Let’s Be Honest Here…Cleaning Isn’t Exactly My Favorite Thing To Do…

Does anyone really love cleaning?

If you answered yes, please send me an e-mail, I’ll send you my address and you can come clean. I’ve got everything you need to get the job done; all you have to do is show up. Also, I pay in whiskey, vodka, and wine.

The other day I gave you some stellar tips for New Year’s resolutions, and I wasn’t joking. I really did mean do nothing in January. Relax. Calm down. But if you’re going to enjoy eating and drinking and cuddling in front of the TV for a month…I highly recommend a clean house/apartment/condo/whatever. If you haven’t found the right cleaning professional yet, you’re also going to need to take a few hours to do this yourself. (I know. I really honest to goodness considered hiring someone after all the Christmas madness, but I’m also Polish.)

Our house has pretty much been a madhouse since we moved in. Mostly thanks to my crazy.

Brian new house cleaning

This was before we moved into the new house when everything was empty and new to us…We even received a few cleaning supplies to get started thanks to Butler Products (Mr. Clean, Black & Decker, Dawn, and EverCare)

A month after we closed on the house, we threw a housewarming party (don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it later. I promise.) A month after we moved in (so three weeks after the housewarming party), we hosted Second Thanksgiving for my college crew.

Brian even swept the front porch with the Black and Decker broom

Brian even swept the front porch with the 24 inch Black & Decker Indoor/Outdoor Push Broom
while I took pictures…

A month after Second Thanksgiving, we hosted Christmas dinner for both of our families (about 30 people in total). And finally, a week after Christmas, we had some family over to play games on New Year’s Eve. Quite frankly, I’m surprised Brian hasn’t actually killed me yet.

Mopping with Mr. Clean Mop

Brian mopped the floor with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Super Twist Mop and a flat back bucket before guests arrived on Christmas Day. This mop is super awesome as that little round thing on the end is a magic eraser, designed to get those tricky stains! Also, does anyone else think my aloe plant looks like a creepy green hand?

So it’s been a roller coaster of clean/party/clean/party/clean/party etc since Day 1. Things got lost. It took me 2 weeks to find my Jewel saver stamps so I could turn them in for my free Cuisinart cookware at Jewel. That’s what happens when last minute cleaning turns into QUICK! Hide everything in cabinets, drawers, closets, boxes, and the basement!

It’s time.

While I have every intention of soaking up the relaxation of January and doing very little, I’ll be cleaning and arranging the house piece by piece so that everything is organized and has a place.

Brian may help me, and he may not (as you can see, he certainly helped a lot before all the parties)…but we’re fully armed with a couple of my favorite brands to really get stuff done around this place.

 

Cleaning supplies from Butler products

The good old days…when there was nothing in our house but cleaning products.

 

So cleaning may not be my favorite thing, but at least I’ve got the tools I need to make it as easy as possible.

Blog friends, how do you get yourself organized? Do you do it all in one day, or do you take your time, like I intend to? What are your can’t-live-without cleaning products of choice?

While no one compensated me to write this blog post, I did receive free Butler Cleaning Products, including items  from Mr. Clean, Black & Decker, Dawn and EverCare in order to give you my honest opinion. As I think it’s important to keep my reviews completely honest, I promise that I will never write anything I don’t believe in or agree with.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Another New Fancy Phone For the Win

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate my review.

2014-12-28 15.31.01

So I’m really loving the Sharp AQUOS Crystal that I received from my friends at Influence-Central and Sprint. This beautiful fancy phone has a stylish look and runs on the Sprint Spark network, which gives it a one-up when it comes to watching videos, so watching Netflix was fantastic! I spent some quality time with this phone on the train watching some of my favorite shows, playing a game or two and just enjoying everything that the AQUOS had to offer.  This phone also comes equipped with Google Mobile services that I use regularly, including Google Search, Google Maps, Google Navigation, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google+ and YouTube, so I can get all my Google on in one place. Sharp AQUOS Crystal

It comes pre-loaded with lots of apps with which to play

I love the style of the phone. The sleek AQUOS is thin, and the screen kicks serious butt with a five-inch, edge-to-edge HD design. The screen is clear and bright, and I think it’s awesome. My brother recently cracked his current phone’s screen and called dibs on this piece of tech that he oohed and ahhed over.

