Mommy Finds

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The Razor’s Edge…Ever Shave Just One Leg? January 1, 2009

Filed under: Organization,Product Reviews — mommyfinds @ 7:20 am
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Christmas morning finds our family rushing a bit. I take a quick shower, then get dressed. That’s when I noticed I have only shaved one leg. Has this happened to you? I’m wearing jeans, so it really doesn’t matter, but still. Have I ever only brushed my top teeth? I don’t think so. Weird.

This situation got me thinking about my typical morning routine. With two little girls, ages 2 and 4, every morning is pretty rushed. For the most part, I have things down to a time-saving science. I use a 2-in-1 shampoo. I use bar soap so I don’t have to put liquid soap into the puff, use the puff, then rinse the puff. I have have shaving down pretty quick…not by shaving one leg a day either!

intuition1

A couple of years ago, I found the Schick Intuition. It is great! The triple-blade razor sort of floats in the “shaving solid.” This means you don’t need to use shaving cream. As you use the shave solid and it wears down, the blade stays level. It seems weird that this could save time in the morning, but consider if you have to squirt out the shave gel, perhaps foam it up if it’s a gel, spread it on part of your leg. Then you still have to shave and rinse your razor every couple of swipes. Then, start all over again with your other leg (unless you are me!) With the Schick Intuition, you just swipe and go. It’s fantastic! Another huge bonus is the benefit of traveling. One less thing to pack…is shaving cream a liquid? 3 oz.? I don’t know!

After painting this dreamy morning picture, I have to tell you the downside. First of all, its kind of pricey. Each blade is about $3 and coupons or sales are hard to find. I usually get about 5-7 shaves from each blade. That’s the other drawback. I have to change out my blades much more frequently than I typically would.  Is that really a drawback? I’m not totally sure.

venus

So, here I am, quite happy with this. One day, I discover the Venus Breeze by Gillette. It’s about the same idea as the Intuition. A couple of benefits of the Breeze over the Intuition…the Breeze is smaller. It simply takes up less room in the shower and your drawer. Also, due to it’s size, it’s a little more responsive. I’ve also found the replacement blades to be a bit cheaper.  

Do you use the Intuition or Breeze? How would you compare them? Any tips for streamlining your morning routine?

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Now THAT’S Spicy! December 30, 2008

How old are your spices? Older than your kids?

I’m on a little organizing kick I hope will last. My first mission zone is the kitchen. I decided to hit the spice rack. Start small, right?

As I was clearing out the area, I recognized a few of the spices  from my single years, over a decade ago. I knew those could go. But what about the others? Random numbers and letters don’t help me much. So, I set off for a little detective work!

For your information, Schilling Spices haven’t been made for at least 7 years, so they are all bad. Not poisonous or anything, but they have probably lost a lot of flavor.

stick20cinnamon

Next up, McCormick. They have a handy dandy “Spice Check Challenge” where you can input the product code and the city where it was made and it will tell you how old your spice is. HINT: If it’s from Baltimore, it’s at least 15 years old!

basi_swee_sp

Spice Islands has a lovely area to Register Your Spice . Basically, input your product code and they will tell you how long your spice will last. They will even send you an email when it’s time to replace it.

Finally, I headed to Spice Advice . This site represented nearly all the rest of my spices. They didn’t have quick little tools, but they do tell you what’s what. Here’s what they have to say:

How can I tell how old a spice product is?

To determine the year and month when a spice was packaged, look for a series of black numbers and letters printed on the bottom or side or the spice container. This is not the UPC code and it is usually printed directly on the container, not the label. On dry packet mixes, the numbers and letters are pressed or indented into the edge of the package. The first number indicates the year of the decade. For example, if the first number is 3, this means the product was packaged in 2003. The second letter refers to the month. “A” stands for January, “B” stands for February, “C” is for March, and so on. So, if an item was packaged in March of 2004, the code would begin with 4C. (Other numbers and letters will follow, but the first two digits indicate when the product was packaged).
What is the shelf life of most spices?

