Baby Wipes Aren’t Just For Babies

Growing up, my Mom always carried a package of baby wipes in our vehicles. This was LONG after any of us kids were in diapers, though she obviously carried them with her when we were in diapers, too. When I was approached about a sponsored post for the Huggies “Because Kids Outgrow Diapers, Not Messes*” campaign, it felt like a good fit. Huggies wipes have been a part of my life for a very long time.

Baby Wipes Are Not Just for Babies!

My own children are out of diapers. Even my baby is now potty trained. He decided at 2 1/2 years that he was going to use the potty and that was that. Easiest of the 4, which was a bit bittersweet, but mostly awesome. I thoroughly enjoy not toting a diaper bag around with us anymore, but that often means we are without the ever handy baby wipes.

Then I had the ingenious idea to put one of the Huggies baby wipes packages right next to our toddler’s car seat. This works for a couple reasons:

  • The package actually fits nicely between the armrest of the car seat and the seat bottom (which we keep covered with a towel to protect it from wear from the bottom of the car seat).
  • The biggest need we have for wipes in the car sits in that seat. Ahem.

On any given car trip, these are the mess “emergencies” that I hear about from the back seat:

  • His hands are sticky because he’s been playing with his gum.
  • His hands are messy because squishing crackers surprisingly makes crumbs.
  • Some kind sibling gave him a piece of candy, which ended up all over his hands and face.
  • His hands are “berry, berry” sticky for some mysterious reason and he is reaching out to touch a sibling. This is usually a loud emergency that comes in the form of “DON’T touch me, Oliver!” and squeals of laughter as Oliver reaches as far as he possibly can.
  • HIS CUP CONDENSATED AND HE GOT HIS HANDS WET! (Yes, this constitutes an all-caps emergency to our resident threenager.)
  • Occasionally, there is actual dirt that ends up on his hands, that usually gets wiped on his shirt because, you know, no big deal…

So, yes, we are now keeping a package of baby wipes right by his seat. I’m realizing now that we are also going to need to put a trash bag by his seat or I’m going to have baby wipes all over the floor. If it’s not one thing, it is another, isn’t it?

Have Baby Wipes, Will Travel...With Kids!

Huggies Wipes – Because Kids Outgrow Diapers, Not Messes*

You can find a variety of sizes and decorative packages at Walmart. Huggies brand is the only wipes brand with Triple Clean layers. We have found Huggies fragrance free wipes to be gentle enough for all four of our children’s skin.

For more ways to use Huggies Wipes, be sure to check out the 101 Uses of Huggies Wipes video on the Walmart website.

Do you keep a package of baby wipes with you in the car?

Strawberry Pistachio Gelato Sundae

Have you ever tried gelato? I hadn’t until today. I am thankful to the folks over at Turkey Hill Dairy for sponsoring this post and introducing me to their new all natural gelato. My kids were pretty happy, too.

We each chose different flavors and toppings, but today I am going to show you my 3-year-old’s creation and a yummy recipe for a sugar free strawberry topping.

Strawberry Pistachio Gelato Sundae (includes a recipe for a sugar free strawberry topping!)

Yes, my 3-year-old chose the Turkey Hill chocolate chocolate chip flavor, the sugar free strawberry topping I made, and his favorite nut, pistachios. And he enjoyed it very much…

Strawberry Pistachio Gelato Sundae (includes a recipe for a sugar free strawberry topping!)

Strawberry Pistachio Gelato Sundae (includes a recipe for a sugar free strawberry topping!)

The rest of us enjoyed flavors like, sea salted caramel (me), chocolate peanut butter, mint chocolate chip, and purely vanilla. We picked up 5 flavors total, one of each that our Kroger carried. They did not have the hazelnut, coffee chip, or peach mango, but maybe your local store will!

Turkey Hill Dairy's All Natural Gelato - made with simple ingredients.

A little about Turkey Hill’s All Natural Gelato…

  • Turkey Hill is the first major ice cream brand to offer all natural gelato.
  • All natural gelato is made with simple ingredients like milk, cream, and sugar. I was pleasantly surprised to see no chemicals listed on the ingredient lists I checked out.
  • Gelato has less air in it than ice cream, which makes it have a denser, richer flavor. Definitely an indulgence.
  • You can find the all natural gelato wherever Turkey Hill products are sold.

This stuff is so, so good. Be sure to give it a try!

Turkey Hill Dairy's All Natural Gelato - made with simple ingredients.

Now, let me give you this super simple recipe to top your gelato with!

