Nancy needs your recommendations!

I received an e-mail the other day asking for some suggestions, and I wanted to get some recommendations from those who stop by. Please help Nancy with some options that will work well for her preferences. Thank you!

"I'm going to be starting law school in August, and since I'm one of the rare people who focuses better while taking notes with pen and paper, I would love some good pen recommendations. I prefer ballpoint (but am not opposed to a good quick-dry ink pen) and something not too thick (sorry, Schneider Slider XB) but really what I'm looking for is smoothness, consistency,and comfort. While I normally go for the regular old cheap ballpoints since they get the job done, I want something more durable that I'm not going to have to worry about crapping out on me (until the ink is gone). Hopefully I'm not being too picky..."

So, what does everyone recommend?

Juice Your Way To A Healthier You With These Tips

by Dorsey T. Emanus

Millions of people have discovered that juicing fruits and vegetables is perhaps one of the fastest and most efficient ways to nourish their body. If you currently juice or are interested in starting, here are some helpful juicing techniques and tips that can make things easier, and help you get the most benefits of adding juices to your diet.

Include foods that are negative in calorie count to your juice regimen as often as you can to get maximum nutrition with minimum additional fat burning exercises. The most popular negative-calorie foods are broccoli, cabbage, kale and herbs. High fiber fruits are also the best choice, as they take a lot of digestion to break down.

Juicers that feature a masticating option are your best bet. Masticating juicers come with extra features you won't find on most other juices, such as features to grind, mill, and puree your juice. Explore these different features to spice up your juicing routine.

Since they're bitter, you might want to mix them with sweet fruits or vegetables. Any sweet fruit will do, or even a sweet vegetable like a carrot. You can try watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, and many other different options to sweeten your juice. Create your own mix for your own tastes.
If you'd like to enhance your hair and skin, look no further than cucumber juice! There are large amounts of the mineral silica found in cucumbers. Silica is not only good for skin and hair, it is also good for bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Once you have completed making your juice, wash the machine right away. You are likely to notice the ability of some types of juice to cause staining on parts of your juicing equipment.

When you wish to add new vegetables for juicing, just add one at a time. New foods can sometimes upset your stomach. Introducing foods gradually gives your body time to adjust and makes it easier to identify foods that cause digestive distress.

You can add in fruits or vegetables you do not like and then cover their flavor up with a stronger and yummier fruit or vegetable. By doing this, you can ensure that you are not missing out on any vitamins and minerals that are good for you. Two great ingredients to use to mask flavors you don't like are lemon juice and apples.
If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, only juice vegetables until you talk to your doctor. The sugar levels in your blood can rapidly increase by sugars from fruit. People who have medical conditions that require certain dietary restrictions should carefully keep track of the amounts of fruit used in their juice blends. Vegetables seldom present a blood glucose concern, but keep in mind some vegetables can affect blood coagulation, an important consideration if you are using prescription blood thinners.

When you get started with juicing, keep in mind that not all fruits are the same. Some citrus fruits, such as tangerines and oranges, may require special equipment to properly extract their juice. Then, there are melons like cantaloupe and honeydew, neither of which taste very good blended with other fruits.

Have you reached a point in your smoothie preparation where you have run out of new ideas. Go to the nearest bookstore and find cookbooks of recipes, or look online. If you drink the same juice every day, you're going to get bored. Vary your recipes to keep yourself interested.

As stated in the article above, consuming vegetable and fresh fruit juice is is a highly nutritious benefit to your health. If you follow a regular, detailed juicing regimen, you can see dramatic improvement in your fitness and overall health.
Cucumber Blueberry Smoothie Recipe

About the Author:

Schneider Xtra Document .3 Rollerball

After seeing my post on the Schneider Memo XB, Stride, Inc. reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in sampling additional Schneider products, so I obviously jumped at the opportunity to see what else Schneider has to offer. 

Thanks to Stride, Inc., you will start seeing Schneider products in some of the big box retails stores, such as Office Depot and OfficeMax. Given the stagnant selection typically found in the larger retailers, new options are certainly welcome. 

So, what is the Schneider Xtra Document?

