A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Category: practical (Page 2 of 11)

How to Choose the Perfect Conference Roommate

Aiming Low Non-Conference

I’m on my way to the Aiming Low Non-Conference to chill with some of the funniest bloggers on the planet. I’m pretty excited about it too. Something tells me this crowd is going to be much more receptive to and appreciative of my unique and unconventional greeting style.

Yep. I’ve already packed my Depends and my vintage disco pantsuit, and I’ll be on my way shortly.

Fortunately for me, I have the privilege of rooming with my Internet wife, The Suniverse. We roomed together for the first time at BlogHer ’12 last August and we turned out to be like peanut butter and jelly. Frankly, she was the single best part of that conference experience for me. Without having her to giggle with until the wee hours every morning, I’m not so sure I would have survived my first mega conference. Particularly after that one elevator ride from hell.

But I haven’t always been so lucky.

Continue reading

I put white vinegar in my washing machine and you should too.

I love Tuesdays. Not only do I get to share great info with you, but it’s the only day of the week I have a pretty dependable routine going.

Tuesday means “Taco Tuesday.” That’s one less day of having to endure the kids whining, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” 

I also scrub the toilets on Tuesday. It makes our Saturday morning family chore time a little easier if I get the toilets out of the way earlier in the week.

There’s one other weekly chore I try to do every Tuesday, and that’s washing towels. I’m a simple girl at heart, what can I say.

However, due to my clinical inability to complete any task EVER, I never seem to get a load of laundry finished all the way through.

It is not an uncommon event around here for me to wet a clean hand towel, wring it out, and stick it in the dryer with an old wrinkly load that I forgot to pull out days ago.

I’m sorry. I just said “load” and “pull out” in the same sentence. Excuse me while I go have a giggle fit in the corner.

Okay, I’m back.

We were talking about laundry, weren’t we.

Oh yes. And I know I’m not the only one who forgets about my laundry and lets a wet load sit in the washing machine too long, getting all musty and sour. I know this because my sense of smell is my super power and I can smell that sour old laundry stank from a mile away.

So don’t act like you always remember to move the laundry to the dryer in a timely fashion. We’re all human. We all forget sometimes.

And when this happens, we need to pull out the big guns to get that sour stank out of our stuff.

And by big guns, I mean white vinegar.

I go through it like water ’round here.

We buy it in bulk at Costco and about 4 big bottles will last me the month. Naturally, I only buy Heinz vinegar because I’m a Pittsburgh girl and we’re loyal to our hometahn, an’ ‘at. 

Stinky or not, I always add one cup of white vinegar to the wash when I’m doing towels.

the bearded iris adds vinegar to laundry

The vinegar acts as a natural antibacterial agent and kills bacteria, mold, and germs.

Vinegar is also a natural fabric softener, even in hard water! White vinegar naturally softens laundry by removing soap and residue. It contains small amounts of potassium and sodium, which softens hard water and disolves mineral build up.

Double bonus!

Some people add vinegar to the rinse cycle. I don’t because I think it leaves the clothes smelling a little like vinegar. I always add my vinegar at the beginning of the wash cycle and never have a problem with lingering vinegar smell.

I have a very old and reliable top-loading washing machine, but you can use this trick in front-loading machines as well. In fact, I’ve seen several articles about using white vinegar to clean your funky smelling front-loading machine. Here’s one, if this is an issue for you.

Please note: I only use WHITE vinegar for laundry. I’m kind of a vinegar racist, I guess. Apple cider vinegar is great for other stuff like stopping a cold in its tracks. But don’t use darker vinegars on laundry unless you are purposefully going for the dingy stained look, and then God help you. (Crazy hipster kids today.)

I also use diluted white vinegar to clean my hardwood floors.

Do you have a favorite vinegar related household tip to share? (Spare us the douche comments, Uncle Slappy.)

And/or what is your super power?

XO,

Leslie (aka “Iris”)

Three Parenting Things I’m Doing Right

I don’t usually see myself as a parenting expert. I am one of those people who, for whatever reason, will do nine things right and one thing wrong, and I’ll stew over that one wrong thing for-EV-er. It drives my poor husband right up the wall. He sure wishes I’d give myself more credit and not be so damn hard on myself all the time.

So today for Just the Tip Tuesday, I want to tell you about three parenting things that I’ve done right lately. Maybe it will strike a chord. I hope so.

For starters, I recently taught my sweet daughter Mini-Me how to disassemble the bathroom faucets and scrub the hell out of them.

That may sound like child abuse, but I assure you, she loved it. See?

 

Our bathroom faucet knobs had been grossing me out for a while…they were all moldy on the inside and I couldn’t figure out how to take them off and clean them. So on Saturday when the whole family was working on our chores, I took Mini-Me into the bathroom with me to see if we could figure it out together.

And we did.

