Things I’ve Sprayed Lately

I realized lately that I’ve been buying a lot of empty spray bottles when I’m at Target. It seems like all of a sudden I’m DIYing all kinds of solutions for household tasks. It struck me as weird that this is my new unintentional obsession, and what’s a blog for if not sharing your weird obsessions?

Weed Killer
I live in Cleveland, in the watershed of Lake Erie so I try not to spray anything on our lawn and garden. Roundup® is especial evil as it’s active ingredients glyphosate and POEA are extremely toxic to aquatic life (not to mention that glyphosate has been classified as a probable carcinogen). So what do you do when you have a long flagstone front walkway that gets filled with weeds quickly? You switch up the chemicals to acetic acid +lauramine oxide + sodium chloride (i.e. vinegar, dish soap and salt)! The vinegar burns the plant leaves so it can’t produce food, the soap is a surfactant that helps the vinegar stick to the leaves until it does it’s job, and the salt kills off the roots

I tried a combination of vinegar, a few drops of dish soap and plain kosher salt. I heated it up in the microwave (to help the salt dissolve) and poured it into one of my spray bottles and soaked each joint of the walkway. Within 3 days everything was dead and those neat joints lasted about a month before I had to spray again. Don’t use too much salt as it will kill the soil microbial activity (soil microbes are a good thing!) but in the cracks of a sidewalk or driveway this shouldn’t be much of an issue. The best part? I had all the ingredients but even if I didn’t I would cost about $2 to make up a batch (compared to $20+ for the commercial stuff).


IMG_6298Before

IMG_6297After 3 days

IMG_6397
3 weeks after spraying with vinegar + soap + salt. No crack weeds!

Hard Surface Cleaner
A few months ago I set up some chores for Matilda to do on a regular basis. She has a little checklist for each task and can earn allowance by getting them done. One of the chores is cleaning the bathroom and seeing her spray those smelly cleaners had me searching for a better option. So I did a little googling and came up with this new chemical concoction which I feel better about her using.

– 2 cups hot water
– 1 tablespoon castile soap (we use Dr. Bronner unscented)
– 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
– 10 drops antibacterial essential oil (tea tree, lemon, rosemary or peppermint)

In theory it kills germs but I can’t say for sure it really does. We use this in the bathroom and the kitchen and so far no one has gotten sick so we’re sticking with it. It’s still a spray cleaner so you have to be careful about breathing in the spray, but I feel better about my kids using this than I would having them use 409 (this may be foolish, but I will keep my head in the sand on this).

Bathtub Cleaner
Yes, I finally tried that Dawn + Vinegar thing that ‘s been floating around Pinterest for years and hot ham! it actually worked. Smelled horrible but the ring-around-the-tub line from the kids was gone without scrubbing. Mix 50/50 Dawn and hot vinegar in a spray bottle, spray on and let it sit for awhile, wipe or spray off.

Hair Conditioner
This one I didn’t make but bought, however you could make it. It’s apple cider vinegar and distilled water. Spray on your damp hair and comb through. I CANNOT believe how shiny and smooth my hair is. I’ve only been using it for a few days but the difference is noticeable. It seems the recipe is about 2-3 oz of ACV to 12-15 oz. of water. I bought this because it was $3 from soap maker in my neighborhood and I can refill the bottle on my own.