Sharp AQUOS Crystal

I love how thin the phone is

I wanted to show you the camera features, but I’m not a very talented photographer. There are a lot of sweet options to make this camera stellar, if you’re really good with a camera. I know that with a little more time, I could get to know the features better and my pics would look magnificent. So here’s what I was able to capture.

 

Sloth and Lillian Connelly artPhoto captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

I thought I’d take a picture of my new sloth buddy, Ebenezer hanging next to my Lillian Connelly print. Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Olive penguin photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Olive penguin photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Backyard Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Backyard photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal in the 50-degree Chicago December

The Sharp AQUOS is only available through Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile. As a Sprint Ambassador, I have been given complimentary services on both Sprint and Boost networks, but I’m also an eleven-year Sprint account holder with a family plan that I do pay full-price for. We recently switched my mom over to Boost, and she’s enjoying services with them, as well.

Overall, I was a huge fan of this phone. The design, the HD quality, and the Sprint Spark bonus makes this a sure bet for this girl. If I wasn’t giving it to my brother, I’d be switching my service over to this puppy in a heartbeat.

What features do you look for in a mobile device? What about in a mobile carrier?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Welcome to My Nightmare…. I Mean My Holiday Workshop

Greetings Blog Friends!

With Christmas a mere five days away, I’m going to whisk you away on a tour of all things deliciously holiday in our home. If you’re not into Christmas joy, you don’t even need to step away, because interspersed with Christmas decorations, trees, and crafts, you’re going to see all the crazy that I’ve experienced. So you’ll get Santa and the Grinch. I promise. It’s not all spotless dining rooms and fancy-pants trees (but there are those).

Let’s start with my holiday workshop. Now, USUALLY around this time, Christmas cards are sent off, presents are wrapped, and I’m patiently awaiting the arrival of Saint Nick. This year it’s more like the fourth circle of hell in which nothing is going right.

Christmas cards

Even though I think our cards are hysterical what with visual puns and stuff, I had a bazillion problems getting my cards this year, including the photo prints being late, our return address labels not getting printed out, not getting enough envelopes for the aforementioned cards and being short-changed on the number of cards printed. Christmas cards were finally sent off this morning with a few adventures in driving…

Like the person who made a right turn from the LEFT lane on a very busy major street. Or the crazy lady who almost hit me in the post office parking lot because she was flying through like a bat out of hell (and then proceeded to make her middle fingers dance in front of me when I was stuck behind her at a red light).

Holiday Workshop Tools

A little Christmas gift from Office Depot and Office Max to help smooth out my ridiculous holidays

Next year, I’m getting everything done at Office Depot. I’ve never had issues with them, and I hear they do holiday cards too. They were kind enough to send me some helpers for my holiday greeting card checklist, including stickers to seal the envelopes and pens to write out all the addresses. I was even able to slide in some of the thank you notes they sent for people who gave us gifts for our housewarming. (I’m all for the multitasking y’all. Some people got three pieces of correspondence in one envelope.)

Christmas presents

Today, I’ll be locking myself in our soon-to-be guest room, which is currently doubling as my holiday workshop with the rest of my goodies from  my wonderful friends at Office Depot and Office Max. I’m going to make a cup of cocoa, turn up the Holiday Lite (our Christmas radio station), and wrap wrap wrap my little heart out. With  gift tags, ribbon, two rolls of tape, markers and a pair of scissors from OD, and the BAZILLION rolls of wrapping paper that I have from the last few years of clearance shopping, I’ll be able to stick to my ridiculous OCD-tendency need to wrap everyone’s individual presents in different wrapping paper.

My holiday workshop

This is it. In all it’s disastrous glory. Boxes, presents, wrapping tools and ribbons EVERYWHERE…and a tree to set the mood.

What are your Christmas card/present-wrapping habits? Are you finished or still kickin’? Have you even started? What would make your holidays easier?

Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this post, but I did receive some very helpful goodies from Office Depot and Office Max to make my holiday workshop just a little bit less of a stressful place to be. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Get Your Bathroom Ready for the Holidays

I’m working with my friends at Charmin and Roto-Rooter to show you how I get my bathrooms ready for the holidays.

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Charmin. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

As you probably remember, we just moved into our first (and please for the love of cheese, last) house and instead of one piddly apartment bathroom, we’re now the proud owners of three. Full. Bathrooms. This is one of them. This is actually the upstairs hall bathroom, but I like the tree in this bathroom best. I’ve had it for more than twenty years – It started as my bedroom Christmas tree, and now it’s my bathroom tree. The fancy soap dish and soap were Brian’s mom’s. I’m pretty sure that soap just keeps getting put out and no one uses it. I’m okay with that, because the other soap makes my hands smell like gingerbread cookies.

