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

The Monday-est of Mondays

Scene: Monday morning. 7:20 AM. First day of camp and our summer schedule, which has us leaving about 45 minutes earlier than the school year. Includes me driving another kid to camp.
Internal monolog in italics.

  • [Up early, backpacks packed, kids eating breakfast. I go to load the car about 30 minutes before we leave.] “New schedule, I OWN YOU.”
  • “Hmmmm, my keys aren’t on the hook. Must be in my purse”
  • “Um, where is my purse? Not on the hook, did I leave it on the table?” “OMG DID IT GET STOLEN LAST NIGHT?!?!”
  • “Calm down, Kate. No one broke in to the house and took only your purse then locked up behind them. You last had it at the hardware store yesterday. Where is it? Let’s see… when you came home you went right into the garage to glaze windows….oh crap! It’s in the car!”
  • [Walking out to car, which is parked in driveway] “Please let it be there, oh please oh please.”  “YAY there is is!”
  • [Goes to open door] “CRAP! LOCKED!! NOOOOOO!”
  • “Ok ok, it has this nifty keyless entry button… maybe that will work” [tries both front doors] “SH*T”
  • [texts Mark to tell him I’m an idiot]
  • [texts mom of car pool kid to tell her I’m an idiot]
  • [calls police to ask if they can help – they can and they will be there “soon”]
  • [text Mark to say he doesn’t have to come home with his key after all]
  • [flurry of texts – girls will get to camp thanks to other kid’s dad who has the week off. whew!]
  • [25 minutes later the cops arrive] “Hooray! we’ll be out of here in a few seconds!”
  • [10 minutes pass]
  • Madman thinks it’s the coolest thing ever that a cop is outside and the squad car is in our driveway so he digs out his old police car toy

IMG_6386

  • Cop: “Ma’am, I can’t seem to get it unlocked. There’s an anti-theft bar blocking the tool. I’ve called for backup and a different tool”
  • [2 more cops arrive, they fuss with car] “This does NOT look promising” 
  • [Mark texts to say he’s coming home anyway because the A/C in his office is broken. He’s on the train already]
  • [car is still not open] “Sir, my husband is on his way home with the extra key. You can stop trying. Thanks so much for coming over to help” [cops leave]
  • [about 10 minutes pass] “I should go check to see if they damaged anything while they were trying to unlock it”
  • [sees a few small scratches. Tries door handle just for fun. IT OPENS. Car alarm blares] “WUT?!?! OMG IT’S OPEN” 
  • [flurry of texts to Mark. he’s almost home. dangit!]
  • [pick him up at train stop and drop him at home]
  • [take Madman to daycare, nearly get hit head-on by an F150 speeding the wrong way down Courtland Blvd] “Are you freaking KIDDING ME WITH THIS DAY RIGHT NOW?!”
  • [text from Mark. He forgot about a meeting downtown so he has to go back. I feel terrible] “OH COME ON, MONDAY!”
  • [realize I have a Starbucks gift card in my purse and if any day needs a venti iced double dirty chai it’s today]

IMG_6387

 

End Scene

Garden Local with Petitti + a Giveaway! #ad

Disclaimer: This post is part of a Petitti’s campaign. I was given a gift card to use for myself and one to give away in exchange for a post about my experience. As always, my thoughts are 100% my own. Since I was already a Petitti’s customer, I was happy to be a part of this campaign. 

IMG_5868

Update: Congratulations to Jennifer – winner of the gift card!

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.04.14 AM

Last month Matilda and I were lucky enough to get a tour of Petitti Garden Center’s Casa Verde, in Columbia Station. This massive greenhouse operation is where 98% of the live product sold at Petitti is grown. NINETY EIGHT PERCENT! It means that every plant you buy from Petitti is already acclimated to our climate (hello 80 degrees one day and 45 the next!) because they were grown from seed right here. In fact, Petitti is one of the only area growers that takes the plants through 3 stages of growing (in different greenhouses) before deeming them ready for purchase. During high growing season they have as many of 100,000 hanging baskets at Casa Verde – it’s truly amazing to see!

