Friday, July 23, 2010

Laundry Day Friday Favorites (and a Giveaway!)

Laundry has taken a big portion of my life (and has taken on many forms throughout).  When I was 12, my "big chore" was to take care of the entire family's laundry... which I pretty much continued to have until I moved out and went to college.  At that point, laundry turned into a once a week or however long I could stretch it sort of a thing.  There was the summer I spent doing laundry at a washboard and hanging my clothes to dry (as part of a missions training experience) and then there was the summer that I tried doing laundry by hand in a sink and hanging it out to dry in a very dusty part of Mexico only to learn that a laundromat was going to be a necessity if I planned on wearing clean clothes.

Now, my laundry is relegated to Mondays and I try hard to get it all done that day, although often it takes at least another day to complete.  I no longer try to wash clothes by hand and I don't have a laundry line so everything that can goes into my dryer.  But recently, I've run across a new "laundry experience" that I hadn't tried yet: making laundry detergent.  I'd seen several recipes- even one that was peppermint but most of them required a castile soap (which didn't seem cost effective).  I mean, unless you're highly allergic to all laundry detergents on the market, why would you take the time to make your own soap if it was going to cost you more and take more of your time?  But then, my friend Ginny posted her own recipe with affordable ingredients and it didn't require boiling or anything terribly daunting.  It was an opportune time, as I was about to run out of detergent again, so I decided to go for it!

Now, I'm not trying to go extreme here- I really feel like I've already been there done that.  (I'm not planning on switching to cloth diapers either- I'll watch and observe my sister closely with that first, thank you!)  But I feel like the time it takes me to make (in my case about a month's supply of) detergent (5 minutes) takes quite a bit less time than loading my two kids into the car, driving to the store and buying some.  Okay, I did have to shop for the ingredients to begin with, but I've made it twice about 1.5x what her recipe calls for and I have enough for another 3 rounds- so I'm shopping for ingredients once every 5 months instead of once a month.  And the savings is worth it... and after trying it for some time, I can say my clothes are clean (even though they no longer smell of all the perfumes that I might find in the other detergent I used to buy).  So, try it out if you want, if not, enjoy some of my Friday Favorites from Etsy:

Oh yes, did I mention a giveaway?  Here it is:

Once upon a time before I started my current job, I sold vintage items on Etsy.  (One of these days, I hope to do it again.)  Here's one of the items I meant to sell there before I realized I couldn't continue with the Etsy shop at this point in my life.  It's too cute to continue to tuck away for "one of these days" so, I'm offering it to one of you!  Keep your clothespins in it so they're always close by for hanging your laundry.  Or if (like me) you dry your clothes in a dryer, keep those matchless socks in here until the others show up again!

Three ways to enter:
1. Comment and tell me your nightmare laundry experience - Mine involves melted lipstick in the dryer... I wish it had only happened once, but alas! I'm a slow learner.
2. Follow me (or if you already do, that's good enough for me, too) and then comment telling me you do.
3. Share this giveaway post on facebook and then leave another comment letting me know you did so.

The contest will end next Wednesday, July 28! Good luck, and Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hose 'em Down!

As much as I loved the sand pile when I was a kid, I feel dismayed that my kids love it, too. It's not that I don't want them to enjoy themselves, I just can't stand the sand that always seems to be tracked through the house afterwards.  Yesterday, after a total of 10 minutes of play in the hot, hot afternoon, they were done.  The clean-up takes longer than that! To top it all off, Diego had poured sand on Eliana's head. Again.  They looked like they had been swimming in sand.

So, we decided to do bath time a bit differently.  And we hosed them down outside.  No sand entered my house- yeah! Plus, they loved it! (Which means, I can probably look forward to more sand being dumped in Eliana's hair sometime in the near future. Oh well.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Diego's 4th Birthday

Well, we had to reschedule Diego's birthday party because he was sick over the weekend, so I have no pictures to show you of that.  (He's feeling much better now!)  Since yesterday was his actual birthday, but his papi had school we played the day pretty low-key.

We ate Chocolate Chip Pancakes for breakfast and then let him decide where he wanted to eat lunch.  Micky D's... thank you very much!  We picked it up and took it to the park which was a foolish and hot decision... we laid on our picnic blanket in the sweltering heat of the shade and worried about what we were going to do when the kids were done eating and wanted to play.  Fortunately, his present... a roundhouse for his train track made them want to hurry back home and play with it before nap-time, to which we gladly agreed.

During nap-time, I made a cookie cake from a mix. You heard me right.  (I added M&M's because Diego loves rainbow cookies.) And then took a decorator's icing can (yep, it was pretty nasty... but I was going for low-key and easy) and decorated it. I ran out of icing right as I hit the y in birthday, which did not make me a happy camper and I suppose this may be yet another reason to hate that stuff out of a can because you cannot gauge well what amount you have left.

When everyone was up from nap, we met my parents and Elisabeth and Paul for dinner at Freddy's.  Always a treat!  And then we headed over to mom and dad's for cake and ice cream where we met up with Jesse who cut out of class early to join us.  Diego had a great time, which reminded me that things don't always have to be extravagantly planned in order to be fun.  That's right, simple things like getting burgers and heading home for cake and ice cream is plenty enough!  Maybe I'll remember this in years to come.  (But probably not.)

Okay, maybe there was ice cream at Freddy's too.

So thankful for this sweet boy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Boy

Who likes to pretend to be Captain Hook... or Captain VonTrap (depending on the day).

Who loves his sister.

Would like a plane for his birthday so he can go and visit his cousins in Florida.

