Couch Hack

Being that it’s been so long since I have posted anything, I am hoping this easy recent life hack will bring the writer within me back to life.  Balancing as a mom is no easy task and adding into the mix, an unpredictable chronic illness makes for some amazing time management opportunities in my life. Thus sitting and writing out a post seems a daunting task for me most days. However, this being such a simple yet very useful idea, I felt compelled to share this couch life hack.  

During a recent housecleaning binge, I noticed that, while moving my couches around, they were making noise. I couldn’t identify the cause.  They jingled while being moved to vacuum along the wall behind them.  As I stated before, I wasn’t sure what was causing the noise but it was enough to raise my curiosity.  I was determined to figure out how to access these mystery noisy baubles. There seemed to be a gathering, a plethora, of missing toys and other things gathering in the base of our family couch.   After my usual removal of pillows and pads I was not finding anything.  I then realized that all of these items had found their way to the depths of the internal parts of the couch. These items had nestled far beyond the reaches of my hands, arms or the extendable vacuum hose.  

I went around to the back of the couch looking for a good access spot.  I opened a small inconspicuous segment of liner attached at the bottom of the back of the couch. 

Pulling away the liner enabled me to access the inner workings of our couch. Once the back was opened and I grabbed a flashlight, I was amazed at the bounty of gems that had accumulated over time. I almost could not believe how many lost treasures there were. Then, I realized that one of the many things that comes along with family are the little reminders of the youngest members.

The addition of children in our home has added many changes.  Some of which are not always good.  This one however, was not one of those changes.  This has been a great change in that it really gave me perspective on how fast the childhood of my boys; the time with them as kids is slipping through my fingers. As I was gathering these trinkets up, I couldn’t help but to smile. Being present, I know that before I’m ready I will miss this task.  One day, the boys will grow up and I will go to clean out the couch of its consumed treasures and there won’t be anything to gather.   
For now, it’s been so great to find missing legos, game pieces and various other toys. Along with weekly couch moves for vacuum patrol I’ve been looking forward to checking through the back of the couch opening for anymore offerings.   

In order to close the gap in the liner opening that I created, I applied small self sticking velcro pieces to secure the opening.  I attached these pieces to both the couch frame and liner.  The velcro allows for an easy closure solution to bring the liner back up against the frame.  This is helpful if you have a couch back that does not rest along a wall.  It also gives a clean line with out a sagging opening.  This helps to prevent anything from getting into the couch as well.   

Thanks for checking out today’s post. All posts and creations done by Jacquelynn Knoll.

Dollar Shave Club

My husband is a man of little wants in life. He hates shopping. Every once in a while, about once a year, I can get him in compliance and drag him to the shops to get new clothes. I have come to see this as a major strength. He is just very happy with who he is and doesn’t need much to satisfy his ego. However, this quality presents challenges when trying to find a good gift or token of appreciation for him.
He is always accepting and very good at showing his gratitude for the thought. He would rather me not go through the fuss and hassle. So I have taken to finding practical gifts that he would enjoy. Recently, the theme around the house has been a constant search for a quality razor that he can use during his morning shave routine. I have tried a variety of store razors yet each comes up short. Then I heard about The Dollar Shave Club. They promise high quality and at a great price. I decided to give it a try. This site offers three different types of razors as well as other high-end shaving accessories such as soaps and aftershave. I selected the “Executive” razor style at $9 a month. With this you get four (4) razors a month you can cancel anytime with no commitment + free shipping delivered right to my door! With a click of a button, I am already cost cutting and saving us money. 
I’m sure I’m starting to sound like an ad or a spokesperson for this company but I’m not. I am just someone trying to find a good quality razor at a good price.
I just ordered today so I don’t know how well this will go over with the husband. I will definitely write a follow-up to update how well road testing this razor club goes.
Thanks for checking out today’s post. All posts and creations done by Jacquelynn Knoll.

Bears on the Beach

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A few weeks ago we hosted a party with a luau theme.  It was a going away party for some great friends of ours.  We went all out to make this a good night, and in return had a successful gathering.  In preparation for the party, I scoured Pinterest for ideas.  I did find and utilize a handful of great tips to enhance our theme.  I was deep in creative party planning mode when I had an idea of my own.  That’s when I thought of these cute “Bears on the Beach” desert cups. 
Having had all of the ingredients needed for these deserts in the cupboard made this all the easier.  In order to make these treats you will need:
•Desert cups
•Pudding mix- *made as instructed on package.
•Graham cracker crust- *crumbled
•Gummy Bears
•Cocktail Drink Umbrellas

Scoop pudding evenly into each of the desert cups.  Only fill them half way, to ensure room for the additional top layers.  Next add graham cracker crumbs as the “sand” of your beach.  Place these cups in the refrigerator to allow the pudding to firm up.  These desert cups take an hour or so to firm up.  Once firm, remove from the refrigerator and add a gummy bear and umbrella to each desert cup.

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These were a huge hit at our luau.  I can’t wait for the chance to make them again.  Thanks for checking out today’s post. All posts and creations done by Jacquelynn Knoll.

Just Their Size Soap

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Parenting presents many, many challenges. Some, if not most, we will overcome as parents and guardians. Some we adapt to and to some challenges we just simply need to wait them out.  This was my philosophy with the task of potty training my eldest boy.  We had mastered the elimination factor of this daunting task early on. However, when it comes to the handwashing portion, we faced another challenge.
In our home we are fans of liquid hand soap. All of my adult life I’ve opted for liquid soap in every  one of my sink areas throughout my home.  It’s easy to use. It is the cleaner option rather than a bar of dry soap that has been handled and set down wet and bubbly back in its place. This was until my older son started washing his hands, independently.   I was finding that after his bathroom session there would be a significant loss of soap in the bottle. The sink basin would be lined with all of the dispursed liquid soap. I was loosing my soap supply by the hour!

Each time he’d wash he would only push down  on the liquid soap bottle 1-2 times expressing the soap. Yet with his little hands and limited experience, he was having difficulty and would not catch the expressed soap.  Thus requiring him to start the whole process over again.   When I would come in to inspect his cleanliness I would find a sink full of liquid soap running down the sink basin instead.

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I needed a solution. Something that would be effective and efficent effluent. Then an idea came rushing into my mind. For years I have been collecting little bars of soap from all of our travels. I guess I saved them as a momento or memory of visited places. Never a thought crossed that I would actually put these little babies into action. Yet, standing in the bathroom cleaning the sink basin for who knows how many times, a strike of genius hit. These mini bars would be perfect for little hands! I sprung upstairs grabbed my collection of travel soaps from under my sink.
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Jumping into action I placed a soap dish along with 3-5 mini bars at each sink the children access. These smaller bars are easier to handle for smaller hands and prevents less of a bubbly slippery mess.
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I can, as of now, report to you that our sinks are a lot less soapy. My son loves that he is still independent and keeping things clean. Lastly, miraculously my liquid soap now lasts upward of a month!
Thanks for checking out today’s post. All posts and creations done by Jacquelynn Knoll.

Organic Lavender Lemonade

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Happy Easter or just happy Sunday!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your beloved ones.  We truly did.  We hosted a handful of our extended family over for a meal today.  Every one contributed and we had a fabulous day. It was complete, full of laughter good company and great food. 

Today was a real treat for me in multiple ways.  First and foremost, I was healthy.  My condition, for those who know, decided to take the day off today.  I was able to operate at full speed.  Allowing me to have the best gathering I could have ever desired for this day.  I love hosting people in our home, being upright participating today made me a very happy mommy.

I truly enjoy making my loved ones feel loved and appreciated.  They are taking the time to get together, giving up their valuable time to be with us.  In today’s world, our time can easly seem so much more sparce.  It is so easy to get caught up and often miss opportunities for good quality time.  I am grateful for each and every person in my life who I can spend enjoyable time with.  For this I choose to express my gratitude to others by means of preparing food, drinks and desserts with love.

When I am feeding my family and friends it nourishes both of us.  I get pleasure of knowing  that I am making healthy contributions to their well being.  All the while they are consuming good food.  Making what you consume ensures the quality.  Knowing it’s made with great care and great ingredients is part of why it tastes so much better. This care and attention to ingredients mostly ensures a quality product.  I am known to mix it up time to time for a little variation and for some added pizazz.  

Today for our family gathering, as we celebrated the Easter holiday, we enjoyed a banquet of deliciousness.  This included spinach salad, garlic rolls, roasted organic carrots, organic mashed yams, oven roasted asparagus and a honey baked ham.  As a compliment to the great food, we drank homemade chilled organic lavender lemonade.  The spring holiday and weather made the lavender lemonade a perfect choice for everyone to enjoy.  It was also a nice alternative to juice.  This is the recipe that I have chosen to share with my readers, in today’s post.  

