Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Ghost of Halloween Past...

So, Halloween is probably my favorite holiday. I love being able to dress up, be creative, take my kids trick or treating, and of course the candy is a perk. Usually, every year, I put months worth of time and effort into my costume; I refuse to wear anything that comes straight from the Halloween section of the store, and if I do end up buying something like that, I usually add my own touches. I don't spend a fortune on my costumes either. I shop at thrift stores, or make sure to get clothing I can reuse in everyday life. I put thought and effort into my kids' costumes, too, to try and make sure no other kids will be seen wearing their same threads.

This year, I'm not dressing up as anything new. Yeah, I know, a bummer. But, we just moved, haven't really met anyone to be able to throw a big Halloween party, so this year it's all about my kids. My son did ask me if I could dress up to take them to their Halloween party tonight, so I'll fall back to my trusty Mobster outfit- not gory, not revealing, appropriate for kids (most of my costumes aren't). So, that does make me smile.

Today I wanted to take a trip down Halloween Memory Lane, starting 4 years ago, when I really started getting into the Halloween night life.

Warning: Not sure what warning should go here, but I know there should be one. I blush when I look at these, and it's weird for me to be just posting them all out there. But, I'm always proud of my costumes, maybe not of how I tend to go for that slutty look, but hey, it's Halloween....

Halloween, 2006

Not exactly sure what you'd call this. Sexy demon girl? Yeah. It was the first Halloween party at the store I owned, so I may have put more effort into designing that than my costume that year. Nonetheless, a great night. 

Halloween, 2007
Sexy Demon Nun. I didn't actually pose for a picture this year, just happened to find this one. But yes, my costume involved an extra small dress bought at KMart (I'm a large normally), hooker boots, slutty makeup and horns. And that's my store in the background. 2nd Annual Parting of the Veil Festival. Ahh, I miss those days.

Halloween, 2008
Sexy Mobster. Yeah, the wonderful 'phone picture in mirror complete with dirty clothes in the background'. That's my default for this evening.

Halloween, 2009 (my favorite)

Dead Prom Queen. By far my favorite Halloween costume ever, for a number of reasons.
  1. The dress was free. I went to a thrift store, found someone's old, discarded prom dress, and when I explained to the woman what I was doing with it, I got it for free. So, that's an actual prom dress. Someone probably lost their virginity in it. Eww, yeah. It was a gorgeous dress, too bad I shredded it.
  2. It was so fun to create. I put the dress on, and friends shredded the dress with scissors, then coverd their hands with fake blood and just groped me. Then, we headed outside where they flung the fake blood on me and splattered me with mud. It was awesome.
  3. Doing my makeup was fun, too. Step 1- Do makeup in a slightly sluttier way than you normally would on prom night. Step 2- Take slightly damp hands and smear makeup down face. Step 3- Put on your lipstick like you have the shakes, and smear around. There, you now have Dead Prom Queen makeup.
  4. Total cost of the costume was pretty cheap. Dress- free. Boots- already had. Fishnet stockings and armbands- $5. Tierra- $10. Fake blood- $3. Makeup- already had. Dirt- free. Jewelry- borrowed from my sister. Pale skin- born with it. Sticky boobs because the dress was backless- $25~ blah, but they are reusable, so that's good.
  5. Yes, I did work this year. Somewhere, there is a picture of me tattooing in this costume (do you know how hard it is to position yourself around someone's chair or table to tattoo them, wearing a short dress like this? Ha!) I got amazing tips, that's for sure, lol. Must go find that pic.......

So, that's my visit down Halloween Memory Lane. This year I took a break, but that just means I have extra time to plan for next year. I'd love to do a mini haunted house for the kids in our garage, have an amazing Halloween party for the adults, and of course I should probably start thinking now about my costume. Something scary, sexy and amazing. I have a heck of a job ahead of me if I want to top last year's!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Hope your day and night are magical, and please be safe!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

All Natural, Youthful Skin Care Routine for Under $1.00!

Back in the day, I spent my free time making all natural bath and beauty products. My research into natural ingredients, their function and what I could make with them was ongoing and extensive (still is). At the time, my husband and I lived in England, and the people there loved my creations (I even did home shows- like Pampered Chef or Mary Kay, with my products!). We moved back to the states, and maybe it was our location, but the whole all-natural thing didn't really make it there. I'm hoping to get back into it (still have my recipe book handy), as the world seems to be getting back to nature.

Today I wanted to share my weekly facial routine. I try and do this once a week, though the ingredients are mild enough to do more than once a week (but for the sake of the natural oil production of your skin, I don't recommend more than twice a week).

The recipes below are mostly for damaged or acned skin. My skin is normally combination- dry at the cheeks, oily T zone (forehead, down nose to chin), but I do have break outs once a month (yeah, I hate being a woman sometimes). (And please note that my recipes are estimates- they are homemade, so you pretty much just add stuff as you see fit.)

Chamomile Mint Facial Steam

I use the actual herbs, but chamomile tea and peppermint tea work just as well. I boil a pot of water, add the herbs (about 1/2 cup of each herb, or 2 tea bags of each tea), and pour into a large bowl. Keep your face about 9-12 inches from the bowl as you steam, to avoid burning the skin. It's easiest to drape a towel over your head, too, to keep the steam trapped. I steam for about 15 minutes, taking a break every 5 minutes for a breath of fresh air.

