Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dishwasher Disappointment

Sneak peek - there she is! :D

I did get to peek inside and admire her glory

But sadly, in the end, we're still staring at this now non-functional dishwasher :(

I guess I don't need need to say much beyond the title. The dishwasher install didn't work out. It actually started off really well and J was feeling confident that he'd be able to do it, but when it came time to disconnect some copper pipes we discovered that they were soldered together in multiple places. We certainly lack the appropriate equipment to take them apart without causing possible damage, so we decided to leave it for the pros. Ooohhhhh welllllllll. I've survived 5 years with this one, what's a few more days of staring at it? We just need to find the right person to take care of it for us. Doesn't it always happen when you're so so so excited for something that you get thisclose and it just dangles in front of your face for a while? No fun. 

Meanwhile, I'm working on creating some art for the kitchen and play room that I'm really excited to share! Check back for that an a dishwasher update in the next few days :D

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Cleaning Week Wrap Up

We've wrapped up Spring Cleaning Week around here and the place is sparkling :)  I thought I'd share a quick overview of everything that got cleaned and what products I used to make it as productive as possible while still being pleasant!

Here's the breakdown of each day/room:
*Side note- a lot of these things do get done on a regular basis, not just during Spring Cleaning, I promise! :)

Monday- Master Bedroom & Bathroom
Dust everything
Wash all bedding
Put down fresh bedding
Swap out winter for spring bed spread
Wash windows and window treatments
Swap winter for spring clothing, donate what doesn't get worn
Vacuum floors

Clean tile, tub, toilet, sink, mirror & floor surfaces
Dust/polish cabinets
Scrub grout
Remove old caulk, re-caulk
Clean out and discard old/lesser used items from cabinets & shelves
Replace towels
Wash shower curtain
Wash rug & bath mat

Tuesday- C's bedroom & Main Bath
Dust everything
Wash bedding
Put down fresh bedding
Swap winter for spring blankets
Wash window and window treatment
Pack up winter clothing/outgrown clothing
Pack up other items no longer needed
Re-organize closet
Re-organize changing table & book shelf
Vacuum floor


Clean tile, tub, toilet, sink, mirror & floor surfaces
Dust/polish cabinets
Scrub grout
Remove old caulk, re-caulk
Replace towels
Wash shower curtain
Wash rug & bath mat

Wednesday- Living Room & Play Room
Dust everything
Wash windows & window treatments
Wash sofa and ottoman slipcovers
Pack up outgrown/lesser used toys & books
Clear 2nd toy shelf
Re-organize remaining toy shelf
Vacuum and mop floor

Thursday- Kitchen
Remove items to be sold/donated (yup, still doing that)
Wipe down cabinets, appliances, counter tops
Wash window, sliding door, and treatments
Clean sliding door track, re-grease
Remove items from pantry for donation
Re-organize pantry
Vacuum and mop floor

Friday- Flexible
Finish up any remaining projects from the week
Give dog a haircut
Wish I had taken a before picture. He appears at least 5lbs lighter.

Since I was working only during C's nap time, some of these tasks didn't get done on their respective days. That's why I kept Friday open. I also didn't do anything with our basement because that is mostly J's space. I pretty much only use the laundry room, or retrieve some crafty stuff from my desk. He is constantly moving things around and re-organizing it, so I don't really interfere. Oh, and I worked on C's bedroom Tuesday evening after J got home since she is of course sleeping in there during nap time! Overall, SCW was a great big fresh-smelling success. It's like giving your house a face lift :)

Speaking of fresh-smelling... here's a list of the products I love to use whenever I clean. I always prefer something a little more naturally derived (although I realize they aren't 100% chemical-free), and these are the ones that have worked best for me:

Method Anti-Bac Kitchen Cleaner. I used this on any hard surface, not just in the kitchen. It's good at loosening anything stuck-on, and it's anti-bacterial. Bonus: super fresh lemon + verbena scent.

Method Window Cleaner. It's blue, it cleans streak-free, but it lacks that nostril-stinging smell of Windex. Rather it has a mild minty scent that I much prefer. PS- I've killed bugs with a squirt of Windex before, so that's something to think about when breathing it in. ACK!

