Book Review: The Switcheroo Kangaroo

When I do a book review, I tend to include the full experience instead of just a synopsis and my opinion. So this is the story of how the Switcheroo Kangaroo, a book written by Deanna Purkiss and Illustrated by Christian Snyder, came to visit and teach my son about sharing his good fortune (and candy) with others.

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We received a package in the mail the other day, so of course my son couldn’t wait to open it, convinced it was filled with toys for him. He was right, but unfortunately it wasn’t the “shooting flying electric helicopter cars” he was expecting and instead was a book and stuffed animal. It went a little like this:

Inside the box was the book the Switcheroo Kangaroo and a really nice plush kangaroo toy. Once I explained it was a story about a very special kangaroo who found his purpose was to share candy with kids around the world, he warmed to the idea of letting me read him the story. I think the kangaroo helped.

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He really enjoyed seeing the pics of all the holidays as we followed the Kangaroo on his adventures. The story is written in rhyme and it seemed a little forced sometimes, but I’m willing to overlook a little clunkiness on the rhyme scheme for good story with a helpful theme that promotes healthy habits. The book encourages children to leave out their sweets and the kangaroo comes to take them away to children who don’t have any, and in their place leaves a toy.

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I’m sure every parent has gotten through a candy-loaded holiday and ended up hiding half their kid’s candy pile. I still have Halloween candy stashed in the laundry room. I’m hoping the more we read this book, the more the message will sink in. After the first reading, he kept wanting me to get chocolate to “feed” the kangaroo so he could still get that helicopter he wanted. I told him we’d have to wait until Easter and then he’d have something good to exchange!

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It seems like kids these days are overloaded with sugar every day, whether it’s a holiday or not. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t bringing all the sweets home yourself – they will get it at school, while out at stores, from friends…it’s just hard to avoid.

I think this book promotes a great idea to encourage kids to give up their sweets in a way that makes it fun and makes them feel good about it. I’m looking forward to a little kangaroo visiting us right after the Easter Bunny does his thing!

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Click Here to visit the official Switcheroo Kangaroo website

And find them on Instagram and Facebook at @SwitcherooKangeroo

I Got Trendy with Curtain Bangs

This week I updated my ‘do with a new set of curtain bangs. The funny thing is, anytime I’ve had bangs they’ve always been curtain bangs, I just didn’t know they had a fancy name! I have the kind of bangs that will do one thing only, and that’s split down the middle.

curtain bangs

Curtain bangs are usually a little longer and parted down the middle, framing your face on each side like a curtain. They have wispy ends rather than a blunt cut, giving them a laid-back relaxed look.

I was actually growing out my bangs a bit when a few rounds of bleached highlights led to some breakage in front and I started chopping bits off myself. So when necessity brought me to my hairstylist Georjie, the first thing she said is “Have you heard of curtain bangs?”

I said no, and told her to just go for it!

A few snips later and the damage was cut off and I was left with pretty face framing fringe that for once I wouldn’t have to fight with and try and tame into a side part or glue straight down. My hair just naturally want to part down the middle. And while the rest of my hair can be wavy and weird, my bangs have always been completely straight so this style totally works for me!

So now I’m feeling all trendy with the latest style in bangs. So if you are looking for a change that’s easy to wear- ask your stylist for curtain bangs on your next visit.

 

Choosing a Children’s Bedroom Theme

There are so many fun themes to choose from when decorating a child’s bedroom. When they are first born, the room reflects the parents’ personality and tastes, but as they get a little older the room starts to morph into a different style more in line with the child’s budding personality. Here’s a few ideas to help you decide how to decorate your little one’s bedroom.

choosing a childrens bedroom theme

Color Themes

Sometimes the theme is just adhering to a certain color palette, or color combo. Or even go monochrome with just black and white! This is a good way to go if you don’t want to push a certain style on your child before they’ve started liking things on their own. It’s easy to change it up later and add more personalized items.

Nature Themes

Nature themes can be a lot of fun whether it’s the ocean, forest or jungle. We went with an ocean theme for my son’s room, though now that he’s getting older there’s a few super heros creeping in. You can get really creative with the nature themes! Wall murals are a great way to bring this vision to life.

Character, Book or Movie Themes

If your child loves a particular character, you can design an entire room around it! Disney makes a lot of great bedroom stuff. You can also do comic books and superheroes. You can concentrate on one character or design around an entire movie or book.