Bathroom Decorated for Christmas

Thanks to our party-friendly house, we (okay fine, I) volunteered to host Christmas. For 30-40 people. Both Brian’s family and my family will be joining us for one of my absolute favorite holidays as we celebrate, eat, drink and make merry.

People keep asking me, “Are you sure?” as if I volunteered out of obligation, but really, ALL MY GRISWOLD DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE!

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to do this. Of course, knowing me, something is bound to go wrong. Thankfully I’m stocked with Charmin (the brand backed by Rotor-Rooter as a clog-free and septic-safe TP) for the holidays so I won’t have to worry about a clogged toilet, even with 30-some-odd people in our house, and can instead focus on not burning myself, cutting myself or falling down the stairs.

Prep your bathroom for the holidays in six easy steps

Step 1: Stock up on toilet paper  – I usually opt for Charmin since it’s the softest, strongest and comes highly recommended by the plumbers at Roto-Rooter. The partnership between Charmin and Roto-Rooters promises that your toilets will stay clog free this holiday season. Make sure to have a couple extra rolls on hand in case someone runs out in the middle of their business. I can’t store them in the cabinet under the sink, since my laundry chute lives there, so I stock TP behind the mirror in the bathroom.

Bathroom stocked with TP

Step 2: Prepare for hand washing with lots of soap – I try to have festive holiday soap for the season, and always have a backup ready to switch out. I also like to have different scents in each bathroom.

Downstairs Bathroom - snowmen

Step 3: Use clean and dry hand towels or disposable hand towels – If you can splurge on the disposable hand towels, life will be oh-so-much easier, but a supply of cloth towels is great as long as you have extras to switch out regularly. With 30-40 people coming to our home, I’m going to have both.

I haven't gotten new fancy Christmas towels yet - I'll buy them after Christmas when they're 75% off.

I haven’t gotten new fancy Christmas towels yet – I’ll buy them after Christmas when they’re 75% off.

Step 4: Place a trash bin next to the toilet – You’ll be especially grateful if you use the disposable hand towels to have an empty trash container with a disposable liner or grocery bag. (I don’t think you need a picture of my trash bin.)

Step 5: Set up a Christmas tree and decorations – I kept things simple this year and just put up my mini tree, but other years, I’ve had Christmas towels and other decorative accents to really celebrate the season.

Mini Christmas tree in the bathroom

Step 6: Invite everyone over – Get ready for the hap hap happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, my friends, because your bathroom is ready to go. Don’t invite your elf on the shelf though. You never know what kind of trouble she’ll get into.

Meredelf Grey - just hanging around.

Meredelf Grey – just hanging around.

And just for fun, I made a quick video for you! Welcome to my upstairs hall bathroom. Thanks a million to my pal Brookie Banosnapper for coming over to shoot this little vid for me. I can’t even tell you how much flack I got for the way I put the toilet paper on the roll. Apparently, she’s of the toilet paper must be placed over and not under camp. I personally could care less, but she made me change it.

Blog Friends, what do you do to get ready for the holidays? Do you host parties this time of year? What holiday-ready bathroom tips do you swear by? Do you have a toilet paper brand preference? How about over or under?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

My Mom’s First Selfie, My Secret Phone, and My Code Name is Cheesasaurus Rex

I’ve been with Sprint for over a decade. More than eleven years, according to a HAND-WRITTEN note from Angie at Sprint. Actually, it’s been about twelve years, but who’s counting?

Disclosity-closure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate my review. I really have been a Sprint customer for what seems like forever. And I really would recommend them. And there’s a pretty fun story below, so keep reading. 

I like to say that I sold my soul to Sprint back in the fall of 2002 for a VERY fancy, then-super-techy flip phone. The Sanyo flip with a pretty blue screen and a retractable antenna was ALL the rage…and a pretty lofty upgrade from my Nokia brick with the hot pink sparkle face plate (Funny; come to think of it, my phone now is bigger than that brick). It was also jumping from a Chicagoland cellular phone provider to a company that had nationwide service, particularly service that stretched to the middle of Illinois, in Peoria, where I was a student at Bradley University.

So I sold my soul. Because I’m never leaving the Sprint family. (And it’s totally not a bad thing.)