Chamomile is good for irritated skin, peppermint for tired skin. Other ingredients you can use are sage or thyme for acne skin, lemon and citrus fruits for oily skin, lavender for stressed skin.

After I'm done steaming, I let my face air dry- no towel. When my face is somewhat tacky with moisture still, I apply my facial mask.

Strawberry Honey Facial Mask (good for one application)

Combine in a bowl 2 fresh strawberries (minus stems of course), a tablespoon (or a little more) of honey, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a pinch of flour (add more as you mash to make it facial mask thicker consistency). Mash together with a fork until the mixture is lumpy, but thick enough to use on the face. Apply to face with fingers, making sure to go around the eye area. Allow to dry (takes about 10-15 minutes and may still be tacky on your face, but as it dries you'll feel it tighten), and wash off with warm water.

The strawberries (or other fruits such as citrus fruits, blackberries, apples, tomatoes, peaches and grapes) contain fruit acids that help exfoliate the skin, bringing to the surface a new, healthy, youthful layer. Modern companies have taken fruit acids and chemicalized them into Alpha Hydroxy Acids (the main ingredient in many anti-aging serums out there). Why use chemicals when the exact thing is in your house?? Because of the strawberries, or fruit acid, in your mask, you will find it tingles just like a chemical facial mask. It's pretty amazing. Of course, if you are allergic to a certain fruit, do not use that fruit in your mask.

The honey in the mask is great for all skin types, and adds subtle moisture and rejuvenation to the skin. It helps repair damaged skin, and can be used as often as you'd like because it's so gentle.

The apple cider vinegar is best for acned or oily skin. If you find the apple cider vinegar to be too strong, you can always use milk, yogurt, oil or water (all better for dry skin), or witch hazel, or citrus juice (better for oily or acned skin).

So, you've removed the mask with warm water, patted your face dry with a towel. My next step is a toner. I use witch hazel with a drop of tea tree oil (saturate a cotton ball with the witch hazel and place a drop of tea tree oil on the cotton ball).  Tea tree oil is great for acned skin- usually clears it up faster than those $20 kits you buy off TV. Now, the witch hazel you buy for cheap at the grocery store does contain alcohol, which can dry your skin out. So keep that in mind if you already have dry skin. Rub the cotton ball over face, making sure to hit the T-zone.

After the toner comes a moisturizer. For the moment I just apply an extremely thin layer of jojoba oil to my face to round out my weekly facial routine. Oils such as olive, avocado, grapeseed and almond are great for the skin, especially damaged/aging skin. But, not everyone's skin can handle oil being placed on it (even in the extremely small amount that I use). Shea butter and cocoa butter make great moisturizers, too, but usually need to be heated and blended with other more liquid items to be used. I'll expand upon making all natural creams and lotions another day.

Now, take a good look in the mirror. I was surprised as hell to find that my skin looked more youthful, was softer, my pores smaller. Surprised why? Because all of the stuff I just used was found in my kitchen or bathroom already. I didn't have to spend $40 on some anti-aging serum, or hit a health food store for some obscure all natural ingredients. My skin looked and felt amazing, and the whole routine probably cost $1.00 at the extreme most.

Definitely worth a try, and I've given you alternatives above to suit your skin type. So get into the kitchen, start experimenting, and see how amazing you can make yourself feel and look for only $1.00!!

If you have any questions about all natural ingredients or substitutes for ingredients above, please comment below and I'll answer them as best I can!

*All pictures courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's So Good About Being a Fish, Anyway?

During my time a tattoo artist, I had plenty of people come into the shop asking for Koi Fish tattoos. Yes, when done correctly they are beautiful pieces, but the more people came in, the more I tested them. What's the symbolism behind the Koi tattoo? What does it represent? What does it mean to you? I wasn't being a bitch, per say, but I wanted to know what it was about the koi that was special to this person- it helped me draw them a custom one, too. I wanted to know they hadn't just seen a pretty picture on the internet and wanted it tattooed on them; I wanted it to mean something. Most people knew about the koi that wanted one tattooed, some of them I had to educate. To break it down, when swimming 'down', the koi represents that there are still hardships for the person to face. When swimming 'up', the hardships and difficulties have been overcome, so the koi represents strength, perseverance and bravery. Beautiful symbolism, which can be conveyed in a beautiful manner.

The Chinese legend states that the koi fish swam upstream, even jumped up waterfalls, and when it got to the end of its destination, was transformed into a Dragon as a reward for its perseverance.

Kinda sounds like a salmon, doesn't it? I mean, I don't mean to disrespect and ancient Chinese symbol of strength, but hear me out on this one. The salmon starts out in a stream or river, swims all the way out to the ocean, where its body adapts to the saltwater. It spends a few years playing around in the ocean, and when it fully matures, makes that journey upstream to where it was born, adapting back to freshwater, where it will spawn and die.

Hold on. Spawn and die? And this is supposed to be a beautiful, encouraging thing, that the salmon swims upstream to do so? Not only that, but the salmon decides not to do this until it's older?

I'm sorry, but based on my life story thus far, I'm throwing the bull**it flag on the koi and the salmon. Bold move, I know, but try to follow me on this one.....

