Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Garage Door Makeover

Way back on Christmas morning.

After all of the kid's presents were opened.

Dave and I took turns opening presents from each other.

One of the presents he gave me looked really strange to the kids.

To me, it looked like large clock hands wrapped up in plastic. My first guess was that it was a kit to build my own clock.

The kids thought that it definitely NOT a fun Christmas present.

As soon as I found out what it was, I was so, so excited!

The kids thought I was strange and couldn't see how a present like that was exciting at all.

It was a garage door hardware kit. I have been wanting one for months!!

And it finally warmed up enough outside to put it up!!



 A couple of things.....

We did still have our Christmas light up. They aren't up anymore, though. Please don't judge. It's cold and snowy where we live!

This was a really fast and inexpensive upgrade. Here's a similar kit on Amazon that is about $20. (affiliate link).

It took less than 30 minutes to install. I almost decided to take pictures when the sun wasn't casting such a hard shadow - we did this in the evening. But, then I realized that it is so easy to see how quickly we put these on when you see the shadow change between the before and after.

I am so, so excited to have these up! It really makes me excited for even more warm days to work more on the outside of our house. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Laundry Day with Persil ProClean

The Persil brand provided me with a sample of Persil ProClean laundry detergent in exchange for a product review. However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.

I know it may seem deceptive by my blog name, but laundry actually isn't something I love. In fact, I have to often remind myself that it will never end so I might as well get used to it.

If there is one thing I've learned about laundry, it is to be as absolutely efficient as possible. It needs to require the least amount of work with the best results possible.

I don't ever pre-treat my stains but I expect my clothes to be stain free.

I don't always color sort perfectly - okay...I always separate the whites but I don't like stressing about if a certain shade of blue would fit better in the lights or darks. But I do expect my clothes to stay bright and new looking even after tons of washes.

And I don't like using 10,000 different products to get those results!

 Okay...maybe when I describe laundry being efficient, what I'm really saying is that I'm lazy when it comes to laundry. Haha!

What I really look for in a laundry product is the most bang for my buck. The best results with the least amount of work. Get what I mean?

Most days I stay home all day - except running the kids to and from school. And it doesn't really matter what I wear. I could seriously live in yoga pants and a t-shirt for the rest of my life and be completely happy!

But we all know that life isn't exactly like that. When I do leave, I want to look nice and I expect my clothes to be that way. Nothing's worse than pulling out my favorite blouse and finding that the colors have faded or there is a small grease spot that didn't come out in the last wash!

I don't always know when I need to be ready for a spontaneous (and much needed) date night. Or, an important business thing. Or whatever it may be.  I expect my clothes to be ready when I am!

So, when Persil® ProCleanTM asked me to try their new laundry detergent, I was completely on board! If it promised all that they said it did, then I knew it would be something that I could stick with. 



 
I got to try three different types and I'll tell you about each. The Power Liquid is probably most like what I used before. It has an amazing scent - different than other detergents I've used before. And I love that the scent carries through the wash. I've used some detergents that smell really good right after the washer, but lose the scent in the drying process. (By the way, I realize not everyone loves scent like I do, but no worries...Persil® ProCleanTM comes in 4 scent varieties: Original Scent, Intense Fresh, 2in1, and Sensitive Skin).

The Power-Liquid has extra stain fighters which I love because I have kids that are rough on clothes!



I also tried the Power-Caps and I really love these! They look sort of like dishwasher tabs but these go straight in the washing machine. Even in my HE washer! I love that I don't have to measure anything out and these work fantastically!

The back recommends using 1 for a regular load and 2 for an extra large load. My washer has a pretty big load capacity and the load I washed with these was on the larger side. I tested with just one, and I was really impressed with the results. I washed some extra dirty clothes and they still came out squeaky clean!

 


The Power-Pearls are awesome! They work on both colors and whites, but are especially good for whites! One of my biggest laundry pet peeves is wearing dingy colored white t-shirts. I love it when I have have bright new looking whites! The Power-Pearls are designed for just that!



To make things even cooler about Persil® ProCleanTM, it is available exclusively at Walmart. I go to Walmart at least once a week so it's really convenient for me to pick up a bottle! I'm busy, so that's pretty important to me. I'm not sure I would drive clear across town to an obscure specialized shop to buy premium detergent, to be honest. 

Oh, and you have to check out their YouTube channel with "The Professional" who gives laundry tips!

 





To celebrate their launch, Persil® ProCleanTM is having an amazing sweepstakes!! Go to www.PersilProClean.com/sweepstakes to enter. And, trust me, it's worth it! The grand prize is a year supply of Persil ProClean and a premium night out (and the night out includes some seriously nice things! A $300 Nordstrom.com gift card, a $200 OpenTable.com gift card and a $150 Uber.com card credit!). Even the second place winner will get a year's supply of Persil® ProCleanTM!