Method Tub & Tile Cleaner. I have found this to be the best naturally-derived cleaner for actually cleaning tile. A lot of natural bathroom cleaners that are anti-bacterial are not that great at getting soap residue off of your tile. I prefer this one, though it is not anti-bacterial, because I'd rather have the scum off my surfaces than have sanitized scum. We don't eat off the shower tile or anything else in the bathroom, so no biggie there. And, eucalyptus + mint scent.

Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Again, naturally derived. Smells like an evergreen forest, and it's considerably cheaper than Method's version.

Hydrogen Peroxide. This is what I used to clean the grout. It not only cleans and kills any ick that's on there, but peroxide also has a bleaching effect (whitening toothpaste, anyone?) so your grout ends up nice and bright. I've also heard vinegar works well on grout, or if you were less concerned with the chemicals SoftScrub with bleach would probably do the same trick.

Swiffer Dusters. I love these little guys! We have wood blinds in every room of the house and these things clean them in a snap (or at least a fraction of the time it would take me to wipe each slat with a cloth). They easily dust fan blades, picture frames, shelves, and pretty much anything else. You can't shake them like they show in the commercial or dust will fly everywhere (yes, I tried), but they do a pretty good job of actually picking the dust up without just spreading it around.

O-Cedar Floor Mop. It's a lot like the Swiffer mop (it has a refillable bottle for cleaner, a trigger to spray the floor, and then a cleaning pad that attaches to the bottom), except the cleaning pads are washable and reusable. I like that there's less trash and less to buy. You also use whatever floor cleaner you like instead of buying refills of their cleaner.

Method Floor Cleaner. I use the lavender scented version (are there others? maybe not) and love it. Very little is needed and you just add water and clean as usual. It does a great job and smells amazing.

I think that's the line-up. I could be forgetting something though, it was a busy week! I have to say, I love that although the Method cleaners have somewhat different scents, none are over-powering or perfume-y and they all work together. On our main level I used every single one of them, and it just smelled like freshness... you know, what spring should smell like :)

If you're inspired to do some spring cleaning, hopefully this was helpful. For anyone who is really up for a challenge, I also found a spring cleaning list on Pinterest (I think) that is pretty intense. Got any spring cleaning tips or tricks? Favorite cleaners, tools, or potions? I'm sure we'd all love to hear!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

C-baby: 23 Months

While I truly can't believe she's 23 months old, I'll save the "I can't believe she's...." talk for next month.  For this post I really just want to talk about all the cute and amazing things she's doing lately. 

She sings the ABCs entirely (ok, LMNOP gets a little mushed together). More impressive is that when I wash her hands, she starts singing it without any prompting. So proud :)

Her favorite things are dancing, coloring, playing outside (other kids = even better), Sesame Street and the Muppets. She knows a lot of songs but her favorite by far is Rainbow Connection. She also really likes Happy Birthday and asks me to sing it in the car using the names of every single person we know.

She now talks in sentences of more than 2 words. Usually they start with "I want" such as, "I want meeeelk," or "I want snack." It's not in an annoying demanding way either. She has the most adorable, irresistible and endearing way of asking for something. We're in so much trouble.

Other sentences start with "I watch (usually Muppets or Sesame Street)," "I hear," "I see," "I touch," all that kind of stuff. You know, the self-centered world of the toddler :)

Still totally into "hair-planes" and stops to say hi, wave, and say bye-bye every time she hears one. In fact one of the sentences she says most often is, (GASP) "I hear... hair-plane!"

She's been able to count to ten for a while, but now she tries to go beyond ten. She makes it to about 13 before she starts making things up. It's adorable though, so who am I to stop her? She has also started trying to identify letters. She calls them all A or C, but it's a start! :)

She has gotten super independent. She's always been pretty independent, but her big thing now is going down stairs by herself. We've tried teaching her to hold onto the railing but she's still not totally safe to do it alone. Regardless, don't even think about trying to carry her out to the car. I've learned to budget an extra 5-8 minutes for getting out the door and to the curb once we're all ready to leave. She's also very adamant about feeding herself with her own utensils. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn't.

Perhaps of most note and excitement at this point is that she has started using the potty! I bought a baby toilet seat with Sesame Street characters on it and started sitting her on it just to try it out and get used to it. One day I saw her making "the face" and asked if she wanted to do it on the potty. She was willing, and it happened! She's not consistent yet, but she does tell me when she has to go "poot" by saying, "I poot on the potty!" I think it will be a little while before she can tell me in advance that she needs to pee, but for now I'm thrilled to be cleaning up fewer dirty diapers!