The Universe likes order. I don't exactly have a Wikipedia article to cite to validate that or anything, but it's kinda a fact. Everyone likes order, come to think of it, so why would the Universe be different? And, physics has taught us about the Path of Least Resistance- proven in nature by gravity, electrical paths and connections, and even storms. So if the Universe is going to try and make order of all the chaos in the world, it's going to take the path of least resistance, so you know, it's not pulling in overtime and can be home at night for dinner with the family. I don't think the Universe (or, if you are a religious person, God) is out to make our lives as individuals difficult. So, if you are constantly being hit with obstacles, or struggles to over come- maybe they are being put infront of you to make you stop heading down that path or at least slow down. Maybe they are the Universe's big ol' flashing neon signs.

Ever see those people who, it seems like, everything always goes right for them, no matter what they do? And then there's those people who seem like every step they take is the wrong one?

I swear this all ties together, just hold on a sec.....

Back in the day, I had it all- a wonderful husband, two beautiful kids, a successful business, friends, I was in touch with myself, my spirituality, I helped others find their 'path' in life, money was fine- things were good. But, like everyone, I had some inner demons. They talked and talked, and grew louder and louder, so one day I decided I needed to do everything myself- I needed to be 'me' (because, for some reason, I felt the successful 'me' wasn't enough). So, I walked away from my marriage, became a part-time mom, full-time business woman, a very selfish person. My store closed down within a year, I struggled to pay my bills, my personal relationships-especially with men- were one excruciating wound after another, I lost friends, turned my back on my spirituality, my kids became unruly at school, and my health plummeted. But, every obstacle placed in front of me, every wall constructed in my path, I decided to overcome, at whatever cost- be the koi, the salmon (I'm a bit stubborn- you picking up on that?). I was going to be happy, I was going to do what I want, I was going to be 'me'. Each step I took, I became further and further from the 'me' I wanted to be, and as the body count around me rose (including myself- I sacrificed myself more than anything- I must be a cat with 9 lives), I finally had to stop and really look. What was I doing? And what would it take for me to stop?

So, I spread my arms out, closed my eyes, and just fell into that river that I was spending so much time trying to swim upstream. The river carried me down for a while, way down. But, the more I just let go to see where the current took me, instead of fighting it, the more little brooks I ventured down, the more beautiful scenery I took in, the more I opened my eyes. I started to find myself again- the awesome person I used to be, that is- I reconnected with my kids, and eventually, that river led me straight to my husband, and an opportunity for a fresh start.

Since letting go and going with the flow of the river, I've smiled a lot more, been at peace a lot more, fallen back in love with the wonderful man and life I had before, and have had little amazing signs that I'm finally on my right path- the path of least resistance to my success. Don't get me wrong, it's not been all unicorns and daisies, but nothing compared to what I chose to put myself through for the last 3 years- and that's one thing I had to realize. My obstacles, my struggling, was my choice. Did I want to struggle and have so much pain caused to myself and those I love? Of course not, but that was a consequence of the path I chose to take- a consequence I decided I never wanted again.

Yes, life will always throw curveballs, and sometimes horrible things occur without any reason or cause from you. If it's one obstacle after another, after another, after another, with no breaks in between, then pause for a moment. If it seems like you are one of those people who, every step they take is the wrong one, then maybe the Universe is trying to tell you that you aren't quite on your path, and those obstacles are there to honestly deter you- not for you to rise above and continue on. Maybe it's time for you to let go and see where the river takes you. And those people who it seems like they can never do wrong- maybe they let go, found out where they were supposed to be, and then worked and perfected upon it.

So while the koi and the salmon have their beautiful symbolism, look at the end of both of their paths- the koi turns into a dragon. Awesomeness, yeah, but forever feared by others, eventually hunted and killed (and think about trying to sneeze- your dwelling would immediately go up in flames). And the salmon gets to struggle upstream, lay eggs or fertilize eggs, and then die. Death. Wow.

So I say, what's so good about being a fish, anyway? If I have to be an aquatic animal, how about a dolphin? They are intelligent, mothering, social, altruistic and playful. They work together in times of struggle, protect each other, and have an amazingly laid back, fun nature. I'm sold. Make me a dolphin.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Helga, The Fashion Fairy's Disgruntled Cousin

I'm sure everyone has heard of the Underwear Gnomes- especially those of us with smaller children. These sneaky creatures venture into your child's room at night and steal their underwear. As the months go by, you seriously start to wonder whether Alzheimer's has officially kicked in (I coulda sworn my son had 3 pairs of Batman underoos and 3 Spidermans- why does he only have 2 Batmans and 1 Spiderman now??). Don't question your sanity- it's the Underwear Gnomes. Cheeky little things they are.

And of course we all have fallen victim to the Sock Monster that lives in the washer and dryer. Yes, you did buy a pair of polka dotted toe socks, but, the Sock Monster loves polka dots- or is it toe socks he hankers for? Either way, you now have one polka dotted toe sock, which, if you're feeling adventurous, means you can wear with the one striped slipper sock he left you with last week. Sheesh.

You can't forget the Keys Bandit, as well. I haven't yet figured out exactly what type of creature the Keys Bandit is- most likely a mischevious little fairy who has the strength to take your keys out of your purse, open the fridge door, and place your keys there on the top shelf. It might be time for some night surveillance to catch the Keys Bandit in action.