We strongly recommend replacement by the Best if Used by Date (available on some products), due to diminished flavor and visual characteristics. Spices have a long storage life — up to 2 to 5 years, depending on the spice and whether it is in whole or ground form. A rule of thumb is that whole spices (peppercorns, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc.) have the longest life, while ground spices and herbs in general are more fragile. The recommended shelf lives of some of our other products are as follows:
Pure and Imitation Extracts 4-6 years
Dromedary Box Mixes 1 year
Durkee Lemon Pie Filling 18 months
Durkee Coconut 1 year
Famous Sauce 1 year
Dec A Cake icings and gels 1 year
Dec A Cake sprinkles 2 years
Durkee or French’s Sauce and Gravy dry mixes 18 months
Tone’s Soup Base 6 months (after opening).

What is the best way to store spices?

Proper storage of spices will ensure maximum flavor and color retention. Heat, light and moisture are all enemies of dried spices. Heat causes flavor loss, light will fade the naturally bright colors and moisture might cause ground and powdered spices to clump. Don’t measure or shake spices over open boiling pots. Keep spices in a cool, dry, and dark cupboard away from the range or any source of intense heat. Any of the red spices retain their color and are best protected from insects if stored in the refrigerator or freezer. These include paprika, chili powder and red pepper, among others. If you are using the Tone’s Chicken or Beef Soup Base, be sure to store in the refrigerator, and use within 6 months after opening. (HINT: Store in the freezer for a longer shelf life. To use, simply let the jar sit on the kitchen counter for 5 to 10 minutes to soften enough to spoon out the desired amount. Then return to freezer.).

So, after tossing at least half of my spice collection I started to wonder if this is some sort of conspiracy among spice providers. Then I thought, hey, if I’ve had the same spice for 15 years and I haven’t used it, perhaps, just perhaps, I don’t actually need it.

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5 Reasons to Purchase Your Own Custom Magnetic Spice Rack! (Now THAT’S Spicy, part 2)

Filed under: Kitchen,Organization,Product Reviews — mommyfinds @ 9:52 pm
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How does your spice area look? Mine is a mess. Hopefully, I can soon say it WAS a mess. Let’s start at the beginning…

I just started reading this book I received as a Christmas present. Yes, it was from my Amazon wishlist, no big hints about my home!!

oneyear1

I’m hoping to write a book review soon, but I want to wait a few weeks to see if it “takes.” Anyhow, in January we are working on the kitchen. In week 3 I am told to write down my kitchen frustrations. One of them is my spice area. Basically, if a recipe calls for something more than salt and pepper, I have to take down every spice I own. I’ve tried different spice racks and shelves, but nothing really works. As I was doing a little online research, I decided I really like the idea and look of a magnetic spice rack, but they are very expensive if you have more than, oh, 5 spices. Then I found this (cue the angelic voices…aaahhhhh):

magneticspicerack

I am so excited to order this for 5 reasons:
1) It looks great. I’m hoping to mount this to the inside of my cupboard door, but I think I’ll like it so much I may have to start leaving my doors wide open!
2) My husband is not handy, so I think even I can manage to peel off the backing and apply the magnet to the inside of my cupboard door.
3) I can tell at a glance if I’m almost out of a spice.
4) I’m hoping I can write the expiration date on the back of the canister so I know when I should throw it out. (see note below)
5) I’m really excited to try the 8 oz. Bravada tins to stack in my pantry for brown sugar, cornstarch, powdered sugar and such. My pantry will look so together! Again, I might just throw open my pantry door when company is about to arrive!

Go check out Custom Magnetic Spice Rack to see what you like!

How do you store and organize your spices? Any tips?

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What Do You Do In Bed? December 28, 2008

Filed under: Organization — mommyfinds @ 2:46 am
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bed-pocket
I LOVE to read in bed. Thus, my nightstand is always a stack full of books about to topple over. I like books, magazines, crossword puzzles and more.