Activity and Sports Themes

You can take any activity your child is interested in and work a theme around it. Of course most activities could also be given the “sports” label but it’s not limited to traditional sports like baseball and soccer. Sports can be anything from surfing to race car driving! And there’s also activities like ballet and theater.

The Finishing Touch

Once you have the room designed, painted and decorated, it’s time to do the finishing touch – their name! Either on the door or on the wall, every kid loves to have their name displayed. You can paint it on the wall, purchase a custom decal or have a print made. We were recently sent a lovely ocean themed print from PaperSteps to go with my son’s surfer/ocean bedroom. I’m looking forward to putting it in a pretty frame!

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Hope this gives you a few ideas to get creative with your child’s room! And for even more inspiration, check out my Pinterest idea board for more fun themes: Children’s Bedroom Ideas

Yard at the Start of Spring

I know it’s not exactly spring yet, but it’s 80 degrees here in Florida and raining every day so things are blooming all over and I need to start doing some planting! Of course the day after starting this, we got a freeze warning for mid-week. Florida just can’t make up its mind. I’m still going ahead with the landscaping though. It will be warm again a few days. Or a few hours. Florida is crazy like that!

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I always like to see how far the garden has come, so I took a bunch of photos today of the front yard. We are still working on the landscaping and I need to plant my spring vegetables, but I wanted to get pics of the starting point this year before I did all the planting. That way I can come back and see how big everything grew this summer!

The Garden

I always have green onions planted the entire year and usually peppers too. I just got some cilantro sprouted this week and am looking forward to getting my salsa garden going again!

The Fish Pond

This summer I’m hoping to replace the pond pump with something a little nicer and without the big ugly pipe that runs right in front of it now. I’ll also be adding more plants and a sitting area. The pond was here when we moved in and we found out it used to be a hot tub in the backyard! They didn’t use it so they removed it and turned it into a front yard water feature. You can still see the tub’s steps when the water is really clear.

Front Yard Landscape

We recently added the front patio and firepit. All built by my husband and a neighbor. We’ve collected big rocks on our travels to use as borders- some came from the mountains in North Carolina, some from our beach here and some from a trip to Sarasota. The driftwood is all from our beach or river here. All the plants and trees are newly planted and pretty small. I’m planning on adding a path with stepping stones and working on moving more plants around.

Side Landscape

There’s a walking path next to the house that will be my next big project. Right now it’s mostly weeds in that area. I was waiting until we finished getting the driveway resurfaced since it included the path area too. It’s ready now!

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Backyard

My backyard is hideous! That’s going to be a blog post on its own, lol. There’s a lot going on back there and it looks terrible. We aren’t ready to tackle that one yet.

I’ll be doing more posts about home and garden stuff as we work to fix up our house. We bought an older home at the beach and have been completely re-doing it inside and out, mostly all on our own! It’s a fun and often frustrating project, but also a labor of love. The best part is seeing how far you’ve come, so that’s why I decided to start documenting the journey. Even though we are two years into the project. Might as well start sometime!

 

Easy Pico de Gallo Recipe

Pico de Gallo was the first salsa-type thing I learned to make, back before I even did a lot of cooking. A friend gave me the recipe more than 15 years ago, and I’ve tweaked it just a little over the years but the main ingredients are still the same: tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lemon or lime juice and cilantro. It’s so easy and SO good!

making pico de gallo

Ingredients for Pico de Gallo:

6 Roma (or plum) tomatoes

1/2 Sweet Onion

1 or 2 Serrano chillies

1/2 Cup cilantro (more or less)

1 Tsp. Garlic salt

1 Tbsp. Lemon or Lime Juice

Small pinch of sugar

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Directions: Mix everything in a bowl

1) Chop the tomatoes into cubes. You can do it by hand or with a chopper. I use the Prepworks Dice and Slice Chopper by Progressive (*Amazon affiliate link) for both my tomatoes and onions. I’ve had this thing for 16 years! It makes it easy and fast to make nice little cubes for pico.

2) Chop the onions into smaller cubes. I use a smaller cutting grid for the onions. If doing it by hand, just finely chop. Add to bowl with tomatoes.

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3) Devein, remove seeds and finely chop the Serrano pepper. Taking out the vein and seeds takes out a lot of the heat but leaves all the flavor. You can chop the whole thing for a hotter salsa. I always chop these by hand because I like them very fine.

Here’s how to devein the pepper: (click for larger pics)

4) Roughly chop enough cilantro to fill 1/2 cup, then chop it a little more. You can use more or less according to taste. I like a lot of cilantro myself.