My parents have a well established Myers lemon tree at their home.  We benifit greatly, as they give us fresh organic delicous lemons on a regular basis.  I often will freeze the juice in ice cube trays and store the juice frozen in gallon freezer bags.  This makes using the lemon juice so convenient.  Not only are the frozen cubes non messy they are premeasured out.  This also ensures I never run out of fresh lemon juice, as freezing them helps to preserve the freshness.

Myers lemons tend to be a bit tarter than other lemons.  My son and I tried and failed at our attempt at lemon popsicles a few weeks ago, so I was very happy to concock a recipe for our lemonade that worked well combating the bitterness.  The ingredients I chose for this delicious drink are as follows:

1 gallon bag of organic frozen Myer lemon juice cubes
1/4 bottle ginger ale or clear soda
1 cup (+- to taste) Organic agave sweetner
4 cups boiling water
4 cups cold water
4-6 fresh sprigs of organic lavender
Ice

In a large container, combine all ingredients in the order in which they are listed above.  Stir, drink, share, enjoy.  This recipe contains no alcohol and is family friendly.  However, I could see adding vodka, tequila or rum to make it an adult drink.

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Thanks for checking out today’s post.  All posts and creations done by Jacquelynn Knoll.

Small Toy Storage

Now that I have two children, life presents a new challenge. I have one child who is developing and gaining an interest in intricate toys and another who is just learning to walk.  The older one has always loved trains. Now as he gets more and more interested in detailed train sets and all of the components, it is vital that I have a way to keep the choking hazards away from the little one.  As I mention in almost every post, I love an opportunity to upcycle items and reuse them for other purposes.

Recently my mom was cleaning out her garage and gave me an old Coca Cola bottling crate that I had used when I was younger in my room for decoration. I had almost forgotten all about it and was delighted when she had brought it out to me. I knew instantly that I was going to use it in one of the boys’ rooms as additional shelving.  

This is just a quick post to show how I was able to utilize an old Coca Cola bottling crate to contain the ever-growing massive trains collection that we have in our home.

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To complete this task, I securly mounted two screws into the wall and hung up the crate. I utilized a level for additional accuracy on the straightening. It was that simple. I then let my older son arrange his train collection how he wanted.  

Thanks for checking out today’s post.  All post and creations done by Jacquelynn Knoll.

New Year Noodles

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In all of life’s craziness and on the go hustle, cutting out time to feed everyone is a real challenge. Even further, finding healthy ways to snack on the go can be even more challenging. When the responsibility multiplies as a family grows, it becomes even harder to find ways to keep yourself and your family fed on the go. Everyone knows how hectic life can get. Then throw the responsibilities of a growing family on top of that and you’re lucky to come up for air every so often. Often I pack a to go bag of snacks and small bites for the children when we are running around. I absolutely hate to rely on drive through as a means to an end. I recently discovered a great way to carry out feeding us on the go and in a healthy way.

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For months now, I have prepared homemade organic broths. Using a whole organic chicken, turkey carcass or beef bones, I place them in a crock pot. The usual ingredient list is a core base of any of the following fresh water, garlic, celery, onion, carrots, kale, peppercorns, pink Himalayan salt and dried basil from my kitchen. I battle with a Gastrointestinal disorder and the morning routine of broth for breakfast has made a drastic improvement in my overall health. Often, in the past when I have needed to eat on the run, I have filled a to go cup with broth. A great soothing snack but yet on days of high activity I desired more substance.

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On a recent trip to the grocer, I was cruising the import aisle and I discovered Soba Noodles. It seems fitting posting about Soba Noodles being that it is New Year’s. In Japanese culture these noodles are enjoyed during the New Year holiday. Enjoying this delicious dish solidifies wishes for good luck in the New Year. After all, can’t we all can use a little luck in our lives? These noodles are not made from flour. They’re made from buckwheat, which is high in so many good things. For further reading on the benefits of buckwheat click here.

I decided to add these soba noodles into my broth. I simply heated up my pre portioned bag of broth and added a little fresh water. Once this was boiling I added the noodles and allowed them to boil in the broth and soak up as much broth as possible. Now I have a fabulous natural cup of noodles. The noodles are adding substance and they make the broth more transportable as it is not nearly as spill prone as it is as broth alone. Using my collection of reusable mugs with lids that serve well to transport the soup, I fill them up and go on with my errands.For longer trips, I have disposable hot beverage cups with lids to use.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/75f/38821147/files/2015/01/img_1384.jpgThis has been great for us. My son and I enjoy a warm yummy meal on the go and it’s easy to eat which is fabulous for us and staying clean. Thanks for checking out today’s post. All post and creations done by Jacquelynn Knoll.

Jingle Bell Keepsake

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A few years ago my son discovered a passion for playing with toy trains. We have been train museum members ever since. The California State Railroad Museum is our local train museum. In an effort to foster his development we visit often to play and explore the exhibits both indoor and outdoor. We enjoy all of their activities and interactive festivities they put on throughout the year. One of our favorite activities, and one of their sell out features, is participating and taking a ride on the Polar Express.

This live cast production is an amazing interactive magical train ride that takes all passengers to the North Pole. While enjoying hot cocoa cast members sing and dance to choreographed numbers. All set just as it it is portrayed in the Polar Express book and movie. Once we arrive Santa boards the train and hands everyone a silver sleigh bell. These keepsakes are fun to receive, especially from the big guy himself!

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We have fun ringing the jingle bells throughout the holiday. It helps to keep the holiday magic alive for our little ones. We always ask if they can still hear the jingle. I decided that I wanted to keep a bell from each year as a keepsake for my sons once they grow and have families of their own. So I simply turned the jingle bells into tree ornaments. I did this by adding silver ornament string and an ornament hook. Wallah, done! My solution isn’t rocket science, in fact, this may be what the museum intended for the keepsake bells. However, I wanted to post about the bells since I didn’t do this last year and I had to hunt down last years bells to start our collection.

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I know this post is only going to resonate with a small group due to the nature of the post. Not everyone rides the annual Polar Express. Yet, I hope it reminds us to all remember the small stuff. This may just be a silly silver jingle bell to many. Yet to us, to my boys, it symbolizes a fabulous family outing and a night full of adventure and fun. These memories will last them their lifetime.

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My eldest son was excited to be able to hang his ornament on our tree. I want my boys to take these ornaments with them when they create their own families and decorate their own family trees. I want them to share the story and magic with their children. Having made these bells into ornaments gets me one step closer to this goal. Until that time comes, I will truly treasure and enjoy seeing them hung on our Christmas tree every year.

Thanks for checking out today’s post. All posts and creations done by Jacquelynn Knoll.

Mouthwash Hack for the Wee Littles

I love the fact that our four year old diligently brushes his teeth twice a day. He has also enthusiastically started using floss and mouthwash.  He enjoys preparing his toothbrush with toothpaste and initiating our brushing sessions.  I do a follow up throughout his mouth to ensure every tooth gets a good cleaning.  When it comes to flossing we have purchased the kid friendly plastic flossers.  My son uses these independently with ease. Kid flossers are great and do a superb job of being safe as well as effective. 

The final step in our dental regimen is the mouthwash.  This is also a step in the process that he is trying to master.  However, my son couldn’t find a way to pour the proper amount of mouthwash without a mess or worse complete spill disaster.  The bottle is large, awkward and rather unsightly.  I usually just pour mouthwash into a cup for him but I want him to become more independent,  at least at home with our supervision. 

My son truly enjoys learning new skills and loves to do things on his own.   As a mom I encourage this trait.  I want him to go into our world with as many tools as I can prepare him with.  After brainstorming on ways to make this final dental cleaning step easier for my little one, I had it.  I dawned on me to put mouthwash into a clean liquid soap dispenser.

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This dispenser has now fixed two common issues.  The unsightly overly large commercial bottle has now been replaced by a beautiful glass and brushed copper pump jar. Replacing the bottle with the pump jar dispenser has also solved our issue of the over pour. Now we have a great measurable pump for my son to get his mouthwash independently,  3 or 4 pumps into a cup and he has enough to rinse his mouth. He feels so proud that he can now rinse all by himself. I am proud of him for wanting to become his own caretaker.

I would definitely recommend this for any parents out there going through toothbrush dental training with their little ones.  We no longer have messes in the bathroom.  I also don’t have to worry that my son is getting too much mouthwash or that the bottle is going to be poured all over the countertop.  With this new pump system he’s getting the perfect amount every time.

Thanks for checking out today’s post.  All posts and creations done by Jacquelynn Knoll.