Saturday, June 16, 2018

Weekend Mornings at the Pool

What I love about this “new pool” is that it keeps the kids entertained.  There is a scorpion that dumps and sprays water that is off to one side.  Then the splash pad aspect slopes down to 18inches deep until it connects to the stairs leading to the deep (4 1/2ft) pool.  In this spot, there are several jets shooting water into the air, a (currently broken) windmill that sprays water and an umbrella-like dome that showers water down.  Which is all within walking distance of our home!
Please ignore the screen grab from IG stories
We let Bear and Eve play in this area without hovering over them too much.  We are watching them closely (one on one defense) but they need to be kids and gain confidence with being at the pool in their own pace.  What this looks like for us is Hubby hanging out near the stairs to the deep end watching Bear play in the deeper part of the splash pad while I quietly follow Eve around the shallower part. 

In general, we don’t normally keep floaties in this area.  I wanted to snap a few pictures of the kids so Hubby had Bear join Eve under the Scorpion to play briefly while I snapped a bunch of quick photos then they went right back to the deep end of the pool.

In the deep end (4 1/2ft deep) there are several ledges.  For the kids to play on or around.  One side is a great spot you can sit out and sill be halfway in the water while the other two larger areas are ankle deep.  Bear loves these!  When the pool is empty, like it is most mornings, he can jump off of them and have some extra fun that he can’t really do when the pool gets crowded in the afternoon.  
It was super bright out hence my scrunched up facial expression.

Among the different areas to play the kids have each found spots that they prefer to play.  Eve loves playing around the scorpion.  It sprays and dumps water.  Ther ground below is only covered in shallow puddles so she can confidently walk around unlike the deeper play areas.  She is working on not running but walking.  She has got her fair share of scraped knees from slipping.  Thankfully Eve is a quick learner.

Bear loves the deep end of the pool.  Especially when there is no one there and he can jump off the ledges.  He takes these very long dramatic runs up to the edge before jumping out into the deep water.  This gave me a heart attack the first couple of times as he needs to remember to jump out so he misses the edge.  We stand there to give him an extra push out but verbal reminders before he runs usually does the trick.  No need for a hospital visit!

Like I said earlier the pool is within walking distance.  Eve gets put back into the stroller with some towels folded up under because I am too lazy to fight to get a real diaper on her.   Bear rides on the back of the stroller on the way there but he walks home.  This is in preparation for next school year so I can possibly walk to pick up.  He is doing really well with it.

This tires the kids out which means even Bear will take a nap for a short period of time.  I don't hate it at all!  The mornings give us a bit of freedom without it being overcrowded and insanely hot.  We hope we can keep this up all summer and well into the fall since it stays hot here well into October.
Wasn't tired my butt!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Stock the freezer... this sucks!

One of the few things that I am not a huge fan of is the prep work that goes into stocking the freezer.  I LOVE the outcome but not the process.  It's a two-man operation so that we can get it done as quick as possible.  All parents know that it's just a matter of time before someone needs something.  No matter how well we think we set them up there are always interruptions.  That makes a rather boring task that much longer.  

Thankfully we have been doing this long enough that we both just go into autopilot.  I prep clean off the area while Hubby gives the kids snack and starts a brand new tv show.

The FoodSaver GameSaver was the best investment ever!  Even if you don't hunt or this machine is better than any of the other standard ones we have ever used.  It is also significantly thinner making for easy storage and doesn't freak out at the slightest drop of liquid like our old one used to.

Hubby will cut and weigh out the ground beef into two pounds of meat sections while I make bags for them to go into.  How much we freeze in each bag has been slowly increasing as the kids eat more and more of what we are eating.  I'm not sure we will ever freeze more than we have right here.  The next step is to add more of the extras to balance out the meals. 

I flip the top two inches or so over so hubby doesn't get the meat on the outside.  I try to make sure that as much air as possible leaves the bag so that it will stay fresher longer.  The bags I cut were a touch on the small side but I made them work.   

There is a constant flow of activity.  If something isn't being vacuum sealed I'm making the next bag to fill. 

There is usually a back up of bags to vacuum seal so once Hubby is finished with the first part he jumps onto the back half of the operation.  He will take a paper towel and clean out any liquid that was pulled out while being sealed.

Next Hubby will flatten out the bags 

Finally, I write on the bags so we know what it is down the road.  The date is on there so I can use them starting from oldest to newest.  

When we do this much ground beef, some of it will be pulled aside for meals that following week.  We were doing tacos, meatballs and meat sauce for lasagna that week so they went right into the fridge.  

The packages of ground beef will say on this hanging shelf for a few days then it will get moved to the bottom drawer.  I found that when I put them on the wire shelves they sort of melted into the rack when stacked.  Causing the bumps and making it a pain to remove.  I don't have the space to make a single layer on the wire racks.  That doesn't seem to happen on the hanging shelf even though it does have holes they don't "melt" into them when stacked.  Once frozen I can then store them vertically in the drawer at the bottom of the deep freezer to use when needed.

Do you stock your freeze when items are on sale?  No, just me?  I'm fine with that. lol

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

New verse Used: Barbie Find Cost Break Down

This somehow got posted live thanks to leaving my computer open and unattended around Bear, wonderful!  It was nowhere close to finished when he published it so I quickly finished it up and posted it ahead of schedule because of this.  So those of you who were wondering about the strange title (a small glimpse into my writing process) or lack of any real writing, this has all been corrected.

One of the questions I get asked all the time is “how do you know if something is a good deal?”  While that answer varies quite a bit.  We have all rolled our eyes when seeing something grossly overpriced.  What I suggest doing for everything you are interested in (or even selling for that matter) from the online sales groups is to google the item.  Even if you aren’t sure of the name.  Take your best guess and see what comes up.  If you’re afraid that item won’t last, message the person first then quickly do your research.  Believe me, it’s happened before on great deals or popular items.  However, don’t leave the seller hanging very long while you research.  If it’s not the deal you thought it once was then you might want to consider negotiating the price down a little or walking away if you are too far apart in cost.  A lot of the time you will see this with people pricing their items off Amazon Prices, but another online retailer might sell it for significantly less.  A simple message, “sorry I changed my mind.  Thank you for your time.”  Is a nice way to tell the seller to move on to someone else.  

For this lot, I knew right away that it was a good deal because I had been looking around Toys R Us to see if there were any good deals on Barbie items.  Let me tell you, Barbie stuff isn’t cheap!  The seller posted the Barbie items with pictures you will see below for $5 per set or $25 for all.  $5 per set was a great deal.  Buying all put them at just over $3 per set which is a ridiculously good price!  

I messaged her then did a little research.  Mainly I was looking to see what, if anything, was missing from the sets.  I was happy to see that not much was missing from any of the sets,  I figured the dolls might not be the exact doll that came with the set but it had the right clothes and it included a doll that resembled the one in the original picture.  What more could I really ask for at these prices?   As you read through these keep in mind I bought them used for just over $3 a piece.  You tell me if they were worth it after I break down what is it isn’t in the sets.

Source, Source
Barbie Spaghetti Chef doll and playset $24.99 - I am missing the play dough portion of this set which isn't shown.  I am not a fan of off playdoh brands anyway.  I also wouldn’t allow Eve to mix the Barbie playsets and play dough together anyway so it’s not going to be missed.  I am missing two small pieces as well. Nothing she couldn’t live without. 

Barbie Careers Smoothie Chef Doll and Playset $19.99 ($24.99 on Amazon) -  The roughly $20 is a guess on my part as I assuming the Amazon price is slightly high compared to similar sets in the market.  It appears to have everything included in the set.

Source, Source
Barbie Career Gymnastics Coach Dolls and playset $ 14.99 
Barbie Flippin Fun Gymnast doll and playset $24.99 

All items were included in these sets including their outfits.  The doll's hair needed a bit of work.  While it wasn’t pictured there were, in fact, two barbies included with the gymnastics playsets. 

Source, Source

Barbie Bath Fun Playset - $24.99 (Amazon listed at $28.89) - This set is 100% complete.