Of the *wonderful* (yes, sarcasm is an amazing thing) household critters that make our lives just a little more difficult, every once in a while you get visited by an awesome one- The Fashion Fairy, as I like to call her. She sneaks into your closet at night and finds that favorite shirt of yours you haven't seen in months, or, more to my liking, goes in and makes those jeans you haven't been able to wear in years magically fit. Ahh, visits from the Fashion Fairy are amazing. She generally comes around when you start eating a little healthier, or start an exercise routine, or are so busy and stressed you forget to eat. But, whenever she decides to visit you, it's a wonderful feeling.

Unfortunately, the Fashion Fairy has not graced me with her presence. Instead, I've been visited by Helga, the Fashion Fairy's Disgruntled Cousin. She does the exact opposite of her adored family member- she sneaks into your closet at night and hides that favorite shirt of yours, or decides to replace all your jeans with the exact same type, brand and cut, only a size smaller. She is the reason we have to reach into the back of the closet, or drawer, and pull out those 'fat pants' (everyone has them) for a few days, weeks, or months. Her busiest time of year is starting now- Halloween to New Year's, and, she's decided to hit me earlier than usual. Grr....

A little background... For the past 3 years I was a tattoo artist, and lived on Fast Food Lane. I worked 12+ hour shifts 5-6 days a week, was known to have 2-3 fast food meals a day, usually the last one after midnight at a waffley, pancakey 24 hour restaurant. Through all of that, I would fluctuate about 10 pounds depending on my emotional stress level (get stressed, don't eat- it's how I've always been), but at the height of my stress level (around this time last year, into the first part of this year), I hit the rock bottom of what was deemed 'a healthy weight' for me. Skin and bones, I was even disgusted with how I looked. So, I started putting my life back together, made better decisions to eliminate my stress level, which eventually led me down the path of my husband and I getting back together and moving 2000 miles away from everything. Throughout the week-long drive cross-country, we ate twice a day at restaurants (a step up from the fast food lifestyle I'd grown accustomed to), and when we arrived at our destination, I revisited my role in the kitchen, a place I really hadn't been in years. I had gained about 5-10 pounds during our trip, but I figured getting back to cooking with fresh ingredients, wholesome meals, again, would fix that all in itself, and I would drop the weight.

That was a month ago, so I'm beginning to think my hypothesis was incorrect....

At the moment, I'm stuck. I gave away all of my 'fat pants' when I dropped the weight earlier this year, so, now my visits from Helga just downright frustrate me. I think I'm down to 2, maybe 3 pairs of jeans that are comfortable (one's missing the main button on them), and I have to say I'm just plain confused. I studied nutrition, came up with an amazing plan after my son was born that helped me lose 20 pounds in 30 days- but I counted every single calorie, fat gram, carb gram, kept a journal of what I ate, and exercised 5 days a week. I seriously don't have the motivation to go there again, and my basic understanding of nutrition has me going 'WTH' with my current life. Here's the equation for you:

Only Fast Food + All the Time= 10 pound weight fluctuations to the good and bad 

Healthy Cooked Meals + All of the Time - Any Fast Food = No weight fluctuation, but no weight loss, either

Wait, is this that 'ideal weight' I've heard about? Maybe that's what I've hit. But, no, when you hear 'Ideal Weight', aren't you supposed to be like, amazing looking, when you hit that? No cellulite, perky boobs, stretch marks disappear? That's what I always thought. If this is my 'ideal weight' then me and my body need to have a serious talk.

So, I guess now, to avoid further visits from Helga, the Fashion Fairy's Disgruntled Cousin, and get back in the good graces of her family member, I need to start exercising. Yoga was always my preferred method- guess I should dust off those DVDs and get started. I wonder, though, how many calories I'd burn if I went on a hunt for the Underwear Gnomes, the Sock Monster, the Keys Bandit, and Helga. I'm talking, Mission-Impossible style manhunt. Hmmm, definitely something to think about.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mommy Rantings: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Mommy Rantings: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

A very amazing thing to find first thing in the morning- to have been included in someone's top 5 blogs at the moment. Thanks so much to Queen Mom for the shout out- it has made my day!!

My First Attempt at this Random Tuesday Thoughts Thing....

Okay, so seeing as this is my first attempt at this Random Tuesday Thoughts thing, I hope it's not excruciating for you. Upon blog hopping this morning, and seeing so many of these posts, and having no idea what to blog about this morning, I'm assuming it's as simple as it looks- Random things running through my head. So, brace yourself, here it goes.......

Legos, Legos everywhere.... Under the table, the kitten has one. Can't I just throw away one? Yeah, like the little gray one with 2 connection pieces. My son won't miss that one, right? Damn, he will. I just know it. He'll come home and ask for that one specifically even though he has 20 more just like it in his room. Blasted all.

Oh, what it would be like to be Zombie Kitty. She's currently amusing herself with a dust bunny. Is it too much to ask that this time she goes in for the kill on her plaything? Help momma out today, little one- destroy the dust bunny.

Should I be worried that my ginger-headed son went to the pumpkin patch on a field trip today? I mean, is there a chance that he'll just blend in with all the pumpkins and get lost? Thanks, Zoey, for putting that random thought in my head.