Super Simple, Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

Since gelato is so rich, the tartness of unsweetened strawberries is just right.

  • 1 lb. container of fresh strawberries
  • 2-4 T. butter

Chop your strawberries. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium/medium-low heat. Add the strawberries and bring to a simmer. Cook the strawberries until soft and saucy. This takes about 10-15 minutes.

Allow your sauce to cool completely before you pour it over your gelato or it will melt it pretty quickly and you will have soup. Of course, you may be like I was as a kid and prefer your ice cream that way.

This is good over a lot of flavors, but over top the purely vanilla is simply divine!

Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

Connect With Turkey Hill Dairy

Be sure to find Turkey Hill on Facebook and Twitter to stay on top of all the latest and greatest news, like when they launch awesome products like all natural gelato!

Turkey Hill Dairy's all natural gelato - made with simple ingredients

 

Household Items You Can Replace With Essential Oils

Essential oils are natural, potent, and very useful. We have used them in our home for well over 10 years now…doesn’t seem like it is possible for it to be that long. My favorite thing about them is the ability to lessen our family’s chemical load.

Today I’m sharing ways you can do the same.

Household Items You Can Replace With Essential Oils | Vicki-Arnold.com

Household Items You Can Replace With Essential Oils

  • floor cleaners
  • disinfectant sprays
  • air fresheners
  • candles
  • dryer sheets
  • furniture polish
  • bug repellant
  • garden pest sprays
  • mold removal sprays

How I Use Essential Oils in Our Home

Floor Cleaners – I have a spray bottle that I fill with water and then add 20 or so drops of Purification. I simply spray our hardwood and linoleum floors and run my small mop over the floors. I personally love this bright, fresh smell more than Thieves. Thieves is more cinnamon and cloves smelling, which may be want you want.

Air Fresheners – I have actually used the same spray for my floors by spraying it into a stale room. You can use any other essential oil single or blend for this. More recently, I will pop some oil into our diffuser and diffuse something like lemon or orange.

If we are dealing with sickness, I’ll use something like Thieves, ImmuPower, or RC.

Disinfectant Sprays – Remember how I said essential oils are powerful? I will take the Thieves spray bottle and spray down door handles, light switches, and other common touch surfaces and wipe them down with a rag to get rid of the nasties.

Bug Repellant – We use a few different oils to try and keep bugs like fleas out of the house. With a dog that is both inside and outside, it can be ongoing in the summer months. We usually mix up our own dog wash (…my husband does it) and include various oils in it. This last time we used lavender.

We tend to use essential oils more for body care, but they are helpful in the home, too. I’ll cover body care in the future. Today I chose to go with the household items you can replace with essential oils because I am a part of a blog hop (yes, I’m doing quite a few of these lately, but that’s because they are fun!) put together by Kara from ALLterNATIVE Learning.

She has organized a huge collaboration for the month of April with a lot of bloggers because this is the month Earth Day falls in. It’s about raising awareness and helping families reduce their chemical exposures, teach children about good stewardship of the planet, and simply putting good resources into your hands.

She also has a great giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

Easy Ways to Spruce Up Your Front Door

The entry points in our house always seem to collect so much stuff, both inside and outside. Things that aren’t supposed to be brought in like muddy boots and large rocks and sticks are dropped right outside the door. The rest is carried in and then dropped on the floor a few feet in the door.

It’s a constant clutter battle. Unless you give up. Then it’s just a mess. That only flies for so long…because it drives me insane to look at (and trip over). At least, the stuff on the inside does…

Our house has two main points of entry, a front door and a back door. We have no mud room, nor do we enter through a garage. So the things outside the front door are on our front porch. It’s a bit embarrassing.

See?

Our sad, cluttered front door. | Vicki-Arnold.com

There’s more clutter to the left…but no picture of that mess. Use your imagination.

Easy Ways to Spruce Up Your Front Door

Your definition may vary, but I came up with a sample of ways to spruce up your front door that were either cheap, quick, or both.

  1. Declutter – Throw broken things away, put misplaced items where they belong, and purge items that do belong, but you no longer need.
  2. Deep clean – It amazes me how dirty a door can get. Giving it a good scrub, shaking off any rugs, and sweeping the floor can make a HUGE difference. Especially if you have any white in the area.
  3. Paint – Paint is relatively cheap, particularly if you can find a “mis-tint” can at the store. A local to us store has $5 gallons of paint that was not just exactly what a previous customer wanted. Super cheap way to spruce up your front door if you can find the right color and style of paint.
  4. Replace – Has your door mat seen better days? Replace it with something new that you love. Still have old holiday decorations up? Replace them with the next holiday, or with seasonal ones.
  5. Try something new – Add a new container of flowers or make a fun new wreath to hang on your door.