She has us pretty well convinced that she's a lefty at this point. She colors, eats and throws with her left hand consistently. I wouldn't say she never uses her right, but it's not as often and she is not quite as proficient with it even though she can do pretty well.

Turns out our girlie-girl flips a little switch when we get outside to play. She's totally into rocks (ok, even if she pretends that they're cookies), sticks, dirt, and general exploring. A lot of times at the play ground she wanders away from the actual play equipment and talks to bugs or picks up sticks and pine cones to play with instead. I think it's that super imagination of hers ;)

With all the coloring she loves to do, we're starting to learn some colors. She knows the names of a lot of colors, but doesn't quite identify them correctly. She almost always calls purple and pink "purple-pink." She can correctly identify blue and orange, and the rest are kind of random. Sometimes she gets them right and sometimes she doesn't, so I'm pretty sure she's just giving it a good guess, haha!

She's also learning shapes. She has known heart, star, and moon (circle) for a while - like since she was able to say the words which has been probably a good 6-8 months. But more recently she correctly identifies triangles (of all shapes!) and sometimes squares.

Her current favorite books are the classic Goodnight Moon (she loves the moon and stars), the Little Pookie books, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, and Polar Bear Polar Bear What Do You Hear. She knows all the animals in Brown Bear and Polar Bear. Polar Bear is a little more impressive though with animals like the flamingo, peacock, hippo, and walrus. The best is that there's a zookeeper at the end which she calls the "zoo-koopie." Her favorite animal seems to be an elephant.

She remains a pretty good eater, though she definitely gravitates toward vegetables and grains over anything else. She absolutely loves beans and rice, steamed peas/broccoli/green beans/carrots/corn, and sometimes she even chows down on salad which I find surprising given its texture. She does eat chicken or beef sometimes, but she's not crazy about it and rarely eats a portion that could be considered a meal. Most of her protein comes from eggs, beans & rice, and greek yogurt which she eats almost daily. She will drop everything for chocolate.

She loves to look at pictures and videos of people we know, especially herself (ha, toddlers). She often asks us to see pictures of herself, us, or her cousins on our phones. A few times she has even asked my friends to see pictures of her cousins on their phones. On a daily basis though, she asks to "Watch Lucy, a Molly, a Claire!" our beloved pals in Texas. Ever since their visit last month, she has been obsessed. She always liked watching their videos before but just called them "kids and baby." Now they're real! It's adorable though and if there are any youtube videos I can stand for her to watch, it's them :)

I know there are probably hundreds of other things I'm forgetting. I've been thinking about this post for at least a month and trying to make mental note of all the stinking-adorable things she says and does that I needed to include. But you know how mental notes go. When it's time to write them down they're only about half there. I'll try and do better next time and add some more in a month when the big birthday rolls around :) This gives a pretty good idea for now.

Anyone else have a 23-month old (or any-month old) who says and does the cutest things ever?? Do share!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Appliance Delivery!

The long-awaited and twice-postponed day of our stove and dishwasher's arrival finally came around. It was setting up to be a pretty hectic day. I was going to be here with C and my nephew who you may have read about here. J had a meeting at 1:00 and the delivery window we were given was between 2-4, a.k.a nap time. I could only imagine the delivery guys showing up at 2:00 on the dot waking C after a fraction of her nap, me managing both babies (who would naturally be hysterical) by myself while trying to calmly talk to the kind delivery persons. Luckily the stars aligned who am I kidding? God had mercy, and J's meeting ended in time for him to beat the delivery guys here, nephew ended up staying home, and C didn't stir during the entire process despite her bedroom being right above the front door which slams (and try telling delivery people not to let your door slam while they go in and out of it no less than 43 times).

It all went very well, but as with any story there is good news....
The stove looks fantastic :D

My pan sat so perfectly flat on it!

Yes, I marveled at the hot oil resting in the center of the pan. If you've ever cooked on wonky coils you can appreciate this.

Our first dinner- lemon pepper chicken was delicious!

So that was the good news. And here is the bad news...