Normally I'm filled with randomness, but this morning has been crazy already, so it's now time for me to get ready and head out into the world.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Crazy Mom's Cleaning Schedule

So, we have lived in our new house about a month now, and I'm getting back into this whole stay-at-home-mom/ housewife thing again after a few years break. The first week after we unpacked everything, I scoured the internet looking for helpful tips on cleaning routines. Back in the day I followed Flylady. Amazing concept, worked for years for me. But now that I'm having to relearn the ropes again, with my new found quirkiness of the last few years, I decided to take a few wonderful points from her and continue the search. As far as daily routines, I found they all pretty much had the same basic steps, which I began immediately (we'll get to those in a moment). As far as weekly routines, though, they were so different from picking a level of the house (ceilings, surfaces, walls, floors) to clean each day of the week, to picking a different room in the house to clean each day, to a little bit of this and that everyday. After all my searching, I found no one else's routines fit me, whether it be because I didn't agree with it, or couldn't remember what I was supposed to be doing on Tuesday (bathroom? No, wait, kitchen... damn). So, I devised a weekly schedule for myself that made sense, is easily followable, and is dummy-proof for my forgetful brain (catchy is another way to put it), at least.

I do realize that, like all the other lists on the internet that didn't fit me, this list isn't going to make sense to everyone. And, it needs to be stated that, since we just moved in a month ago, things in the house aren't overwhelming. The kids rooms still mostly resemble the organized manner I set them up in when we moved in, we have yet to accumulate tons of clutter (though I know it's coming), and we don't have years of stuff traffic ground into the floors and carpet. So, keeping things clean on a weekly basis isn't as huge of a task as it used to be. My kids are also older now (8 and almost 6), so I make them clean their own rooms, fold their laundry, and help out with small chores around the house. I seriously doubt this routine would work for a brand new mom (get your naps in while the baby naps and do as little to the house as possible- my advice to you all), or for people who have a 3000+ square foot house with numerous rooms (there are 5 of us in a 1400 square foot- gets a little snug sometimes, but comfortable). But, it's working for me, and isn't the typical humdrum lists out there.

Like I said before, the daily routines I found were all similar, and considering it works for me, I'm sharing it here, as well.

Daily Doings
  1. At least one load of laundry, from start to finish, a day. Some days I make it through a few, some days its just the one. But, from start to finish, that's the key. I'm notorious for leaving clean clothes in a basket, unfolded, forever. I used to figure, hey, the kids can just get the clothes outta the basket, wear them, and soon the basket will be empty. Yeah, no more.
  2. General straightening of the house. I usually do my straightening before bed. I make the kids take any toys that are out and about to their room, and I pick up dishes, cups, put things in their place, etc, and then head to bed. Sometimes I'll do it right after the kids go to bed, so I can relax a little more while watching my shows at night.
  3. Keep up with the kitchen. When the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, unload it (or delegate down for someone else to do it) as soon as possible. That leaves an empty dishwasher that can be reloaded as dishes are used. But make sure, at the end of the night, the sink is empty, the counters wiped down, and that load either run, or if it's empty, good job. This is probably the hardest step for me, personally.
  4. Keep up with paper clutter. I usually do this during the general straightening at night. Go through junk mail, make sure the kids' homework is in their bookbags, file bills that need to be paid. We do accumulate a lot of paper clutter, which is a simple thing to take care of.

A Crazy Mom's Weekly Cleaning Schedule

Mainframe Mondays
This is the day of the week I do the 'main' parts of the house- Kitchen, Dining Room, Living Room, maybe the bedrooms (the bathroom gets a whole day to itself, but still straighten in there, clean off counters, get up dirty towels, etc.)  But, all I do is straighten & sweep/mop/vacuum. A more thorough straightening is involved on Mainframe Mondays, than in my daily routine. I'll organize a little more, actually put things away instead of just carrying them to the appropriate rooms, but, in essence, the house (or the main parts of it) look completely presentable when the hubby gets home from work, the kids from school, and if company stops by.

Touch Up Tuesdays
Head back into the rooms covered on Monday and this time, go a little deeper. Dust, ceiling fans (yes, may require you to re-sweep or vacuum), wipe down the windows, move around stuff on the counters and wipe down, wipe down the outside of the kitchen appliances and the outside of the kitchen cabinets. Get to anything you didn't do on Mainframe Mondays.

What's that Smell? Wednesdays
Ahh, the fun day. Clean out the fridge (make sure to take the trash out immediately after doing this, so you don't end up having a What's that Smell Thursday), throwing away leftovers and checking expiration dates. If you'd like, give the fridge a quick wipe down for any visible spills, or stickiness (every fridge has it, don't worry). Check the trashcans throughout the house and empty them, spray the inside with Lysol or another germ-killing spray. While I scoop the litter box out everyday, Wednesday it gets overhauled. Same principle works for dog kennels I guess (never really had dogs). Spray the cloth furniture down with a fabric refresher (like Febreze- I prefer the antimicrobial one, because it kills the bacteria that causes the funk), maybe your closet and hubby's shoes as well (couldn't hurt). And, the biggest part of What's that Smell? Wednesdays is probably the smelliest part of your home- the bathroom. Today's the day to scrub it down- toilet, bathtub, sink, floors- get it smelling like an orange grove in there, or lemony fresh (or whatever cleaning product smell tickles your fancy- we all have them, it's okay to admit it). Now, with other daily routines, I've seen to wipe the toilet down daily. This is definitely a good tip if you have men in the family, which is why I keep a container of antibacterial wipes under the bathroom sink- easy peasy, and yes, I make them do it (devil woman, I know). I also have one of those Kaboom Scrub Free continuous toilet cleaners, which keeps the inside clean for up to 3 months- I love it (watch the demonstration video on the site- not sure why but it cracks me up, probably because it really is that easy to install it. Heck, I did it myself. It's not one of those looks easy to install but isn't things.) So, that's why I don't scrub the toilet everyday. But, off the subject a little (I'm good at doing that), What's that Smell? Wednesdays are the day to scrub that bathroom clean.

