Dallas Mom Blog and Fort Worth Mom Blogger: Trendy Mom Reviews
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Friday, August 16, 2019

Visit Klyde Warren Park on Sunday on a Historically Hot Dallas Day and Free Waterloo Sparkling Water!

In today's post, I'm excited to tell you about a fun event where you will have the opportunity to try one of my favorite products for FREE - Waterloo Sparkling Water

A couple of months ago, I came across this trendy sparkling water when I was shopping at Kroger. They had several varieties, but the watermelon flavor jumped out at me. In addition to the trendy flavor, I wanted to try this sparkling water because I noticed that it had zero calories and was free of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and sodium.  I brought some home and my family was quickly hooked. Since then, my husband has also found these trendy sparkling waters at Whole Foods and friends have reported sightings at Market Street, Costco, and Albertsons. It seems to be available at most major stores.  If you haven't tried it, you should try to find it because it's amazing!  (Click here for the store finder.)  Even better, you will be able to try Waterloo Sparkling Water for free if you visit their event at Klyde Warren Park on Sunday, August 18, 2019.  Let me share the details.

  • What: Get FREE Waterloo Sparkling Water
  • Where: Klyde Warren Park (2012 Woodall Rodgers FWY Dallas, Texas 75201)
  • When: Sunday, August 18, 2019 from 1 to 4pm CST
  • Details: Sunday is going to be a historically hot Dallas day and the Waterloo Sparkling Water Crew is giving away free cans of their sparkling water to ensure that everyone keeps cool during the record heat!
Do you want another reason to love the Waterloo brand? They are a Texas brand!  It was founded in Austin, Texas, so they understand Texans. They also know Texas history. Waterloo planned an event in Dallas for a historically hot day -- August 18th.  On this date in 1909, temperatures reached 112 degrees! Waterloo brand is celebrating those bold enough to escape their AC units, brave the weather and get outside to enjoy all Dallas has to offer. Be sure to visit Klyde Warren Park on Sunday as the Waterloo Sparkling Water team celebrates the residents of Dallas and keeps them refreshed during record heat! 

As someone who is slightly obsessed with delicious Waterloo Sparkling Water, I hope that you have a chance to stop by and try their trendy drinks! 

Learn More about Waterloo Sparkling Water
In 2017, after recognizing that consumers were seeking healthy, authentic, transparent and better-for-them beverage choices, the team dared to challenge expectation and launched Waterloo Sparkling Water. A rebel at heart, Waterloo has been breaking the mold since day one and is driven by its cofounder’s firsthand knowledge of the importance of food and beverage choices. Waterloo is made with Non-GMO Project verified flavors, free of calories, sodium, sugar, & artificial sweeteners. For the benefit of their fans and the environment, Waterloo has only ever been produced in aluminum cans, made with BPA-free liner.
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Visit The Perot Museum's Dino Fest on August 31st and September 1st

Photo credit: Denzel Golatt/Perot Museum of Nature and Science

My family looks forward to the Perot Museum's Dino Fest every year. When we first moved to Texas, my husband planned a trip to the Perot Museum with my oldest son. Their first trip coincided with Dino Days!  I remember their enthusiasm when they came home to tell me about all of the amazing things that they experienced. My son was only 3 years old at the time. He had the biggest smile and brightest eyes as he told me about his visit, including the opportunity to dig for fossils and get a dinosaur tattoo.  The visit included magical childhood memories -- there were so many big things that my son had only read about in books that the Perot Museum brought to life.  Here is a photo from the visit several years ago. (He's so tiny!)

We've been back many times since then, but Dino Fest is a truly special time that you'll want to mark on your calendar! Let me share more details.

  • What: The Perot Museum's two-day Dino Fest 
  • When: Labor Day weekend - Aug. 31-Sept. 
  • Where to get tickets: The Perot Museum's website: perotmuseum.org/dinofest  
  • More details: Enjoy hands-on fossil digs, music and treats on the plaza, trivia games, interactions with live birds (aka modern-day dinosaurs), paleo demos, workshops and lectures, art activities, face painting and more!

