On Monday I got a new phone.  An iPhone.  Phones and I have a love hate relationship.  No matter what, I've never had one that actually worked the way it was supposed to.  I've had them randomly drop calls randomly make calls, stop getting email, reboot...  You name it, I've seen my phone do it.  And no, I had never thrown it in water or anything.  I was just that lucky.
So far, the iPhone has been well behaved.  I've installed some apps on it and thought I'd try one out for the month of March, Instagram.
Fat Mum Slim runs an Instagram challenge each day for a month and I'll be taking part in the March Challenge.  Check back here each day to see a bit of my world, Instagram style!

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I've never understood why guys, who are visual for the most part, have such trouble every morning picking something out to wear.  Let me clarify that - trouble picking things that look good together.  With proper accessories and shoes most of the items in a guys closet can be mixed and matched in a variety of ways to form great outfits.
Late last week, I noticed the blank stare was coming back every time the husband got near the closet.  It was an almost fearful look.  Something crossed between a don't make me go in there and have to choose something, and I know that's where the sock monster lives, and he's hangry (hungry enough to make him mad).  Sock monsters eat humans when they're hangry.  Especially ones that linger in the closet hunting for an outfit to wear.
Mix and Match Pieces
Apparently that's also my cue to throw a few more outfits together on polyvore and post them where he can find them easily.  It also cuts down on the time it takes me to dress him in the morning.
This weeks outfits were some closet staples, the light and dark lightweight leather moto jackets and then some things that only see the light of day for special occasions.  I don't see the point of owning clothing you only wear for special events.  If you can't integrate it into your everyday wear, the cost per wear is nearly preventative.  So, break out your cuff links and three piece suits.  You might as well wear them.  Try wearing a dress shirt and vest under a cardi or jacket with your nicer jeans and some awesome shoes or boots.  Have a shirt with french cuffs?  Even better.  Wear them.
Guys, a little secret.  Your suits and cuff links and specialty items are to women what lingerie is to you.  
Office Wear Business Casual
Our office has a Smart Business Casual dress code.  We can wear jeans, if they're in pristine condition and we wear a jacket or sweater with them.  Normally, we're in nicer stuff unless we're crawling under desks that day.
The miltary vibe has been in style for a while now, so a darker sweater in that style, with a nice dress shirt, cuffed and either a pair of non-cotton chinos or dress pants you have an outfit.  Add great shoes, not scuffed and a watch, you're starting to accessorize.  Those details are what makes you look put together.  I can also say from experience they tend to build a little confidence as well.
Mostly Monochrome

Another fun thing to do from time to time is wear a monochromatic color scheme.  Subtle variations on one color for you guys who just said 'huh?' in your heads.  A pair of crisp, dark grey jeans, with a black or charcoal cashmere sweater, a moto jacket in black, maybe a deep grey stripe down the arm, or the chest.  That's your base outfit.  Depending on the sweater you choose, you could put a pop of color under it with a t-shirt, or add a scarf if the weather calls for it.  A stainless watch to put on some shine, or even a bracelet if you're the type for it adds depth and interest.  So do shoes.  I can't stress that enough.
Having a few great pairs of shoes and boots is essential.  If you refer to your shoes as the brown ones and the black ones, and I have sneakers too, you need a few more pair.  It will increase the life of the ones you already own, give the shoes a day or so to breathe and probably, if you have some back issues, help with that as well.
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The remodeling of the family room continues, still.  I've forgotten how long some projects can take.  How much mess they make, and that I had that muscle, and that one too.
Dad came by last week and helped the husband pick up a few sheets of drywall.  Sixteen of them to be exact.  They're conveniently sheltered in the garage for the moment, just waiting to be picked up, cut to size and screwed in.
Ugly brick
While we were waiting to collect the drywall, we got to stare at the fireplace for a week in all its ugly-ass glory.  After a discussion or two it was decided that painting the brick was the best option.  I know a few of you just gasped at the audacity of that statement.  Painted brick- oh the horrors!  You can't undo it!  It will get dirty...the list goes on.  The truth is, the brick was broken in many places, extremely pitted and very uneven, even the mantle is uneven.  So I broke out some old paint from the depths of the basement, found a paintbrush and got to it.  After one coat it looked better, after two it looked great except for the deepest pitted areas and a few breaks in the brick the paint couldn't hide.
Bye bye ugly brick
The husband took a look at those spots and decided he had some white caulk that would fix that right up.  He disappears out to the garage to dig the caulk out of whatever box it was hiding in and brings it back in to warm up a little before I use it.  A few hours later I grab the caulk, and fill in all the holes.
Standing back from the fireplace, it looks fantastic.  The white of the caulk blended right in, so good in fact I had trouble finding some of it when I was smoothing it out.
White and glossy
The next day I walked into the room and was completely mystified by the holes in the brick showing back up.  I actually said, 'did the brick soak up the caulk or something?'.  Keep in mind, I was told it was white caulk.  I just never looked at the tube, you know, where it says CLEAR.  After poking at the clear caulk and being teased about my reading skills, I painted over the caulk and finished the fireplace.
We managed to get the drywall up over the long weekend.  Only a few sheets left to go at this point, and then the taping and mudding can begin.
Friendship bracelets
With the boys getting older, some holidays just aren't the same anymore.  Some however, are getting to be a little more fun.  This year, Valentine's day was one of them.  Both boys were excited for their school parties, and instead of buying the crappy little kid valentines, we made them this year.  I found this cute idea on Pinterest.com and sent them in with both boys.  All their classmates now have friendship bracelets, and both boys were excited to give them out.  I think I was nearly as excited to hear about how the party went after school that day, as they were to tell me all about it.