IMG_5857 IMG_5863

Casa Verde is also where they do things like mix their custom blends of potting and planting soils, and assemble and plant their beautiful planters that are ready for your porch.

IMG_5855

During our tour we got to hear Angelo Petitti’s story of how he immigrated to the US from Italy when he was 16, started his business and grew it to 9 stores plus a 32-acre greenhouse which employes up to 400 people during peak season. I have always known that Petitti was a family-owned operation but hearing his story and seeing the facility was eye opening. I always like to shop as local as possible and it was great to see “behind the scenes” of a robust local company.

IMG_5867

As part of the visit we were given a gift card to start our garden for this year (and some awesome Troy-Bilt garden tools – also a local company!). This past weekend Matilda and I were finally able to hit up the original Petitti Garden Center in Oakwood for our plants. We were after some tomatoes and herbs to fill our patio pots of for the summer. Our yard gets a lot of shade, the soil is a terrible clay, and our neighbor has a black walnut tree so growing veggies in the ground is nearly impossible. So we make due with a hodgepodge of pots on the back patio.

IMG_5871

Matilda picked what we were planting this year – lots of cherry tomatoes (the kids snack on these right off the vine when they are playing outside), some big heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, basil, rosemary and mint. She was also pretty excited to pick up several bags of Petitti’s soil since we saw it being mixed and bagged at Casa Verde. We added a bag of organic vegetable fertilizer and some compost to the cart before we checked out.

IMG_6079

Once we got home she declared the planting her project. With just a little guidance from me she filled up all 6 pots with soil and plants. She might have more of a green thumb than I do!

IMG_6082 IMG_6083

Do you have a garden project you want to tackle? A black thumb you want to turn green? I have a $50 Petitti’s gift card to give away and it could be yours! To enter leave a comment about what you would buy with $50 at Petitti’s. For an extra entry tweet the following: I want to win a @Petittis gift card from @kakaty #Pettitis: http://wp.me/p3i9i6-Pa 

Limit 2 entries per person (one comment + one tweet). This giveaway will run until Monday, May 25th at 11:59 pm. Good luck!   Giveaway is closed.

Guest Post: Kelly Talks Goldfish

I’m lucky to call Kelly () my neighbor*, and not only because she is a talented baker who likes to share treats. Kelly and her husband (who is also Mark’s running partner) have 2 of the most adorable girls (with a 3rd on the way) and she is always in the know about what is going on for kids and families in our neighborhood and beyond. When Kelly asked if she could guest-post about her experience at Goldfish I was happy to oblige. We’ve been fans and members of Goldfish since they opened and I think it’s good to hear another perspective – especially from a parent of younger kids. 

Disclaimer: Kelly’s family was given a month of free lessons in exchange for a review of their experiences at Goldfish Swim School, where they were already long-time paying members. As always, all thoughts are 100% personal.

It has been a year and a half since we began at Goldfish Swim School. Not really knowing what to expect from a swimming pool dug into an office building, we were pleasantly surprised with our initial experience and have been singing Goldfish praises to our friends and neighbors ever since.

DSC_0003

One year old K is in Mini 2, a parent-participation class

The first thing you notice at Goldfish are the facilities. Hands down, they are the cleanest pool facility catering to little ones we have ever seen. No details were spared, from the immaculate changing rooms to the hair drying station, to the Bumbo seats, a spare bucket of diapers (yes, we have borrowed from this!) and high chairs. There are books, chalkboards and a fish and turtle tank to keep kids occupied while waiting on their lesson. They truly thought of everything when designing the facility.

One of our favorite aspects of Goldfish are the perpetual lessons – all year round, same day, same time. When trying to juggle the lives of young children, having a consistent routine makes things that much easier. At Goldfish, you do not have to worry about signing up for sessions, because unless you request a time change, the lesson time will never change. Not to mention, our kids are excited and look forward to their lessons each and every week. If for any reason you have to reschedule a lesson, it is very easy to call and multiple times are offered for each level every week. We have never had a problem completing a make-up class.