Monday, March 16, 2015

This is the story of our van

I know that it's sort of an unspoken blogger rule that I shouldn't apologize for not blogging or give excuses. So, I won't. But, I will give an update of sorts. It's been a crazy, busy month for me. Going to school has been such an interesting thing for me. I'm extremely grateful that I started going back to school with a majority of credits that I need to finish. I had 111 starting and I need 120 to graduate. I'll actually end up with 138 but only because I also needed all the right courses.

I'm glad I had so many credits because it's definitely been a lot more difficult to balance going to school with everything else in my life than I anticipated. But, it has also been a lot more rewarding than I anticipated. I'm learning so much and I have to try to restrain myself from actually implementing a lot of what I've learned because my school assignments take up so much of my time. And honestly, the last thing I've been wanting to spend my free time doing is anything on the computer. But, things are starting to get close to the end. I have one really huge project to finish up and only a few more weeks until I'm at the end of the semester. And after that, I only have one more 2 credit class to take. Phew! I can't wait!!!



Okay...that aside, here's the story of our family van.

You guys...we have had this van for 10 years! We bought it when my oldest was 1. She's 11 now. We've taken it with us to 13 different states and clocked 150,000 miles on it while we were the owners. 150,000 miles!!! That's a ton!



For almost 6 months, we've been thinking about getting a newer van. It's felt like it's time. Partly because of these experiences.

Last year, I went to Wendy's to pick up a quick dinner for the kids. It was -3 degrees outside. I rolled down the window to place my order and it would not roll back up. No matter what I did, that window was stuck down. Did I mention that it was -3 degrees outside? I cried. And started to drive away grateful that I only had to drive 5 miles. After the first 1/2 mile, it started to work again. It really was a miracle!

Another time last year, I was taking it through the car wash and the side view mirror fell off. It was really embarrassing. It didn't just fall off completely, it was still dangling on the side with some sort of electrical cord, so continuing through the car wash would have damage our van. This wasn't a touchless carwash. It was a full on scrubbing one with a long drive through. The carwash people had to stop the carwash (inconveniencing everyone in front of me) and ask every single car in back of me to also back up so that I could get out. Oh, also, it was a fundraiser day for the high school, so the carwash was extra busy. Everyone stared. Yep. Definitely embarrassing!

We've been casually looking for newer vans for a while. We knew we didn't want a brand new one, but a few years old one. One that was still in good condition but didn't come with a steep price tag.  But, we honeslty, we hate having a car payment. We have one on our car right now and really, really didn't want to add another for a newish van. Plus, our kids are still young enough that they're hard on stuff. We finally decided that it was probably worth keeping our well-loved van longer. We've had it for 10 years, we could hang onto it a couple more.

And then one day last month, something changed that.

Our 5 year old was sick that morning so I asked my husband if he could be a few minutes late for work and stay home with him while I ran the other two to school. Normally, he's gone by the time I get back from our morning school drop-off. He said that he had a meeting, but could probably be a few minutes late - but only if I hurried.

I loaded up the older kids and rushed off. After I dropped them off and started back home, I remembered a nice mom honking me down in the drop-off line at the school the week before. She kindly told me that one of my tail lights was out and suggested that I should get it fixed before I got pulled over. I had a small moment of panic that I had forgotten and slowed down just a little bit so I didn't attract any unnecessary attention. I definitely didn't want to get pulled over!

Okay....right here is where I need to explain our subdivision just a little bit. It's right off of a busy road. Our neighborhood is very small and has 2 entrances, so we really don't have very much traffic ever. In the almost 9 years we've lived here, I can probably count on 2 hands the number of times I've passed a car on our street. And it really only happens on Sunday as we're all coming home from church at the same time. Two houses down from our house, the road curves a full 90 degrees.

Back to my story. I was thinking about not getting pulled over because of my darn tail light. As I turned into our sub division, I saw another car coming toward the curve by our house. The driver was going a little bit fast and a little bit wide around the corner, but that happens. The closer I got to the car, the more I decided to pull to the side and slow down to make sure she had enough room to get by. Because even though she was going fast, I though that of course she would see me and leave me enough room to drive by. It honestly never crossed my mind that she wouldn't see me.

But she didn't. Instead, she ran right into my van. My poor 10 year old completely paid off van. The one that we had just decided to keep for a couple more years.



Thankfully, everyone involved was completely fine. And I was right. The other driver didn't see me at all. Texting, maybe? Definitely distracted.  I'll probably never know!

She had her two kids with her and we were all shaken up a bit. It was pretty crazy experience to have my driver's side window shatter all over me. There was glass everywhere! I still can't believe how much glass comes from one window!

But I just have to say, getting into a car accident 3 houses down from my house was definitely convenient! Especially because my husband was home. There really is no other way to do this kind of thing! Seriously! (And of course, I'm kidding. Not getting into a car accident is obviously way better).


We knew right away that our van would be totaled because it was old. And it was without a doubt going to cost more to fix it than it was worth. Although I will say that it's a little strange to me that it works that way. The van still ran completely fine, so hauling to a junk yard to sell for parts seems a little bit wasteful. But, it's the way of the world, I guess.