Throw Away Thursdays
The first part of Throw Away Thursdays is to grab a trashbag and a donation box. Spend about 15 minutes in each room throwing away what you can, or putting it into a box for charity/yardsale/storage etc. 15 minutes is just about all you'll need, unless you decide to make that room your room for Thursday. The second part of Throw Away Thursdays is completely up to you, tailor it to fit your schedule and lifestyle. For me, I spend a little time in each room really cleaning- organizing, cleaning out, scrubbing what needs to be scrubbed, vacuuming out the sofa, getting spots out of carpets, things like that. But, like I said before, my house hasn't gotten too overwhelming (yet). If it suits you more to use Thursday to completely tackle a new room (or maybe 2 rooms), from top to bottom, each week, then go for it (for example, the kitchen/dining room the first Thursday of the month, living room/family room second Thursday of the month, etc. ) That way, by the end of the month, you'll have a completely cleaned out house. Make Throw Away Thursday work for you, your family, your house, your life, and your level of motivation.

Feel Good Fridays
All, I love Feel Good Fridays. Gearing up for the weekend, the kids will be home, the hubby off work. So, Feel Good Fridays are just that- do what you need to set your family up for the weekend. I go ahead and wash all the sheets in the house (nothing feels better than freshly laundered sheets), do the final straightening of the house, maybe sweep/vacuum/spot mop if needed. Grocery shop, run errands, make plans for the weekend, whatever is left that you need to do to get yourself a much needed weekend off, too (as much as stay at home moms can get time off, that is). And, I have been known to pamper myself a little on Feel Good Fridays (everyone needs a reward for a job well done every now and then). I'll do an at home facial (I have a homemade recipe for an all natural Strawberry Honey facial mask that not only softened my skin but took a few years off, that I'll share at some point), or read a book, maybe paint my nails. But, in the least, I get everything set up to be able to spend time with my family all weekend.

Now that my routine is all laid out, I can say I've thought about it from the perspective of how it would fit into other people's lifestyles. A bigger family, for example, probably wouldn't make it work only doing one load of laundry a day. I can say I try to play catch up with the laundry on Sundays and Mondays. I also realized, in creating my weekly schedule, that my cleaning standards may not be as high as some people's. I don't require a Martha Stewart home to feel comfortable or to be happy. I don't live in squalor, either, though. For example, taking everything out of the kitchen cabinets and wiping them down is not a priority of mine, but I know people who do that once a month. I'll wipe down baseboards as needed, but I know people who do them every week. So, my goal, as a mom and homemaker, is to make sure my house is clean, presentable if company comes over unexpectedly, not a safety or health hazard to anyone, but comfortable enough to relax in, to play around in, to feel at home. I'm not big on the 'everything is so clean I don't think I can touch a thing' houses. I want people to feel welcome here, and not leave and never return.

So that's what works for me! I'd love to hear either feedback, or tips on what works for you- just drop me a comment below!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Introducing... Zombie Kitty!

Her names is Bones. No, we don't have a weird fascination with the TV show, she was found in a cemetery. Yep, that's right, a cemetery. Not a cemetery in the middle of town- no, this one was out in the middle of nowhere, miles from town.

Bones, the day we found her
Photographing cemeteries is a hobby of mine. I see the questions forming in your head now, but we're just going to run past that for time's sake. Back in September, the hubby, best friend and I headed to what was known as one of the creepiest cemeteries in our home town. As we drive into the cemetery, finding a road to the side of most of the graves to park so I can get out and begin taking pictures, we approach a bush and hear, 'Meow.' Car stops, we all look at each other in confusion- I mean, we *are* in the middle of a creepy cemetery in the middle of nowhere. Hubby jumps out of the car, and from underneath the bush comes running a long haired calico kitten, straight to him. No other cats around, no idea how old this kitten is, or how long she's been left to fend for herself in the cemetery. We immediately knew she was ours, that we would take her with us, and that thought was reinforced when she followed us all around the cemetery like a puppy on a leash.

Finding a kitten in a cemetery is a odd, in the least. My mind started wondering how long she had been there, how she survived, being so young, and how creepy it must have been at night for her. We jokingly started calling her Zombie Kitty, which, when the first night in a new home she climbs on top of you while you sleep and licks your face- you start to wonder how much of a joke it is.

So, with the idea in the back of my mind, I started observing Bones, our Zombie Kitty. Suspicions grew as we realized she had an ever-growing taste for human flesh; always licking us, giving us kisses. Could be the salt on our skin, but what if? Then, upon giving her her first 3 baths (altogether- she had spent her life up until then outdoors), my best friend snapped a picture of what we believe to be Bones' true self. Sure, the trauma from having 3 baths back to back could have shaken her, but what do we truly know about Zombie Kitties? Maybe washing the Zombie from her, the last of the graveyard, burned her poor flesh. We don't know....

