Settling into our new home

Seeing how its been almost four weeks since my last post, I thought I’d post a little update to say we are all moved into our new house. Yes, even the two storage units we filled while staging our old house have been emptied! I can’t say that everything has found its place here yet, but its all here in our new house (or at the very least, in the garage).

We’ve actually made quite a bit of progress in the three weeks since we’ve been here. I’ve unpacked the kitchen (definitely a necessity), and even hung several pictures on the walls — though am nowhere near being done with that. I’ve also moved a few of my potted plants — zucchini and watermelon — into the garden (which was full of grass and weeds nearly up to our knees until Jody mowed and rototilled it — several times). And this week I even started landscaping the front yard which has been quite the project. I thought the soil at our last house was bad, but its even worse here. All. Clay. All. The. Time. So digging in clay mixed with a ton of river rock has proven to be quite the challenge for me, but I’m making it my bitch headway and hope to have it mostly completed tomorrow. Jody’s been getting his workbench set up in the garage and working on organizing the remaining boxes in the garage. We have quite a bit of storage space here. We just need to figure out what is going where and move it to its appropriate place.

In addition to hosting my mom in the new house who was visiting from Michigan for two weeks, we also hosted our first party here. It wasn’t a housewarming party as you may suspect (that’s still to come), but a belated sixth birthday party for Ava. She turned six back in June, but I really wanted to wait until we moved and had more space (and less to stress about) to have her party. I’m so glad I did! The party — which was a Pancakes and Pajamas theme (stolen borrowed from Crazy Bloggin’ Canuck Amber) — was great! There was plenty of space for the kids to play in the backyard and it never felt cramped in the house or outside. In addition to dressing in PJs and having a pancake bar (with lots of toppings), we incorporated other letter “P” things into the party like a Princess Pinata, Painting little flower Pots, a Penny dig in the sandbox, and my sister read “If You Give A Pig A Pancake” to the kids before we ate the pancakes. It was a lot of fun.

Its kind of amazing how much life we’ve lived here in the three short weeks since we moved in. I think about all of the times we’ve already played baseball in the backyard, when we tried to watch the fireworks from the back deck in the pouring rain, arranging the furniture, rearranging the furniture, rearranging the furniture again(!), all of the love the swing set has received from the kids, all of the meals eaten in this kitchen, etc. and it feels like we’ve been here a lot longer than we have. I think that’s a good sign. It means we’ve fit right into this house. This house feels right for us and I know we will make many, many more memories in it.

Shaklee Basic H2 giveaway

A year and a half ago, I did a review of Shaklee’s Basic H2 cleaner. I liked the product when I first tested it then and I continue to like (and use) the product now. Here’s what I had to say:

I really like the Basic H2 Cleaner. It worked well both in my bathrooms and kitchen, and even helped me get a handle on my shamefully dirty well-used oven. The cleaner is unscented, which is nice for people who don’t do well with scented cleaners, and is, of course, nontoxic and biodegradable.

The fact that this little 16 oz. bottle can make 48 gallons of all-purpose cleaner (when you add your own water) is a big selling point for me, and it only costs $12.15.

Some Basic H2 stats:
  • organic, nontoxic, super-concentrated, natural, no phosphates  (cheaper than vinegar and water mixtures)
  • over 1000 uses (counters, countertops (sealed granite and marble, too), windows, mirrors, appliances (great for stainless steel), sealed woodwork, barbecue grill, oil on driveway…)
  • Basic H2 can be mixed up into three formulations (window cleaner (less than 1cent/16 oz. bottle), all-purpose cleaner (3cents/16 oz. bottle), degreaser (17cents/16 oz. bottle)
  • if you mix the entire bottle up as a window cleaner, it is the equivalent of 5,824 26 oz. bottles of Windex
  • no-rinse, no-residue, streak-free formula

Since I’m such a big fan of Shaklee and thanks to Shaklee distributor Becky Rapinchuk (Clean Mama), three of you are going to receive a sample bottle of Basic H2 cleaner and a spray bottle!

Win It!