Visitors can also interact with a roaming life-size dinosaur, capture memories in a photo booth, and engage in fascinating lectures on geologic science investigation, dinosaurs of the midnight sun, the asteroid impact and more led by Perot Museum paleontologists Dr. Anthony Fiorillo and Dr. Ron Tykoski, geologists and preparators. 

Photo credit: Denzel Golatt/Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Plus, young guests (ages 5 and under) can enjoy dino-themed story times and activities at the Junior Paleontologist Lab. Dino Fest is presented by Highland Capital. Get more details here 

We hope that you are able to visit for a fun and memorable experience that creates happy childhood memories!  
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Friday, August 9, 2019

Celebrate National Panini Day on August 11th at Corner Bakery! (Score a coupon for August 8th to 11th)

We love a good reason to enjoy a delicious lunch at Corner Bakery, so let us share a couple of good reasons for you to visit too -  August is National Panini Month and August 11th is National Panini Day!   Not only is this a great excuse to visit for a delicious panini, but they also have a coupon that will definitely make it worth your time to visit. Let me share the coupon details:

  • What: The Panini Deal for National Panini Day at Corner Bakery
  • Where: Corner Bakery - use the store locator on the upper right corner to find one near you!
  • When: August 8 to 11, 2019
  • The Deal:  Get 2 or more entrees for $5.99. Offer can be redeemed on any entree, including paninis. Offer available via Facebook and eClub. ** Offer valid at participating locations. You may also text to Join eClub Number: Text “corner” to 222233
Here are a few of their mouthwatering panini choices:

  • RUSTIC ITALIAN PANINI: Salami, pepperoni, ham, provolone, pepperoncini and roasted tomato with pesto vinaigrette on sourdough.
  • CLUB PANINI: Hickory smoked turkey breast, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and tomatoes with a touch of mayo on grilled sourdough.
  • CALIFORNIA GRILLE PANINI: A vegetarian mixture of grilled zucchini, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes and pesto with fresh spinach and provolone cheese on whole grain harvest.
  • MEATBALL PANINI: All-beef meatballs and provolone cheese with marinara sauce.
  • CHICKEN POMODORI PANINI: All-natural chicken, fresh basil and spinach, oven-roasted tomatoes and provolone cheese with pesto mayo on grilled sourdough.

While we love their paninis, don't forget that the coupon works on other entrees such as pastas and salads too!  You'll also love that the coupon is for two or more entrees for $5.99. That makes the deal family-friendly because it's easy to order meals for every family member at the discounted price! It's a great deal for this weekend!  

PS - If you take your kids, don't skip dessert. Their M&M cookies rock my kids little worlds! They have the best desserts!

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Back to School Guide - Unique Items for the New School Year! (Part 1)

The new school year is just a few weeks away. Back to School shopping is one of my favorite activities of the year. In today's post, I'll share trendy items that you will want to stock up on for the new school year!  

is a meal subscription service that makes life easier, especially on busy school nights because they send everything you need in order to make delicious dinners for your family. Dinnerly is particularly well-tailored to families because their meals serve four people. It's $98.79 for the recipes and ingredients to create five meals that each feed a family of four. You simply visit their website to pick out your meals and then they will ship the pre-portioned ingredients to your doorstep.  We've discovered unique and delicious recipes with a twist that we love, such as Za'atar Chicken, Creamy Tortelloni, and Beef Kofte Pita Wraps.  Even better, why not let your family browse the Dinnerly website to help select meals for upcoming weeks! My children love to look forward to the special meals that they select. 

Brooklyn Bedding's
 Sateen Sheets are the ultimate sheets for a good night of sleep.  The new school year is a great time of year to replace older bedding. If your children are off to college, these ultimately soft sheets come in Twin XL size to fit most dorm room mattresses. Personally, my children are still at home, but we refresh their sheets at the beginning of the school year and went with these Brooklyn Bedding TENCEL Sateen Sheets in white. We chose white because we like the fresh and clean look, plus it's easier for me as a mom to wash everyone's white bedding at the same time without worrying about colors bleeding. We chose the TENCEL Sateen sheets because the TENCEL Lyocell fibers are soft to touch and extremely comfortable, even absorbing moisture more efficiently than traditional cotton. The fiber's sleek cross section and weave enhance the softness of the sheets even after repeated washing.  Plus, my eco-friendly heart loves that the fibers are derived from sustainable wood sources that include natural forests and sustainably managed plantations.

