Friday, July 20, 2018

Barbie Hair Fixes Part 1

Let's jump right on into it.  

Every doll hair fix tutorial I could find started with brushing out the dolls hair.  It may look worse before it looks better.  I started with Rapunzel since her hair would obviously be the worst of the Bunch.  

I worked in small sections to make it easier.  You can see below that the hair at the bottom of the picture is frizzy but it has been combed through.  When it was all brush through with the wide comb, I went back through with the smaller side of the comb.  Rapunzel's hair was exceptional knotted. I gave it a trim and may need to trim more but we will see.  Others didn't need it as much but I brushed it anyway.

A few looked back to normal by just brushing them.  Since they are used I will wash and restyle all the dolls for a fresh start anyway.

A big problem the dolls can get is glue seepage.  It is exactly what you think it is, the glue that holds the hair seeps out gunking up the hair.  The hair will look greasy or even feel tacky to the touch.  Hair will clump together looking like bad hair plugs.  Yes, doll hair is pushed into tons of little holes but the hair should not look like the one below.  

It is generally believed that if you have this the problem will only get worse by washing it.  That said, I’m going to wash it first anyway (it’s a used doll) then treat the glue seepage. 

On to washing the dolls hair...

I used suave clarifying shampoo to wash the hair just like I do my own.  Next, I washed the dolls hair with a better shampoo.  OGX with Argan oil shampoo and conditioner is what I had on hand.  The oil would condition the fake hair but needed to be rinsed really well.  

I let the conditioner sit in the hair while I washed other dolls hair.  When rinsing our the hair make sure to avoid getting water on the seam where the head meets the neck.  I want to prevent the doll from molding on the inside or falling apart from water damage.  

I brushed out the dolls hair trying to follow the parts and style that’s they originally had.  I stood them up and let the hair dry naturally.  All the dolls hair is clean I feel a bit better about it all.  I now need deal with the glue issues and getting the hair styled as needed.  This is getting long so that will be for another day very soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What the heck is that?!?!?

Texas never ceases to challenge my ability to cope with things I really don’t like.  I thought for a long time that living in Louisiana helped me get over many of my fear of bugs.  Or at least what I classify as bugs.  Spiders would be in that category.  There were so many spiders in our home in Louisiana that it helped me get over some of my fear of spiders. They still freak me out, but I no longer need to call in the Calvary just to grab the closest shoe to kill it.    

Another “bug” that I am not a fan of are wasps.  I’ve had a lot of experience growing up with them in New York.  There would also be a wasp nest that needed to be knocked down because it got too close for comfort.  I would man the hose to spray down the unlucky individual tasked with knocking it down should they need some additional support.  Though my lack of tolerance for them remains the same.  And yes I am one of those that panic and move away while swatting wildly around my head if one even comes in close proximity.  I could never be a stay-stiller.  

You can imagine my horror when I discovered that here in Texas my two fears would be found together.  Yup, you read that correctly!  Before you picture some Pixar Bugs life moment of a sweet wasp carrying a stranded spider, ok maybe that’s pretty accurate.  Only the wasp is looking for a meal for its baby and the spider is sedated.  

The wasps are called Mud Daubers.  Much like the name implies, they build their nests of mud on the side of a wall or ceiling.  Stuff pod full of sudated spiders lay their eggs and then close it up with more mud.  I am at least comforted by the fact that there are not swarms of these wasps all over.  From everything I have read, they are somewhat solitary. 

As you can see in the picture above they really pack them full of spiders.  Take a moment and really look at the picture above and see how many spiders you can find.  This was just two "pods" that were broken open.

How many did you find?

Those half dead spiders needed to be dispatched!  I was not going to risk missing one so I used fire!

The fire did the trick!  I will be keeping an eye out for these around the house and on the underside of our kids' toys.  We found a few on the bottom of Bears trucks so now I have to check them first before he can play with them.  Seriously Texas, stop trying to be Australia! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Quick Rescue Bots Find

I hopped online really quickly, spotted this find, and picked it up the same day.  Bear doesn’t know it but I have a very small collection of Rescue Bots toys for him that he will get whenever he can get rid of the box of "Go Go Smart" stuff.  If something new is moving into his bedroom, then something old needs to be passed along.  That said we may have to push him a bit since we know that he will love this far more than what he is passing along.  This isn't as easy as it sounds but we will help guide him along the way. 