Somehow I missed the memo that Best Buy neither installs your new dishwasher or hauls away your old one. Sad face. So we're in for a little DIY adventure with some friendly assistance from the interwebz. J is definitely not the classic sitcom husband who thinks he knows what he's doing when he doesn't. He is happy to admit that a project is beyond the scope of his toolbox. So while we're willing to give it a go ourselves, if things start going south I'm happy knowing that he won't insist that we forge ahead or "put a little duct tape" on something. If it doesn't work out we'll just reassemble things and call in a pro. But hey, if it's do-able (and from the instructions it seems to be), then we'll give it our best shot. I shall return with an update!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Say Goodbye our little friends! Let's take one last look at our sadly outdated, though impressively still functional, dishwasher and stove. I'm fairly certain they were installed when the house was built back in 1999 making them a good 13 years old. Despite their outdated-ness and lack of aesthetic appeal, they have had no mechanicnal issues in the just about five years that we've lived here. We've never had to call for service on them. We're lucky that they've served us well and are now super excited to send them on their way and bring in their shiny new replacements!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Big Day

Our new stove and dishwasher arrive tomorrow!!! I'm so excited to cook on a normal stove and use a dishwasher that is versatile and quiet to boot! As a bonus my kitchen will appear at a (very quick) glance to be at least of this century... you know, if you can ignore the green marble-y linoleum floor and matching Formica counter tops :)

In Spring Cleaning news, today I gave the living room and play room some TLC. They're mostly sparkling and smell like a field of lavender. The sofa covers are still in the process of being washed and dried since that's pretty much an all-day process, but otherwise things are looking great in there.

There is one bookshelf we have in the play room that I wanted to be able to clear off and move out, but I ran out of time for that today. I'll be sure to get to it tomorrow or Friday though because we're going to need that space for a certain bella bambina's upcoming 2nd birthday present :) Having a child is seriously sometimes like being a kid again. I can get so excited about giving her something I know she'll love as if I were the one getting an awesome gift. I guess in a way I am... ah, I love being a mommy!

Here are a few pictures from today:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Cleaning Week: Day 2

And happy first day of spring! Yesterday's cleaning endeavor was a huge, minty-fresh success! The entire upstairs filled with fresh air and subtle mint and eucalyptus scents of my favorite cleaning products.

Our master bedroom is completely dust-free...
...and cozi-fied with fluffy, cheerful spring bedding...
My dresser is filled with neatly stacked tank-tops and otherwise colorful, flowy articles of clothing...
The master bathroom is also gleaming, though I decided not to take pictures. I can't imagine anyone really cares to see a photo of a shower wall. We don't even have pretty tile, it's just white squares! What I did not get finished from the task list was the clearing out old & unused items. Put that on my list for Friday :)

On to today's task...

Main Bathroom & C's Bedroom
I'll be giving the main bathroom the same treatment our master bath got yesterday, a thorough scrubbing plus recaulking and resealing the grout.

In C's room,
  - Dust everything
  - Fresh bedding
  - Pack up winter clothes
  - Reorganize closet and changing table

I also plan to hang some shelves and fill up a collage frame we've had for a while with pictures of her cousins. Since C is constantly moving out of one stage and into another, I feel like her room is constantly changing as well. We are always putting away things we don't use anymore and bringing in something new that we haven't needed until now. As long as it's not time to move the crib out and a big-girl bed in, I'll be ok :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Cleaning Week: Kickoff

It's officially one of my favorite times of the year - SPRING CLEANING WEEK! That's right, I break out the mops, buckets, dust cloths, brushes, and spray bottles for an entire week of deep cleaning. Nothing inspires me to clean like spring, and nothing makes spring more enjoyable than ridding your home of allergens a house that smells of lavender, mint and eucalyptus!

Spring Cleaning Week goes beyond my regular weekly cleaning to include things like re-sealing grout, re-caulking, clearing out cabinets and closets, washing windows and window treatments, swapping winter for spring clothing, washing sofa slip covers, and other deep-cleaning processes that don't get done frequently throughout the year. I love it not only because the house gets fresh and clean, but I also love the opportunity to clear things out and part with stuff that is just taking up space. For example, my bathroom storage is maxed out, but I actually use about 6 things in there on a regular basis. Of course some things you need to hang on to for occasional use, but lots of things can just go. Spring is also a great time to swap out some decor items for an instantly updated look without spending a lot of money. Changing out toss pillows for a different color or moving some furniture around can really make a difference in taking a room winter to spring, much like you can swap a few accessories to make an outfit go from day to night!