5) Add 1 Tsp. garlic salt (or regular salt)

6) Add 1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice. I just use it from the bottle unless I have fresh citrus handy. Sometimes I use a little of both lemon and lime!

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7) A really small pinch of sugar. You can’t really taste it, but it seems to set off the flavors.

8) Mix well and let it chill in the refrigerator for about an hour so all the flavor meld. You can also eat it right away! But it gets even better after it sits for a bit.

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All done! Grab the chips!

There’s so much you can do with Pico de Gallo- It’s great with tortilla chips, or served on top of any Mexican dish, or even on your eggs in the morning! This is the basic recipe that will get you started, then you can customize it to your liking as you learn the flavors.

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Nachos Yum!

 

 

 

Why Choose Soy Over Paraffin Wax Candles

J&L Decor, a handmade home decor company out of Montana, sent me a lovely handmade Lavender and Vanilla Scented Soy Candle to try out recently, along with some enlightening info about why they chose to make their candles using soy wax.

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Lauren Cox, the co-founder of J&L Decor, recently wrote a post about Soy vs Paraffin Wax and why soy is the better choice:

*Article summarized: Paraffin is the most common candle out there right now, and you see them in many big corporate stores like Walmart and Target. Why? Paraffin wax is cheap to buy which makes it cheap to turn into candles.
But paraffin wax is not necessarily the best choice since it is known for stirring up allergies and having a very smokey burn. For this reason, J&L Decor chooses to use soy wax instead. Read on to learn more about paraffin vs. soy and the benefits of burning a cleaner all-natural wax.

What is Paraffin?

Paraffin wax is a byproduct of crude oil refinement and the smokey burn is due to the incomplete combustion of carbon resulting in soot. In fact, most candles made from paraffin wax contain high levels of toxic benzene and toluene found when burning the candle. Both of these are carcinogenic toxins also found in diesel fuel fumes and are what can trigger allergies as well as cause respiratory issues. Since soy wax is a vegetable oil based product, you don’t have to deal with that oily petro-carbon soot you get when burning paraffin wax. This soot is the black slick you find all around the top of the container after burning. The candles can also leave soot on walls on furnishings and is hard to get off.

What Are the Benefits of Soy?

  • Soy candles burn longer – The average burn time on an 8 oz. paraffin wax candle is approximately 35 hours. Soy candles normally burn about twice as long as paraffin candles.
  • They are also easier to clean up – since soy is made from vegetables rather than being a refined gasoline by-product, all you need is soap and water to clean up wax spills.
  • Soy holds fragrance longer because the candles burn slower.
  • They burn clean, no sooty residue!

Is There a Drawback to Using Soy?

Only in appearance- soy candles have slight flaws that paraffin candles do not have. The soy expands and contracts with the change of temperature and can leave air bubbles in the jar. They often have a frosted or orange peel appearance. But these little imperfections do not affect how the candle burns.

Soy Candles from J&L Decor
Soy Candles from J&L Decor

So for a cleaner burn, longer burn time and more fragrant candle, the choice is clear- Soy candles are the way to go!

Want to try one for yourself? Check out the selection at JandLDecor.com

As for my candle, the lavender vanilla scent reminded me a bit of fresh laundry, but I think that’s because I use a lavender vanilla scented fabric softener. I lit the candle and after about 30 min. the scent filled the room and made its way around the house, so I can attest to the highly scented claims being true! And after letting it burn for a while, I blew it out and there was no sooty black ring around the candle. I stuck my finger in the cooling wax to see if it felt different and it was oily and didn’t dry and harden right away like paraffin. I dripped a little on my desk and it easily wiped up with soap and water.

I never knew there was much difference in the wax candles were made from, so it was interesting to learn about the soy wax. I am definitely a fan now! No more trying to wipe the soot off the tops of candle holders. 

 

Real Mom Life, Making it Work

Being mom means being the ultimate multitasker, squeezing things in whenever you can, and trying to do most things with a companion of questionable temperament.

My friend Georjie snapped this pic while she was highlighting my hair one afternoon. It’s not exactly a glamorous shot, but it’s a little peek into daily “mom life.” Me trying to get things done with a little guy at my feet.

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I’m most likely checking an Instagram post while my son plays on the floor of the salon. We were lucky that it was empty that day because he didn’t want to sit quietly and watch TV or his iPad. And I was lucky to have met someone who worked at a cute little salon in the back of a boutique who was OK with having my son scurry around while she did my hair.

We made it work. That’s what moms do. All day, every day.