TVStoreOnline.com is a store that we love year-round because they are the ultimate family-friendly store for character inspired clothing that creates happy memories. While you will definitely want to check them out for Halloween and Christmas, they are also a great shopping destination for the Back-to-School shopping season. They have the best t-shirts and hoodies for kids, teens, and college students. For instance, checkout the Paddy's Irish Pub hoodie below. This authentic hoodie has a fun look and is excellent quality for the upcoming cold weather.

Another great example is the Saved by the Bell Bayside Tigers t-shirt. Go Bayside Go! This retro t-shirt not only has a fun print, but it's also made with super soft fabric and is very comfortable!  TVOnlineStore.com also has other trendy television inspired clothing that your family will love, including shirts with inspiration from The Big Bang Theory, various Super Heroes, and more.  

Smile! Sox are the ultimate Back-to-School socks.  If your children usually find socks to be a boring purchase, Smile! Sox may change their mind. These trendy socks are adorable, nice quality, and affordable. I love being able to send my children to school with smiles on their socks. My children think that it's funny to wear sad emojis because I tell them to at least mix-and-match them with happy emojis! The mix-and-match concept is a lot of fun for younger ages.  It's a fun ongoing joke at our house and I'm sure that these socks will be part of their happy childhood memories. Plus, they are a great deal at $18.99 per 6-pack for younger sizes and $21.99 per 6-pack for tweens/women.  Even better, for a limited time, if you use the discount code smilesox15, you'll receive 15% off + FREE shipping at smilesox.com! 

Ooly offers colorful and whimsical school supplies that feature everything from Taco Cat iron-on patches to Ice Cream Cone themed pencils to Astronaut erasers.  This brand combines childhood imaginations with bright colors. Their school supplies are also excellent quality.  Personally, we have used this brand in the past and their Ooly brand supplies have lasted the entire school year which is a big deal. It's inconvenient to have to shop for school supply replacements throughout the school year, so I love that this brand has been such great quality to survive my energetic children in recent years.

Superior Source Vitamins are our go-to vitamins because their Microlingual® tablets  with “Under the Tongue Technology” work fast and are quickly absorbed into the body, dissolving in seconds. My children love them because there are no pills to swallow! Did you know that by swallowing supplements, as much as 50% of the potency is lost in the high acid environment of the stomach. The vitamins that my children take include:

  • Children’s Vitamin D works in conjunction with calcium to promote the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. Our Vitamin D products are D3, the finest source of Vitamin D available.
  • Children’s Vitamin B with folic acid, calcium pantothenate and biotin is formulated to provide the nutrients that support optimal health for the production and maintenance of new cells and supports nervous system health, energy metabolism, and healthy heart function.
  • Children’s Iron is a low 5 mg dosage suitable for children under 4-years of age. In the fumarate form, which is gentler on the stomach than other form of iron.
  • Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that cannot be produced by the body, therefore, it must be replenished daily. Vitamin C has several beneficial purposes including developing and maintaining healthy skin and bones, to form collagen and enhances the absorption of iron from plant-based foods we eat. Vitamin C also provides support to the body's immune system. "Superior Source" Vitamin C 500 mg, “Sour Cherry Melts” contains very little sodium (only 1% of the Daily Requirement), it is helpful in offsetting the natural acidity of Vitamin C, creating a smoother less acidic taste. NO sugar added; only sweetened with a little stevia. This is preferable to most “chewable” vitamin C products that typically are loaded with lots of sugar. 
  • Melatonin acts as a natural aid for healthy sleep regulation and the promotion of normal sleep cycles during travel. Chamomile is an herb that works together with melatonin to promote calmness and restfulness.
  • Biotin helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, promotes nail and hair strength and supports cell growth, metabolism of fats and amino acids and the production of fatty acids. Biotin is essential in the healthy functioning of the “Krebs Cycle” in which energy is released from foods and transferred to the body for use.