How do your little ones handle passing toys on that they have outgrown?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Delicious Miso Ramen

After a very long Saturday, we wanted to spend some time in the kitchen making a delicious meal.  We have not had Miso Ramen in quite a while so we decided on that.

We dug out all the ingredients that we had on hand.  We had prepared to make this a few days ago but never got around to it.  We marinated the pork belly a few days ago and just sat in the fridge until we could make it.

There are tons of miso ramen instant noodles out there but if you can find a good one with the liquid or paste soup base even better!  Since this is the best we added some of our own items to it to make it a bit closer to the Miso Ramen we have had at restaurants.  Adding little bits or mirin and sesame oil among other things really helps give the broth a better taste.  I'd love to eventually try making the broth from scratch but today is not that day.

Since we were using canned items you have to make sure they are thoroughly rinsed and drained.  That canned taste does not make for a good ramen! 

For the toppings, we have chives, mushrooms, bean sprouts (my favorite!) and corn.  We also had hard boiled eggs on hand so we used those as well.  Typically it calls for a soft boiled egg but I believe you use what you have. 

The pork belly was sous vide cooked on Saturday but we were both way too exhausted to get around to actually cooking.  We let it cool to room temp the tossed it back into the fridge.  This allowed the liquid fat to solidify letting us scrape that away.

Since it was already fully cooked it only needed to be heated through and seared.  A cast iron would work well for this but since we did not want to heat it in batches we pulled out the electric griddle.  It worked really well giving a nice texture to the meat. 

We did not eat it all so there will be plenty of leftovers for us to enjoy this week.  I'm sure we will have this again soon.

I know I did not include a recipe on this post and that is simply because we are still trying to figure it all out.  The one was better than the last and we have plans to improve it the next time around as well.  When we get to the point where we think it's worth sharing with others I will gladly share that here if you all would like.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Paint for the Garage

Bright and not so early Hubby got started on the garage.  We woke up later than expected and by 8am Hubby was outside pulling everything out of the garage.  

Once everything was out it was time to patch and paint.  

Here is what the garage looked like before we painted.  While you can't really see it in the pictures there are red circle and lines on the walls.  This is places the builder did not spackle.  The builder would come back and fix this for us but then we would be one their schedule and not our own.   It's easier for us to just do these quick fixes. 

The bottom was taped but it wasn't really needed.  In the heat of the day, this all fell off anyway.  

The paint color is the cheapest white exterior paint that Hubby could fine.  We did not want to invest too much money on basic white paint especially since it is going in the garage.  I had a migraine so I went in to watch the kids and came out to help here and there as needed. 

When I came out after putting Eve down for a nap, Hubby was taking a break after finishing the second coat on the ceiling.  I picked up the small roller and started in on the trim.  I did the first coat when he went back to do the second coat on the walls.  There were some spots around the garage door mounts and electrical outlets that needed to be touched up which I did as well.  

By 2:30pm, Hubby had completed the second coat.  I was still finishing up all the trim work.  Hubby really pushed himself a bit too much trying to get this all done.  He was exhausted.  Between the 100-degree heat, paint fumes, and him rushing to get done was a bad combo.  He needed lots of water and a major break by this point.  He already has back problems from his time in the military so painting the ceiling wasn't helping anything.  When I finished he helped me bring in the heavy items and told me roughly where he wanted things to go.  

The paint was dry to the touch but was not completely set.  Everything still needed to come back into the garage regardless.  The shelving was pulled away from the wall then refilled with all the crap we had out on the driveway.  While he rested I was able to get most of the items back into the garage.  He came out and helped with the last few heavy things. 

We had wanted to go through it when we pulled it out but decided to put it off as the day was getting away from us.  The plan is for Hubby add built-in shelves in one corner of the garage.  We knew that was a task for a different day but we did pull the things aside we had already sorted.  Since it was getting late in the day I didn't even snap a picture of how it looked painted white.  Thankfully it's an easy one to imagine.  It was never a bright space with the door down but it is now at least there is some reflection of the light off the walls. 