What started as just me, and worked up to a family plan of five (me, Brian, Mama Bear, Papa Bear (post about Dad coming soon), and Little Brother), was a business relationship that has, in truth, had its ups and downs. My Sprint love-affair was a little rocky for a few years. Between 2011 and 2013, Sprint service was spotty. I was on the phone with customer service almost as often as I was on the phone with Brian. I got to know several of the customer service associates and they were, in fact, the reason I stayed with Sprint. I would get yelly, and they would calmly explain that they were upgrading the towers and talk me off my ledge.

Luckily, I stuck around. The Sprint upgrades in the Chicago metro area now include 4G LTE (long-term evolution) and HD voice (high-definition voice) so Sprint customers like me can get faster speeds and better call quality. Speeds of 50-60 Mbps are especially beneficial for streaming video and online gaming.

But this fancy 4G LTE service isn’t just for Sprint customers. Boost Mobile, a subsidiary brand of Sprint that offers pre-paid plans, also runs on the network. For the last several weeks, I’ve been testing out the LG Volt with a Boost Mobile monthly plan courtesy of the powers that be over at Sprint and Boost Mobile.

LG Volt

The LG Volt retails for $179.99

For $35, my secret phone and I can talk, text and max out on up to 1GB of high-speed data. They also have higher plans for $45 and $55 with higher levels of monthly high-speed data. Since this wasn’t my “real” number, I allowed myself to play with the Facebook app, Twitter app, and use it for social media galore. Which worked out well. I texted and called just a few people with the number, allowing it to be my “secret” phone. Obviously, I needed a code name.

Secret Phone and Code Name

A textversation with one of my favorite people.

My mom is excited that she’s getting her first smart phone pretty soon (coughthisonecough), so I let her test it out. The first thing she did? She took a selfie. My cousin and I photo bombed it. (The self-facing camera isn’t my favorite (It only has 1.3 MP), but it’s still better than a certain little i. I’m just saying.

My mom, my aunts, and my cousin were at cats for Halloween. Me? I was a mouse.

My mom, my aunts, and my cousin were at cats for Halloween. Me? I was a mouse.

The rest of the features are pretty on par with my regular smart phone. I really enjoyed having a phone that utilizes the Kit Kat system. Brian was less than impressed with some of the pre-loaded apps. I can’t say I blame him.

LG Volt pre-loaded apps review

The 8 MP rear-facing camera was pretty solid, too. Doesn’t it make you just want to drink capirinha  all night long?

Capirinha

What do you think, Blog Friends? Do you have Sprint? What cell phone service provider do you have? Do you love them, hate them or neither? Would you try out the Boost Mobile service for an easy $35 monthly cost?

You can also keep up with Sprint on Facebook and Twitter.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Living Proof That I Don’t Have to Wash My Hair Every Day #mc #sponsored

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Living Proof. I received free products to facilitate my review and to thank me for my participation.

Living Proof is co-owned by Jennifer Aniston, who truly believes in the products and uses them for herself.

Living Proof is co-owned by Jennifer Aniston, who truly believes in the products and uses them for herself.

So you know how sometimes you just do NOT want to go through all the trouble of getting in the shower, washing your hair, drying your hair, stylish your hair and doing ALL THE THINGS that encompass hair care every. single. day of your life? I know I’m not alone here, people. Not to mention, with my fake ginger mop, I need to wash it less often just to keep the color alive. Well, when Mom Central came to me with a campaign for Living Proof, a hair care system that makes it easier for me to wash my hair less often AND grabs my hair by the ponytail (or double ponytail) to get it under control, I was absolutely in.

I’ve done all sorts of things to combat needing to wash my hair, from baby powder to remove some of the oil to testing out that dry shampoo phenomenon (am I doing it wrong? Is it even working?), I figured trying a new hair care brand couldn’t hurt!

I received my Living Proof PhD shampoo, conditioner, and styling products in the mail last week, so I’ve had a little time to test them out, but I’ll be back in a few weeks to give you a full report on how well it works for my hair. But I CAN tell you about my first impressions and observations.

Living Proof

So far, I’m loving the  smoothness and frizz-reduction which I noticed immediately. I love sulfate-free products because they’re also fab for colored hair. I haven’t used heat on it yet (because I don’t often have time to blow dry my hair when I’m racing out the door to work), but I will soon. Scout’s honor. My hair feels lighter (and I have a LOT of hair). The products have a light citrus smell (probably some type of orange or tangerine), which I don’t love (I’ve always had a weird aversion to citrus smells), but Brian insists that my hair smells really good. PhD doesn’t keep those pesky allergens out of my hair, so I still need to wash every other day to avoid the allergy death match with my eyes.