Barbie Careers Dentist Doll and Playset $19.99 - The blue tray and the X-ray that hang off the set are missing.  There are also some smaller pieces missing as well.  The barbies top/lab coat was there but her leggings and shoes were different.  I think there is just enough there that the $5 she was originally askings per set is spot on her for the value and what’s missing.    

Barbie Career Farm Vet and Playset $25.99 -   I am missing the weather vein and the chicken and her chicks.  While this isn't a big thing to be missing I my eyes my friend did share with me it would have bothered her.  Which goes to show you the value of an item is subjective.  

Barbie Strollin Pup $21.99 -   The best value by far for this whole lot was this bonus set she tossed in.  This set is in like new condition with the exception of one this.  The dress I have is the same cut a different color from the dress she is wearing in the ad.  The seller may have just switched out the dresses for a different one or this could have been the dress from an older version of the set.  Who knows.  It’s a cute outfit so I don’t really care if it’s 100% exactly what’s in the add.  

The grand total for everything if purchased brand new (original prices only) would have been $177.92  
I paid $25 for all so I’d say the roughly $153 savings is well worth buying them used even if she will not be using them for at least another year.  Barbie stuff seems to hold its value so I don’t mind holding on to it until she will use it.  If for some reason she hates Barbie, which I don’t think is likely, I can easily make my money back on this especially after fixing the dolls hair.  

Do you buy used Barie stuff for your kids?  Or do you stick with only new sets?  

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Throw it in the washer!

Earlier this week I mentioned that I had picked up a Barbie Lot.  Some of the clothes were in rough condition.  There were some staining and a touch of a funky smell from the stuff just sitting around.  I like to clean everything I can but I have never really cleaned the outfits before.  Normally, I wipe them down with Clorox wipe and call it a day.  That wasn't going to cut it this time.  I scoured Pinterest for ideas but they had you washing them by hand.  Something I wasn't willing to do unless I absolutely had to.

That when it occurred to me that most Barbie clothes are about the size of a baby sock.  I used to toss baby socks into a fine mesh bag and pop it in the washing machine.  Why could I not do this with the doll clothes?

I put a knot right next to the clip to keep it from opening up.  There is are some smaller items in there that I wanted to make sure they wouldn't get lost in the machine.  It worked out well, but it took me a minute to get the knot out. 

The Disney Princess dresses were coated in glitter.  I HATE glitter, but these needed to be cleaned.  I tossed them in their own bag.  I figured the mesh might be fine enough to keep it from getting everywhere.

With both bags tied off to the washer they go.

I put the pool towels in then the two bags.  I set our front loader to the hand wash cycle on cold wash and cold rinse.  Poured the detergent, I said a little prayer then hit the start button.

The first bag I pulled out was the Disney Princess Dress bag.  I could easily see there was a ton of glitter inside the bag.  I'll have to address that at another point, but there didn't appear to be much on the outside.

The dresses looked fine but there is fall out glitter mixed with each dress.  As well as some I had seen on the outside of the bag.  I am very happy I did not put these in with our swimsuits or the Barbie clothes.

I'm not sure you can see this but there is glitter on this towel and all the others that I washed.  Not a ton but any little bit annoys me because I hate glitter.  I am hoping that when they go through a dryer cycle it will come off.  It not I will use tap to get it off. 

Like I said I hung up all the outfits.  I didn't want to risk shrinking them though I don't know if that is possible or not.  

There was one piece of clothing, Disney's Cinderella, that had a single fray.  I'm not sure if you can see it as it's on the underside of the dress.  I also can't say for certain this if was there before I wash it.  Several people warned me that the outfits would fall apart by washing them in the washer.  I wonder if they used the correct size garment bag.  Too big and they can get tugged and pulled while tumbling.  Too small and they won't get cleaned properly.  I also did not dry them.

I put them on the top of the drying rack so they would dry straight and not folded in folded in half.  The rack was also filled with the kids' clothes at the time as well.

I know many people use a different method from mine.  That is just fine too.  I found a way to use the washer that worked for me.  I don't plan to change much other than to use old towels and double bag the items with glitter.  So I want to know...

