5 Tips for the Three Rs

Every Wednesday, Layla from Lettered Cottage does a segment called “Let’s Go With Layla” on her Instagram and she shares 5 tips, ideas, or cool finds that she spots out and about. A few weeks ago, she decided to open the floor up to anyone who wanted to participate and host their own Let’s Go With Layla!

Stepping WAY out of my comfort zone, I decided to hop on Instagram and share a few of my favorite five tips in the topic of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

So let’s go (with Layla!)

Tip One: Cutting out the plastic water bottles! I’m actually super guilty of this. I’m very weird about drinking water from the sink – I always have been. So up until about March, I was buying water bottles by the 24pack. Between my husband and I, we would put out 60-70 bottles a WEEK!

I finally had enough so I just dove in and bought a water filter while I was at the grocery store. It has reduced our recycling waste by a bunch and I feel much better about our smaller impact on plastic use.

This is the one I purchased from the grocery store Classic 18 Cup Dispenser

Tip Two: Ditch the plastic shopping bags! I invested less than $7 in reusable grocery bags from my local grocery store and haven’t looked back since! I always take them with me! Pro Tip: buy a clip to hang them from the cart, so you take up less space inside the cart. It’s so nice not bringing all of that one use plastic into my home. Luckily lots of stores now recycle their plastic bags, so you can just bring them back to the store if you’ve got a collection or forget your reusable bags.

I want to add that I just switched to using mesh bags for my fruits and vegetables instead of those super thin & hard to recycle plastic bags in the produce section. I love them so much! Click here for the Mesh Bags I bought on Amazon.

Tip Three: Regifting Books/Library Card! I joined a challenge in January on Facebook where if you shared the post, you agreed to send one book each to the first 5 people who commented, as long as they also shared it and committed to the challenge.

It got me thinking – I tend to read books and just leave them sitting on a shelf for… well, ever. So now aside from this challenge, I’m also making it a habit to regift these books. I’ve also stepped up my library book borrowing game up.

Tip Four: I try to be really smart about buying CJ toys. I tend to buy less toys that have batteries and buttons because they break easier, creating more waste. I also look for toys made from recycled items. Bonus points if those toys are second-hand, but I always deep clean them when I get them that way. Don’t worry – she has plenty of new loud and bright toys too.

Tip Five: Reusable straws & cups are a favorite in this house. I purchased some reusable straws on amazon and have collected an assortment of reusable water and coffee cups over the years. Most places don’t mind you using your own – some even encourage it.

The straws came in a carrying pouch, so I can keep them in my purse. The cups are harder to carry around, but they do encourage me to just fill up at home. That ultimately saves a little bit of money – especially at the coffee shop!

So there you have it! 5 easy ways to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle! What are some of your favorite 3R Tips?

Dismissive Nature

I don’t often touch on the military subject, but I wanted to put a couple things out there – from both sides of the spectrum.

“This is what you signed up for” is a phrase that military spouses hear way too often. I don’t think people mean any real harm by it, but they also don’t realize how dismissive it can be to our feelings. So friends & family, please delete that phrase from your mind when asking us how we are doing and responding with those words when we tell you we miss our spouse.

For a lot of us, we loved our spouse before they joined the military. I met my husband two years before he joined. I married him because I loved him and I couldn’t imagine spending my life without him. I can guarantee you that the idea of spending 6 to 12 months alone with a baby in a house where things just start breaking the second your spouse leaves town was not an appealing factor in our marriage.

So instead – you can substitute those words for something more encouraging like “Wow. That’s got to be hard, but you’ve got this!” Or the cliche but still encouraging “Hang in there. They’ll be back before you know it.” — OR my personal favorite “Wow. That’s rough. More wine?

On the opposite side of the street though, I would like to address other military spouses for a minute. You guys. We get it. Deployments and short tours… they are hard. It’s not easy. You miss your spouse and you have every right to.

HOWEVER, when your civilian friend comes to you and talks about how their spouse is on a business trip for a few days, it is NOT okay to compare that to a 6 month deployment.

EVERYONE is allowed to miss their spouse no matter how long they are gone.

So please check yourselves before you say “Well at least your spouse isn’t gone for six months at a time.” It really is just as dismissive to them as “This is what you signed up for” is to us.