I’m going to keep it up and keep you posted in a few weeks.

Here are some of the basic deets:

 PhD Shampoo and Conditioner

  • PhD (which is OBVIOUSLY short for Perfect hair Day) includes a shampoo, conditioner, and 5-in-1 styling treatment designed to do all the things! It’s supposed to deliver smoothness, volume, conditioning, strength, and polish with one simple routine
  • The PhD shampoo and conditioner are designed to keep hair cleaner, longer  so that lazy busy girls like me don’t need to wash our hair as often
  • The products are sulfate-free, oil-free and silicone-free, giving you the freedom to use them without worry about less-than-awesome ingredients 

 PhD 5-in-1 Styling Treatment

  • After using the PhD shampoo and conditioner, applying the styling treatment to damp hair (with or without that pesky blow dry)  will  pretty much accomplish everything you want from a hair care product from creating smoothness, boosting volume, and strengthening hair to providing heat protection, UV protection, and static control
  • The styling treatment is oil-free and silicone-free
  • Blow drying with a round brush will enhance volume and body
  • Blow drying with a flat brush will create a smooth, polished blowout

You can take the PhD challenge with me by signing up on the Living Proof website.

Blog Friends, what products do you use to keep your hair under control? Have you heard of or tried Living Proof?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Makin’ Breakfast with my Ozeri Green Earth Frying Pan AKA Corned Beef Hash JOY

I recently had the opportunity to work with Ozeri, who sent me a free 8″ Green Earth Ceramic Non-stick Frying Pan to test out in my kitchen. The product was free, but as usual, no one paid me to say nice things. Those are all me.

I was super excited when this pan arrived in the mail. I’ve been jonesing for a new pan for quite some time now, and when Ozeri asked me to work with them I was all, “HECK YES!” Plus, I’ve been having some SERIOUS trouble with my cast iron skillet, so this was a nice vacation from that.

The color is a happy shade of green, which just makes me smile, and the textured coating is unique. I was concerned by it at first, but I rapidly discovered that it was not a problem at all. When they said non-stick, they meant it!

I decided that I’d be making breakfast for you, since it’s kind of my thing. And with St. Patrick’s Day, I had a corned beef from the Irish deli just waiting to be used. This recipe is SUPER easy, so get ready for it.

Corned Beef Hash

Ingredients

  • 1 thick slice of corned beef (simmered the night before)
  • 5 canned whole potatoes (cooked in the corned beef pot)Corned Beef and Potatoes
  • a pinch of onion powder
  • a pinch of thyme
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 Tbs Kerry Gold Irish Butter with Garlic and Herbs (you can use regular butter…but why?)

Kerry Gold Irish Butter with Garlic and Herbs

That’s all.

Steps

  1. Dice corned beef into tiny pieces
  2. Dice potatoes into tiny pieces (they should be a little sticky)Homemade Corned Beef Hash
  3. Mix potatoes and beef together
  4. Sprinkle seasonings and salt over mixture
  5. Mix well
  6. Melt butter in Ozeri Green Earth Frying PanKerry Gold Butter in Ozeri Green Earth Frying Pan
  7. Add corned beef mixtureCorned Beef Hash in Green Earth Frying Pan
  8. Fry until golden brown (or preferred crispness)2014-03-20 08.00.18

The pan was AWESOME to work with. I walked about for about 5 minutes while the corned beef hash was frying and sizzling in the pan and nothing stuck to the pan, nothing caused problems. You’ll even see in the video that I created for you how easily everything cooked up in my Ozeri pan.

Of course, it’s important to clean the pan well. It came with all sorts of instructions to make sure that I keep it in top notch condition. Obviously, Brian’s not allowed to play with this one. Yet, anyways. So I made sure that it was cooled down before I cleaned it, as recommended by the product guide. I don’t want to chance it in our shoddy apartment dishwasher, so I have hand washed it every time I’ve used it so far.

Look, guys! I made you a video! You’re welcome.

If you click on the links to Amazon products above, and buy things, you will be supporting my cheese habit. And you’ll be buying a rockin’ awesome pan. So there’s that.

Blog Friends, do you have a favorite pan at home? Or a love of corned beef hash? Or breakfast in general?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!