We had also planned to break for lunch and make Miso Ramen.  Then lunch turned into dinner and by that time Hubby was hurting and my migraine was even worse.  This would have to wait as we are beat!  Who knew the Texas summer heat and outdoor projects were a terrible combination.  From now on, no big outdoor projects in months where its higher than 80!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cloth Diapers: Was it worth it?

I am on the flip side of cloth diapering and I feel like this is not talked about as much as it should be.  My son no longer uses diapers and Eve is starting the process of potty training.  My unspoken (until now) goal for 2018 was to become a diaper free household or as close to that as I can possibly get.  To help push us along in this endeavor we switched the kids to disposables when I decided to sell our cloth diapers.  The cloth was all clean and there seemed to be lots of interest on the for sale pages with very little available.  Time to strike while the iron is hot.  The means that the expensive initial output I made years ago would be somewhat recouped.  Let's start there.

For Bear, I had picked up 18 one size Charlie Bananas (CB) and 12 one size Bum Genius (BG) 4.0s.  The CB diapers cost me $345 and the BG diapers $200 for a total of $545.  I sold the CB diapers for $150 and the BG diapers for $120.  I recouped $270 from my initial purchase.  In the end, they only cost me $275. 

Cost-effectiveness is huge with cloth diapers and seeing as this is the main reason I bought them lets quickly crunch some numbers.  On average families spend $30 at least on diapers a month.  Using that number (545 divided by 30) It would take just over 18 months of use to break even.  The more expensive the disposable diapers the less number of months needed to break even.  On average one year of use will allow you to break even with one size cloth diapers.  That said I used these diapers for well over 25 months with Bear and several more months with Eve which saved us a ton of money.  If you used the same calculations using the "end total cost" (275 divided by 30) you can see even more savings as it really only took me just over nine months of use to break even because of the money I recouped.   Please keep in mind that there was no way of knowing how much they would sell for when beforehand so I had to factor in the full cost to make sure they were worth it.  

For Eve I also picked up more diapers.  I bought 18 CB newborn diapers that cost $300 and 18 CB size small for $300 as well for a total of $600.  I sold them each for $150, meaning I recouped $300.  In the end, they only cost me $300.  Once again, I broke down the cost and tracked it religiously.  Since these would not be used for as long I had to break down the cost of individual diaper changes while using the initial cost.  You can find various calculators and charts online to help you figure this all out. While I did more than break even before reselling them, I did not save nearly as much as they were only used on one child.  Yes, there were savings especially when factoring in the end total costs, but clearly, they were not nearly as much as what I saved with the one size diapers.

I'm sure you are thinking enough of the numbers, get to the point, were they worth it?  

Yes, I believe they were worth it!  I would recommend one size diapers to anyone regardless if it was their first child or their last as long as you are willing to put in the extra work.  We used them part time and it was clearly worth it.  I would only recommend newborn or small diapers if you plan to use them with multiple kids.  If you have larger babies pass on the newborn diapers.  They likely won't be used long enough to make them cost-effective.  The same might be said for larger babies and size small diapers.  If it's your first baby and you aren't sure what size babies you have wait until after they are born to decide if newborn/small diapers will be right for you and your baby.  You will want to wait until after the meconium is done to start.  This will give you time to get the diapers shipped to you and prepped before using them on the baby.  I had small babies, which meant that Eve stayed in the newborn and small diapers longer than most babies would or I'm not sure I would have broken even using them with just one child.  I think it is worth noting that CB makes a medium size diaper (and large for that matter) but by the time the baby would need to move into that size you could easily get a good fit with the one-size diapers.  Most of the fit problems come when the babies are small hence my reasoning for picking up the smaller sized diapers to use until the one size fit the baby properly.  Newborn, small and one size worked well for us. 

I talked quite a bit about the resale value of cloth diapers.  In great condition, which I feel like mine is, the prices are fair market value.  That said they hold their value if taken care of.  I used cloth safe detergent and line dried the diapers.  This preserved the fit and the condition of the diapers over time.  Price wise I would lose a little more if sold through most cloth diaper sites.  My current prices posted above would also have included shipping as well.  This is why I wanted to sell them on the marketplace locally.  It wasn't all easy going.  I dealt with lots of people not willing to pay the "high" cost for used diapers.  Though I knew my bottom line and was willing to wait for the buyer who knew the deal they really were getting.  Which really is a great deal if you are ok with used diapers.