Breakfast in bed
The boys, however, ended up with mom-made coupon books for Valentine's Day instead of a bunch of candy or cards they don't really care about.  The coupon books are filled with things like get out of chores today and ice cream date with mom.  There are day trips, and a movie and one of the coupons was for breakfast in bed.  Both boys decided to take advantage of that one this weekend.  One batch of homemade blueberry pancakes topped with bananas and maple syrup later, I had some very happy little minions.

Happy minion #2
Needless to say, mom coupons will show up for other holidays.  They were unbelievably well received.  Logan is going through his as fast as he can.  Connor is savoring his a little more, but not by much.  Now I just have to come up with new ideas for this to put in the coupon books.
Happy minion #1

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I don't normally post things over the weekend, but I've been lax in posting much of anything lately. Life has been hectic.
I say that, and I bet you're all thinking, my life is hectic too. I imagine it is. In fact, I like going places and imagining lives for people. It's an amusing past time as you wait for your coffee, browse through a store, or wait for dinner to arrive at your table. Every time I go thrifting, I try to pick out the hoarder I'm sure is in the store. I wonder which person in line at Starbucks is really just some toddlers mother that's escaped the kid for an hour. Finally, when I see two people out in the evening that seem a little awkward together, I don't think awww, they're on their first date. No, I think those two could be covert operatives comparing notes, or maybe they're having a wild and sleazy affair, this is just the part we get to see.
Our imaginations take us many places in our lives. Good places, bad places and all the places in between. I wonder too, if other people still let their imaginations run wild. Do you let your inner child come out sometimes? What does he or she do? Do they talk to you? What do they say? How does it effect the choices you make, or how you make them? Do you let yourself pretend sometimes?
I've posed a few questions for you all to answer, either for yourself, or maybe in the comments section (hint, hint) and here are a few of the things I do to let my inner child come out and play.

I still play dress up. My absolute favorite place to do so is at White House Black Market. They even help bring you clothes!
I've always wanted to meet the husband at some bar, act like I don't know him and see how well he does trying to 'pick me up'.
Look at that cloud - it looks like a monkey riding a dinosaur! Rawr!
I name everything Bob. People, animals, inanimate objects. They all gets names and they're Bob.
I love places that use big sheets of paper to cover their tables, especially if they have crayons too. I can't help but draw and color, even if I'm with other adults.
Legos, seriously. Still love them.
Water guns in the summer, nerf dart guns in the winter.
Sometimes I make pancakes into faces or animals.
I might have been caught, once, using condiments to make faces on hamburgers.
Sprinkles and whipped cream on ice cream really does make it taste better.

So there you have it, a few things I do to bring out my inner child. Now that I've shown you mine, will you show me yours?
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"I have a hundred bucks, a couple of tacos, and two sticks of gum, let's go!", says the husband.  When I finished laughing at the absurdity of that, (and absently wondered where the penguin was) we headed over the river and through the slums to 19th street to check out a furniture consignment gallery.  I'll get this out of the way right now, I think most consignment places charge too much.  I get that when you have a middleman, the prices are higher, but seriously, when you can buy it new for that price, you're charging too much.
Now that my rant is over, they had some nice things.  Some priced correctly.  Some not even close.  They did however have something we want.  And, it's priced in our budget.  Not only does it fulfill the want of a bar, but it has an absolutely adorable side table.
I already have coffee flavored dreams of that little table with a lamp on it.  The three little drawers have books in them, and a few coasters.  If I catch anyone putting their sweaty glasses down on my not yet existant table, there will be trouble.  Of course, I still need a chair to sit next to that cute little table.  I'm hoping for something I can curl up in.  Something I can let myself sink into, maybe even fall asleep in, but only if it goes with the table.
Don't judge him, he's just dirty
Did I mention we didn't actually buy the furniture?  Yeah, we did the whole, let's think about it.  It's still at the consignment place.  At least until tomorrow.  Then I'll go adopt my little table and bring him home, where he belongs.
And so this past Sunday morning began with a decided lack of muffins.  I was having dreams of fresh, warm from the oven muffins.  Something with cranberries in it.  One of the minions, who for his personal safety shall remain nameless, ate all the applesauce.  Muffins could be made without it, but they just don't taste the same.  So, a pox on you small child, I know where you sleep, and when.  Just for spite, I may explain all about Santa on a random Tuesday.