Those are just some thoughts I wanted to share with you all. If you are going through a deployment or your SO is out of town, I just want to say that you aren’t alone. It’s rough, but you’ll get through it. Also, an evening glass of wine can’t hurt. Just drink responsibly!

Florida Mural Trail

CJ and I went to Florida for the month of May and though it was full of family time, we headed out for adventures of our own. I grew up in Vero and though she may not remember this trip, I wanted to show her my hometown.

One thing that Vero Beach didn’t always have was the mural trail. Florida has this huge mural trail and it was nice to see Indian River County join in on the fun. We made it to all but 3 murals in IRC. We didn’t make it to the ones in Sebastian, but we hit up all of the others.

We broke the adventure up over a couple of days to keep from being overwhelmed…. because you know, toddlers. A lot of them are located right in downtown Vero and down Old Dixie Hwy. There are a couple on the beach side and one down the dirt road part of Oslo, towards the river.

It was nice revisiting some of my favorite spots, but it was especially nice doing it with my daughter. She had a lot of fun taking walks and posing in front of the murals. She had so much fun at the bird mural that she didn’t want to get back into the car.

Click here if you want a quick list to IRC’s mural trail *or* keep reading my version for recommendations of what to do in those areas! Almost all of them are done by different art clubs, schools, and artists. They are credited on the link above!

Audubon Center, Oslo Road

Audubon Center on Oslo Road – The first one I want to share with you is this gorgeous mural full of Vero’s wildlife! Check the hours before to go – we did show up when they were closed, but you can still walk in and see the mural. They also have a little wildflower garden in the back! Afterwards, head on over to the Oslo Shopping Center for ice cream at Smiley Riley’s. Totally kid friendly, but if you are over 21 they have a special menu for you!

Mr. Smokes, 20th Street

This one is close to downtown, but set off from the others. It’s such a cute mural and it’s located right on the side of the Mr. Smokes on 20th Street.

Downtown Vero

The next collection of murals are all located on 14th Ave and Old Dixie Hwy. The Vero Beach Mural is across the street from Southern Social. The Native Indian/Citrus Mural and the Firefly (first pic of the blog post) are in the alley next to Southern Social. The mermaid is on the entrance to the amazing Kilted Mermaid restaurant – great place to grab a beer and some roasted olives. They also have cheese AND dessert fondue. The hibiscus mural is located next to the railroad tracks, right across from the Blue Octopus (great place of unique artwork & furniture). The floral mural is on the side of The Hazel House. Another great home decor store. And last, but not least, the restaurant mural is located across from Kountry Kitchen.

Downtown Vero has a lot to offer – shopping, food, beer, and businesses. I totally recommend walking around some time and checking it all out.

Riverside Park

This one was by far our favorite! It’s located in Riverside Park right by the tennis courts. Charlotte had a blast here. We actually saw a blue jay and a wood pecker in the trees approaching this mural! There is a walking trail right in front of this mural, so it’s a great place for a walk with a view!

Sticking with the beachside for a second! Here are two more murals located in East Vero. These are so close to the beach that you’d be totally missing out to not make this apart of a beach day. The first is located on azalea lane, between cardinal drive & ocean drive. Fun fact! The second mural, the beach scene, is located at Bethel Creek House – where my husband and I held our wedding reception back in 2009!

There were several murals by Christopher Sweeney and they are all similar to this mural. This one is located on 14th Avenue in Vero, right near the FLC. He has several other murals located up and down Old Dixie Hwy and I believe I even saw one in Ft. Pierce. Keep a look out for these in Vero! If it isn’t a heart, it may be a cute little robot.

I’m throwing in some honorable mentions that weren’t on the list provided by VisitIndianRiver.com.

Hidden Valley Orchards

The sunshine was working it today! It has been a whole week of clouds, thunderstorms, and dreary days, but we finally woke up to total sunshine this morning. I immediately decided that CJ and I needed to get out of the house for an adventure that didn’t involve a grocery store.

So we headed out to Hidden Valley Orchards, which has been one of our favorite places to visit since we moved to Ohio. HVO has changed a lot since the beginning, but it’s still an amazing family adventure.

During the summer, they host holiday events, Fruit festivals, petting zoos for kids, and u-pick events. Everything from grapes to apples! They also sell small home decor, fresh fruits & vegetables, baked goods, and canned items. They also just opened a bar and huge patio area this year!

So today CJ and I headed out to pick some blueberries! We got a pint sized buckets for five bucks and ventured out to the fields in search of something yummy.

I love to do stuff like this with her. We went strawberry picking last year at HVO and apple picking in the Fall at another orchard in Yellow Springs. Much like last year and my tomatoes though, she picks the ripe berries AND the tiny little green ones too.

After we filled up our pint-sized bowl of blueberries, we headed inside for lunch. Hidden Valley Orchards has a huge and delicious menu! Burgers, sandwiches, salads, flatbreads, and so many delicious baked goods.

I got CJ a burger with a side of fresh fruit and I got a bacon grilled cheese with green beans. We also got a buckeye brownie, which is less of a brownie and more of a small sized cake.

It was a gorgeous day and totally something we needed after such a gloomy week. We’ve been having a hard time getting back into a routine since we got back too, so even though it’s quite opposite of routine, the spontaneity of today was just what we needed.

And now we’ve got some delicious and as fresh as they get blueberries for the weekend. I’m thinking blueberry pancakes? Muffins? Cake? Or all of the above!

HVO is located at 5474 OH-48 in Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Click here for their Facebook for more info

Plant Mom

It is finally time to start growing!

I missed out the the initial seeding season because I actually spent the whole month of May in Florida visiting family (most posts on that coming soon). Now that I’m back though, I haven’t wasted any time.

Instead of starting with seeds though, I decided to support a local farm called Friendly Knoll Farm that sets up shop at the Wednesday Fairborn Farmer’s Market. I’ve been buying from them for two summers and I am never disappointed. Aside from seedlings, they also sell plantable flowers and in true farmers market fashion, they also have an assortment of veggies for purchase- Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, etc.

The two guys who run the booth at the Fairborn Market are always super friendly and full of useful information on the products you are buying. They are always willing to chat about plants, which is why I think I trust them the most. Their tips are always helpful.

Back to the blog post!

So the first Wednesday that I came back to town, I dropped by the market and picked up an assortment of tomatoes, peppers, and for the first time I’m going to try growing my own cucumbers!

I made sure to pick up a wide variety of tomatoes – Black Cherry, Chocolate Cherry, San Marzano, Yellow Brandywine, Marglobe, and Golden Jubilee. I’m excited to see what all grows.

The cucumbers are a new adventure for me. I also have sweet peppers – ivory & jupiter. Oh, and my raspberries are growing from last year! It’s bound to be a busy season.

Stay tuned for updates!

Doing Dayton

One thing I’ve always loved is exploring & experiencing a new place. My husband and I are the same way – we adapt to wherever we live or visit. After 4 years though, we’ve slowed down on exploring the near by city of Dayton. We’ve stumbled into revisiting our favorites.

So when my brother, James, came to visit I got to dive back into being a tourist to show him around. We had 1.5 days to explore, so this is how we crashed into the Gem City in the short time we had.

Wednesday

I picked James up in Columbus at the airport around 1:30pm. After a quick stop at the house, we headed down to the Oregon District. I wanted to show him the heart of it all.

After a driving tour of historic buildings and landmarks, we parked at the Oregon District where we checked out places like Beck & Call, Bonnett’s Book Store, Omega Music, & Spice Paradise. We finished off our evening with the Gem City staple, the Dublin Pub.

What I love about the Oregon district is that you can find almost anything you are looking for, but also just park and explore. There are cute little niche stores, bars, restaurants, tattoo shops, and businesses. A good morning full of new things to find.

Thursday

We started this day out early! I wanted to treat him to one of my new favorites – St. Anne the Tart. We loaded up with a sweet tart, a cookie, a salted brownie and two delicious Mocha Lattes before taking a drive around the historic homes of St. Anne’s Hill. James loved all of the brick homes.

The Air Force Museum was what we conquered next. This museum is free and a great place for aircraft, military, & war related history. It will take 2-4 hours just to walk through, even longer to read every plate & sign. It’s an amazing place to visit.