Visit the Superior Source website, store locator, or online retailers.

ZOKU offers trendy items to make child friendly treats such as astronaut popsicles and more.  Personally, I puree Greek yogurt and fresh fruit to fill ZOKU popsicle molds.  It's funny because my children will not always happily eat plain yogurt with fresh fruit, but if I puree them into popsicles, they love them and ask for more! I've even pureed veggies into some of their popsicles! For instance, I've added a handful of carrots to mango popsicles and a couple of handfuls of spinach to blueberry popsicles. It's an easy way to pack extra fruits and veggies into their diets while calling it a treat. We use the ZOKU Summer Pops mold for larger servings and the Space Pops Mold for rocket ship and astronaut themed popsicles.

BugBand Mosquito Repellent has been a game changer for our family.  If you live in North Texas, I'm sure that you know all about the frustrations associated with mosquitos.  They love to bite during evening sports practices and games.  Several weeks ago, we started using BugBand bands in the evenings and couldn't be happier!  BugBand uses Geraniol rather than DEET to repel mosquitos. We've found it to be great!  We each slip a BugBand Band onto our wrists and enjoy the easy and DEET-free opportunity to repel mosquitos!  We have found them to be comfortable and not too intrusive.  Another great thing about them is that they last up to 120 hours. They come in a little plastic container to store them when they aren't in use.  While I love the bands, they also have sprays and wipes.  We look forward to an awesome year of sports practices and games now that we know about BugBand products!

Please check back next week for the second part of our Back to School series!
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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Recipe for Easy Mexican Street Corn

Recipe for Easy Mexican Street Corn

  • 3 cups of frozen corn
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest, from one lime
  • 1 lime's worth of lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chili pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled

1. Create a sauce with the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lime zest, and lime juice.

2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook the corn.

3. Mix the sauce into the corn and then add the cilantro and chili pepper to taste.

4. Stir in the cotija cheese.

5. Allow to cool slightly and optionally serve with lime wedges.

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Recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins - A Way to Use Up Ripe Bananas

Recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins - A Way to Use Up Ripe Bananas
Yield: 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 mashed ripe bananas 
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.

3. Beat the egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract.

4. Mix the mashed bananas into the wet mixture.

5. Add the mixture of dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix until well blended.

6. Stir in the chocolate chips.

7. Spoon the batter into greased cupcake pans.  You should fill them approximately 2/3 of the way full.

8. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

9. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then move to a wire rack.  

10. Serve approximately 20 minutes after cooling or store them in an airtight container. I have also frozen these muffins and pulled them out the night before that I wanted to serve them for breakfast.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

7 Tips for Decorating a Bathroom with French Decor

7 Tips for Decorating a Bathroom with French Decor
In today's post, we'll share tips for French inspired decor in a bathroom. In general, my advice is to use the right colors and to keep things simple for a clean look.  

1. Adhere to a consistent color theme.
Design your bathroom so that the paint, flooring, cabinetry, and countertops have a similar theme. There are two popular color schemes right now for walls and cabinetry: (1) antique whites and creams or (2) grays and whites.  Personally, we prefer Travertine flooring, but some people prefer dark hand scraped wood. Make these decisions early.

2. Choose dark fixtures and mirrors with oversized dark borders.
You should use a consistent color and material for matching door handles and faucets.  You may also consider choosing mirrors that have thick borders with the same rich color as shown in our photo above.

3. Choose antique style cabinetry.
Antique style cabinetry such as the cabinets above are a great fit for a French design. Distressed wood and feet on the cabinetry provides a French feeling in the room.

4. Consider artwork on functional items such as area rugs.
Your paint, flooring, cabinets, countertops, fixtures, and mirrors should provide the base for your French design. Avoid adding knickknacks and extra items that don't provide a purpose in the bathroom. However, choose functional items that add a statement. For instance, the French inspired rug below is a great way to tie the theme together while maintaining a clean look. This rug is called Rose Basket and is by Evolur.  They also have other trendy French inspired area rugs such as Midnight in Paris

5. Add fresh flowers.
While you may not always have the time and energy to pick up fresh flowers, if your house is on the market and staging is important, add a nice vase with long stemmed flowers.

6. Use fresh white towels.
White towels give a fresh look and are also easy to keep clean over time. Save the antique whites for paint colors or accessories and stick with crisp white towels.

7. Keep your decor functional.
Avoid knickknacks or cluttering your bathroom space. Large open space is desirable.  Most people have a limited amount of space for their bathroom, so minimizing clutter may help to make the space feel larger.  Try to avoid buying a lot of plastic accessories even if they have a French theme. Personally, we store toothbrushes, tissues, and other items in our drawers and cabinets for a cleaner look. Extra plastic accessories won't fit our style. Working French inspired art into functional items such as the rug in the photos is perfect so that we don't feel crowded by too much decor.

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How I Installed the GE C-Start Smart Switch and C-Sleep Lightbulbs

In today's post, I'll tell you about the new GE C-Start Smart Switch and C-Sleep Lightbulbs that I installed. It was a quick and easy DIY project that I recommend if you don't already have smart lighting features in your home.

Let's start with the GE C-Start Smart Switch because it is nice to install for Valentine's Day. I installed it in our kitchen since we plan to have a lovely Valentine's dinner at home and the lighting provides a special touch.  I was surprised by how easy the instructions were to follow and that I could install it so easily.

I started by turning off the electricity to our kitchen and then followed the instructions.  While you should refer to the instruction booklet that comes with the switch, I'll show a few photos to show the highlights.  (Be sure to carefully read the instructions that come with the products since we skip some steps in order to keep the post at a high level.)

I removed the face plate for our current set of switches.

I then checked out the wiring and carefully reviewed the instruction booklet to make sure that I followed the steps correctly.

I followed the instructions to swap the old light switch with the new smart switch.

I then started to put things back together.

Now we enjoy our GE C-Start Smart Switch!  My favorite thing about this smart switch is that it offers motion detection so that it automatically turns on when I walk down the hallway to the kitchen. I also like to use the dimming feature. My husband loves to use the app to control the lights. If you have a Google Home Mini, you may also use the voice control feature.  It's really nice. It seems like the GE team sat down to think of every possible feature that a customer would want and perfected this smart switch!

Next, we installed C-Sleep Smart Bulbs. These were easy to install, similar to other lightbulbs. We also downloaded an app.  I initially wanted these bulbs because I liked the natural lighting settings. The lights support your natural sleep/wake cycle. For instance, the 6:30am setting provides vibrant morning light, the noon setting provides an optimal soft white light for the day, and the 8:45pm provides a softer and warmer evening light that for a calmer environment. The tech side is also impressive as the lights may be controlled via blue-tooth, use preset lighting scenes, or be controlled with voice control, out-of-home-control, or switches.  As a bonus, my husband realized that we could install them on a schedule in our oldest son's room. The lights now turn on when it is his "wake up time" and "lights out time".  Our son used to complain and try to negotiate extra time to stay up late, but the negotiations have stopped now that the lights are on a timer. (I'm sure that parents will appreciate this!)

In summary, if you are planning to slowly, but surely, add smart features to your house, these products from GE are a great way to make progress. We love the useful and convenient features.