To be entered to win ONE of THREE sample bottles of Shaklee Basic H2 (and a spray bottle), all you need to do is:

  • Visit Shaklee and leave me a comment telling me which product you’d most like to try – aside from the Basic H2.
  • To receive a second entry, tweet this giveaway on Twitter (using @crunchygoddess in your tweet) and leave another comment letting me know that you tweeted it. Here’s a sample tweet: I just entered to win a sample bottle of Shaklee Basic H2 cleaner from @crunchygoddess’s blog. Check it out. http://bit.ly/2DwMJq #green

The deadline to enter is Friday, Oct. 30. Winners will be selected using Random.org on Saturday, Oct. 31 and notified via email, so please be sure to include a valid email address. Thanks and good luck!

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Mama got some new flower beds*

*Alternately titled – This is what happens when you watch too much HGTV on the plane ride home from BlogHer.

I recently confessed on my BlogHer recap post, “I watched too much HGTV on the plane ride home and have all kinds of projects in mind for myself (and ones we will need to spend good $ on) on how to stage our home for selling next year. Just what I need – more projects!”

Well, one of the first projects I decided to tackle this weekend was to beautify the outside of our house a bit – ya know, do some landscaping (something I’ve never tackled before) and add the oh so important “curb appeal.” 😉

I’ve often talked about the lack of sun in my yard (both front and back), so when I decided to put in some new plants I had to make sure they could handle a crapton fair bit of shade. I asked for suggestions on Twitter, and got many recommendations for hostas. Lynn at The Human Being Blog (who also lives in CO) recommended vincas and hybrid hydrangea in addition to hostas.

I went to The Home Depot in search of all of these plants and didn’t find exactly what I was looking for in the shade-tolerant, perennial category, but did walk away with some hostas, coleus, impatiens, and a vinca (or periwinkle) plant, as well as a few bags of red cedar mulch.

I started off by putting in a new flower bed around a tree in the backyard. It adds some color back there and I think really helps tie the two sides of the yard – grass on one side and playground mulch on the other side – together. I know there’s a patch of dirt right next to the flower bed, but I’ve planted clover and grass seed there a few days ago and it’s already filling in.

Then I tore out the majority of the plants in the front flowerbeds – the flowerbeds that have looked almost exactly. the. same. for the past nine years that we’ve lived here and which consisted of about 80% of Snow on the Mountain (as seen below).

I forgot to take a before picture until I’d already pulled out some of the plants, but this gives you a rough idea of what it looked like. Rather boring, with just a bit of color thanks to some flowers my mom planted in June.

Here is the after picture:

I’m soooooo pleased with how it turned out. I think it looks so much more put together and hopefully adds that “curb appeal” I was looking for. 🙂

Next on Amy’s HGTV home improvement project list is to get new counter tops (and possibly new sink and floor) in the kitchen and to enclose our upstairs loft to make a fourth bedroom (will make 3 bedrooms upstairs and one in the basement). There’s also a need for new carpeting (though I want to wait until Julian is potty trained for that one) and paint. Let the fun begin. Whee! 🙂

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Decluttering your house, the green way

I’ve been on a spring cleaning kick around here lately and it’s a good thing since my house is sorely in need of it. Not only will decluttering hopefully help my mood (who can stay positive looking at clutter day in and day out?), but getting rid of our superfluous stuff will be helpful when it comes time to pack it all up one day (I hope in a year or two) and move to another house.

When ridding my home of stuff we no longer want or use, I try to be as green and eco-friendly as possible. How do I do it?

  • Listing my items on Freecycle is often my first choice because it can be the fastest way to move stuff out and get it into the hands of someone else who can use it. The only rule to listing on Freecycle is that you have to give the item(s) away for free. Personally, I love it.
  • If I have a more expensive item that I don’t want to give away for free, I turn to Craigslist – it’s like a huge classified system where you can list items free of charge. As opposed to something like Ebay, Craigslist is organized by city so there’s a good chance you can find someone in your area that can come get it directly from you and pay you cash, and you avoid having to spend money on shipping and making a trip to the Post Office.
  • Our curbside recycling bin is also my best friend when cleaning house. If something isn’t accepted in the curbside bin, sometimes it can go to the local recycling center which is just a few miles away. Check with your local recycling center for more information on recycling in your area.
  • If it isn’t wanted on Freecycle, can’t be sold or can’t be recycled, and provided it’s something others can use, then it usually goes into a donation pile to be given to a local charity.
  • If all of these fail, then as a last resort it goes into the trash. I try to use the garbage can as sparingly as possible, but even I must admit that sometimes the trash is the only place for it.