DSC_0012

3 year old G rocks the starfish float in her Junior 2 class

Having weekly lessons has also allowed us to witness firsthand the progress our daughters have made in terms of developing certain skills and overall confidence in the water. It is amazing to watch your child master a skill they have been working toward! The entire staff in the pool is extremely supportive and constantly encouraging the children to do the best they can. Not to mention, when out of the pool, the staff is friendly, smiling and always ready with a high five! It may not seem like much, but we also value the fact that almost every staff member, not just their teachers, greets our children by their name. It shows they care, pay attention and respect our family.

Admittedly, the cost of lessons can seem daunting, but we feel that learning how to swim and be safe around water is an important lesson our girls need to know. A weekly lesson, and not just a few classes taken over the summer, along with family open swim times at Goldfish have proven to be well worth it for our family. Our experience at Goldfish Swim School has been great, and we hope to continue it going forward.

  *Funny story about how Kelly and I met: we were connected on Twitter and both knew we lived in the same town. One night she and I both tweeted about a loud party with a live band going well into the night. A few direct messages later and we learned that we live about 12 houses apart!  Note: I got nothing for posting this. I was happy to give Kelly a place to show her love for Goldfish since we’re always getting questions about why we love it, too.

(Don’t) Ring My Bell

Last night we had to call the police to our house because of a possible intruder.

Let me explain *said in the voice of Indigo Montoya*
I had a hard time falling asleep and it wasn’t until about 12:15 that I finally put my Kindle down and closed my eyes. So I was in kind of that hazy not-asleep-not-awake stage when I thought I heard the doorbell ring. I looked at my clock and it was 1:01 AM. “Hmmm” a foggy thought came to me “I must have dreamed that someone rang the doorbell…Or did I hear the doorbell for real. Why would anyone be at the door at 1 AM?” So I lay there for a moment – I’m not sure for how long since I was still in a hazy state. It may have been 20 seconds or 2 minutes. I finally decided I should just go check it out to satisfy my curiosity. When I got half way down the stairs I heard a buzzing and I started to freak out.

See, we live in an old house and we have a wired doorbell. There is a button at both the front and back doors. But the back button almost always sticks when it gets pushed, and when that happens the doorbell buzzes after it chimes. I knew as soon as I heard the buzz that someone had pushed the button and I knew it was the back door.

I ran upstairs and woke Mark up (he is a deep sleeper and I hadn’t heard the bell or me get out of bed). He woke up and was in a dazed panic. He ran downstairs and started going from window to window to see if he could see anything, I followed. Of course the doorbell was still buzzing but we didn’t want to open the back door to unstick the button because what if someone was out there? The way our yard and windows are, there was an area someone could be lurking and we wouldn’t know.

So I ran back upstairs to get my phone and called the police – they sent 3 squad cars over immediately. (side note: I first went to grab our landline downstairs and realized I had NO IDEA what our city’s no-emergency phone number was but knew it was in my cell phone. So instead of calling 911 I went back upstairs to call and it took forever because I was shaking and kept hitting the wrong thin in my contact list. I need to put emergency numbers by the phone!) This is when living 3 blocks from the police station comes in handy. A police SUV came down our driveway to the back of the house and we had cops at our backdoor by 1:05. They also had a car at the house behind us and the 3rd was cruising on our street looking in side yards.

The officers were really nice. We explained our sticky doorbell and how we know someone had to push it to get it stuck. They circled our house, checked our garage, checked our neighbors yards and spent about 20 minutes circling the surrounding blocks looking for anything suspicious. The one thing that struck me as funny was they asked “Where you expecting anyone tonight?” They actually asked that twice. Yeah, we were expecting guests  at 1 AM on a Monday and when they arrived we called the cops!

Anyway, we were back in bed, with hearts still racing at 1:25. I don’t think I fell asleep again until about 3:00 AM; every creak of the house settling or ping of a radiator had me jumping. I hate the feeling of being scared in your own house.

Today the police called to check on us (so nice!). They never did see anyone or have any reports of other disturbances. However, they did say that this could have been a thief scoping our house to see 1) if anyone was home and/or 2) what we did. I’m so glad we called the police because they arrived swiftly and stayed in the area for awhile. I’m also glad we have a house alarm, and that both our storm doors and inside doors were locked. Oh, and that both kids slept through it all. It also reaffirmed the expense of hiring a house-sitter when we go on vacations.

