Back to School Blues

School is back in session very soon around here, the heat is on literally and figuratively! We are headed to Target with the class supply lists and armed with a clothing list too. But here’s how I try to keep our shopping visit a little more wallet-friendly…
First and foremost, it is July in Tennessee, so it is crazy bananas hot. We do not need jeans, boots, coats or really anything remotely long-sleeved, but we do need some clothes that are not popcicle and grass stained while also being playground friendly. So the options are the closeout summer stuff that they will wear for a month or so and grow out of by next summer, or fall clothes that are too hot to wear, might not be so perfect after they are influenced by their friends when school starts, and would be better priced if we waited a month or so.
My strategy to combat the clothes chaos is to make the kids pick out 10 “wear now” outfits. If we are missing a couple of items, we will buy a little summer closeout. Or splurge on a new pair of shoes that will take them through fall. Then we dig out last season’s fall/winter clothes and do something similar in late September when we can entertain some cooler mornings and evenings.
Both times I have the girls give me a fashion show with their 10 outfits, and I take and print photos so they can pin to their bulletin boards. They love the project and never complain about the attention, and I don’t waste too much money on clothes they don’t need or want to wear. Win-win!
What is the back to school strategy at your house?

Puppy Power

Tanner is our rescue wonder-dog. He’s a high energy, dachshund/terrier mix and having him as a part of our family has truly changed our lives. He rescued one of my daughters from a really strong fear of animals, and was a best friend to both of my girls when we moved and they thought they would never have friends again.

He’s also one of my most loyal oily users, mostly because he’s always game for a good massage. When he’s anxious (fireworks, car rides, boat rides, grooming visits, vet visits), I rub him down with lavender. When he’s stinky, it’s a rub with some purification. He’s a small 11 lb dog, so I just put 4 drops or so in my hands, rub together and rub him around his ears, neck, and belly. I don’t bathe him often because his skin dries out so fast and the dander seems to increase. The oils help keep the dander (and the doggie smells) from overpowering us.

On hot summer days, I freeze some treats in water mixed with peppermint oil because peppermint helps him cool down fast (doesn’t hurt dog breath either). His bedding gets sprayed every few days (along with ours) with a linen/room spray I make periodically with either gentle baby, peace & calming or lavender. It’s 30 drops of oils in a small glass spray bottle, filled 1/4 of the way with alcohol and water to the top.

Young Living has an entire line of products for pets.  The new dental treats will definitely be on my Essential Rewards order soon. Check out Young Living’s site to find out more about becoming a member and discovering the life-changing benefits of using essential oils for yourself, your family, and your pets.

Young Living products are not intended to prevent, treat, or cure any disease or condition.

On the Needles

A Baby Blanket for a special boy with a wonder woman for a mother. Because she is currently battling breast cancer, this little guy arrived very early. I also knit a little preemie cap for him to keep him warm and cozy in the NICU. His blanket will be ready when he is ready to go home. Every stitch I knit, I pray for healing and comfort for her and protection for that little miracle.

A Scarf for myself with some gorgeously soft Malabrigo worsted. My grandmother and I made a sampler square blanket out of this yarn together, and we had a few skeins leftover. Mostly I made hats with the leftovers, but I saved this red and orange because I loved them so much. I originally started with a light pink for the third color, but the third color is so light and used so sparingly that it really looked out of place. So I ripped back and I am just alternating the red & orange now.

Just thinking of fall and Christmas and all the gifts I want to knit gets me a little unfocused, so I’m trying to wrap these two projects up as quick as possible. I’m thinking more projects from this and this might be on the needles very soon.

Currently Reading

June reading was great quality, but less quantity. I’ve been listening to more podcasts than books, but the ones I read were completely worth the effort.

Fire with Fire, Jenny Han. I really liked this one, so much that I also reserved Burn for Burn and Ashes to Ashes from the library also. However I haven’t read either of them yet and might not. I wasn’t impressed with her other sequels, so I might just leave it alone. The longer they sit on my bedside table, the more doubtful I get about reading them. I think I might return them and read Shug instead.

Wheat Belly, William Davis MD. This sounds extreme but I listened to this on audio, then immediately eliminated wheat from my diet. It’s not been easy, but it’s easier than you think. And I feel better… really better! But read it for yourself and decide. He has a unique way of making doctor-speak easier to understand. I doubt I will get my family completely on board, but overall the entire family is eating less wheat.

Criss Cross, Lynne Rae Perkins. I love screening books that my 10 year old might read, and this one was a good one. I will recommend it to her on our next library trip.

Fish in a Tree, Lynda Mullaly Hunt. It was a little cheesy at times, but a fantastic look into what it would be like to be dyslexic and misunderstood. Another one for my 10 year old, for we can all use a walk around in someone else’s shoes from time to time.