During the day Bones was playful, cuddly, cute as a button. At night she drove us crazy with constant face licking (the craving for human flesh becoming too much for her?), and meowing to go goodness knows where. We soon carried her over 2000 miles with us as we moved to our new home to start over, and she did magnificently. Maybe she wanted to put her days as a Zombie Kitty behind her, start over, too, as a normal kitten, before our suspicions grew too much. She has her slips, though. Still licks faces, thoroughly enjoys video games with blood shed, and eats dead lizards outside. But, we feel she is in remission, trying her best to leave her Zombie days behind her.

Yes, my straw. Thanks, Bones....
She really is one of the most wonderful kittens ever. She's playful, yet will cuddle with you at a moment's notice. She constantly has us laughing when she comes running out from under the bed to attack our leg (relapse from her Zombie days??). She is mischievous, but so darn cute when she does it that we just smile (then get her off the table/counter/tv/etc.) We still have no idea how old she is, but she has probably doubled in weight since being with us (she was skin and bones at the cemetery). She's our special cemetery kitty, one we fully believe was meant to be with us.

I'll probably be singing a different tune when the craving becomes too much for her, when she can no longer hold her secret anymore, and she does actually take a bite out of my leg or rips a chunk of flesh from my face, showing her true self as a Zombie Kitty. I'm watching you, Bones, I'm watching you.....

Friday, October 22, 2010

Inventions that Shaped Mankind

A very intriguing conversation began at dinner last night of the top inventions of all time. The conversation continued into the night, where my family and I googled other top invention lists. Not finding one that satisfied what we collectively thought to be the inventions that shaped mankind, we decided to comprise our own list (complete with my sarcasm, personality and quirkiness since this list is being posted on my blog). We ended up coming up with 30 things, though we could only agree on the exact placement, importance-wise, of the top 10. After that, the other 20 were met with, 'No, no, that's not more important than this', or 'Please, are you high? That should be at the bottom of the list', and even once 'Why is that on the list at all?'. So, please note that our top 10 is in order of how important we feel the invention is, of how much it molded the world into what we are today. The last 20 are in random order.

1. The Wheel. Seriously people, where would we be without the wheel? So many other blogs and internet articles I came across that either didn't have the wheel listed at all, or listed the wheel below some of our other options, had me growing quite angry by the end of the evening, and more confused than ever. OK, so yes, there are naturally occurring 'wheels' in nature. But, would you really want to get up in the morning, go out to your 'car' which is comprised of 2 logs, and Fred Flintstone paddle yourself to work? Please. Without the wheel we would have no cars, no bikes, no motorcycles, no planes, no trains, no carriages to be pulled by horses, no form of modern transportation whatsoever. So, unless you lived by a river and could take your boat to work each day, give it up for the wheel as the greatest invention ever, for without it, you'd still be riding a horse to the grocery store (and where exactly are the groceries gonna go???).

2. Electricity/ Light Bulb. Easy one, really. Without electricity, we'd have no TVs, no modern appliances, no central heating and air. The light bulb made it amazingly easy to harbor the electricity, so that's why it's thrown in here. So, picture your life now with no electricity- candlelight dinners are romantic and all, but every night? That middle of the night bathroom run gets a little complicated when you have to find the lantern, light it, stumble your way.... awww, too late, that's gonna be a mess to clean up in the morning when the sun comes up. And yes, electricity itself is present in nature (lightning), so therefore it's more of a discovery than an invention. But, all of the scientists who threw themselves into figuring a way to harbor electricity and produce it without needing a thunderstorm, you are the reason for Electricity making our number 2 spot. So, thank you, Benjamin Franklin, for flying your kite in a thunderstorm, and to Humphry Davy for inventing the first electric light bulb which Thomas Alva Edison would soon improve upon (learn something new everyday), and to all the others that helped me have lights to switch on and off, a TV to watch, and central air in the hot summers.

3. Internal Combustion Engine. So, we agree that the wheel is number one, right? Take that wheel, and you can make bicycles, unicycles, tricycles, horse drawn carriages.... and long trips to family members who don't live next door. The invention of the internal combustion engine made cars, planes, motorcycles, heck even lawnmowers, possible. So now, when that shiny new car you want boasts 300 horsepower, think of what that would mean without the internal combustion engine. Where would you keep 300 horses anyway?

4. Pulleys/Levers. Again, I was surprised to not see pulley and lever systems on very many lists of the greatest inventions of all time. Though we may not know exactly how the pyramids or Stonehenge were built, we have a pretty good idea that pulley and lever systems were apart of the construction process (or aliens- there's a huge debate). Without pulley systems themselves, we couldn't run our cars, most industrial machines, even our vacuum cleaner, much less hoist sails or massive equipment to an unnatural height during construction. And, just like pulleys, levers make it much easier to get work done with much less effort on our end. Who doesn't like that? And see saws- think of a childhood without see saws. Depressing.

5. Firearms. Yet another invention that seemed to be left off of just about every other list out there of the greatest inventions of all time. I personally, am not a big fan of guns, but, when you look at the world today and think what it would be like if the gun was never invented, wow. Yeah, the world might be a safer place (completely arguable, by the way) but we'd still be hunting with bows and arrows and knives. If someone broke into your house, you'd be grabbing that samurai sword off the bedside table to protect yourself (while high on the style points scale, not too efficient for the job). And the changes to the history of the world in terms of wars- I don't even think my brain can begin to imagine what things would be like now. A highly controversial object, yes, but guns help the military protect your country,  your family and home, help provide food on your table (or on the table of your ancestors), have changed the world forever, and have had one of the largest impacts on society as a whole. So, like them or not, they are one of the greatest inventions that have shaped who you are today.