Today, I was checking out one of my favorite blogs, LifeHacker, and I saw this great idea. It was originally from Five Whys. http://whywhywhywhywhy.com/2008/06/diy-project-bed-pocket/

I’m hoping to do this with one of the many free tote bags I seem to get at events. My side of the bed isn’t visible to anyone but me, so I’m not even going to sew. I’ll feel crafty and organized at the same time.

Here’s the info direct from 5 Whys…

Here’s a little product I put together in a few minutes this morning. It’s a little pocket for the side of my bed to hold books and such. Had I any sewing skills at all, it would have probably taken all of 5 minutes, but my constant fumbling with a needle and thread made it take about 45 minutes. I hope you’ll do better.

Ok, here’s how:

1. Take a cloth grocery bag (you all have tons of these, right?). I used an old one that was ripped on one side and we we weren’t using anyways.

2. Cut horizontally across one side. The bottom of the bag is going to form the pocket, so be sure to cut this at the depth you want the final pocket to be.

3. Stitch the edge of the bag as shown in the photo below, to help keep it in place and stop it from fraying. Ideally this edge should be on the inside of the finished pocket. I haven’t done any sewing since grade 7 home economics class, and my skills are pretty poor. A sewing machine would take care of this in about two seconds, and do a much better job.

4. Mount the pocket on the bed by placing the top portion of the bag underneath the mattress. I also folded the top half of the bag over to keep it out of the way. In my case the weight of the mattress is enough to keep a couple of books and my reading light in place and secure.

That’s it! It’s a very simple project that doesn’t take very long. It’s also a good use for older cloth bags which are ripped or at the end of their lives.

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Get it Anyway You Like It December 23, 2008

Filed under: Kitchen,Organization — mommyfinds @ 6:03 pm
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Custom Etsy Product

 

As I mentioned in my Etsy post, you can have items custom made. You can post them in the “Custom” section and have crafters bid on them. Or, break the rules like I did, and find a vendor with items you like and ask them to make a custom item for you.

I have a weird space in my kitchen. It’s above my junk collection area my desk and below a glass front cabinet. I’m hoping to organize that area, but I still need a place for some papers, invitations, and such. This space has outlets and switches, so the size is unique at only 10 inches wide. Everything I was able to find was 12 inches, so I was stuck.

I searched through tons of esty crafters then I found one I really liked. Adorable products! I asked if she would be able to make a bulletin board only 10 inches wide. No problem. I told her some colors I liked and that same day she sent me pictures of fabric choices. I made my choice, made my payment and received my beautiful, fabric covered bulletin board in no time.

I’m sorry to say my desk is still a tremendous junk collector, but instead of cringing each time I look at it, I smile at the beautiful custom product I now get to look at every day!

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Bribe or Battery: Best Ways to Get Your Kids to Clean Up December 22, 2008

House Fairy

House Fairy

I don’t know about you, but I’ve picked up my last toy. I am not a maid service or garbage collector. Who raised these kids, anyway? House Fairy to the rescue!

The House Fairy is a pretty simple system to motivate your kids to keep things tidy. The House Fairy is Santa’s sister, who flunked out of tooth fairy school because she was too sloppy. She cleaned up her act and now gives prizes to kids with tidy rooms!

This site has videos to explain the concept and to motivate your little ones. All you need is some fairy dust (glitter) and some token prizes, or bribes. You can decide how involved to make this.

Here’s what I love: someone else can do the motivating. My girls, 2 and 4, respond much better to a sweet voice asking them to clean their rooms, rather than a grumpy mommy shouting orders. If they don’t tidy according to the “Official House Fairy Rules” the the House Fairy is the bad guy, not me.

Here are the drawbacks: Sometimes I’ve experienced technical difficulties pulling up the videos. Also, I need to stay on top of this. I need to remember to tidy and remind my girls that the House Fairy might come by soon. I have  a hard time sticking to anything, so this has proved difficult.

The lifetime membership is $15 which is totally worth it, even if you don’t use it faithfully. The House Fairy is fun and motivating, no beating or battery needed!

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