Disclaimer: These are my opinions.  I am not an electrician and every home is unique. I didn't feature every step-by-step instruction because the purpose of the post was to give a high level overview of my experience. This was just my experience and you should carefully review the instructions for each product and seek advice as needed.
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Monday, July 29, 2019

A 30 Day Decluttering Challenge with Calendar and How Decluttering Changed My Life

I recently took on a 30 Day Decluttering Challenge that surprisingly helped me with anxiety and helped me to feel much happier.  I didn't realize how much this decluttering challenge would boost my spirits until I was a bit over halfway through the challenge and saw major difference.  Let me start with a quick overview of the challenge:

  • What: 30 Day Decluttering Challenge
  • Time Allocation: A minimum of 15 minutes per day for the duration of the challenge
  • How: Remove items from your home that you no longer need and consider using these methods to get rid of them:
    • Gift items to friends and family (We gave a lot of items to friends with children who are younger than our children. We emailed photos of available items on a weekly basis for people to claim what they wanted!)
    • Sell items
    • Donate items
    • Recycle or track items
  • Measure your progress so that you are able to reflect on your accomplishments:
    • Cubic footage of items removed
    • Amount of money for selling items
    • Amount of time spent on tasks
    • Keep a journal of what you completed each day
Personally, the consistency was important to me. Whether it was the minimum 15 minutes/day or a super productive 8 hours/day, consistent contributions made me feel like I was moving forward. I had days where I spent the entire day decluttering a room and removed as much as 7 cubic feet worth of items. I had other days where I only did the bare minimum of 15 minutes and didn't even declutter 1 cubic foot, i.e., I went through papers and shredded things or took items that I sold on eBay to the post office.  I kept a journal because it helped my motivation to reflect on my progress.  The daily journal contained:
  • Day (1...30)
  • Description of progress
  • Measurement of the amount of items removed in cubic feet
  • Amount of money received for items that were sold
  • Cumulative cubic feet to-date
  • Cumulative money to-date
I kept a written journal, but let me share a few graphs that show my progress.  You'll notice that there isn't really a trend to the amount of decluttering or sales each day.  While I set a goal to spend a minimum of 15 minutes/day on decluttering, I informally set a goal in my head to try to reach one cubic foot of decluttering each day.  However, I wasn't strict with the one cubic foot/day goal because I didn't know how much clutter was in our house. (It became more challenging toward the end!) As I mentioned earlier, there were days when I didn't reach the goal of one cubic foot/day because it took me a while to go through papers to figure out what to shred or scan. I also had to take items to a donation center or the post office which took time.  In the end, we decluttered 58 cubic feet. (I feel embarrassed to admit this, but at least the majority of the items went to other people who could use them and very little went to the trash. Having two children that outgrew various things accounted for a large amount of the space.) 

Here is a graph of my daily progress in terms of cubic footage.

Here is a graph of my cumulative progress in terms of cubic footage.

Another measurement of my productivity was the amount of money from items that I sold.  This was not one of my primary goals because I was much happier to give things away.  I don't enjoy selling items because I find the "people aspect" of scheduling and meeting up to be a hassle. I am also not a big eBay fan because I was once scammed on eBay and they sided with the buyer.  In any case, I did sell some items and surprised myself that the money added up quickly. Sure, I lost money if you think about how much we spent on items compared to the peanuts that we sold them for, but they were sunk costs of things that we really didn't use anymore.  For instance, my baby never liked his baby swing and it was easy to sell for half of what we paid. We paid $100 and sold it for $50.  In the end, we collected a good amount of money by selling items that were taking space without being useful to us.   (Again, I feel guilty that we had that much stuff just sitting around, but am glad that the items went to people who could use them and that we received some of our investment back from the money spent on the items.)

Here is a graph of my daily progress in terms of dollars.

Here is a graph of my cumulative progress in terms of dollars.

Now that you've seen my progress, let me share my decluttering calendar.  In general, I recommend that you do whatever makes sense for your personal situation, but for me, I thought that a calendar like this would be helpful for those days when I felt like, "I don't know what to do today..."  You will be able to skim my calendar and see if there is anything that make sense for your personal situation. You will also notice that every Wednesday was an "*EMAIL DAY." Throughout my decluttering, I took photos of items that I was getting rid of and sent weekly photos to family and friends to offer for them to take anything that I was cleaning out.  This was a fun way to keep my momentum since others enjoyed being part of my decluttering mission.