Even if I know the garbage can is my last option for stuff, I still feel bad about throwing it out. I hate to think about it ending up in a landfill and staying there forever, but then I also have to be realistic and not completely beat myself up over it. It’s a good reminder to make wise choices when buying things and think:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Is it good enough quality that it will last for years or will it break after a year and have to be replaced?
  • Should I save my money for a little while longer and buy a better quality item that will last me longer?
  • What will I do with it when I no longer need it (or when it breaks)?

Of course this is a bit harder when you have kids (and toys) and it’s not always practical to go through this list every time you buy something, but it’s a good practice to get into and will help to avoid unnecessary purchases in the future. It can also help you avoid buying cheap, plastic toys that might as well go directly from the assembly line to the landfill for as long as they are usable. But don’t get me started about those. ;oP

As for my decluttering today, I cleaned out and reorganized the pantry/laundry room. I should’ve taken before and after pictures, if not to post on my blog, then for my own satisfaction. 😉 I still have a bit more work to do in there and Jody is going to put up another shelf, but already it feels so. much. better.

I also worked a bit in my kitchen today to clear off one of my countertops. My countertops end up being a breeding ground for kid artwork and my/Jody’s paperwork. Does this happen to anyone else?? I’m trying to get a system in place so that we can avoid future paper explosions on the counter, but some more reorganizing and implementing a filing system (as well as having a desk to use) is definitely in order first. Anyone have a cute rolltop desk they want to sell me or give me? C’mon, Freecycle, baby. 😉

Welcome to Lily’s Garden Herbals

I’d like to welcome a new advertiser to Crunchy Domestic Goddess – Lily’s Garden Herbals, maker of natural, herbal, non-toxic household cleaners. You may recall that I reviewed these natural cleaning products a few months ago and was very pleased with the results.

Lily’s Garden Herbals were formulated by Kim Falcone, a mother and herbalist with a deep appreciation for the natural world. All of Lily’s Garden Herbals natural household products are homemade, non-toxic, contain NO chemical ingredients or synthetic preservatives, are biodegradable and never tested on animals.

Her ad is located in my left sidebar. Welcome, Lily’s Garden Herbals!

The dangers of cable TV

On the last day of our trip to Kansas, while we were waiting out the winter storm in our hotel room, we finally switched on the TV (the first time the whole trip) to entertain ourselves. What channel of the hundred or so available to us did we end up on? The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Network.

Being that we only have basic cable (translation: about 5 channels worth watching) at our house, the DIY Network was new to us. Jody and I sat there a bit mesmerized as show after show came on about how to organize your garage, how to get your house ready to sell, how to landscape your yard, etc.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit we watched about four half-hour shows (the shows were like crack I tell you) and I came away from it buzzing with excitement and telling Jody all of the plans I had in store for our house. We want to sell ours in the next couple of years, but we know we have a lot of work to do on it to make it really desirable to potential buyers.

When we got home, however, and I looked around my house, all I saw was clutter, clutter, and more clutter. (It doesn’t help that we have a huge train table that Santa brought in the middle of our already small living room. I have to remind myself that that won’t be it’s permanent home. It will be moving upstairs to the office.) And my big ideas of replacing mirrors and light fixtures and adding cabinets in the bathrooms seem grossly insignificant compared to massive amount of decluttering and organizing the house is really in need of.

Last night Jody checked our cable company’s web site to see if DIY Network is available here and I’m actually a bit relieved that it is not. I could see myself easily get sucked into watching all of the shows about home renovations and projects, while in the meantime my house becomes more and more cluttered. Quite honestly, we don’t need the extra cost of adding more channels to our service anyway. I can be content with the fact that they have a web site – DIY Network – where I’m sure I can get a ton of idea if ever I need them.

While I’m not really saying this is one of my new year’s resolutions (because I don’t do resolutions per se), it is one of my goals for 2008 to continue to declutter and organize my house. It was a goal for 2007 as well and while I know I made some strides in that area, it is an on-going task and there is still much work to be done.

I’m not going to give up on my little ideas for home improvements (I love the challenge of looking for a good deal on home decor items), but I know that a fancy mirror in the bathroom isn’t going to sell the place if the rest of the house looks like a bomb went off. 😉

I have some more goals for 2008 – some are very similar to my other goals for 2007, but I will write about those another time. For now, since Jody and the kids are out of the house, I need to go do a few minutes of decluttering to help myself feel better.

Best Shot Monday – 11/19/07

NaBloPoMo – Day 19

There’s nothing like the expected arrival of house guests (my parents will arrive later today) to get my butt in gear with both a) cleaning my house and b) decorating my house. This weekend was a blur of shopping (new rugs and picture frames), printing photos, hanging pictures and cleaning. We’ve lived in this house for 7 years and there were still a number of empty walls (mostly in the basement, where our guest bedroom and bathroom are, but still). Having a passion for photography and having taken more pictures than I can possibly count, I have no excuse for not having some printed, framed and hung, so I did just that. I now have five family pictures hanging in the guest bedroom, some Anne Geddes pictures (that I cut out of a book – got the tip on Oprah no less) hanging in the guest bathroom, pictures hanging in the basementbathroom pictures hallway, nature pictures (that I took) hanging in our main floor bathroom (see pic to the right – btw, my color seems to be totally off, that’s what I get for using auto white balance), a collage of family pictures on our downstairs landing, and soon to be more nature pictures hanging in our upstairs office – including my sunset picture that I finally (2 years later) had printed. I’m quite pleased with all that I accomplished. It certainly was a long time coming.

In addition to all of the picture hanging going on this weekend, I also finally made a recipe for Pumpkin Seed Pesto Ravioli (from The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook). It’s one I’d been wanting to make for a while now. I froze the raviolis to have for dinner this week while my parents are here, but I did take a few (OK, a lot of) tastes of the filling while assembling the raviolis and it was damn tasty. I can’t wait to eat them. 🙂

So here’s my non-standard best shot for the week – the ravioli I slaved away on for the afternoon. (It’s my first time making my own ravioli, so I’m a little proud of them. Can ya tell? 😉 Though I do have to add, thank God for store-bought wonton wrappers. I can’t imagine making all of the dough myself!)

Pumpkin seed pesto ravioli

See more best shots over at Picture This (click the button):
little bsm button

P.S. Happy 35th anniversary to my parents (yesterday)! 🙂

Lily’s Garden Herbals natural cleaners – review and giveaway

EDITED TO ADD: This giveaway has been concluded.

NaBloPoMo – Day 9

In my opinion, there are four things necessary to make a good cleaning product.

  1. It has to be non-toxic.
  2. It has to have a pleasant smell.
  3. It has to be affordable.
  4. It has to get the job done.

Lily’s Garden Herbals natural cleaning products accomplish all of these things.

After our recent run-in with the stomach flu, I needed to do some serious bathroom cleaning. I put Lily’s Garden Herbals All Purpose Clean (All Purpose Cleaner – 32 oz. – $6.50) to the test. The bathroom was sparkling in no time and I didn’t have to worry about keeping the kids at bay while I worked for fear of toxic smells overpowering the house. Made with essential oils and distilled water, the All Purpose Clean is effective and has a pleasant, even refreshing, smell.

I also tried out Lily’s Garden Herbals Glass Clean (Non-Toxic Glass Cleaner – 32 oz. – $5) on our sliding glass door. With two dogs and two little kids in and out of the house all day long, this door needs frequent cleaning. I have to admit it outperformed my simple homemade vinegar and water solution, and smelled better too. And, of course with it being non-toxic, I don’t have to worry if Julian decides to lick the glass. Not that he’s ever done that. 😉

Lily’s Garden Herbals also offers a natural dish cleaner, a toilet bowl cleaner and a wood cleaner, as well as a linen spritzer and antiseptic room deodorizer (which also came in handy after the stomach flu went through our house).

Lily’s Garden Herbals were formulated by Kim Falcone, a mother and herbalist with a deep appreciation for the natural world. All of Lily’s Garden Herbals natural household products are homemade, non-toxic, contain NO chemical ingredients or synthetic preservatives, are biodegradable and never tested on animals.