 From the Schneider Xtra Document Page:

"Ink roller with conical tip made of stainless steel and innovative liquid ink technology. Waterproof ink according to ISO 14145-2. The Xtra ink regulator controls the ink flow exactly and consistently from beginning to end, without blots or interruptions. The large ink reservoir has a level indicator and an ergonomic rubber grip on the barrel of the pen, promoting a tireless and relaxed writing experience. The cap has a high value metal clip."

Depending on the paper you use, the line width will be somewhere between .3 and .5 - And, in either case, this is a good thing, especially considering that many liquid ink pens bleed out to a .6-.8+ line width.

In terms of fine point pens, Japan tends to excel at producing clean, sharp lines in the micro tip category and, based on my experience, Germany is likely second in line for producing high-quality pens with precision writing, though this may be subject to debate (please comment if you feel differently).

The fact that these pens are becoming more popular in the U.S. retail environment is huge; normally we are stuck with a very narrow margin of options, and I can only hope that consumers of fine writing implements create the demand required to change the status quo. 

As far as the conical tip and rubber grip, both are quite solid in quality and performance. The grip is made of the material that tends to attract dust but, being a capped pen, I think the buildup after a few days of use is fairly negligible.

While the pen is not refillable, I think the build quality will easily last through the life of the life of the ink.

The description from Schneider notes the "high value metal clip", and I am not quite sure what is meant about the value, but it is solid, aesthetically pleasing, and looks very nice. What more can be said?

It may seem flashy, but this offering from Schneider is, apparently, loaded with technology to ensure consistent, satisfactory writing, and everything I experienced with this pen reaffirms that indication. I will soon be posting additional reviews from the Schneider package I received from Stride, Inc. 

Go Green with a Reusable Swim Diaper (Video)

Living a greener lifestyle doesn't always have to mean big changes. I'm a firm believer that you can go green in small ways, every day. Heck, I wish I could go out and buy a hybrid or solar panels for my house, but I can't. Instead, I look for the little things. One little thing I do is to "opt out" of using traditional swim diapers for Avery, and instead use a reusable one.

iPlay Ultimate Swim Diaper

Now I've blogged about swapping out disposable-type items before (with cloth napkins, glass straws, wool dryer balls, and even cloth diapers for Avery), but when it came to deciding what she was going to wear to the pool, I was stumped. I didn't know of any alternatives out there other than the standard, "Little Swimmers" by Huggies. Nothing against "Little Swimmers", because at least they help keep some yucky things out of public pools.  But at the end of the day I just don't like knowing that each time we go to the pool, I will be dropping one more thing into my trash can. Call it "green guilt," but I just can't do it.

Our "green-bottomed" swim girl.

To my luck, I stumbled upon a cool, green alternative called an iPlay Ultimate Swim Diaper. It works in a way similar to a cloth diaper in how your baby can wear it over and over again with a simple wash in between uses. Sounds good to me! So I got one off of (you can also find them at Buy Buy Baby and other online retailers) and we tried it out with Avery.
We just put it on under her swimsuit, like you would any other diaper, and then off we went to the pool.

It didn't take long until she was hooked, I was hooked, and I bet my local public pool was glad that I had something to keep that poop in! Did you know that most states require diapers of some kind of on all babies of non-potty trained age?

Here's the details of the diaper (according to the iPlay website):
  • features snaps down the side for quick changing
  • super absorbent inner layer absorbs wetness
  • wick away liner wicks moisture away from baby's skin
  • snug fitting around legs and waist to contain solid matter
  • UPF 50
  • they have a variety of colors and sizes to choose from (Avery wears a size large right now)

Here's some other things I like about the diaper:
  • you save money since you don't have to keep buying disposables
  • reduces waste in landfills
  • accomplishes the same goal as the disposables of helping to keep the poop in, but in a greener way
  • does not get saggy when wet in the pool like a traditional diaper or swim diaper does

Here's some "cons" of the diaper:
  • it does not hold in much liquid (in the form of pee). Basically you probably should put this on right before you head to the pool, or maybe even once you get there, otherwise your baby might leak through the swim diaper, through their swimsuit, and then onto you or anywhere else they may sit.  (You could avoid this by putting one cloth diaper, or cloth napkin in with the swim diaper to absorb the pee, and then remove it before they arrive at the pool. We just try to put it on her right before we leave to go to the pool and we're usually fine.) This is one con I can deal with because I'd rather have her possibly leak before arriving to the pool than have to wear a big, bulky swim diaper that's "more absorbent".
Let's see the diaper in action!