For more ideas on ways to spruce up your front door, check out my Front Door Decorations Pinterest board.

Remember my front door? Well, I gave a few of these a shot. I was impressed with how much a difference decluttering and sweeping up up made:

Our front door, decluttered | Vicki-Arnold.com

But that was too plain for me. So I decided we needed some fresh fun containers to spruce it up a bit more. Never mind that I more often than not kill anything I grow in containers. That’s what I have kids for, right? I smell a new chore…just kidding…sort of.

Planting a Container Flower Garden

Yes, I did just say container flower garden. I talk a lot about gardening around here, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever really clarified that gardening isn’t just gardening in the ground. It can be as simple as growing some plants in a container or two. Really.

Planting a container garden is pretty simple. You pick some good plants, find a container big enough for the plants you chose, and enough dirt to fill said container. Then plant. A couple tips to help:

  • Make sure your container has drainage holes. You need those to keep from drowning your plants.
  • Put some gravel or rocks in the bottom of larger containers to save on potting soil (don’t short your plants though, they do need more dirt than what they come with) and to give the container weight if it is plastic.

Drilling drainage holes in a container for planting. | Vicki-Arnold.com

For my plants, I was so excited to be able to partner with Monrovia, who sponsored this post, to help get the word out about their plants. You can find Monrovia plants at your local nursery, if they don’t have what you need in stock, you can order from the website and have it shipped to the nursery!

I was fortunate to find a few great plants at our local home improvement store. There were a few different options that I just loved:

Monrovia plants at the local store | Vicki-Arnold.com

Unfortunately, I did not have enough containers to bring them home. Le sigh. 😉 So I chose a few favorites that I thought would coordinate well with our orange door and the containers I chose. Or at least not clash terribly.

The Monrovia plants I chose were:

  • Reiman Clematis
  • Tiny Orange Sensation Asiatic Lily
  • SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus

I also picked up some store brand filler plants to round out the containers.

My favorite thing about flowers is the wildlife they attract. It may seem like a bad idea, but we actually want to attract bees to our yard. They are pollinators and in grave danger. So any time we can help them out, we do.

Butterflies are also attracted to flowers. These make kids of all ages pretty happy.

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

I enlisted the help of my super awesome husband and we got to planting our containers.

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

 

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

Monrovia Reiman Clematis with SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

Monrovia Tiny Orange Sensation Asiatic Lily (I can’t wait for this to bloom!)

Monrovia plants | Vicki-Arnold.com

Monrovia SuperTrouper Magenta + White Dianthus

And just like that, my front door looks SO much better! I love the clean look of no clutter and the pop of color the flowers bring to our front porch.

Our front door all spruced up | Vicki-Arnold.com

I hope this gave you some help if you were looking for ways to spruce up your front door. It can make such a difference!

Be sure to check out Monrovia plants to see if there is something that will fit in your garden plans!

Dianthus bloom - Vicki-Arnold.com

A gorgeous dianthus bloom.

Simple Ways to Spruce Up Your Front Door | Vicki-Arnold.com

Books for Gardeners of All Kinds

Gardening books are some of my favorite reads. We have a garden of some size every year. This year we are wondering if the only thing we will grow will be the strawberries because it looks like they survived the bitterly cold winter we had and our time seems to be growing smaller and smaller as the year goes on.

But that doesn’t stop me from picking up garden related books! I just love to look at them. They are so beautiful and full of information. I pick up something new from each one I read. Today I’m sharing my latest haul of books for gardeners from the library (and a couple from my shelves).

Books for Gardeners of All Kinds | Vicki-Arnold.com

Books for Gardeners of All Kinds

Homegrown Berries: Successfully Grow Your Own Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, and More! by Timber Press Growing Guides – The photography in this book is gorgeous. The “more” of this book includes gooseberries, currants, elderberries, chokeberries, cranberries, jostaberries, huckleberries, juneberries, and lingonberries. That’s a lot of berries and a lot of information.

Grow a Little Fruit Tree: Simple Pruning Techniques for Small-Space, Easy-Harvest Fruit Trees by Ann Ralph – Fruit trees are intimidating to me. These fruit trees are literally little fruit trees. The yield is smaller and the care is easier because the trees aren’t too tall. At least, that’s what she spends roughly 168 pages explaining.