A percentage of profits from Lily’s Garden Herbals sales are donated to local and global charities in areas of environmental protection, human rights and education.

If you are skeptical about making the switch from commercial chemical cleaning products to natural ones, consider this:

  • There are over 80,000 chemicals in commercial use today. Less than one percent
    have ever been tested for safety, especially for neurotoxic effects.
  • Companies are not required to disclose their complete ingredients in household,
    personal care and cleaning products or to test for safety.
  • Over 200 human health conditions have now been linked to environmental toxins. These include not only cancer but disorders such as autism, depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, immune/endocrine system disorders, asthma, and migraines.
  • Children are the most vulnerable to toxins due to their size, weight, and also risk of exposure during critical stages of development that could have life-long consequences.
  • More facts about toxic chemicals in everyday products can be found on this fact sheet provided on Lily’s Garden Herbals’ web site.

All Purpose CleanWin it!
If you would like to win a 32 oz. bottle of Lily’s Garden Herbals All Purpose Clean, please leave me a comment stating what kind of cleaning products you currently use and why you would like to try Lily’s Garden Herbals AND link to this review/giveaway on your blog. (Non-bloggers are eligible as well, but you must tell a friend about the giveaway). Deadline to enter is Nov. 19. The winner will be selected using Random.org and announced on Nov. 20.

Random stuff

Ava was trying to tell me about something the other day in the car. I couldn’t figure out what one of the words was that she was saying, so I kept guessing – incorrectly. After repeating herself about 8 times and me incorrectly guessing 8 times she said exasperated, “Mom, you are driving me crazy.”
Ha! Just you wait sweet girl. 😉
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Julian’s first tooth came through on Tuesday (6/12/07). I never even knew he was teething. Guess that’s a good thing unless it means I was too busy to notice. Seriously though, he’s been a nonstop drooling machine for months (his nickname around here is “droolian”) and didn’t give any other clues. He’s such a happy baby. This, of course, means his days of gnawing on daddy’s nose and mommy’s chin are numbered. ————————————————————————————————–
I was recently contacted by author Elizabeth Pantley to review her newest book – “The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums, and Tears” – on my blog. The (personalized and autographed *grin*) book arrived in the mail yesterday and I eagerly dove in. It looks like it will be a good read and will definitely have practical application. 🙂 More to come at a later date.
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We had our upstairs shower redone last week. No more hole in the wall! Woohoo! Maybe now I won’t be embarrassed to take pictures of my kids in the bathtub. Although we have to add some texture to parts of the walls and repaint a little bit, it looks quite nice and is a huge improvement.

Busy as a bee

I’ve been busy as a bee these past few days, as well as fighting a cold or allergies (I can’t determine which so I’m not currently pumping for the milk bank), and thus not spending much time on the computer.

This weekend we saw a few houses and fell in love with a different one. 😉 It’s actually in MUCH better shape than our last home love affair, and cheaper. However, we’re not going to act on anything until our house is at least on the market. That’s our big priority now.

We also attended a birthday party, and I started cleaning out our basement. I took a bunch of cardboard to the recycling center and got some of our boxes out of storage in hopes of boxing up some of our stuff soon.
Today, our upstairs shower was gutted, uncovering a bunch of mold. 🙁 I sprayed it with bleach to kill it and it’s airing out for the night. The tilers will return tomorrow to put up the drywall and tile and we’ll have a nice new (hole-less) shower again. Woohoo!

Also today I called around for prices on storage units and am trying to find a new dentist that doesn’t use amalgam fillings. (More on that later.) And I used “Liquid Gold” on some of our woodwork and was AMAZED at how well it cleans it up. That stuff is awesome.

Tomorrow is Ava’s first day of “preschool” at a local farm, though it’s actually more like a summer enrichment program. In any event, it’s her first venture into any sort of organized child care. We bought her a lunch box this weekend and she’s quite excited to go. It will be hard to leave my girl to someone else’s care tomorrow, but I know it will be good for both of us. I’m excited for her and know she’s going to have a great time. I only wish I could spend one morning a week hanging out on a farm as well. 😉

I’m off to go pack her lunch now and get myself to bed.  Cheers.