Here's a video of Avery and I showing how to put on the swim diaper, how she wears it in the pool and then what we do with it when we get home...

A few more things:

After getting home from the pool, I wash Avery's Swim Diaper in with our laundry, just to keep it from getting stained (we don't want that nice white turning to yellow!).  After washing it, I set it out on our porch to dry and soak up some sun. I know of a lot of cloth diaper mamas who use this "sun" trick to keep their cloth diapers looking nice and white. So far it's working for our Swim Diaper too.
This post is a perfect drying spot for the diaper.
Just flat on the porch also works.

To wrap up with, here are a few more pictures of our little "fish" Avery, wearing her iPlay Swim Diaper as she swims around one day at our local pool. You'll see her wearing a life-vest contraption thing and that's because she is one adventurous swimmer! She was hesitant in the beginning (for like 5 minutes) of the water, but it didn't take long until she wanted to do "big girl things." And the last thing she wanted was me holding on to her. So in came my second must-have swim accessory of the summer: Stearns Puddle Jumpers Life Jacket ($25).

"Let's give a round of applause for this Puddle Jumper!"

This life jacket goes on her arms and around her chest to keep her more afloat as she navigates around the pool. True greenies probably wouldn't like this because it's made of polyester and uses foam to help it float, but when you've got a 14 month old who wants to go everywhere in the water, you go with the product that can give you the most peace of mind, and this is that product.

Since she started wearing the Puddle Jumper Life Jacket, Avery floats around much more in the water and we even see her trying to kick her legs as she "swims" around the pool. Obviously this doesn't take the place of someone being right next to her and watching her at all times, but at least I can give her a little space to explore in the water. Talk about a "happy mama" and a "happy baby"!

Swim Avery! Swim!

So that's how we go green with a resuable swim diaper. What type of swim diaper alternatives do you use? Share below!

Just so you know, I purchased the iPlay Swim Diaper with my own money and this is my honest review of it. (  :

Recently this post was linked up over Frugally Sustainable as part of the "Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Blog Hop." So check it out and find more ways you can go green!

Chair Reupholster

Before   -----   After

When we moved to Chicago, rather than renting a moving truck and paying a boat-load of money for that, we sold all of our furniture on Craigslist and bought new furniture when we got here. But clearly, I hate spending money, so the new furniture we got was really thrift-store and Craigslist furniture. We were looking for a semi-attractive computer chair that would look nice and match our living room. We found an antique chair at Goodwill for $3.99. Unfortunately, it didn't match and it was wobbly. But us, being the resouceful, thrifty people we are, bought it anyway with plans to make it over.

The original chair. It was in surprisingly good shape for costing 3.99.
 Step One: Cut off and remove the old fabric. This part was the most tedious. I used a screwdriver and some pliers to take out the nail head trim and the 400 staples that kept the fabric in place.

Step Two: Paint. For this chair, I spraypainted it with white spraypaint first. That provided the base coat so I didn't have to put the paint on as thickly with the brush. When the spraypaint dried, Chase brush painted the chair with glossy white paint.

Step Three: Recover the chair. This fabric was a sweater I found at Salvation Army for $.66. It was going to be used to recover the pillows I made, but I had enough for those, so I saved this for the chair. I cut the fabric so it fit the chair, but had extra length hanging off the edge. Using a staple gun, I pulled the fabric tightly down, and stapled in the same place the original staples were. It was kind of tricky to fit it around the back of the chair, but I cut and stapled until it worked out. Make sure the staples are as close together as you can make them.

Step Four: Trim the fabric right underneath the staples.

 Step Five: Add trim. I bought this trim at Hobby Lobby for $.99 per yard in the upholstery section. It took 2 yards and I had a little bit left over. I just used hotglue to attach it. Be certain the trim you buy is wide enough to cover all of the staples.