Who is his grandpa's shadow.

My little Nacho Libre.

Who loves trains more than anyone I know.

Who thinks birthdays and anniversaries are the best times to get sick.

Who wishes it would hurry and snow...until you remind him that means he couldn't play in the water anymore.

My first born.

Who's smile makes me want to cry.

Who makes me remember to marvel at simple things.*

And to run through fountains.

Who turns 4 today.  Happy Birthday, Diego... I love you!

*photo courtesy of Emily @ Cottage Industrious

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cripple Creek RR (and Friday Favorites)

If you know Diego at all, you know that he likes is obsessed with trains. (Right now, we're watching yet another Thomas & Friends DVD.)  And if you know Eliana, you know that she tries her hardest to keep up with her older brother- which basically means I've got two kids that spend a good portion of their day playing with toy trains. So, whenever we get a chance, we try to take a train ride.  This time we headed up to Cripple Creek, CO

Cripple Creek was a boom town (which lost becoming the state capital by four votes) because of the gold rush.  All sorts of men headed to this town to make it rich quick.  In fact, all sorts of men still head to this town to make it rich quick.  The rail we road on was used a lot by miners back in the day.  Now, it's more of an area attraction,  but the main area attractions are casinos.  All sorts of beautiful architecture filled with slot machines and the sorts. Disappointing if you want my opinion. But the train ride- what we were there for anyway- was anything but disappointing!

Because it was a steam engine and we got to sit in the front of the passenger car right behind the engine!

Which means we could talk to the engineer the entire trip and watch him throw coal into the furnace (which reaches temps in the 1700's!) and see how he ran the train. 

And hear the whistle very well- which Eliana did not like but everyone else thought was cool!

Watching the scenery out the window,

Listening to the gentle click-clacking of the train as it travels,

And learning about the history of the railroads that pioneered into many new frontiers all make the train obsession a bit more enjoyable to me. 

Sometimes Thomas is tiring... and I think I might cry if I have to read one more poorly written book.  But, days like this make me smile and glad that my kids love trains instead of something like Yu-gi-oh or whatever other kids are into these days.

Just a reminder to any other moms who spend much too much time watching Thomas and Percy and James- trains go beyond the Island of Sodor and can be beautiful. Here's my Friday Favorites this week:

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Our Christmas in July

Do you know where Santa lives?  The North Pole, of course...  but you may not realize that the North Pole is not nearly as far north as your teachers may have led you to believe.  In all actuality, Santa's Workshop is located in Cascade,CO.

I can prove it 'cause here's a picture of the real Sanny Claus.

This is yet again, one of those childhood memories for not only myself, but also for my mom.  There was a particular "Elmer the Elf" that my mom's family distinctly recalls her calling "Armor the Oaf." The park was actually opened in 1956 so many of the rides are vintage- which makes me love the park even more! 

Last year, Jesse, the kids and I had the opportunity to go.  I was somewhat skeptical because it had been years since I had been, and the kids were so young I wasn't sure how much there would be for them to do.  But even last year, there were very few rides that the kids couldn't do with an adult.  And there even were plenty of rides they could do alone.  It's definitely not a place you'd want to take your teenagers, but it is a perfect first theme park for your toddlers and preschoolers!

At first, Eliana was hesitant to ride anything... which meant Diego went alone on several rides.

She got onto this ride (in the green bug), but then chickened out before it started.

Mom convinced her to ride this one by getting on with her.

And she was happier getting on here because she got to choose which boat they rode in.

This is one of my favorite photos from last year's trip. (They look like comrades!)

So, I was excited for them to do this ride again this year.  But they insisted on getting into different rockets this time around, which made it much more difficult for me to get a shot of them together.  And when I finally did...

They kinda look like worst enemies, instead.  Oh, the irony!

I have a secret: I'm deathly afraid of heights.  Standing on a chair can make me queasy- and I love it when I'm pregnant over Christmas because I can get out of wrapping the top of the tree with lights. (Jesse refuses to do it any other time because I'm a bit of a control-freak about how it is done.)  But I still ride the Ferris Wheel while I'm here- even though it holds the world record for being at the highest altitude.

Because look at this view. 

Even Eliana (who was hesitant to ride again) enjoyed it after we got up there.

We enjoyed our time there.

(Even if some people got a little bit sick after riding this one.)

Between the rides...

And feeding the deer...

It was a great day at the North Pole!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Green Mountain Falls

This is where my momma and my uncles and aunt and cousins and siblings and I all remember spending childhood vacations.  My great-grandfather, Roy, had a cabin in this area and when we were little this is where we would come to spend our summers.  Although, its been a long time since I've stayed in his cabin, I will never forget the mesmerizing hummingbirds fluttering outside the windows.  Alas, our trip was too last minute to get a good deal on a cabin in Green Mountain Falls!  But we stayed in a town close enough to it that we were able to visit twice in the few days that we spent there. 

My mom has an old photo of this gazebo in her home.

Diego recognized it immediately when we got home... he was ready to go back to the park in that picture!  They loved it there!  What wasn't to love?  It's beautiful, has plenty of great play equipment, and smells of Colorado mountains.

And of course, more opportunities to throw rocks.

The afternoon before we left, mom and I got out alone for a couple of hours to do some shopping in Manitou Springs.

And she found this by Bill Duryea. 

She resisted buying the large print and stuck with a couple of greeting cards to frame instead.  But aren't the colors beautiful?  In fact, I was enchanted by many of his works. The lines and the brilliant colors he uses are gorgeous... worth the money if you have it to spend.  Check out his work here.