We started immediately in our search for a new van. I don't know if it's this way in every city and town, but here vans are popular. And apparently, people are loyal to the one they own because we couldn't find anything that wasn't completely new (and therefore out of our budget) or just as old as the van we already had (and therefore old and decrepit). We literally looked at every used car dealership around.

We were really blessed and ran across a white 2009 Chrysler Town and Country on Craigslist that a used car dealer has just picked up the day before. It was originally a fleet car in Hawaii and since Hawaii is small and there is no where to drive, there is only 57,000 miles on it. And it's never been owned by a family, so the interior is immaculate. I mean it really looks brand new.  I instituted a no-food-in-the-van rule immediately. I'm not hopeful that we'll be able to keep it as clean as it is, but I'll be darned if we don't at least try!


I love it already! I can't believe the amount of storage in this thing. And it has Stow n Go seating which is nice. I didn't even know that existed before. I don't think I'll ever be able to go back! Oh, and it has climate control which is going to be nice on our long road trips when I like to be warm and Dave likes to be cold.


We've already clocked over 1,000 miles on it in the last couple of weeks thanks to a quick trip to Boise. I'm pretty excited to see where the next 149,000 miles will take us!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Some beginning graphic design stuff

It seems like almost every post I make, I talk about how I'm back at school working on finishing my Bachelor's degree. It's going to be in Web Design and it's definitely a perfect fit for me! The more classes I take, the more I realize why it's such a benefit to actually go to school to learn this stuff. I've picked up my fair share by reading tutorials on the internet, but to spend 25 hours a week learning how to do it is completely different!

One of the coolest parts of my degree is all of the graphic design classes I get to take. For me, graphic design is a little bit like web designing in that I thought I knew what I was doing before but I'm learning tons and tons! I never in a million years thought I would be hand designing logos and critiquing other graphic design I come across.

I thought it would be fun to blog about some of it to show a little bit of the process. All of these are from my Intro to Graphic Design class that I took last semester.

Logo Project

This is the project I was the most proud of! It took 4 weeks and tons of hours to complete. Our assignment was to design a logo for a completely made up company or exhibit. I chose to do a company and it had to have an animal theme. My logo is supposed to be for a little boy's clothing company.

The first phase was drawing and re-drawing tons of thumbnails. This isn't even all that I did! I usually feel like I'm not a very good artist but the whole point was to just brainstorm ideas.






After getting some ideas down, we picked our favorites and made them digital in Adobe Illustrator. And when I say made them digital, I really mean that we had to build them from scratch in Illustrator.



Then, add text and find a good font that would work.



Then, pick our favorite and add color. Lots of different colors to see which would look the best. 


This was my final logo submission. I really love it!  But truthfully, I really love a few of them. I'm so glad that ultimately I didn't have to decide which to use for a real company!


It was an interesting learning experience because the idea I had at the beginning that I was sure was the best didn't even get past the second phase. And even when I thought my brand mark was perfect, I still tweaked it all the way until the end. Overall, it was fun!



Poster Project

Another project we did was a poster project. It also took 4 weeks. We had to choose a 19th century artist and I chose Bradbury Thompson. I can't believe that I didn't know about him before. He had a tremendous influence on the graphic design industry with a career that spanned over 50 years! My posters were heavily influenced by his style.

We had to turn in 3 different posters for a fake museum exhibit.

The first poster was based on the design principle of alignment:



 

The second poster was supposed to be and artist perspective poser. It was designed how I envisioned that the artist would have designed the poster for himself. My favorite poster of the whole project was the second finished one (below on the right).




The last poster was designed using our own design style. I still based mine heavily on the style of the artist and part of the reason I did this was to make each poster fit in a set.



Anyway, kinda fun! This class was a TON of work - this is only half of the projects we did through the whole semester. I learned a tremendous amount!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tomatillo Chicken Enchiladas

I am a huge sucker for easy dinners. But not just easy, they need to taste amazing, too! Being a student and a mom, I'm super busy and I don't always have very much time (or energy) to make a four course dinner! But I really like good food. This yummy enchilada recipe is really easy to throw together. It's the perfect way to make a dish that can be really complicated in a fraction of the time.


Tomatillos are one of those foods that I didn't know about for a lot of my life. It wasn't until I met one of my bestest friends, who also happened to be a neighbor at the time, introduced me to this wonderful vegetable! She grew them like crazy in her garden and made the most delicious salsa. Tomatillos are in the tomato family. They have a really wonderful citrus-y taste. And they are what make these enchiladas so special!

Ingredients:
  • 3 C cooked, chopped chicken
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 16 oz jar of green (tomatillo) salsa
  • 3/4 C sour cream
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 3 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)


Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 450

Combine the salsa, sour cream and crushed garlic. In a separate bowl with the chicken, add 1/2 C of the salsa mixture. Microwave the tortillas to soften. Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 C of the chicken mixture. and place in a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Because corn tortillas are so hard to roll, I usually fold them in half and tuck the seam under the next tortilla. Like this:


After you have all of the tortillas in the pan, top all of the enchiladas with the remaining salsa/cream mixture and cheese.


Bake for about 40-45 minutes.

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