IMG_6671

Advertisements

My Bookshelf

I know I’m oh, about 4 years behind the masses, but OMG did you know you can get library books on your Kindle? I knew about it yet only set up my account about 4 months ago. I used to be a much better reader – reading 2-3 books each month. In fact, in Toledo I was part of the best bookclub ever. No really – we were awesome. When I moved we were just shy of our 8 year anniversary, with all but one original member (she moved away). I think many of that core group is still going strong, 14 years after the first meeting.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that with the kids being older I feel like I finally got my reading mojo back and being able to get books on my Kindle is feeding my obsession. During vacation I finished one book and completed 2 more. I’m burning through titles left and right and need your suggestions. Here’s are my most recent reads and my thoughts… if you like similar stuff, hit me with titles I should check out!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I started out not liking the narrative style of this book but was quickly swept up in the story. I found myself craving it when I wasn’t reading. I burned through it in about 2.5 days on vacation. 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – count me among the millions of fans of this book. I adored it. I stayed up way too late to read it. I was sad when it was over. The characters were so real it was like I knew them. Two thumbs way up.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Once I finished E&P I eagerly downloaded Fangirl. It was ok, I just didn’t relate to the characters. I enjoyed the writing but I didn’t devour it like E&P.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – I had started this just before vacation and at first I was feeling more Fangirl than E&P about it. But it grew on me and I was cheering for Lincoln by the end. I read this trying to figure out who would play each part in the movie. 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed – I went into this book expecting to hate it. For some reason I thought it would be like Eat, Pray, Love (which I hated… like threw the book at the wall hated…but finished because I was reading for above-mentioned bookclub). Turned out that I really enjoyed Wild and now I want to hike more.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – I picked this because I enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees when we read it in bookclub and went into reading it not knowing anything about the story. Oh I loved this book, I found myself wanting to visit Charleston again and seek out the street where the house was and then I was was shocked to find out when reading the author’s notes that Sarah Grimké is a historical figure. Now I want to read more about her.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – I just could not get into the style of this one. I gave up after about 120 pages. It reminded me of the “choose your own adventure” books of the 80’s but not in a good way. The rewinding and starting over was too much. I usually don’t stop reading mid-book but I found myself dreading reading so I returned it.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – nothing heavy, just an easy read which delighted me. I began reading on vacation and finished the day after we got home. 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – I really liked the first half of the book but then it kind of fell off a cliff and seemed rushed and odd. I liked it ok – I think the characters were well developed, but only until the midpoint when everything got weird. It was a fun distraction, but not sure I’d recommend it.

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson – I loved Devil in the White City and enjoyed Thunderstruck so I thought I’d give this one a try. I really wanted to like this book…the subject matter (Americans living in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich) was interesting but I found myself constantly bored. I felt like I was slogging through pages. Gave this one up when another book became available and don’t regret not finishing. 

Didn’t I tell you I was on a reading roll?

Currently on hold at the library:
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – just downloaded – will start tonight!
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn- I had a love/hate relationship with Gone Girl, so we’ll see if I like this one.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

What else should I add to my list? Any titles to avoid?

The Nutcracker Tradition with Ohio Dance Theater (Giveaway!)

Disclosure: I was invited to a social media night, including a preview of the upcoming Ohio Dance Theater production of The Nutcracker but I was not compensated for this post. I was given tickets to a performance I am unable to attend, so I am giving away those tickets to one of you. As always, my thoughts are 100% my own. I only share events that my family plans to attend or has attended in the past, so I know they are worth the visit. 

I grew up going to The Nutcracker every year and it’s a tradition I’ve carried on with Matilda (when he’s a little older, Madman will join us). I just love the splendor of going to the theater during the holiday season. Not to mention that The Nutcracker is, in my opinion, a great introduction to ballet for kids – it’s got an easy to follow storyline, fantastic action scenes and a magical set. So when Ohio Dance Theater (ODT) and the Niche Parent Network invited me to attend a preview night, I jumped at the chance to get a behind the scenes peek of my favorite ballet.

nutcracker

I’m going to be honest: before I was contacted to attend this event I had never heard of ODT, mostly because I had limited my searches for shows to the downtown Cleveland area. Forgetting about the strong commitment to the arts in the college town of Oberlin was dumb move on my part because that’s where the critically-acclaimed ODT has been since 1992. And it’s less than an hour away from my house…duh! Having a chance to see what they were all about was an exciting prospect. They have been putting on The Nutcracker for years and this year’s lavish production includes a cast of 20 professional dancers, two trainees, two apprentices and New York City Ballet Principal Dancer, Daniel Ulbricht will be a guest artist. We had such a great time at the preview – seeing a few dances, examining the costumes up close and meeting the professional dancers.