I hope this look back at helps you in your decision making.  Most of the time you don't get see the breakdown after everything is said and done.  People will give you generalities and tell you what worked for them but I'm a numbers person.  I like seeing the printed details of cost analysis in front of me before making a big purchase like this.  At the end of the day, I know it saved us money making the extra work well worth that scary initial output.  There were tons of other reasons for cloth diapering but savings were the number one reason.  Since I was more than able to accomplish that first and foremost without making it too much extra work it was a total win for our family!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Bears Birthday Recap

For most of Bears' Birthday, it was business as usual.  He did get to pick out what he wanted to eat and he was able to watch more TV than normal.  During nap time he asked to watch Thomas the train.  Bear also requested to play in the box.  After some time he grabbed his pillow.  I tossed a blanket on him which is how he watched the next two episodes of Thomas. 

Hubby was working from home so he ended his day when Eve woke up from a nap.  We asked Bear what he wanted for dinner.  He asked for pancakes out.  In our house that means Ihop.  Normally we pick for the kids but Bear asked for the cupcake pancakes.  

We picked up the full size so Bear and Eve could split it.  They also get some of what we get as well.  Eve will eat more of the eggs and other food than Bear will.  They ate it all up rather quickly.  

On the way home, we stopped at Walmart.  We picked up school clothes for Bear on sale and a cake of his choice.  Bear also wanted to spend his Birthday money.  There were a few things he wanted but this tractor and wagon won out.  He was able to spend a little but he also needed to save a little too.  

At home, we jumped right into the cake.  Bear was too excited to wait for me to write on it so we skipped it.  The cake was pretty good but so much icing.  Talk about a sugar rush!  This is also why Bear did not get a corner piece.

The very last thing Bear had to do was open his presents.  He had opened two from us earlier int he day but we gave him all the family gifts at night.  He played for an hour or so then to bed.  

Since his birthday landed on a Friday we celebrated on Saturday too!  Just after breakfast, we headed to the pool and splash pad.  We had the whole place to ourselves just the way we like it.  While we were swimming, the edge of a storm headed closer and closer to us but the wind picked up and pushed it off to the side.  If the thunder started we would have had to cut our time short.  Thankfully we didn't have to.  

When we returned home we had lunch and Eve took her nap.  Hubby took Bear for a bike ride around the block.  Halfway through their bike ride, the skies opened up and it poured!  They didn't get too soaked, but a change of clothes was needed.  We spent the rest of the day opening more gifts and playing.  Birthday take two was complete and while I didn't get any pictures, it is one I will not soon forget!

Happy 5th Birthday, Bear!  Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Bears 5th Birthday

Today is a big day, it's Bears' 5th Birthday!

It is amazing to look back and see just how far you have come.  
From that little bitty baby to this big 5-year-old kid.  

You have such a big personality and you love to make everyone laugh.
There is no question what you like and don't like as you have no problem
sharing your honest thoughts on something.

You ask for your picture to be taken often.
Every few days you take a selfie with my phone or your fake phone.
Considering how photogenic you are, I don't blame you one bit.

Right now, you still love trains and paw patrol,
 but you also like octonauts and rescue bots.

Your creativity shines through when you pull together random pieces
from the different playsets to make one "story" happen.

This past year you have grown to love being in the water.
I think going to the pool is by far your favorite thing to do on weekends.
You have no fear at all when it comes to the water which is both terrifying
and awesome all at once.  It means you will eager and willing to try to
swim, but it also means you think you can do more than you really can.
It's a slow process but you are picking it up.

This year will do dip your toes in the water so to speak by visiting
the kindergarten class several times throughout the day.
I am sure that you will learn a lot and make new friends.

I can't wait to see what this next year has in store for you.
More laughs, lots of fun and tons of playtime, I'm sure.

Happy Birthday, Bear!

Barbie Hair Fixes Part 1

Let's jump right on into it.   Every doll hair fix tutorial I could find started with brushing out the dolls hair.  It may look worse...