Have you ever had anything that made you freak out in your house?

(Remind me sometime to tell you about how at our old house the fire department nearly broke down the door while we were on vacation.)

Castaway Bay Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: Castaway Bay provided one night of accommodations with water park passes, as well as four day passes to give away to one reader. 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. 

Update: Congratulations to commenter #6 – Andrea! Please check your email!

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 12.37.35 PM

Confession time: While I’ve been to Cedar Point probably one hundred times in my life I’d never been to any of their water parks. In fact, I’ve never been to any indoor water park. So when I was invited to be part of an overnight at Castaway Bay as part of #CPMoms I jumped at the chance.

photo 1

Timing was perfect – right in the middle of (another) polar vortex and we were all itching for something different, something warm, something fun. The 82 degree air of the indoor water park was calling our name. We didn’t tell the kids where we were going so they were super excited when we pulled into the parking lot and they saw the three tube slides that snake their way out of the building. We wasted no time checking in and getting ourselves ready to hit the slides. We were given a “Starfish” room with 2 queen beds, a closet, a mini fridge, a microwave, a small table with 2 chairs, a bathroom with a bathtub/shower, and a screened balcony with view of the frozen bay. The room was nice and was clean (and the fridge was great to have), but it’s nothing special. It’s a standard, if a little dated, hotel room. Castaway Bay also has suites with bunk beds and 2-room suites for bigger families.

But, you’re not at Castaway Bay for the hotel rooms, are you? You’re there for the WATER PARK! Which is why as soon as our bags were in the room and we grabbed some pizza we suited up and headed to the slides. And here is where I totally fail as blogger… because I didn’t take my camera with me into the water park and therefore I have no pictures. You guys, I’m so sorry. But the thought of chasing kids around the water with a camera just sounded like a disaster.

However, here is what I can report… the park is perfect for young families. Matilda, at age 7, was able to roam the park freely. Castaway Bay had plenty to keep her entertained without being enormous. She beelined for the wave pool and rode the waves for awhile before exploring the Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse. She spent a ton of time running up and down the stairs, going down the smaller slides and cheering as the giant bucket dumped 1,000 gallons of water over the whole structure. She finally found her way up to the top of Rendezvous Run water roller coaster that shoots you uphill using water jets. After her first run she was hooked! And I have to agree. Mark and I both rode this ride several times and it was really fun.

While Matilda was feeling all “big kid” and having free rein, Madman found his bliss in the Toddler Tide Pool. With a few shorter slides, water pipes and lots of room to splash he was a happy dude. And with the set up, it meant he was able to do what he wanted (go down the tandem slides over and over and over) while either Mark or I hung out near the pool edge keeping an eye on him. I honestly was worried about the logistics of wrangling 2 kids at a water park, but the set up of Castaway Bay gave us parents peace of mind. Neither kid could really get out of our sight at anytime so we were able to breathe easy. And it also meant that Mark and I could take turns checking out the bigger slides like the Paradise Plunge and Tropical Tube Slides.

This seems like a good time for me to give a shout out to the Castaway Bay Lifeguards. They are trained as are part of Ellis & Associates National Pool & Waterpark Lifeguard Training Program. As a former guard myself, I know that Ellis guards are some of the best trained in the industry as they have very rigorous standards. Castaway Bay has received numerous awards of excellence from Ellis and the guards were attentive and friendly. I was completely at ease with Matilda and Madman going on all the slides and in each pool even if Mark or I weren’t right at their sides.

Fun at CB doesn’t stop when you leave the water park. We took a swim break to check out the arcade and later we did some crafts including decorate-your-own beach towels. We also got info on Club Castaway but didn’t partake (the kids wanted MORE SWIMMING!). But in Club Castaway kids can sing karaoke, attend a dance party with the Peanuts gang and even watch a Peanuts movie or have a bedtime story with Snoopy. There is a Club Castaway schedule at the front desk and most activities are free. Mark, the coffee addict, wants you to know that there’s a Starbucks on-site, as well.