The game plan is to tackle a different room/area of the house each day. I find that I'm most effective in cleaning/reorganizing if I can focus on one room at a time. I'm going kickoff SCW today with...

The Master Bedroom & Bathroom
On my cleaning list are the following items:
  - Dust everything
  - Wash all bedding and swap winter for spring bedspread
  - Wash windows, sills, and window treatments
  - Go through closet for items to donate
  - Swap winter for spring clothing
  - Clean bathroom
  - Scrub and re-seal grout
  - Re-caulk
  - Empty out/reorganize cabinets, toss old or unused items

Since I only have nap time to work through it's certainly possible that all of this will not get done today. That's the magic of Spring Cleaning WEEK. Chances are, there will be another day that I have less on the agenda which allows for some flexibility. Here's what the rest of the week looks like...

Tuesday-  Main bathroom, C's room (when J gets home since she's sleeping in there during nap time)
Wednesday-  Living room & Play room
Thursday-  Kitchen*
Friday-  flexible

*Thursday is also the day that our appliances are being delivered, so things will depend on what time that happens and how long it takes.

I'm also skipping the basement all-together because that's J's domain. He spends more time there than anyone else and most of the stuff down there belongs to him, so I'm leaving it alone.

Does anyone else out there have a spring cleaning ritual? Is your house so clean that you don't need to do a "spring" cleaning? Stay tuned for more on Spring Cleaning Week each day as well as a whole post update on 23-month old C!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Moving Right Along

As the painting portion of the Great Kitchen Upgrade of 2012 comes to a close, it's time to start piecing the room back together at least enough to make it functional. It probably won't last long since our stove and dishwasher are due to be delivered this coming Thursday and our tile still has to be put down. Not to mention, I plan to start painting our cabinets as soon as I'm finished painting walls around here (whenever that might be ;)

So once we got the hutch moved out, we regained something like 20 square feet along that side of our kitchen. Our table had formerly been kind of floating out in the floor mostly because the hutch was on the wall. Without the hutch my original thought was to place the table's longer side on that wall with a bench against the wall instead of chairs. Since I had finally finished painting I was excited to see what this arrangement would look like. 

Please ignore the horrible lighting in all of these pictures :D

Sadly, it wasn't as perfect as I'd imagined. There were a couple of issues. One was the fact that this chair couldn't slide out. We use that mini fridge for beverages and we love it, but there's not really a better place in the kitchen for it than in that corner, which interferes with the chair when the table is placed there. We also have our pile-o-tile at the opposite end of the table, so once that's on the floor we'd also be able to move the table a foot or two in that direction. But for now, this arrangement isn't going to work.

The up side was that it left pretty much a dance floor in the middle of the kitchen! Also, the dog crate is officially gone. Fear not though, the little guy seems to be adjusting just fine :)  

In the long run that vast dance floor will be taken up by a peninsula so it's going to make sense for the table to be long-side-against-the-wall. We're planning to take out that skinny cabinet there beside the dishwasher and add 2-3 cabinets in its place. The new ones will be facing 90-degrees to the left to create the peninsula. With that in place, we'll want the table to mirror the length-wise orientation so things don't get too crowded.

Meanwhile, I decided to place the table short-side-against-the-wall. All chairs slide out.......

.....and we still pretty much have a dance floor at least fit for a toddler ;)

Moving right along, I've started on the stairway/upstairs hallway which is the last area of the house that I'm painting (for now). Since I can't reach the top of the wall on the lower end of the stairway (that'd be why the paint stops 3/4 of the way up the wall), we need to borrow a bigger ladder from a friend. Please also disregard the atrocity that is our 1987 light fixture. We have new ones waiting to go up :) 

And while the stairway is kind of one big wall, the hallway itself is full of doors and odd angles = lots of cutting in. 

I'm sure you can imagine I'm really excited to paint between these door frames-

I did buy a tiny paint brush with hopes of being able to get in those tiny spaces with it. I guess we'll see how it goes. Thankfully I was able to get all the cutting in finished in one shot, so my goal today is to knock out the rolling. I can't even express how ready I am for our walls to finally be finished ...and for paint supplies to be out of sight, but mostly for the walls to be finished :)