Monday, September 1, 2014

Falling for Fall

Hey, folks who read stuff online! Today's frickin' September 1st. SEPTEMBER, dudes and dudettes. So, while I'm by NO means looking forward to heading back to school (not whining but stating a fact: I am fraught with all sorts of anxiety at the thought of returning; I'll man-up soon after getting back into the swing of things), the paradox is kinda weird. That's because I super heart fall.

As long as I can remember, I've most loved the sweet but somber smell of decaying leaves, the necessity to throw a denim jacket on while enjoying a walk on the first crisp night, and cranking up the oven to help Mom whip up perfect apple pies or Grandma's famous soft molasses cookies. It's a thing of beauty, my friends.

So, of course I'm excited to continue my love affair with autumn, and to spread the love with my family. (Shh. Don't tell Dave. He thinks autumn and I are "just good friends", so let's keep it that way. Although, it's his fave, too, which is why we got married in October. Huh.)

As Hadman grows, EVERYTHING has become more of a fun, at times unpredictable adventure. Even the experiences he had last year for the first time (the year before, he was a brand new infant) that we all enjoyed giving him will be like new this year.

Here was his first autumn ever...

Here were a couple of experiences last year...

What's better than Vermont and an apple orchard in the fall? I mean, really. Nothing that I can think of.

And, thanks to Pinterest, here are a few of the goals of mine this year. I like to use these as guidelines and reminders of the things we love about the seasons, hopefully reducing the guilt factor when I don't check off every last one. Although, if I did, it wouldn't suck.

Most of these are self explanatory, but a couple need a bit of elaboration. Or maybe you don't care. But, just in case, here goes:

- I very rarely do lattes or purchased flavored stuff, so when I say pumpkin latte, I mean just one will do the trick. Just one pumpkin spice-flavored cup of caffeine, thanks.
- Pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin pancakes. Pumpkin cookies. Whatev. I'm not picky.
- Fly Creek Cider Mill near Cooperstown is a family tradition for me as long as I can remember. It's an awesome leaf-peeping trip in itself, but grabbing some overpriced cider and feeding their resident ducks complete the season. Totally.
- Vermont started as our honeymoon spot, but has turned into a fall family road trip. Fun!!
- Okay, a locavore date entails saving up, getting a sitter, and going to one of the few pricy-but-worth-it restaurants that serve locally-sourced gourmet food. We don't get many dates, so these are super special ones. Plus, fall flavors are incredible, am I right? You know I'm right. Pumpkin risotto? Get out.

Oh, and because I believe strongly in surrounding oneself with the cozy reminders of what makes us happiest, I'm a believer in seasonal decor. If you're into country kitsch, do it up. Antiques? Go for it. Since I'm the antiques-with-a-modern-twist girl, I'm working on finding a happy medium. Check out a couple of ideas (that still stand true) from last year:

The Fall Inspirations I Totally Heart
What I Attempted Last Year
A Fall Tableau (With Really Crappy Pictures)
What about you guys? What's your favorite season? Do you go all out? Or do you live it up every day of the year?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Currently - August 29th

I didn't take part in last week's "Currently" link-up, mostly because I couldn't find connections to, like, four of the five topics. That's cool, though. I'll be linking up more sporadically now that school will be getting underway, anyway. Life's like that. It's been a fun summer, though!

I'm needing to do some cleaning before heading back to school (or at least during fall). You'd think I would've focused on that all summer, but instead I focused on spending time with Hadley, getting my blog in order, and a handful of other fun things. I'm also better at that sort of thing when under a time crunch. At the same time, the whole family has come down with a virus, so I'm also in need of some rest. Oh, the juxtaposition! 

I'll definitely be missing spending all my time with Hadman (and the luxury to work on my own "work" rather than lesson plans, teaching, returning books, shelving books, ordering, organizing, etc.). I count myself SO very lucky to have a job, and to have the summers to my own devices, but it doesn't mean I won't miss the time with Hadley the Precocious.

Reading an array of books this summer, I'm nearing the end of Marmee and Louisa (about Louisa May Alcott and her mom), finding it to portray a very bittersweet life for both women and completely dragging Bronson Alcott through the mud. I'm not sure if there's an agenda since the author is related to the maternal side of the family, but if it's all based in truth, the guy was a transcendental schmuck. Very well-written, though.

I'm also finishing up Blog, Inc. which I thought would be a lot of "yeah, I already know that," but actually have found tons of value to it. I also stumbled on the author's YouTube channel by complete accident and have found myself watching her short-but-inspirational videos for a heart-lightening. No wonder her blog's called "Oh, Joy!"

I'm hoping that we all start to feel better soon. We both came down with a virus, although his sicknesses always put us on high alert thanks to his febrile seizure last year. His illnesses also tend to jump straight to croup conditions, which is what immediately happened this time. It's weird. He can go to sleep totally fine, and an hour after he lays down starts having a barking fit. Out. Of. Nowhere. Poor kid.