6. Printing Press. Most definitely an invention that shaped the world. If books, magazines, newspapers, all had to still be handwritten, education, intelligence, learning-as we know it- would be lessened tremendously. There would be no libraries, no way to get information to the masses of people, being an author wouldn't be a desirable job, and learning wouldn't be entirely uniform as far as the information. Owning books, magazines, etc, would be a luxury that only the rich could afford. 'Hey man, have you read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn yet?' 'No, that was only written a little over 100 years ago- haven't gotten my hands on a copy of it yet.' Or, 'Do you own a copy of the Bible I can borrow?' 'Hahaha, that's a good one, I'm not rich.' Yeah, that's how the world would be now....

7. Vaccinations & Antibiotics. There's no arguing that with the invention of vaccinations and antibiotics that the human life span has lengthened. Hundreds of years ago, attending the funeral of someone in their 40s, you'd overhear 'Wow, he lived a good, long, life.' Nowadays people are living well into their 100s. So, it should be no surprise that vaccinations and antibiotics made our top 10 list. If it wasn't for them, we'd still have millions of deaths from smallpox and tuberculosis every year, and a simple infected hangnail could mean death.

8. Airplane. Yes, after much debate, we decided to put the airplane a little further down on our list than we saw on other lists. It is one of the greatest inventions ever, made it possible to see the world, to promote overseas business, to move away from that crazy cousin that can't seem to stop coming by your house unannounced. But, I can't say it's better than modern medicine, or a machine that brought literature to the masses. It's definitely an invention that has shaped mankind as we know it, and to be quite honest, one that completely confuses me. How does a mass of metal weighing possibly several hundred tons, even get into the air and stay there? I've seen a not-so-strong breeze blow a bird off course, and they were heavenly designed to fly. What the hell?

9. Telephone. Above television and computers? Blasphemy, I know. Without the invention of telephones, though, communication as we know it would be horrible. Getting information from one side of the country to the next, or even a few blocks away, quickly in the event of an emergency, would be impossible. And still to this day, even 911 is telephone operated (yes, I know some bigger cities have online reporting, but the telephone is the primary method). Cell phones do need note here, as well, and my opinion is the cell phone is one of the greatest inventions of modern times. And, I'm pretty sure that's an unbiased statement that has nothing to do with the fact that I am perpetually glued to my cell phone- I can check my facebook, text, talk, google movies for the evening, play Family Feud- all without leaving the couch- amazing. But, with that said, we wouldn't have the cell phone if it wasn't for the telephone, so here's to keeping people miles apart closer than ever, and for finding a much more useful form of communication than smoke signals- the message is always misinterpreted that way.

10. Calendar. I think, arguably, the calendar could be a bit higher on the list, but as we all disagreed as to exactly where, we decided it at least needed to be in our top ten. This, though, was another one that didn't make it onto any other lists we found floating on the internet. The modern calendar unified the world. No longer did we have to rely on guesses or seasonal fluctuations to do everyday things in our lives. With the introduction of the calendar, we, as humans, could plan and execute things in a more unified manner. Yes, it got us a little more out of touch with nature, but now, things are clear, concise and organized in a way everyone, no matter what country you live in, understand. Now, your family vacation will be scheduled for the week of July 23rd, not 4 moon cycles from the time the first flower blooms. And, how many of us countdown to the weekend, you know, those days off work? With no calendar, how do you explain to your boss that you need a day (what's that?) off of work because you've worked a week (huh?) straight and have only had 2 days (?) off in the last month (you're crazy, get back to work)? Exactly.

Now, like I said above, the next 20 are in no particular order. I will say, though, that the Clock, Radio, Computers, TV and Internet should be 11-15, just not sure of the order. Besides those, our list of top inventions that shaped Mankind includes Plastic, Steel, Modern Appliances (Fridge, Microwave, Washer/Dryer, etc), the Abacus, Birth Control (The Pill and Condoms), Camera, Battery, Compass, Satellite, Dynamite, Paper, Microscopes/Telescopes and the Zipper. Without these items, we wouldn't have the buildings we do, the everyday conveniences, photographs for memories, direction, books, magazines, advances in modern medicine and an understanding of existance beyond earth, easily movable power, modern counting machines, tunnels through mountains, the world of information at our fingertips, easy entertainment, there would be 17 kids to each family, we'd have sundials as wrist watches ('Could you give me the time?' 'Sure, oh wait, there's a shadow in the way.') and we'd be fumbling with buttons all day. Life would just be a lot more difficult.

Please, note, too, that the iPhone did not make our list. The fact that the iPhone is now being considered as the #8 greatest invention of all time saddens me. I love my cell phone, yes, (and it's not an iPhone), but life as we know it would not cease to exist if the iPhone was never invented. I live my life perfectly fine with no iPhone. And head to a third world country with a case of iPhones or a case full of antibiotics and vaccinations and tell me which would help them out more. The iPhone even beat out the automobile, the calendar (ironically found as an app on the iPhone) and hot water in this particular list. Yeah, okay, please try to ride your iPhone to work, or have it clean you as a nice, warm shower would.