The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant. I enjoyed this one and wrote about it earlier in June. It’s a good solid story and I loved the narrator. Isn’t it funny how the narrator can often make or break an audio book?

Have you read anything great lately?


A Toxic Relationship

I’ve written several posts about trying to eliminate chemicals from my house and using Norwex products along with my Young Living Essential Oils. Cleaning products are the easiest to replace, because with regular cleaning you don’t get the kind of built up dirt that requires those industrial strength chemicals, basically a little elbow grease goes along way. But laundry, well we all get a little particular about our laundry, the way “clean” smells to us, and how we care for our clothing. I honestly never thought about what was in a regular dryer sheet until I went to the Norwex party. The consultants shared that dryer sheets contain some of the most toxic chemicals in your home, especially because the chemicals are heated as it dries your clothes. Just look at the list of ingredients that go into creating only the fragrance! And it is so highly flammable, yet we are still heating it up. We decided to try to break up with dryer sheets permanently, but it wasn’t easy.

I started using wool dryer balls a year or so ago when I started using Young Living’s Essential Oils. It was so easy to add the essential oils to the dryer balls to give the clothing a subtle fragrance (I prefer Gentle Baby). The downside was you had to watch the dryer carefully because too much static was created if you over-dried the load of clothes. The static was especially bad for performance/wicking fabrics, like my husband’s undershirts and our entire family’s athletic clothing. It got to the point that I would hang wet or hang damp most everything. Or my husband would add a dryer sheet and tumble the clothes again to get rid of the static.

The consultant recommended the Norwex plastic dryer balls over the wool ones because she thought they did better with static, so I ordered some to experiment with. If you just put them in the dryer with a load of clothes, the static was not improved. But the trick for the plastic ones was to add water to the balls which adds some moisture in the load, and in turn prevents static. It’s easy to add water just squeezing them under the faucet, but I like to add essential oils, so I have to use a syringe if I want to add water that I’ve mixed with oils. It’s a little more time-consuming than the wool dryer balls, and especially throwing in a dryer sheet. You still have to watch the dryer to make sure the clothes aren’t getting over-dried.

Overall, drying smaller loads and hanging damp is the best way to prevent static. I do prefer the plastic ones over wool, but I would personally use either over regular dryer sheets after reading more about them.

Have you experimented with breaking up with dryer sheets?

Garden Update

Fried is the garden theme this month… and not fried in the good way.

We received so little rain in the month of June that just about everything dried up. We are basically only getting some tomatoes now, amid the crabgrass. My family’s garden is doing better, and they are supplying us with a steady stream of berries, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, peppers and corn. And I continue to return to the farmer’s market for beans and honey.

Last weekend, I weeded and planted the pumpkins where the peas were in the spring. And I set up the sprinkler so that I could water it all easily in case Mother Nature has other plans.

Our morning glories are green and prolific, but no blooms so far. Maybe they will only bloom in the second year? The raspberries are also growing well. One of the “trees” didn’t transplant well, but the other 3 have spread out.

We discussed taking out the corner apple tree that has rust, and re-discussed planting a perennial bed in the corner. (Meaning I asked my husband to do it, and he told me it was too hot.) Maybe we can start a little in the fall on my plans with some bulbs and taking the apple tree out, and spreading some other flowers from a friend in the spring? That was the middle of the road plan we’re walking down now.

What are your favorite low maintenance (high sun) perennials? I’m thinking coneflower with some tiger lilies.

In The Kitchen, My Summer Menu

Summer… is just not the time for cooking in my house.

We usually make ahead some cut up veggies and fruit, and grill a big pack of chicken all on grocery day to make it an easy week. (Cut up a good rotisserie chicken from the grocery is a fine alternative in my book also.) These are the meals on regular rotation around here:

Salads- Romaine with garden tomatoes and cucumbers, shredded carrots and cheese, and bacon, ham, leftover grilled chicken, or eggs (or all of the above if you are my husband!).

Kebabs- Chicken or Steak grilled on kebabs with garden zucchini and onions (and lots of butter and garlic salt)

Taco Bowls- Grilled chicken with a quick pico/salsa, tortilla chips, romaine or rice, refried beans or black beans, with lots of cheese, sour cream and guac.

Quick Chicken Pasta- We usually do one of two renditions of this. Saute onions, garlic, tomatoes in olive oil, add grilled chicken and serve over pasta with basil. Or steam some broccoli, serve with chicken over pasta with some parmesan cheese.

Or if all else fails, order some pizza or wings to the pool so that you don’t have to leave!

What are your go-to meals when you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen?