Daily Life

The Angels Are Singing…My Oven is Clean!

Apparently 2017 is the year I got my cleaning groove on!

This weekend, I cleaned my oven (for the first time since we have lived in our house- embarrassing!), and I feel like I have a brand new oven.

When I rented in college, I was somehow always the person stuck cleaning the oven before check out. I tried oven cleaners, the self cleaning feature, and more, but still nothing worked well. I have despised cleaning ovens ever since, and that’s why I’ve avoided my own for so long.

Well, after last week, something happened that sent me over the edge. I was roasting brussels sprouts for dinner and a couple slid off, to land in the black abyss that was the bottom of my oven. As I cooked later that week, the stank of the brussels got worse and worse.

I decided it was finally time to tackle the beast.

I combined two methods to clean my oven, and I have to say: It wasn’t too bad (which in my world of cleaning = pretty good!). Finally, I found a system that works and I can guarantee my oven will get cleaned more than just once every couple years. 😉

I first used a method I found on kitchn.com. You can find it here. This method was a game. changer. It’s going to be my go-to way from here on out.

Step 1: Remove oven racks.

Step 2: Make a paste of 1/2 cup baking soda and a few tablespoons of water (3-5 Tbsp.).

Step 3: Coat the oven with the paste. Spread it all over the door and interior. I recommend using gloves for this part.

Step 4: Let the mixture sit on your oven overnight (or at least 12 hours) so the baking soda can do its thang.

Step 5: Clean oven racks. I also used kitchn’s advice for this job.

  • Lay down towels in a bathtub to prevent the racks from scratching.
  • Cover the racks with hot water.
  • Add 1/2 cup of dishwasher detergent to the water.
  • Switch it around and let it sit 4 hours or overnight.
  • After soaking, use a brush or sponge to wipe off gunk.
  • Add Bon Ami or Bar Keeper’s Friend to scrub off any remaining tough spots.
  • Rinse and dry.
  • Return to oven.
  • I’m adding this step: Go back and clean your bathtub because it’s going to be NASTY after all of that grime is wiped off of the racks.

*I was very skeptical about this method doing anything to touch the nastiness on my oven racks, but after letting them sit overnight, all of the gunk (and I do mean ALL) literally just wiped off. Hallelujah!

Step 6: Wipe out the oven; Use a damp dish cloth to scrub and wipe the paste out.

Step 7: Put vinegar into a spray bottle and spray onto any baking soda residue in the oven. This will foam a little as the vinegar and baking soda react.

Step 8: Do a final wipe down to get any remaining foam.

Step 9: Replace oven racks.

Step 10: Go take a nap. You deserve it after tackling that whopper of a cleaning job! 🙂

A few notes:

My oven was so grimy that I actually did the baking soda/water paste twice. I scrubbed hard after the first round and it still didn’t get everything so I redid it, and that did help.

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It’s not perfect, but now I’m not so intimidated to try it again. 🙂

Also, my friend Megan suggested using a Magic Eraser to scrub away the gunk. I knew my oven was too dirty right off the bat to go straight to this so I did all of the steps above and then used the Magic Eraser to work on the tough spots.

I’d never used a Magic Eraser before, and after that, I went and bought a value pack of them! Thank you for the tip, Megan!

I cleaned my cooktop, my walls, and my trim with one of those bad boys this weekend. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on them for so long! They’re amazing!

When Travis looked at the oven after it was cleaned, he said, “Wow, I didn’t know that our oven racks were silver. I just thought they were supposed to be black.”

I’d say that is the sign of a successful cleaning job! 😉

Question of the Day: What is the “dreaded” cleaning job you have in your house?

 

 

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Daily Life

Currently (September 2017)

Man, September has gotten away from me. I don’t know where the month went, but I’m not really complaining about it either!

I’m so excited to be getting into October soon. It’s the real MVP of fall! 🙂

Life currently feels like a lot of trudging through to get into the routine of the school year. Parent/teacher conferences are in about three weeks, and I’m ready for a break!

Here’s life currently for September.

Watching: My name is Laura and I am a self-admitted TLC junkie. I haven’t been watching a lot of tv lately, but The Little Couple’s new season just came on so I’ve been indulging in that. I can’t get enough of little Zoey on that show. Gah- she’s precious.

Listening To: Honestly, the thing I feel like I’m listening to the most this month is myself repeating directions… a lot. I think I repeat my classroom directions close to 50 times a day and that’s not even an exaggeration. Why can’t kids listen the first time (or even the second?!).

Shopping For: I picked up a couple new shirts for fall. Bring on that cold weather! I’m ready to be in a sweatshirt drinking something warm!

Wearing: It’s that awkward time of year where it’s cold in the mornings and so hot by the afternoons. Our school is a new level of freezing so I’m starting to already break out my winter clothes to wear. I opened the windows in my classroom several times last week to get some warm air in my room, and I had so many kids walk in my room, go right up to the window, and say, “Ahh. Finally a little warmth.” Haha.

Eating: I’m all about quick recipes now that I’m back in the dead-tired-after-school mode. We’ve mainly been eating recipes out of the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook since everything in it is either a crockpot meal or made to be ready in thirty minutes or less. Here’s our menu this week:

Sunday: Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Monday: Spinach Beef Spaghetti Pie

Tuesday: Brussels Sprouts Bowls with Sausage

Wednesday: Korean Beef Tacos

Thursday: Teriyaki Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: KSU Football Game

Loving: I’m loving our new nightstands! (Are you tired of hearing me talk about them yet? 🙂 ). I’ll have pictures of them later this week on the blog. I love walking in our room and seeing matching, nice looking nightstands. Getting these done has motivated me to accomplish some other little house projects this week, like painting an old paint stand in our guest bedroom and painting the mirror frame in our guest bathroom.

Looking Forward To: Going back home for a weekend. Travis and I both love fall time the most, and fall to us means harvest time on the farm. We are looking for a weekend soon when we can get back, spend some time with our families, ride in the combine, and just enjoy the beauty of NE Kansas. 🙂

Have a great day!

Question of the Day: What is one thing you are currently looking forward to?

Daily Life

Love-Hate Relationship

If you know me at all, you know that I like certain things done the “old-fashioned” way and that I’m kind of a little old lady at heart. 🙂

I am always telling people that I wish I grew up in an earlier, more simple time.

A time without social media documenting everyone’s lives.

Ironically, however, I feel like I’m addicted to checking social media though. (Does that make me a hypocrite?)

I see first hand the impact that social media is having on my students’ young, moldable minds. Their attention spans are shorter. They want immediate gratification. They communicate less with one another.

It’s scary.

I always think back to this quote from Einstein. It seems like our society is here, and that worries me a lot.

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I didn’t get a phone with data and social media until I was in college. Granted, I was one of the last the last of my friends to get a data plan on my phone, but I knew that if I had it, I would use it all the time. And I was right. It’s so easy to waste time scrolling through Instagram or to keep refreshing Facebook, waiting for something exciting to pop up.

I can’t even imagine my students’ lives, as they are now growing up with social media present for their entire lives. They are getting phones earlier and earlier. They all have Instagram, Snapchat, and the works. Social media, to them, is the way of life. They know nothing else, and that blows my mind. It makes me sad for them too. When I was a student in sixth grade, I still had Barbie parties with my friends and invented silly games and dances. Many kids today are making “live Instagram stories” and scrolling through Facebook all night, hoping to look and act older than they currently are.

Social media for me, makes it easy to fall into the comparison trap…and I hate that.

I have a wonderful life. I am genuinely happy, and I’m proud of where I’m at right now. However, it’s so easy to compare yourself to someone else’s highly edited beautiful pictures on social media. And then, just like that, you temporarily forget about all of the blessings and positive factors in your life and feel jealous of those other people.

I have to remind myself that people choose what to put on social media. It is (usually) a highlight reel of their best times, which aren’t happening all of the time. Other people have bad days too; they just don’t post about them.

So why do we keep coming back to social media two, three, fourteen times a day if it can make us feel bad?

It’s addicting!

No matter how ironic it is that we may feel worse about ourselves after looking at social media, we keep doing it because it’s interesting. It’s interesting to see how other people’s lives are going and it can be a great tool to stay connected with distant friends.

I have challenged myself this fall to step away from my phone more often. I all too often have “gone down a rabbit hole” on social media and wasted hours of time that I could have spent doing some productive.

I’m reminding myself that the world is not going to end if I don’t check my phone every hour. Life will still go on and I’ll get a heck of alot more done (and feel better about myself too!).

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people are out together and they’re all checking their phones instead of talking to each other. Our phones have become kind of a security blanket for times when a conversation goes stale or for when we don’t want to interact.

My goal for myself is to be like the little old lady in the picture below. Our society is so focused on documenting every minute detail in our lives that we miss out on truly experiencing those great times.

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Just like my rant about society a few weeks ago, I’m not offering some grand solution, nor do I think this will change anyone’s mind. Writing is therapeutic for me, and it feels good to put the random ramblings of my mind down into sentences. And I’ll admit that I too fall into the trap of wanting to document each little thing I do. (And I realize that it’s a little ironic I’m talking about this on my public blog, but that’s another story. 😉 )

Fall is my favorite time of year, and Travis and I have some many things we want to get done this season (house projects, fitness goals, etc.). I’m not saying that I will (or can 🙂 ) step completely away from social media, but I’m giving myself a “reality check.” It’s a reminder that life is so great….even if it’s not shared online with 400 of your “closest friends.” 😉

Ok, second rant over. (I think my group of rowdy students this year is making me do a serious reevaluation of my beliefs and hopes for my life- ha!).

Have a good day! Go enjoy and make the most of it!

Question of the Day: Do you self-admittedly spend too much time on social media?

 

 

 

Daily Life

Grove Collaborative

This is going to make me sound thirty years older than I am, but I ordered some new cleaning supplies, and I’m pumped! 🙂

I am by no means a cleaning lover. I don’t mind cleaning my house, but it is definitely not something I love to do. I know people who are anal about cleaning and making sure that every square inch of their house is pristine. I am not one of those people. Once I realllllly start looking at all of the small spaces that should be cleaned, it’s sometimes just easier to turn my head from them and ignore that they need cleaned. 😉

I had seen on Facebook (Where else? I need to cut that addiction!) a Freebie deal on a website called Grove Collaborative. It is an online shipment company that features natural household and personal care products. They currently have a special “Fall Seasonals Kit” going on for new customers; If you spend $20, they give you $30 of Mrs. Meyer’s products for free and you get a two-month trial period with free shipping on any orders.

I saw that the website has my favorite cleaning brand, Method, so I decided I would try it out and stock up. I can’t turn down a good deal. Thirty dollars of products free? I’m in! Their products are cheaper than buying the same thing in a store too. How can you go wrong?

New cleaning products always motivate me to clean our house more often so I think Travis is a fan of this too. 🙂

For just over twenty dollars ($20.40, to be exact), I snagged eleven full-size products, a mixture of Method, Mrs. Meyer’s, and Grove Collaborative brands.

If you need some new cleaning products, go check out this deal! The freebie deal includes a full size Mrs. Meyer’s All-Purpose Cleaner, hand soap, dish soap, kitchen towel, and a glass spray bottle.

The new fall scents are out for Mrs. Meyer’s products too. I grabbed the “Apple Cider” scent for the cleaner and dish soap and the hand soap in “Mum” scent. I can’t wait for my house to smell even more like fall!

My box just shipped so I’ll let you know how I like the products when they arrive!

Question of the DayWhat area of your house do you dislike cleaning the most?

For some reason, I hate vacuuming, like h.a.t.e. it. Luckily, we don’t have much carpet in our house, and Travis usually volunteers to take care of it!

Daily Life

Random Facts

I’m feeling extra random today, so here’s some randomness about me that you may not know! I wrote a few other random tidbits a while back that you can read here.

  • I always add a big spoonful of peanut butter to my cereal in the morning because A. cereal doesn’t keep me full and B. I have an obsession with peanut butter. Travis used to think it was the strangest thing and now I’ve seen him get out the peanut butter for his own cereal sometimes. Hmm… 😉

 

  • In our house, Travis definitely has the green thumb (He also worked for a landscaper in high school so…). I have killed three houseplants in the two years that we have lived in our house. So far our most recept houseplant is going strong, but I’m still trying not to get too attached. 🙂

 

  • I get invested in way too many tv shows. I get hooked on a story line easily and feel like I’m invested in the characters’ lives. I tell myself its because I love writing/reading, which means I enjoy a good story- ha!

 

  • Every time Travis and I watch something based on a real event, I have to research about it. Travis makes fun of me because I will pull my phone out right away and read a little about it so I feel more informed. (I did this last weekend when we watched a movie about the Zodiac Killer.) My dad always researches the heck out of something so I think that is where I got it from.

 

  • When I’m reading a good book and there is question of if a character lives, if two characters stay together, etc., I always peek real fast in the last few pages of the book to see what happens. I like that reassurance of knowing that it’s okay and just being in the know, I guess. Because of this, I drive Travis crazy asking him “clues” about a present that he got me or telling him I wish I could “peek” twenty years into the future and see how our life is going. Being patient and waiting things out is not always my strong suit. 😉

 

  • Though we are not having kids anytime soon, I have always been obsessed with picking names. I can remember doing this all the way back in elementary school with my friends. The fact that I am now a teacher is really hurting my baby name list. I have had some absolute favorites that I’ve had to cross off because they are now “tainted” by memories of a bad kid with that name. I like very strange, unique names, but I’m still scared that someone I know is going to “take” one of my favorites!

 

  • I’ve had brown eyes all of my life, like dark brown. Last year, however, I noticed that my eyes weren’t so brown anymore and were more of a green/brown or hazel color. What the heck? Can your eyes really change colors after 25 years of life? So weird!

 

  • Though I am person who loves shopping for clothes and home decor, I am also the most indecisive, guilt-ridden shopper. I have been known to pick up something that I really want, carry it with me all through the store, and then make up an excuse last minute of why I don’t need it or shouldn’t buy it. Travis usually convinces me to just get it and then I spend the next few minutes after purchasing feeling guilty and trying to rationalize my purchase- ha!

 

  • I am twenty-five years old and I still don’t know what I want to do with my hair. I love the feeling of having shorter hair but I don’t think I look as good with it. Longer hair feels like such a chore, but I think it makes me look better. It’s a constant struggle. If I won the lottery, one of the first things I would do with the money is get my own hair and makeup person. I am not a fan of doing either!

 

  • I love for things to be very clean and organized, especially in my home. No matter how dirty the rest of my house may be, however, if my kitchen is clean, I feel like I’ve got it all together. I love going to bed each night with a clean kitchen because waking up and seeing all those dirty dishes makes me want to bolt!

 

That’s it for today! Hope you learned something new! 😉

Question of the Day: What is a random fact about yourself?

 

Daily Life

Summer Bucket List Revisited

Somehow my summer has come and gone (seemingly, in the blink of an eye, I might say!).

You may remember my post last Friday about the five favorite memories I have from this summer. Today, I’m revisiting that summer bucket list that I made right after school ended in May. As usual, I had high goals for myself, and while it was a wonderful summer, I didn’t quite achieve all of them like I was hoping.

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1. Go to Maine.

  • Check! Little did I know that this would be my favorite trip I’ve ever taken! You can read about our time in Bar Harbor, Maine here.

2. Finish painting the exterior of our house and get some front door decor so it looks more inviting.

  • Travis knocked this one out of the park by painting our entire house exterior this summer and installing our new windows. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect front door decor though.

3. Paint our upstairs guest bathroom.

  • My mom and I tackled this one in just one afternoon. You can read about it here.

4. Strip and stain our guest bedroom furniture.

  • So…this one was a fail.  It was too hot most days for me to want to strip furniture so this is going onto my fall “to-do” list!

5. Be able to run 3 miles (and run more consistently).

  • While I didn’t shoot for the moon like I’d hoped, I did run more frequently than before. I still have a ways to go. Maybe I just need to sign up for a 5K to motivate myself to get in gear?! 🙂

6. Have a garage sale.

  • Our weekends seemed like they filled up fast so this one didn’t happen either. I’m now planning to either have a garage sale this fall or will wait until our annual  neighborhood sale next spring.

7. Go boating at least twice.

  • Remember how I said our weekends seemed to fill up? This one didn’t happen which makes me sad. Next year I’ll be more proactive about it since our house projects will be done then!

8. Work on decorating upstairs guest bedroom (art, pillows, nightstands).

  • This is a work in progress! I still have some more that I want to do in our upstairs guest bedroom before I’m ready to share it, but I am happy with the progress! It’s so light and bright and cheery in there!

9. Blog every weekday.

  • Wheh, finally one that I can say I achieved! When I started this blog a few months ago, my intention was honestly just to make myself write every day. Even if writing is a “talent” for someone, you still have to treat it like a skill and practice to hone it in. While these blog posts may be random, I really enjoy documenting fun moments in my life. As I start this next school year, I know that I will not be able to blog everyday (because #fulltimejob), but I’m hoping to post around 2-3 times per week! Stay tuned for more Middle School Mayhem posts!

10. Plant some succulents!

  • I got so close to buying succulents probably ten times this summer, and I don’t know why I didn’t. Womp. Womp. There’s no excuse for that. 😦

Though I didn’t check off many of the items on my summer bucket list, I still had a blast this summer and made such good memories!

Now, onto the best season ever…Fall!!!

Have a super day!

Question of the Day: What is one thing you are proud of accomplishing this summer?

Daily Life

Just Put on the Gloves!

Hello and happy Tuesday!

Between me talking about the full-body rash I got from sun poisoning and my fear of vomit, you’re really going to think I’ve got issues after today’s post. 😉 But…this one was too funny of a story so I have to share. I have no shame!

Last week, I have planned to make Skinnytaste’s Charred Corn and Crab Tacos for dinner one night. One step in the recipe was grilling ears of corn and whole jalapenos to dice up in the tacos.

Travis has been working so hard on all of our home improvement projects this summer (Bless him!), but that also means that lately we have been eating dinner so late.

He always wants to get to a good stopping point, and in the words of Rachel Lindsey (Any other Bachelorette fans?!), “I’m fine until I’m not,” meaning I am cool with him completing a project, until I realize that I’m ravenous and just want to eat. Being hangry is a real thing, believe me.

That night, we were finally getting dinner together around 8:30 p.m. I was measuring the sauce ingredients and Travis was grilling the corn and jalapenos.

When he brought them in, I grabbed the jalapenos (without a second thought) and began removing the seeds and dicing them…like the recipe called for.

Later, as we were enjoying said delicious tacos, I wiped my nose…and the burn began.

My nostril felt like the ring of fire, ablaze in fury.

We laughed about my misfortune (as I had tears running down my face from the heat) and decided to go swim and see if that would take my mind off of the pepper burn in my nose.

After coming back home from swimming and taking a quick shower, it’s like it all hit me.

All of my fingers felt like I had stuck them deep inside a bonfire.

The pain was real.

Travis kind of laughed at me and said, “The seeds from the jalapenos are what make it hurt, the oils that they have.”

That would have been great information to have reminded me of, oh, I don’t know…while you watched me cut the jalapenos, maybe?!!!

I then googled remedies to make the jalapeno burn cease.

First up, soak hands in vegetable oil.

Didn’t work.

Next try, soak hands in milk.

Again, nothing. My hands were still burnin’.

Third try, soak them in rubbing alcohol.

This one provided a little relief, but alas, the burn still won.

Final try, which was claimed to be the end-all, best trick, was making a paste of baking soda and water.

I stuck my hands in, and almost immediately felt relief!

I wanted to pat myself on the back (but, you know, my hands were a little covered) so I just smiled to myself and thought, finally.

Soon though, the burn was back.

No matter how long I tried each of the remedies, they quit working after a certain point.

Determined to not stay up all night with my hands in a bowl, I headed up to bed.

My best move out of all of this was sleeping in my contacts that night. That would have been a sad sight if I tried to take them out with my flaming fingers. Can you imagine??

I tossed and turned, laid on my hands, put them under the covers, put them above the covers…nothing was helping, and all my mind could focus on was the burn.

As some point, I did fall asleep. I was never so happy as I was upon waking up the next morning and realizing that the jalapeno burn was gone!

I called my mom that afternoon and told her about my eventful night.

Her response?

“Well, don’t you wear gloves when you are cutting jalapenos?”

Well….duh, Laura.

That would have been a thought.

That would have saved me a lot of time, pain, and…sanity.

Next time…I’ll just put on the gloves.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had the “pepper burn?” What remedies did you find to help?