Do you wash your Barbie clothes?  If so, how?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Faux Date Night with Sous Vide Steaks

For Mother's Day, my Dad sent me a package from Omaha Steaks.  I have been dying to cook up a meal since the box arrived at our door.  We finally got around to it.  The plan was to have a date night at home.  Have a nice meal then after the kids went to bed watch a movie or play cards.

Hubby said he would take care of the steaks but I was in charge of everything else.  He wanted to sous vide them which sounded amazing to me.  There was some debate on taking them out of the package and seasoning them first.  At that moment the kids started to fuss.  Let's keep it simple and sous vide it in the package.  

While the meat was cooking, I popped the potatoes in the oven.  These were also from Omaha Steaks.  In the oven with them was the kids' dinner.  I made them chicken nuggets and smile potatoes.  I also cooked some green beans which everyone likes.   I wanted them to have something they love so we wouldn't have to push them to eat whats in front of them.  This would make our dinner that much more enjoyable as well especially since it was a faux date night.

When the steaks were done hubby pulled them out and opened them up onto an old tray lined with tinfoil.  There are several ways to finish the steak.  You can put the steak in the oven or in a pan which most people tend to do.  Another way is to torch it!  Hubby's method for this meal.  Pat the meat to dry it or it won't brown properly.  

We sprinkled some finishing salt on top to add a touch of seasoning.  This was beyond perfect.

The kids ate their dinner and watched a movie while we sat together and enjoyed ours.  It was a relaxed dinner that we exactly what we needed.  After dinner, we played with the kids before bedtime.  We watched a movie once the kids went to bed.  It might not have been the ideal date night but a delicious dinner and a relaxing evening is always a great thing!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Random Barbie Find

On Instagram, I mentioned that I picked up a Barbie lot from our neighborhood online for sale page.  I hopped on the site randomly while avoiding getting to get out of bed that morning.  The seller had just posted it an hour before I messaged her.  I’ve bought stuff from this seller before as well.  Upon pickup, the seller told me she had added some extra stuff for me.  Then told me that she didn’t expect to sell all the sets to one person but said it made it exceptionally easy for her in doing so.  I told her to let me know if she had any more girly toys she was going to sell as her stuff is always in great condition.  

Bear helped out like always

Like always, I wiped everything down including the dolls.  I think anything used or even stuff that’s been sitting for a while needs to be cleaned thoroughly before my kid plays with it. The Lysol wipes sucked as they fell apart easily and dried out too quickly.  I used twice as many Lysol wipes as I normally do with Clorox wipes.  Next time I’m cleaning a toy it’s Clorox wipes only!  

As I went through and cleaned each item I also matched them up with the pictures in the Ad.  This seller is always spot on but I wanted to compare the sets I bought for what’s in the brand new sets.  Something I will dive into more in another post.  I will say that 95-100% of everything was included.  Obviously, this makes it an even better deal since the more items included from the original sets.  If there is more then it’s even better.

There was a bonus set in the mix.  This set was not in the Ad but I did message the seller when I found it.  She told me she had tossed more things in there but I wanted to make sure this was intentional and not by accident.  It was intentional, which just made this deal even better!


I also picked up another lot she was selling as well.  This Disney Princess Doll Lot I likely would have passed over for no reason other than laziness.  For five dollars it wasn't worth it on its own to me, but since I was getting the other dolls and accessories, adding this felt like a no-brainer.  There were 3 dolls in pretty good condition.  While I knew Rapunzel’s hair needed some work the other dolls looked just fine.  I also needed to work on the other dolls hair so one more didn't make that much of a difference.

The break down of this lot I think is pretty interesting as it a more labor intensive find, but I like trying something a bit different.  While this is the first time I'm fixing up Barbie dolls (and barbie like dolls) this will not be the last time by any means.  Especially, if she was anything like me growing up, which is why I'm willing to look into these toys the older she gets. 

Weekend Mornings at the Pool

What I love about this “new pool” is that it keeps the kids entertained.  There is a scorpion that dumps and sprays water that is off to one...