The key was, I let HER do the fun part with the screwdriver. She’s only nine and that girl already knows “righty-tighty/lefty loosey,” how not to strip a screw, and how to make a faucet shine like new. I’m pretty proud of that.

I grew up with a single mother. I learned how to clean and fix stuff when I was a kid, partly because I was a curious child who enjoyed solving problems, but also because we couldn’t always afford new things or a repairperson every time something broke. As a result, I grew up to be a very handy and independent woman. I want that for my daughter too. 

Which brings me to the next thing on my list of good parenting. My husband and I recently noticed Mini-Me complaining a lot (and no, not about her chores). We’d all be on a walk with the dog after dinner and I’d say, “Oh, see those lights on that house? I like those. They’re pretty.” (Meaning: someday when we get new lights, let’s get some like that.) And my daughter would immediately follow that with “I wish we had nice porch lights. Our porch lights are so ugly. Our whole porch needs a makeover!” Frankly, I couldn’t agree with her more, but I didn’t like how it sounded coming out of her mouth. So negative!

The next night after we said grace at the dinner table, we started having everyone say a few things for which they felt thankful. It was actually my husband’s idea, but we’ve been enforcing it as a family, so I’m counting that as good parenting on my part too.

I cannot even begin to tell you what a difference it is making in our attitudes. Instead of complaining all the time about what we don’t have, we are all finding so many blessings in our lives. And sharing it aloud at the table is like keeping a gratitude journal times five!

It’s gotten to the point where the kids just start sharing what they’re thankful for, sometimes even when we’re not at the dinner table. Makes me tear up a little just thinking about it. Bucket Head even took a pair of Spiderman underwear off yesterday and said, “These are too small. Let’s find a little poor child we can give them to.” (Don’t worry…I’ll wash them first.)

And speaking of sharing our blessings, look what Mini-Me did last week:

That’s right, girlfriend had 12 inches of hair cut and bagged to donate to children who need wigs. We have several friends who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments or Alopecia and my sweet Mini-Me wanted to help them somehow.

As her mother, I humbly take some of the credit for her generous act because I did the same thing with ten inches of my own hair this past April.

Our children may not hear a single word we say some days, but by golly, they sure are watching what we do. 

(Thank God she didn’t see me smoke that bag of hair in my homemade potato bong later that night.)

Kidding!

I kid!

You know I don’t smoke…hair.

I know I joke a lot about how my kids are raising themselves and that they are thriving in spite of me, but when I sit down and really take stock of the things I am doing right, I should probably give myself a little pat on the back now and then.

My children are amazing. They are generous, grateful, and capable, among other things. I must be doing something right at least some of the time.

How about you? What are you doing right that is rubbing off on your family? Please share your parenting gems so we can celebrate together.

Yours truly,
Leslie

How to Remove Bad Smells from Carpet and Upholstery

Well apparently it is Bad Smells Month here at The Bearded Iris, because my first two tips of July were all about combating stank on your hands and in your bathrooms.

What’s that you say? It’s August now? And it’s not even Tuesday? Well let’s just pretend I got this done yesterday like I had intended, m’kay?

So anyheee, today’s tip is also about stank. But today, we’re talking about stinky fabrics and carpets. 

Hey, I’ve got three kids and three pets. I know stank. Continue reading

Just the Tip Tuesday: How to Deodorize Stinky Hands

I know stuff…weird stuff…like how to remove somebody else’s chewed bubble gum from your preschool daughter’s most holy of holies. (Yeah, that really happened once…Vaseline on a paper towel…took it right off.)

So when I started this blog about 4 years ago, it was a perfect way for me to share some of my random tips. I did it as a joke at first, but over time, I realized that I actually had some practical knowledge worth sharing and that finding new and better ways to do things made my heart sing.

But then Pinterest came along and I got a little discouraged. Why would anyone want to read my goofy tips?

And then In The Powder Room asked me to join their team as one of their Tuesday columnists and I jumped at the chance, abandoning my Just the Tip Tuesday feature.

But you know what? I’ve missed it. And I’ve learned the hard way that there is a lot of shit on Pinterest that looks pretty, but doesn’t really work! Either the directions are horrible, or the projects are way too hard, or the people writing the tips take themselves way too seriously and I feel like I need a hug and a Xanax smoothie after I visit their blogs.

So I asked my editor at In The Powder Room if I could move my column to another day and take back my Tuesdays. And she said yes! (Thank you, Gigi! XO)

Drumroll please…

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce the return of:

For my first foray back into the world of Tips and Tricks, I thought we could discuss something that happens to all of us at one time or another: stinky hands. 

No, I’m not talking about Bucket Head’s favorite new game, although I suppose this trick would work for that too.

I’m talking about what happens after you chop a bunch of onions, and no matter how many times you wash your hands with soap and water, you can’t shake the stank off.