We'll all enjoy playing together and laying low on Monday before the craziness starts again. We're not the types to get together for a huge family barbecue on Labor Day, but maybe we'll do a picnic or some such fun, if we're all feeling up to it.

Linking up with Ot & Et and Harvesting Kale.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hadleyisms #2

Happy birthday to my big sis, Mary, today!!!

Anyhoo, back with some more silly moments with our 2-year-old guy. Why, hello, crappy Photoshop skills.

After watching an episode of Daniel Tiger about empathy...
Me: How do you feel today, Hadley? What are you feeling?
H: Apples. Nanas. Knees. *stares at me*

(Apples and bananas are the answer to all life's little problems these days. Not the actual foods; just the words.)

M: What do you want to be for Halloween, honey? (asking with far too much excitement)
H: Apples! Ooohh!! Apples. Or Nanas. Uh-huh.

Here comes Fruit of the Loom boy.

Daddy: (Getting him up from naps/bed 90% of the time) Good morning, Hadley!
H: Gooooood moooorrning!!!! Mama! Hi!! HIIII!!! (as if he hasn't seen us in years)
D: How did you sleep?
H: Niiiiice! Nice!!

How was your lunch? How does Beardslee's fur feel? How are you feeling? "NICE!" Adorbs.

Our favorite Hadleyism lately is "tada!" Finish going on the potty and displaying his "talents"? TADA! Eat a piece of pancake? Tada! Build a Lego tower? Tada!

Daddy gets home and the excitement literally can't be contained. Running aimlessly around the living room, H exclaims, "Dada! Big Bird!! Toes-yitties-eyephant-potty-yancakes..." runs into kitchen followed by the sound of a face-plant on the floor. Deflated but happy "Tada!" comes from the floor. We lost it.

Aside from these, he's just got SO MANY WORDS. I can't even keep track. Say something and he tries out the word. There are times I look at him and think, "You're learning English. You're understanding. You're not like a tiny baby from another country who understands two words I say!" I know it's normal, and what we expect, but man. And the kid knows every letter you show him. (Z is sometimes S, but we're working on it.) You can sing the alphabet and stop on a letter and most of the time he knows the next letter. He can count to thirteen.

Strides, folks. Strides. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

One-Ingredient Bathtub Fix

For as long as I can remember, I couldn't find a product to clean all the years of built-up grime from our tub. I scrubbed as much as I could, so I resigned myself to pretend that it was clean enough for us. Y'know. The surface grime was "clean" so the guilt wouldn't overtake me when I threw my 2-year-old in. *gulp* Seeing that written, I feel guiltier and guiltier about that.

Well, since my plumber-extraordinaire stepfather's coming up with ways for us to deal with the horrible bathtub walls, I figured I should make another attempt at scrubbing it. He had suggested a highly toxic solution we've all heard of and a razor blade. Seriously. I'm nothing if not lazy, so I wanted to try something else first.

And it totally worked!

Yup, that's all it took. After wetting the tub, I dumped in the baking soda. (Note that mine's a generic brand. Use the cheapest you can find.) Be sure you toss it everywhere -- sides, especially. You don't need a HUGE amount, but be sure it's thick, especially where any grime is particularly caked.

Allow it to sit. Since I was busy chasing a little one around, I let it sit for about 1-2 hours, but less may work, too.

Then, I got a green scrubby (technical term -- you know the kind, not TOO rough, but enough friction to work) wet and added a little more water as I scrubbed. Most of it got loosened on its own, but the rough spots needed some good scrubbing. This took about 15 minutes, tops, for a HORRIBLE tub. Sorry I didn't have a "before", but I guarantee it's as clean as it could possibly be. LIKE NEW.

I was worried I'd have to break out the white vinegar, too, but it wasn't necessary. If you find that you've scrubbed (or don't feel like scrubbing THAT much), do a wipe-down and rinse again, and throw some more on for another hour or so.

Just know that if you leave it too long, it'll cake on and might be tough to scrape off. All you need is a little water to loosen up the situation and scrub your cares away.

And, now it's time for the hubs and my stepdad to attack the walls. ;-) I have a feeling I had an easier job.

Do you have any cleaning projects that you've been putting off *gulp* years to finally tackle? I can't be the only one...can I?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Green Guy

Hey, guys. Today's post was inspired by my super sweet brother-in-law, Dan, who asked me my opinion on some green brands and products he was considering. Of course, I immediately thought, "Oh, cool! Maybe someone in blogland could use my thoughts, too." So, here we are!

I'm not an expert at any of this stuff. I'm clearly not a dude. (Um. Hopefully you knew that.) But, after reading reviews and doing some research, I'm pretty confident that these are some kickass products. Of course, it should be stated that not all products work the exact same way for everybody. Like, our current shampoo works great for Dave and "eh" for me, but I still think my poo-free days changed my hair's pH and I've lived with straw-like conditions ever since. But I digress.