Step Six: Stabilize the chair. We bought some L-brackets from Home Depot for $1.50, I think. Chase drilled the holes and attached these on the two back legs to keep it from wobbling as much.

Step Seven: Admire the beautiful finished product. :)

A Growing Boy

Since Cruz was born, I've kept a quick log of new discoveries, milestones, and memories on my computer screen, compiling his growth each month in a blog post.  These blog posts are some of my most favorite to look back on, as they give such insight into what we were thinking and going through as parents at that time, not to mention, help us remember those little things that are so easy to forget.  Babies change so fast, and with each new change brings excitement, a little apprehension, and so much happiness.  These posts are found under the 'Cruz Month to Month' tab below the blog header.   

I've often wondered, however, just how long I can keep up with these posts, and when it's a good time to stop documenting those month to month milestones.  It's like when do stop communicating your child's age in 'months' and just settle on 'one and a half,' or 'two'?  After all, will I still be recording Cruz's 'month' post when he's 92 months old???  

So, when we returned home from Mexico the day before Cruz's 20 month 'birthday,' I decided to skip the milestone post and instead focus on unpacking, laundry, and reconnecting with the little man I missed so much.  And now, as irony would have it, I think Cruz has changed and grown more this month than most in the past.  I swear we left a baby at Beau's parents on June 6th, and returned home to a toddler!  I'm blown away every day at his level of skill, mobility, and smarts, and can really see a clear glimpse of who he's going to be as a young boy.  It's so amazing to watch toddlers at work (and a little frustrating at times), and I feel honored to get to provide him with new territory to explore and new learning to discover every single day.  It's exhausting work, but the most rewarding I've ever encountered ;)

So, quite possibly for the last time (we'll see), my Cruz Man at 20 months... 

1.  You are talking so much more than a month ago.  I swear in two weeks' time, you understand every thing we say to you and try your hardest to tell us what it is you want to say.  You answer every question we ask with a causal 'yea,' or a 'no,' and nod your head when we are spot on at figuring you out.  Some of your favorite words are book, bug, elmo, it's broken, bus, birds (as in Angry Birds), banana, pizza, truck, shoes, a hat, night-night, and applegate (we still aren't sure what you mean, but you say this all the time).

2.  You are a pro at animal sounds, and make us laugh with your deep-pitched lion roar, and your very realistic chicken cluck.  You beat your hands against your chest and chant when we request a monkey, and you even slither like a snake.  

3.  You count, but seem to go from one, to two, to three, to nine!  It's pretty adorable, especially when you hold up the corresponding fingers when you're about ready to 'jump' from your anywhere chair.

4.  One of my absolute favorite new 'things' you do is play pretend.  Where kids pick this up is beyond me, but you have these cute little sound effects when you play that are just so 'boy.'  The other day, I caught you filling up the gas tank on one of your play cars, and you were making the 'ssss' sound for the gas.  I was always good at pretending when I was little and sure hope you exercise that imagination, too.

5.  You are a water rat!  We've been to the pool four times this summer, and soon you'll be diving off that board!  You watch the big kids and think you can imitate everything they do, from putting your face in the water, to wanting to go down that crazy slide!  You have a few years until that, but in the meantime, I'm sure you'll keep this mama on her toes chasing you around!

My beach bum...

6.  You've taken to eating again --- like a piggie!  You try lots of new foods, and eat adult-sized portions of the foods you love.  You've stolen your father's heart with your love of the meat group, but haven't impressed him with your love of ketchup and hot dogs!  You would dip anything in ketchup if we gave you that option!  

7.  You are a big 'helper' and like to be a part of EVERYTHING.  Brushing your teeth is a big hit, and you even like to help me put lotion on my legs!  You help me water the flowers every night (making sound effects for the hose sound), and love to copy your daddy, whether he's grilling on the Big Green Egg, or fixing or putting something together.

Helping in the garden... 

8.  You are a music man, and have been since you were a baby.  Your favorite toys are your drums and new kitty piano, and we're amazed at the rhythm you seem to have.  You cock your head to the side like Stevie Wonder when you're really feeling the music, and stick your tongue out when you concentrate (Beau says this is a Jorgensen trait).  Our weekly dance parties in the living room to a music station on TV are so much fun!