After completing a 30 Day Decluttering Challenge, I feel happier and realize that the extra "stuff" was causing me anxiety and weighing me down.  In some ways, I understand how it happened. Our lives have changed in many ways over the years. When we were first married, we had more time for recreation such as riding our bicycles together or individual projects like crafts, sports, and more.  When our children were young, they needed various things that they quickly outgrew. (That baby bathtub was truly useful for the first few months! The special infant carrier was also handy.  I don't think that I could have lived without our Baby Bjorn at the time. The list is long...)   However, where we went wrong was that we did not regularly reflect on the changes in our lives and declutter at the appropriate phases of life. We allowed clutter to build for several years.  These were the downsides of not decluttering sooner:
  • The clutter cost us space. 
  • The clutter cost us time in terms of cleaning or even when we needed to search for items that were hidden behind clutter. We even moved clutter from one house to another.  
  • The clutter cost us money as we could have sold many items for more if we sold them when they weren't as old.  
  • The clutter cost us a bit in terms of anxiety as we were surrounded by "stuff" and an ongoing thought hanging over us that we needed to declutter.   
Now that the decluttering is done, our home is cleaner and life is more efficient.  The outcome was wonderful for us.  It was a lot of work, but there were some bright spots along the way:
  • We emailed or texted photos of random items to friends and family to ask if they wanted anything.  I'm sure that they thought that I was crazy at times (like, what are you doing with so many Star Wars costumes?), but they appreciated our thoughtfulness and were kind to support us with the Decluttering Challenge.  It was fun when people wanted items.
  • We dropped off donations and appreciated that the items would probably go to good use.
  • We sold items to people who were often excited and appreciated the great deals.
  • We collected several hundred dollars that we put to good use
  • We were able to reorganize our home, including everything from entire rooms to cabinets so that things looked nicer and were easier to find
Now that the 30 Day Decluttering Challenge is over, I feel proud of my accomplishments.  It was easier to let go of "things" than I imagined. I surprisingly let go over some anxiety too.  I'd like to say that we purchase fewer things after the decluttering challenge, but really, our habits were never that excessive.  We are just better about letting go of things sooner rather than later.  For instance, once my husband finishes playing a video game, he trades it in promptly rather than letting games fill a shelf. Once soccer season is over, we donate the uniform and move on.  I've also held on to the "consistency" aspect of the challenge, but instead of decluttering for a minimum of 15 minutes/day, I spend a minimum of 15 minutes/day speed cleaning. I set a timer and clean as much as possible in 15 minutes. It's a great way to direct some of my energy!

Good luck in your decluttering endeavors. I hope that you find bright spots along the way and feel a sense of accomplishment!

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Skillet Recipe: Lemon Gnocchi with Mascarpone


  • 1 package of gnocchi 
  • 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped pine nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated pepper
  • Optional: 2 Tablespoons of lemon zest

1. Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat.

2. Cook the gnocchi and garlic in the skillet until lightly browned.

3. Stir the lemon juice, mascarpone cheese, Parmesan, pine nuts, salt and freshly grated pepper and then carefully pour into the skillet, frequently stirring frequently for approximately 15 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

4. Sprinkle the chopped basil into the skillet and stir.

5. Allow to cool before serving.

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Recipe: Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Recipe: Skillet Chicken Parmesan

  • 1 pound of chicken breast, sliced into thin pieces to fit the size of your skillet
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cans of tomato paste
  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella
  • Optional: fresh basil
1. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper.

2. Heat the olive oil in the skillet and then cook the chicken.

3. Remove the chicken and add the garlic, tomato paste, and chopped fresh tomato to the skillet over low heat, stirring frequently for approximately 7 to 10 minutes.

4. Add the chicken back to the skillet, covering it with the tomato sauce.

5. Add slices of the buffalo mozzarella on top of each piece of chicken.

6. Carefully remove the skillet from the stovetop and place in the (oven) broiler for approximately 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and bubble.  (Remember - the skillet and contents are extremely hot, so be extra careful when moving it!)

7. Allow to cool and then serve over pasta.

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