We checked out Zombie Dogs and my brother was a HUGE fan of it. Since we were close, I took him for a drive around Woodland Cemetery for a view of the city. James is also a lover of anything game and comic related, so we checked out DK Effect – free games if you get a drink!

Lastly, we ended up in downtown Fairborn at the comic and toy stores. My brother is one of those people who can casually converse with anyone, so his trip into Time Warp Toys & Collectibles was exactly that! He spent at least forty minutes exploring and chatting with the owner while CJ and I hopped over to Lefty’s Eats & Espresso for an iced mocha & bagel.

It was totally refreshing to act as part tourist, part tourist-guide in a place I’ve lived for almost four years. It reignited my love for all of the tiny gems (pun-intended) nestled within Dayton.

If you’ve become comfortable in your hometown or wherever you live, I definitely recommend finding a few new places you haven’t been and working them into your favorites list. It just might reopen your eyes to your own surroundings.

What are your favorite places where you live?

Toddler VS Tidy House

I’m just gonna say it…. toddlers are gross. You guys know that I adore my daughter and her curiosity for the world, but toddlers are gross and she is no exception.

I’ve always kept a tidy house. Becoming a mom didn’t change that for me. I like things picked up and in their place. It’s just how I function. I actually tend to get a bit of anxiety when things aren’t clean, so tidy just works for our family.

It is not for everyone and that’s okay.

Today I pulled the couch out after I tossed the cushion covers in the washer and I found a collection of toys beneath it – plus some dried shredded cheese and a couple of stale Cheerios. Oh and crumbs. Crumbs everywhere.

Should I be embarrassed to tell you that? Because I’m not. A toddler-sized traveling snack eater lives here and it’s probably not allllll her. I also like to eat popcorn on the couch while I catch up on my shows. And honestly, if the less than desirable couch treasures are the messiest things in my house than I feel like I’m doing a decent job.

I do want to briefly touch on the stigma of tidy vs less than tidy. I saw some comments on an article I read recently and the article talked about tidiness. The comments ranged from wholeheartedly agreeing to subtlety judging the author’s lifestyle. I just want to say that if your kids are happy, tidy or not, then you are doing a good job. There is no need to compare your home to anyone else’s. You don’t live there and you shouldn’t make anyone feel bad for their choices.

Back to tidying up, guys. I want to leave you with a quote and a couple of quick tidying up tips that can fit any parent’s lifestyle. I read this quote about a year ago and it still really shapes the way I do things on a daily basis.

“You have time for what you make time for.”

And with that, here are a couple of my favorite 5 minutes or less daily tidy-tips!

1. Fold the laundry. You’ve done the washing. You’ve done the drying. Now do the folding!

2. Put away the toys before bed. This one really only takes 2 minutes, if that. Each night before I whisk CJ off to bed, we put her books on the shelf. We toss the puzzle pieces on top of the puzzle boards. We line up her impressive collection of cars and everything else gets tossed into the toy box.

3. Make your bed! It might seem silly to make your bed when you are just going to climb into it later, but it’s worth it. Wouldn’t you rather easily climb into those pre-made sheets when you are tired rather than having to zombie your way through straightening out the pillows, sheets, and blankets in the moment that you really just want to lay down?

4. Toss the junk mail. You don’t really need those food coupons that you probably won’t use before they expire anyway. Plus, in the world of technology, you can mostly likely get a better coupon directly on the website. Old bills that you’ve already paid? File or toss. Ads you think you’ll need? Take a picture and make a special file on your phone! Junk mail is called junk for a reason. Don’t let it clutter your coffee table or counters.

5. Vacuum! “What? That doesn’t take 5 minutes. Get outta here!” It does if you vacuum one room a night. Pick the room that needs it the most and go for it. It doesn’t have to be thorough, but it helps a ton when a busy parent finally does get to do a deep clean.

There it is! 5 things you can do in 5 minutes or less. That’s just 25 minutes if you choose to do it all in one night – that is a lot less time than most people spend clicking through social media or watching their shows. And a reminder! If tidying up isn’t your thing? That’s okay. If tidying up is your thing? That’s okay. If you want tidying up to be your thing? Then start with these tips!