I love this picture below so much because it looks like you are reading music.  We went to feed Grandma and Grandpa Hoodjer's kitties on Friday, and you immediately went to work on the keys.  You did this all on your own --- opened up a church hymnal and started to play, keeping your eyes on the music at all times.

9.  You fake wimper and search for 'owies' on your arm just so you can have your boo-boo bunny and get a kiss from mom.  We play this game a few times each week.  

10.  You LOVE to read your books, and have especially developed a love for How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends.

11.  You have officially learned the word 'mine' and say it a little too frequently sometimes.  You definitely DEFINITELY know what you want, and when it's something you can't have (like a candy cane you found before dinner), you throw a pretty good fit!  You no longer want to sit in the front of the cart at Target, and absolutely hate to wear your cute brown flip flops.  You are, however, pretty easy to redirect and distract, and it's a constant game we play ;) 

12.  My favorite phrases you say are 'ohhhhhh, man!' and 'it's broken.'

13.  You continue to charm your way through life and get quite a lot of attention out in public.  We call you 'the mayor' because you're always reaching out to the crowd, waving, and offering a confident 'hi' to them.  

14.  You're a dare-devil, especially when you dive-bomb off the top of your anywhere chair or dive head-first into your baby pool in the backyard!

15.  You continue to be in love with all things Elmo.

Eggs and Elmo on a Saturday morning...

16.  You're working on your two-year molars, evidenced by your usual signs...

17.  You not only dance, but you're proving to be quite the singer, too.  When I ask what songs you want to sing, you always say, 'ummm???' and then put your index finger to your mouth signalling the 'shh' sound for the last verse in The Wheels on the Bus.  Thanks to daycare, you know all the actions to that one, This Little Light of Mine, The B-I-B-L-E, and Row Row Row Your Boat. 

18.  I can finally say you've become a bit of a mommy's boy.  Lately, when I'm in another room, I hear you chirp, 'mom,' throughout the house, and your eyes light up when you see me.  This, of course, makes me want to melt (and rub it in a little since you've been quite the daddy's boy before ;).  And sometimes, out of nowhere, you cup your little hands around my face or wrap your arms around my neck and shower me with's precious.

19.  You snore --- well, kind of.  The other night as Dad was putting you to sleep, he told you to go 'night night.'  Seconds later, you were laying there with your eyes closed, pretending to be asleep by a loud, recognizable snore.  We laughed, of course, and you proceeded to 'snore' for the next half hour!  You definitely learned this trick from Daddy ;)

20.  Speaking of sleeping, it's been a little tricky to get you to sleep lately.  I think it's time for a new room, a new bed, and a new start :)

Happy 20 months, Cruz, better late than never, I guess! 



I don't know about the rest of you, but my facebook feed has been blown up with,

"Obama sucks and has violated every single constitutional right in the world and is probably certainly for sure going to make the United States into a socialist nation and he's probably going to kill all the conservatives because we disagree and we're right and basically the entire world is going to hell, but at least maybe the rapture will come sooner since the supreme court went all liberal on us and sided with that socialist moron. And maybe we'll just move to Canada!"

Whew. That was exhausting just typing that. I'm still not certain why people despise the health care plan so much. It's obvious why insurance companies do. But I still don't understand why normal people would be so drastically against this plan that it's a national tragedy the Supreme Court allowed it to stay in existence. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny people coverage for a pre-existing condition. Yeah, that's socialism right there. What? I think national health care is a fantastic idea, and the fact that the United States is one of the only developed nations not to support it is somewhat surprising. It's also the reason I am going to one day move to Great Britain. But that's neither here nor there.

The real reason for this post is because I found a hilarious website that I had to share. I first thought, hmm, maybe I'll link it on facebook? But then one half of a second later I realized that it would turn into a horrible debate, which I actually relish debates and arguments, but it would be the conservative masses against me.

I need more liberal friends.

So, the website? Here it is. It's the funniest thing I've read in awhile. For all the people that want to craft and remake random crap into beautiful things, I will post a tutorial tomorrow. For today I hope you enjoy the passionate typing of one twenty-something moderate-liberal.