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

Now that we’re no longer water park newbies we’ll definitely be going back to Castaway Bay to break up the winter doldrums. It was a perfect quick getaway (only 90 minutes from the eastern Cleveland ‘burbs!) and it was a much, much needed family break from being trapped inside our house. Even if we don’t go for the full overnight again this winter, it’s nice to know that it’s totally worth the drive for a tropical day trip.

And now the giveaway… Castaway Bay gave me 4 day-passes for one reader ($100 value!). Just leave a comment before midnight (eastern) on 2/12 telling me why you want to win.

Playing Tourist

My dear friend Pauline has always said you should play tourist in your hometown. And she’s right. Six years of living in Cleveland and we’re still discovering new things. We love to spend weekends exploring new parks, markets, restaurants and places. But a few weeks ago, we were able to have a fun overnight tourist adventure in Uptown thanks to the InterContinental Suites and Cleveland Botanical Gardens. See, they had a little contest on FB and Twitter and I won! So the weekend after Christmas we secretly packed a bag, put the kids in the car and told them we were going on adventure.

IMG_0532

IMG_0518

IMG_0522

Our first stop on this unseasonably warm Saturday was CBG for the Glow – their awesome annual holiday show. We took advantage of the daylight and explored the outdoor gardens. The kids ran off some energy on the paths before heading in to check out the array of gingerbread houses, indoor camping, dozens of Christmas trees and more. We’re frequent visitors of CBG and we love the Glow exhibit!

IMG_0525

IMG_0528

IMG_0530

After the sun started to set we got back in the car and said “I don’t feel like going home. Do you? It would be fun to not go home tonight!” The kids were a bit surprised. Well, Matilda was flabbergasted: “What!? We HAVE to go home! We can’t sleep in the car!”. After a discussion about how cold the car would be overnight we ended up at ABC Tavern for some dinner. Since it was only 5:00 we were basically the only ones in there. The kids loved all the open space, the juke box, and the bowling game.

IMG_0540Cheers to adventure in our own town!

After dinner we walked over to one of the newest Mitchell’s for our favorite dessert. Then strolled over to Constantino‘s for a few provisions.

IMG_0546 IMG_0548

By this point Matilda was nearly beside herself. We had been out for almost 4 hours and Mark and I kept talking about stating uptown all night but she was adamant about going home. She wanted a bed to sleep in! She couldn’t sleep in the car! So when we pulled up outside of the InterContinental Suites Hotel and Mark said “why don’t we just stay here tonight?” she was aghast: “I don’t have any books to read! I need my pajamas!” I smiled and as I pulled the packed bag out of the trunk and her eyes grew wide. “Are we really staying here?” she asked over and over.

Their Director of Sales & Marketing, who set up our stay, put us in an suite with an adjoining room for the kids since they were not at full capacity that night. I knew InterContinental’s were nice (I’ve stayed in other properties) but this was almost too much! Mark and I were SHOCKED at our set-up. A full suite with living room, bed room and kitchenette PLUS an adjoining standard room (it was huge) with a king bed and other kitchenette. The best part is that we took up a full corner of the hall and had no neighbors we had to worry about disturbing.

The kids took no time to get settled in. They were on the bed, watching cartoons (we don’t have cable at home, so the TV as a luxury to them) and drawing on the notepads within minutes.

IMG_0550

Soon they had discovered the bathrobes. Once they were wrapped up Madman kept saying “I’m a king!” And Matilda just sighed, leaned back on the couch and said “this is the life” as she put her slippered feet up.

IMG_0556

They were thrilled to cozy up in bed and watch a movie. Something they only get to do on vacation!

IMG_0558

We all slept well, given that we were spread out across a huge area. The next morning after a delicious breakfast at C2 (also part of the prize package), we did some more serious lounging in the room before checkout. Matilda even took a bath, if only to wrap up in the robe and try out the phone in the bathroom.

IMG_0560 IMG_0561 IMG_0563

Nearly a month later and the kids are still talking about our surprise overnight adventure. I’m so grateful to InterContinental Suites and Cleveland Botanical Gardens for providing such a memorable weekend. I can’t wait to do it again!

Have you ever done an overnight adventure in your town? Or just a surprise trip? We may do another one sooner than the kids think… (like tomorrow night! Shhh! It’s a secret!)