Epic Tomatoes: How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time by Craig LeHoullier – I am such a fan of how gorgeous gardening books have become. It makes me want them all. So at the risk of sounding redundant, this book is gorgeous. Lots of photos, lots of history, lots of great information.

Edible Spots and Pots: Small-Space Gardens for Growing Vegetables and Herbs in Containers, Raised Beds, and More by Stacey Hirvela – Very thorough, easy to read format. Doesn’t have the color photography of other books, but it isn’t photo free.

The New Horse-Powered Farm: Tools and Systems for the Small-Scale Sustainable Market Grower by Stephen Leslie – Not exactly my cup of gardening tea, but a great informational book. Covers horse breeds, care and training, and working with horses on your farm. It includes a section on working with horses with specific crops, too.

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens: Growing Great Edibles in Containers, Raised Beds, and Small Plots by Andrea Bellamy – Walks you through the assessment and planning stages, even has photo directions for building raised beds. Also covers pest control and plant diseases you may face. Ends with a nice size section on specific edibles.

Farm Fork Food: A Year of Spectacular Recipes Inspired by Black Cat Farm by Eric Skokan – This is a cookbook, not a gardening book. It has a lot of recipes in it, a lot of unique recipes. Basil ice cream with summer berries? You’ll find it in here. Lots of things that I probably wouldn’t try, but you may be more adventurous than I.

Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook by LaManda Joy – The book is organized in three parts: gathering your community, building your garden’s supports, and managing your community garden. Community gardens need to become a thing, a big thing. There is so much potential for good.

Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth by Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein – I find this book fascinating. Permaculture uses lots of tricks and techniques that would be helpful to gardeners at large. A big book, with a ringing endorsement from Joel Salatin.

Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together by Sylvia Bernstein – Maybe you want to try a different way of gardening? You could give this a try and grow some fish while you’re at it.

The Ever-Blooming Flower Garden: A Blueprint for Continuous Color by lee Schneller – I get stuck in the thought process of food gardening when I think gardening, but vegetable gardens aren’t the only kind of gardens you can grow. This is a great flower gardening book. Flower gardens are great for drawing in pollinators like butterflies, bees, and birds.

There you have it, a short list of books for gardeners of all kinds. Let me know if you discovered a new to you book to add to your reading list!

Design Books for the Home

Can I tell you a secret? I am a TERRIBLE decorator. It’s one of those homemaking areas that I feel I should be better at, but I’m not. Some women seem to have no problem making their home beautiful, and I’m over here just trying to keep the mess at bay.

One of the things I’ve been working on slowly, very slowly, is decluttering. God has been working on my heart lately and helping me to “cut the apron strings” to my stuff. It is just stuff. Actually, it’s not just stuff anymore. It is stuff I’m tired of managing. I don’t want to be a manager of stuff anymore. Hence, the decluttering.

The slow part comes from my learning to stick with a project and work on it in manageable chunks. I’ve come to realize that I’m an all or nothing kind of girl and that doesn’t really work so well in the homemaking realm. So, I’ve been slowly working on getting things decluttered and cleaned as I can.

I’m still in the laundry room. Sigh.

Slow and steady wins the race, right? I sure hope so!

What does all of this have to do with design books for the home? Well, in my quest to de-clutter, I am also wanting to create a more beautiful home. One that has personality (like I like to think I have) and that my family finds comforting. I also want to do some DIY projects.

Design Books for the Home | Vicki-Arnold.com

Enter, the books. I actually am not even sure how I ended up with this particular selection from the library. It probably started with Amazon and then holds being placed at the library. This is a pretty common occurrence for me. Just ask my husband.

In the instance that you might find yourself in the mood for some inspiration, I thought I would share the list with you.

Design Books for the Home

It’s kind of funny to me that each of these books is by a blogger.

Happy Handmade Home by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman – What I love about this one is it isn’t just decor. There are DIY projects, informational type articles on design how-to’s, and entertaining recipes. Some of the projects aren’t my style, but the general ideas can be tweaked to fit. There are several sections like Cloth Napkins 9 Ways (also mugs, vases, terra cotta pots, etc.) that are super fun.

Blog: A Beautiful Mess

Young House Love by Sherry and John Petersik – This book is full of great ways to update your home, 243 of them specifically. They have a handy little key for each one that gives you cost, time, and work in a bar chart, making it really easy to see at a glance how time consuming or expensive a project is. A LOT of them are free or cheap.

I am also really enjoying their commentary throughout the book. It’s a fun read.