This happened to me the other day and it was driving me nuts. I had made a big beautiful pot of Ratatouille for dinner and later that night as I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, the pungent scent of Vidalia onions was wafting from my fingers to my face, actually gagging me.

Desperate for relief, I suddenly remembered that used coffee grounds are a great odor neutralizer! That’s why perfumers keep jars of coffee beans around to cleanse the palate between samples.

Luckily for me, that morning’s coffee grounds were still in the coffee maker (sometimes it pays to be a slacker). So I pulled them out and scrubbed my hands with them over the trash can, and then rinsed off the extra coffee grounds in the sink. (Sniff sniff?) It worked like a charm!

If it hadn’t been so late at night, I would have done the deed outside in my garden, because coffee grounds are like crack for worms and hydrangeas!

Yes, according to Karianne of the breathtaking Thistlewood Farm blog, adding coffee grounds to the soil around your hydrangeas is THE secret to spectacular blossoms. My hydrangeas are always blue, not pink like Karianne’s, so I’m not sure if the coffee grounds have an impact on the color or just the overall robust health of the plant, but it seems wasteful to throw coffee grounds into the trash when they are so great for the soil and the planet in general.

(Please note…I brew my French Roast old-school using unbleached biodegradable Melitta Bamboo Coffee Filters.* I don’t know if this would work with Keurig K-Cups, although I’m guessing a row of upturned K-Cups could be lovingly hand-crafted into a garden bed border if that’s your thing. Hey, whatever rocks your dinghy. No judgement.)

Alrighty then! Now you know what to do when your hands are all jacked up with stank. And as a two-fer, those coffee grounds are great for your garden. Giddy up!

Thanks for stopping by! And don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon.com gift card from DealAngel. Giveaway closes this Friday.

-Leslie

*This post contains an affiliate link to my Amazon.com store.

 

What do elephants, braces, poison, and poop have in common?

Is it over yet? This week, I mean? Geez Louise, I thought it would never end. I’m completely spent.

Which reminds me of a joke…

Q: What do you do if you’re stuck inside an elephant?

A: Run around until you’re all pooped out.

Go ahead, share that with the little ones, just give me credit or I’ll hunt you down and give you an atomic wedgie with a side of Texas Pete.

So, yeah, I’m pooped. My family and I have spent the last two weeks taking care of all the appointments we’ve been dodging for that last several months.

Had the carpet cleaners here on Monday. That’s no small feat. All the tidying up and furniture moving alone is more physical work than I’ve probably done since The Pantry Weevil Invasion of 2011.

The cable guy stopped by to have his butt repeatedly sniffed by my dog while he repaired our phone lines.

And, in the past two weeks, we’ve been to see the orthodontist, two dentists, the podiatrist (twice), the pediatrician, the general practitioner, the hair stylist (hi Kristy!), and even a pediatric surgeon (that’s a post for another day).

 

Nature Boy, 12 years old, before and after braces.

 

That’s my boy. Oh my gosh, be still my heart (and not just because of the price tag for those braces). Love that kid. Totally worth it.

But I’ll tell you what, there is nothing like two weeks of solid check writing for co-pays and deductibles and down payments to make you appreciate your health. When Ben Franklin said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” homeboy wasn’t playing around.

True, prevention is so much easier and cheaper than treating or curing an injury or disease, no question. But let’s face it, we only have control over so much of our lives.

Sometimes, no matter how good of a parent you are, your toddler is going to eat something they shouldn’t. And regardless of the truly outstanding job you did warning the girls in your scout troop of what to do if they come across a bear in the woods, it will not even dawn on you that all those caterpillars the girls are “petting” could be poisonous!

camping with kids? don't pet the caterpillars!

But never fear, my pretties! I have a great tip for you on how to be more prepared the next time you are faced with an accidental poison or allergic reaction related emergency!

I wrote an article for Circle of Moms called “This Mom Hack Could Save Your Child’s Life!” (catchy, right?) and they liked it enough to feature it as one of their RoundUp articles last month, which is very exciting. They changed the title though to “Why I Have Poison Control on Speed Dial,” so, spoiler alert…you already know the punchline.

It hasn’t deterred 103,000+ people from reading it though, which is pretty damn awesome. Hopefully it will save someone’s life. That would make my heart sing.

That is a good one to read all the way to the end, even if you get the whole “oh yeah, I should have Poison Control in my phone” moral of the story bit. I offer some really cool ideas at the end on how you can turn your cell phone contact list into your bitch.

Hey, the more you know.

Well that’s all I’ve got.

Stay healthy, my friends. Use your noodle to be prepared in case of an emergency. And don’t let any elephants eat you (without your consent).

Have a great weekend!

-Leslie (aka “Iris”)

PS – My blog comment section is closed for the summer, but I’m still loitering pretty frequently on Twitter and Facebook if you want to say hello! :)

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