they stayed overnight.

Pros- lightweight, works as well as a crib, cheaper than a crib, holds up through babies- my girls are almost 5 years apart and we used the same Pack n Plays with both.

Cons- none that I can think of off the top of my head. We used a normal crib on a day to day basis, but she did nap in the Pack n Play more than a few times.

*Just for the record, this site lists items I have found absolutely essential over the years and doesn’t contain affiliate links. I will not be getting paid for endorsing these products, unless specifically mentioned in a post, it’s all just my personal experience and opinion*