Today's post is all about the guys. And, because I'm me, it's particularly about the eco-guys. You know who you are. The ones who are looking for ways to eliminate the earth-hurting crud from your daily grooming routine. Who still want to look good (and, ahem, smell yummy) without the tingling chemicals, drying foaming agents, and general nastiness that goes down the drain.

I've got your back. Since I'm unable to try these myself -- do you really have to ask why? -- I've decided to pick a couple of extra products (like two shampoos, etc). Check out the reviews for yourself and consider what will work for your needs. And, ladies, the next time you need a sweet little gift for your sweet, don't do the Axe. Seriously. Just put down the Axe.

1 -  Maple Holistics Sage Shampoo (for Heavy Dandruff), 100% Natural and Sulfate-Free - I selected two shampoos because everyone's head is different, and I thought it would be cool to give you guys some options. I know the bottle is purple and it may look a little feminine, but that's actually because this is a shampoo that could work for both men and women. It's so awesome that there are natural options out there for folks who have dry skin, dandruff, and dermatitis. (Are those all the same things? I don't know. Maybe.) Oh, and it's cool for color-treated hair. That's pretty cool.
2 - Every Man Jack's 2-in-1 Thickening Shampoo - Like I said, everyone's head is different, and some guys are fighting an issue with thinning. I know how much thinning can affect a guy's self esteem, so the fact that this phthalate-free option exists (and with a conditioning option) is awesome. Let's just say that I may ask Santa to bring this to our house this year.
3 - Baxter of California Chrome-Plated Safety Razor - The Dorky Daddy loves his safety razor, although he admits that it does take a time or two to get used to a newer, short-fast strokes method. Seriously, this thing is awesome, and you'll only need to buy the individual razor blades once in awhile. (Hint: If you dry off your razor well every time you use it, you'll hardly need to buy new ones.) Plus, if you buy one package of blades, they'll last FUH-RE-VER. Just try it. Oh, and this (along with a kit of the proper brush, a holder, and some soap in a cute bowl or mug) was his all-time favorite Christmas present. I kid you not.
4 - ManCave Natural Face Moisturizer - No parabens. No sulfates. No synthetic fragrances or dyes. No petrochemicals. No GMOs. No cruelty. No problem! Plus, it comes in super manly packaging. These companies are really catching on to what people want. Oh, and it helps firm your skin (thanks, caffeine), clear it up if you've got a bit of acne (thanks, borage oil), and has several anti-aging agents. Wonder if I could get away with using this...
5 - Kiss My Face Creamy Cleanser Clean for a Day - I wouldn't usually support a face cleanser, mostly because everyone's face is very much unique. As a teen, I had battles with moderate acne (wasn't that bad, but it tore my self esteem to shreds enough to matter), so I know something that works for one person won't work for another. However, the reviews were good enough for this one that I feel confident saying that maybe 8 out of 10 people will have success with this one. It's great for sensitive skin, has a light citrus scent that could work for ladies or gents, and full of everything we like and has NOTHING we don't like (vegan-friendly, not animal tested, etc etc)...yeah, I think I WILL be ordering this one myself.
6 - Moon Dance Soaps Refreshing Mint Lathering Shave Soap - This will work perfectly with #3 above! The reason I picked a mint soap is because it's such a refreshing scent that leaves your skin feeling tight and gives you a morning aromatherapy session that will rival your cup o' joe. I also hit up Etsy every year to put a different scent in the bottom of someone's stocking. It's always great to support a small business owner who supports the philosophies we live by. 
7 - Herban Cowboy Dusk Cologne - (How cute is that name?!) Here's some more super sexy packaging containing an even better product. It's another vegan product, produced completely in the US, and the Herban Cowboy series of products seem worth checking out. (Especially their deodorant, which people are saying "actually works for a truly stinky man." Good to know.) ***Please make sure that you purchase the true brand of this since, apparently, there are knock-offs going around. Since this made the below list, which means a lot to me, I'm still supporting it, but some of the online reviews are warning against some sellers.***
8 - Burt's Bees Cologne - If PETA thinks these colognes are great, I've gotta get behind that. We're a Burt's Bees family, so I decided to include this cologne because a) it's a natural, animal-friendly option and b) it seems to be a completely different scent from #7. It is TOUGH to buy a cologne online, so I should mention that most reviewers love it, although there are one or two that find it a bit too...shall we say...hippie-ish. But, if your guy's into that, awesome. That said, plenty of reviewers mention citrusy, Bergamot, Cyprus and Fir notes (which sounds pretty woodsy and manly to me).  

Do you have any earth-friendly products that you or your guy enjoy? Are you fans of a particular brand? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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