IMG_0104

IMG_0096

IMG_0124

IMG_0120

Matilda and Life in Cleveland’s daughter were inspired to start dancing as soon as the ballerinas were done

Anyway, now I know better and will broaden my search for performances of The Nutcracker in the future, and I’m looking forward to attending other productions put on by this local professional dance company. The good news for you is this…I was given two complementary tickets to attend any Nutcracker performance between December 20-22nd at the Stocker Arts Center and I want to pass them on to one of you!

To win the tickets all you have to do is tell me in comments what your is your favorite scene in the Nutcracker or, if you’ve never seen a performance, tell me your favorite holiday tradition. Bonus entry: tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweetedI want to see @OhioDance perform the #ClevelandNutcracker thanks to @kakaty.  

One comment and one tweet per person (two total possible entries) winner will be randomly selected from comments on this post at noon eastern, Monday, December 16. Good luck!

If you want to see the Nutcracker with Ohio Dance Theatre performances run from Dec 20-22.  You can purchase tickets here.

IMG_0126

The Nutcracker is one of our favorite Christmas traditions. Thanks, Ohio Dance Theater!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (+ Tiny Prints Giveaway!)

Whoop! Whoop! Sponsored post alert! 

UPDATE! Congratulations to commenter #10, Elisa! You should be getting an email with your prize code!

Yep! I’m talking holiday cards. I love picking them out every year. I love trying to get them in the mail on December 1 – it just feels like the start of the Christmas season to me. Sometimes I make my deadline, sometimes I don’t, but I always love the process of selecting our cards, the photos and the message. Of course, doing this in the year 2012 is much easier and WAY more fun than it was in 2000 when my designer husband was forced to make us unique cards every year. Now you have your choice of custom cards, but there is one company that I prefer because their quality stands out. So, over the past week I’ve been distracting myself from the election & post-election nonsense by browsing the holiday cards at Tiny Prints.

I love their range of styles and messages. They have clever ways to disguise a “holiday letter” as a pretty card which I adore. Yes, I’m one of those people who actually likes to get brag letters (as long as they don’t include your kid’s IQ score), so doing it in the card itself appeals to me. Here are a few of the designs I’m considering:

I love a good chevron [modern chevron]

I really like the simplicity of this one but it may be to Christmasy for me [blissful border]

I love how the try-fold cards make a “brag letter” more bearable! [woodland greetings]

the storyline is a good way to do a holiday update letter, too!

I’m sure I’ll do my typical thing and make up 3 or 4 designs then make my graphic designer husband pick the best.

Are you ready to get started on your cards yet? Tiny Prints is offering a giveaway for one of my readers: $50 off any Tiny Prints order (excludes shipping, cannot be combined with other promos, expires 12/14/12). To enter, leave a comment here by midnight EST Monday night, 11/12/12 and I’ll pick a winner at random.

Whether you win the giveaway or not Tiny Prints has some great special offers right now. When do you start on your cards? Are you for or against the holiday letter? Photos: just the kids or do you get in the picture too? Tell me your card strategy!

Disclosure: Tiny Prints is giving me a credit toward my holiday card order and providing a giveaway for my readers in exchange for this postI only share products that my family  has used, so I can attest to their quality. 

All the Kids are Doing It

I’m such a lemming. Some of my favorite people on Twitter have been posting this “Accent Vlog” thing and I have LOVED(!) watching them.  Seriously – isn’t Sara about the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? And I totally want to be able to have hair and makeup like Christina’s when I grow up. And Sam, well I just want to sit and have a drink with that girl. So, to be fair I’m finally adding my own voice. Mama’s very first (and probably last) vlog:

Kate’s Accent Vlog from kate davis on Vimeo.

(good god my forehead is huge. perhaps it’s time to consider bangs)

Be gentle – this took 3 takes (the first one being indoors at night and holy hell that was some bad lighting). If you want to play along here’s what you’re supposed to do:
Say the following words:
Aunt, route, wash, oil, theatre, iron, salmon, caramel, fire, water, sure, data, ruin, crayon, toilet, New Orleans, pecan, both, again, probably, spitting image, Alabama, lawyer, coupon, mayonnaise, syrup, pajamas, caught

And answer these questions:
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that curls into a ball when you touch it?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you use to change the TV channel?