Blog: Young House Love (though technically they aren’t blogging anymore, there are over 3,000 posts to sift through)

The $50 Home Makeover by Shaunna West – This one is mostly individual projects that you can make fit your style. I love the story behind her blog and book. Not all the projects are my cup of tea, but I wouldn’t expect them to be. There are a few that utilize washi tape, which I have only just recently discovered the greatness of, and a couple for Ikea furniture hacks.

Blog: Perfectly Imperfect

Design*Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney

I’m pretty sure Design*Sponge is considered THE original home decor/styling blog. It’s one of the very first blogs I ever read years ago. I am pretty sure it was their Biz Ladies series. But that is not the point here.

This book is so cool because it is a tour of so many living spaces from so many people. It is really neat. A great one to get visual inspiration from people who know what they are doing, or at least pretend really well.

Blog: Design*Sponge

And now that I’ve listed these, I remembered a book that my husband and I came across at the library once that was a lightbulb moment for us. It put a name to our style that we hadn’t heard before. And I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT IT IS! I do believe some browsing will be happening at the library very soon.

Do you have some favorite design books for the home? Please share them with me!

Frugal Family Dinners – Beans

You can’t not think of beans when you think of frugal family dinners. Dry beans are very economical, even organic ones. It’s a great way to save money on feeding your family.

The PROBLEM with beans, for me anyways, is that I can never think of how to actually fix them. I’m sort of on a mission to whittle down our food costs and I want to take advantage of the economical protein that is beans.

So I took to the internet to find some options.

Frugal Family Dinners - Beans - 40+ recipes to help stretch your food budget.

Frugal Family Dinners – Beans

I’m going to do my best to organize these, but there is some overlap.

Meatless Bean Recipes

Or mostly meatless.

Beans as Meal Stretchers

Or recipes with meat and beans.

Chilies with Beans

Slow Cooker Bean Recipes

Bean Side Dishes

Beans for Breakfast

Yes, seriously. (And yes, I realize this post is called frugal family dinners…)

There you go. Over 40 frugal family dinner ideas for beans. I have added a few to my list to try, which ones do you think you would try?

Sewing Tutorials for Boys

Sewing is a great skill for both boys and girls, so I hunted down some sewing tutorials for boys. Most sewing tutorials you can find are for women, girls, and babies. Since I have a boy, I thought finding him some more boy-ish sewing tutorials would be a good thing.

Just a couple notes: these are sewing tutorials for boys to sew, but I’m sure they would make good gifts, too. The level of difficulty in these patterns range quite a bit. Some are good for hand sewing, others for beginner machine work. Use your best judgement on where your young man is when choosing a tutorial.

Sewing Tutorials for Boys from Vicki-Arnold.com

Sewing Tutorials for Boys

  • DIY Tic Tac Toe Game from Raising Memories – This is a great beginner project. Super simple instructions and few necessary materials. Hand sewing project.
  • Superhero Mask from Crazy Little Projects – A machine is used for this one and it is a bit more complicated of a project.
  • Make a Sleeping Bag for a Stuffed Animal by It’s Always Autumn- Maybe your little guy has a special buddy that would like his own sleeping bag? Machine project.
  • Ninjago Pillow Case from Crazy Little Projects – Transform a plain pillowcase into their favorite ninja. A machine project that would be good for trying a new stitch.
  • Stuffed Ninja from Cheer Up Your Kids – This could be done with a machine or by hand.
  • DIY Felt Campfire from Twin Dragonfly Designs – Hand or machine. A bit more involved because of the number of pieces, but a fun project!
  • Single Sock Dog Tutorial from Little Black Teapot – Have a decent mismatched sock floating around? Turn it into a stuffed dog. Hand or machine.
  • Shark Bag from Stitched by Crystal – A more advanced project simply. Machine.
  • Scarf with Pockets from A Girl and a Glue Gun – Another great beginner project. This would make a good first machine project.
  • How to Sew a Bookmark from Skip to My Lou – This is a great project that is all about your fabric, meaning once they make themselves a couple, they can make them for gifts and simply change out the fabric used.
  • Easy Felt iPod Case from Skip to My Lou – A good easy project for hand or machine.
  • Make a Drawstring Bag from Make and Takes – Beginner project, good for hand or machine sewing. Lots of uses for this: marbles, LEGOs, crayons, etc.

So there you have it, a short list of 12 sewing tutorials for boys. I was a bit surprised, but not really surprised that there isn’t a lot of options available for boys. Something to think about, I guess. Anywho, I hope you find something to intrigue the sewing boy in your life!