My Craigslist Soul Mate

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I’m not Julie, but I kinda am. Dog stalking is a hard habit to break.

How to Quickly Erase Dirt From a Free Range Childhood

This post is sponsored by P&G. Save on NEW Gain Flings and Tide Pods at Target. Text CLEAN to Target (827438) for mobile coupons*.

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We don’t have one of those printed family manifestos popular on Pinterest, but if we did, here’s a snapshot of what it would say:

  • Screens should be limited
  • Kids should get bored
  • Kids should get themselves out of boredom
  • Kids should have time to explore their own curiosity.

It’s simple enough. Now that they’re older, they get 20 minutes of screen time a day, and very luckily, little to no homework, which means much of their afternoons and evenings are spent outside playing made up games.

Here’s the downsides:

  • Their rooms are often a mess (books, LEGO are everywhere)
  • Their faces and hair are always a mess
  • Their feet are an awful mess
  • Their clothes looked lived in (and I mean that in a bad way).

Despite living on a hillside where the kids climb and run around, the real mess is created at school. It’s not your typical school with a black top and paved walkways. Instead, it has trees, loads of dirt, and old style play structures that make me a little nervous. This is what the hippie school looks like on an average day:

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This is why my second grader still keeps *two* changes of clothes in his cubby. He’s been known to get dirty, change his clothes, then get right back into the same puddle or mess, thrashing a second outfit. It’s such a mess, it’s an all caps, four letter word: MESS. Dirt is surprisingly hard to get out and it makes their clothes smell like they were buried deep underground. Seriously, dirt smells bad. It’s not the fresh dirt smell after a day of gardening. This is the stink of a challenge.

Here is what one day looks like up close:

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The solution to the ugliness is found in this pretty package:

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Throw the earthy smelling clothes into the washer with a Tide Pod or Gain Fling from P&G, and a little bit later, we have this:

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Let them roll in the dirt, trudge through the mud, and slide down the hill on nothing but their rear end because the mess will be erased with ease. A free range childhood doesn’t mean disaster for clothes. Before we were sent samples of the Tide Pods and Gain Flings, I used to spray, scrub, then toss in with hot water and a prayer. No more, thank you very much, which was especially helpful after I hurt my back and would subsequently avoid doing laundry because of all the lifting and pouring. My back is better, but the simple, effective method stays. These laundry gems may be small and pretty, but they pack a powerful punch thanks to their combination of detergent, brightener, and stain remover all in a single pack. With them, I finally beat the dirt!

I Heart Cara Cara Oranges

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I have a new favorite winter fruit. By February, I am sick of apples, and satsumas are past their prime. I tried my first Cara Cara orange about two weeks ago and was smitten. Thanks to Whole Foods for always having samples because I was able to convince Clover to try a slice with the promise that it tasted like candy. Since then, I’ve had one a day. No scurvy here.

They aren’t as acidic as oranges. I read a description that said they taste like oranges crossed with cranberries, but it’s not quite that either. Just good.

Stonyfield Greek Yogurt is Dessert for Breakfast

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I’m trying to become a breakfast person, but it’s difficult. I get up and get going on my normal routine, and because breakfast isn’t in the routine, it gets forgotten. To help me change, breakfast has to be easy. I save the big breakfasts with actual cooking for the weekend, but I found even trying to scramble egg whites from a carton, was more work than I wanted and got boring fast. I work in green smoothies some days, but we run out and the smoothie doesn’t always hold me over until lunch.

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Enter Stonyfield Greek Yogurt as a good solution. Stonyfield sent a box for us to try with Blueberry, Strawberry and Superfruits, and new flavors Black Cherry and Cafe Latte. Cafe Latte grabbed the attention of my kids, who always beg for anything with a forbidden (for them) coffee flavor. I tried Cafe Latte first, too, and if frozen, I’d thought we were at a frozen yogurt shop. My kids gobbled the Stonyfield Greek yogurt down, leaving me only with Strawberry (my favorite!) and Superfruits. Both made a great breakfast. They tasted good, and were filling, but not heavy. We’ve found a breakfast and afternoon snack winner. Maybe even a dessert option in Cafe Latte. Or Caramel, which I haven’t tried, but it exists. It may be our new ice cream alternative.

I’ve found both our local Target and Whole Foods carry Stonyfield Greek, and other Stonyfield products. We’re very picky about which dairy brands we buy and we like Stonyfield’s commitment to being organic and staying free of pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs. While the samples were sent free to me as part of the You gotta try this #StonyfieldGreek! campaign, we are regular Stonyfield customers.

Make Your Own Valentine’s Day Decor with Felt Hearts

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Having a mantle has been a lot of fun. Prior to the remodel, we didn’t have a mantle on our cumbersome rock wall fireplace, but I mostly only thought about it at Christmas when I had to improvise a place to hang our stockings. Now the mantle is a focal point, mostly because of the TV, but it allows an opportunity to add some color and fun.

A new mantle means a need for new decorations. For Valentine’s, I knew what I wanted and was disappointed when I found Target didn’t sell it. With that, I remembered some simple felt hearts on sticks that I’d seen on Pinterest about two years ago, and I made my own.

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For the mantle, I wanted a garland of felt hearts, then I wanted a few hearts on sticks to use in vases around the house. We had the supplies (felt, fluff, ribbon, embroidery floss, and craft sticks) on hand, except a plastic ribbon needle that cost about a dollar at the craft store. I found the colors I wanted and cut out a paper heart template in two sizes, then cut from various felt colors. I used the bigger hearts for the garland, and the rest for the sticks. While watching football, I did a blanket stitch around each heart, then stuffed them with fluff before finishing the final stitches. For the stick hearts, I put the sticks in place prior to the final stitches, and sewed around the stitch to give it some structure.

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photo (3)Stringing the garland was when I needed the plastic needle. Once the hearts were complete, I threaded the ribbon through the needle and gently mushed the heart to push the needle through, in between stitches.

The entire project was easy and I’m so happy with how it looks. The best part was that Rocket wanted to participate. He wanted me to teach him “stitching” to allow him to make his own hearts. This was my “very, very early” Valentine’s Day gift from him and I love it.

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