After some coffee, the last prednisone for this cycle (no tail yet, btw), and some cereal (I put craisins in it, just because) we trudged back to the family room. With crowbars in hand, the last of the paneling was dealt with.  I had no idea you had to put paneling in with railroad spikes, but in a few places someone decided it was a great idea!  It's not.  Paneling in general is just a bad idea, so if you ever considered it, just stop.  Stop now.

Gold Leaf Beaver
The day before this, we spent running about the countryside looking at different types of furniture.  Some interesting, some not, some expensive, some not, but we did agree on a number of things.  We now know what we're looking for, if we ever get the walls put back up.  And, $39,000 for a gold leaf beaver is really just too much.

Sometimes, you get a craving for something and you know it's going to make you a little miserable around the edges.  Pizza is that thing for me.  I just don't even care that I'm going to feel a little ick from the cheese.  I know it's going to taste really, really good though.  Mostly I think it's because it's one of the things the husband makes on his own with no help from me, and somehow, food made by someone else always tastes better.

Since I can't have soy, I can't just buy a frozen pizza either.  We use Bob's Red Mill Pizza mix.  The handy instructions are on the package, and Bob, good man that he is, includes enough mix for two pizzas.  Yay for leftovers!

In our house, we make a minor modification and skip the eggs that it calls for and use a flax seed and water mixture instead.  Makes the crust a little more interesting in texture while still tasting great.

Pizza sauce can be store bought, homemade, or if you're really adventureous try pesto.  Tonights version will be made with Del Grosso's regular pizza sauce.  It's good, and fairly local to us.

For any of you not familar with what gluten free dough is like, imagine the gooey part of paper mache.  It's sort of like that and it gets all over your hands.  Fun to play in, but impossible to roll out.  You have to just half the dough and press it to the pan with wet fingers.  The water keeps it from sticking to you.  Pop it in the oven to par bake for a few minutes.

Once the crust has baked a few minutes, pull it out and decorate it up the way you want it with the toppings.  Bake as normal and enjoy.

I know a few of you are thinking, WAIT!  Where is the beer?  Don't you know that pizza and beer go together like bacon and...well, anything?  Yes, I'm well aware.  I don't have beer with every pizza, but when I do, I drink Redbridge.

Uh, Oh, fire alarm just went off.  Guessing that means pizza is ready!
I can always tell when I'm wearing something I haven't for awhile.  It might be the hives that gives it away, or maybe the raised red skin.  My personal favorite part is that I just want to rip the skin off because it's itching so bad.  No matter what gives it away, I can tell you the what the issue is: the laundry soap or the fabric softner.

I had no idea soy and wheat were in so many products before I had issues with them, but it does explain a few things over the years.  Itchy, red, irratated skin, breakouts that I couldn't clear up (though I was offered plenty of drugs for that) and hives for seemingly no reason.  I've even seen an allergist, who swears I'm not allergic to anything.  His tests say so!

Before I head off on a tangent rant, let's get to what this post is about, taking care of your clothes.  I've had varying washers over the years.  There was the one at my parents place that used to go for a walk.  The one in the second apartment that liked to put rust stains on my clothing, and then I got the front load one.  I love him.  I think for a few weeks we all were mesmerized by it.  The cat and I would watch in joyful bliss as the clothes sloshed around in a circle, used less energy and got everything the cleanest I've ever seen.
However with the itching being an issue, I went through a lot of different types of laundry detergent and softners.  Finally, last year I gave up.  I now make my own, and I've learned a few things while doing so.

1).  Never use fabric softner with your towels.  They don't get clean and don't dry you as well either.
2).  Dryer balls actually work as well as dryer sheets.  Maybe they don't smell as nice, but we seem to be the only culture obsessed with smelling Tropically Fresh.
3). Detergent is incredibly overpriced.
4). Those spray pretreaters don't begin to work.
5). My grandmother is an incrediblly brilliant woman.

Years ago, when the kids were little, my grandmother told me to find a laundry soap bar to get out the stains in the kids clothes.  I did, and it worked.  It worked something akin to magic, not the way a pretreater does.
I still use it today for everything from blood and grass stains to general food splatter and whatever the kids managed to smear on themselves.  I've yet to really find anything it won't take out.  So, what is this miracle product?  It's Fels Naptha.  Costs about a dollar a bar, and as a pretreater, lasts forever.  The actual laundry detergent I make is made with it as well.

The recipe for the detergent is as follows:

1 bar of fels naptha, grated.  (use a kitchen grater on the small holes, and one or more of your children to do this)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup baking soda
1 cup color safe bleach

Stir all that up and put it in a sealed container.  If you want you can add a few drops of essential oils to it.  You might miss being tropical fresh otherwise.

I know that seems as though it isn't making all that much, but keep in mind you're only going to use a tablespoon at a time for a front load. A batch like that keeps a family of four in detergent for a few months.  It might cost roughly 8 dollars for all the supplies.  You'll have leftovers for about 3 more batches, buying the small boxes of the ingredients, so will only cost you about $1 for the soap bar next batch you make.  I think about that every time I pass the $20 box of Tide and I snicker the rest of the way through the store.