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Reusable Swiffer Wet Wipes made from Old T-Shirts

Reusable Swiffer Wet Wipes made from old t-shirts. | www.allthingsgd.com

My quest for finding new ways to repurpose old t-shirts and green my clean continues!  This time I’ve set my sights on our floors.  We typically use a steam mop to clean our hardwood floors, but I love the convenience of grabbing our Swiffer Sweeper for smaller jobs – I just don’t like buying and tossing those disposable wet pads.

Enter t-shirts!

After making homemade reusable disinfectant wipes out of t-shirts, I realized the same concept would work to keep our Swiffer wet wipes out of landfills – and it all could be done with just a handful of all-natural and inexpensive cleaning products!

Reusable Swiffer Wet Wipes made from old t-shirts. | www.allthingsgd.com

My arsenal of all-natural, money-saving cleaning supplies.

 

DIY Swiffer Wet Wipes for Hardwood Floors
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon vinegar
Old t-shirts, cut up into rectangles slightly larger than the Swiffer pad
Container (I used a quart sized canning jar)

Stuff t-shirt rags in jar. Mix water and vinegar together, and pour over rags in the jar. Screw on lid and shake to moisten. Pull one out when you’re ready to get your green clean on, and fit it to the head of your Swiffer Sweeper, tucking in the corners to secure. When you’re finished, simply toss it in the laundry to wash and reuse!

DIY Swiffer Wet Wipes for Linoleum & Tile Floors
1 cup water
A few drops of castile soap
Old t-shirts, cut up into wipe-sized rags
Container (I used a quart sized canning jar)

Stuff t-shirt rags in jar. Mix water, and castile soap together.  Pour water/soap mix over rags in the jar.  Pull one out when you’re ready to get your green clean on, and fit it to the head of your Swiffer Sweeper, tucking in the corners to secure. When you’re finished, simply toss it in the laundry to wash and reuse!

Reusable Swiffer Wet Wipes made from old t-shirts. | www.allthingsgd.com

Center reusable t-shirt pad under the head of your Swiffer, wrap around and tuck into corners to secure.

Notes:

  • Castile soap is an all-natural, plant-based soap that gently loosens grime and dirt from surfaces – it can be found at most supermarkets or health food stores.
  • Do not use castile soap on waxed wood floors, because it will break down the wax.
  • Do not use vinegar on granite or marble.

The Swiffer and these reusable wet pads are especially great for tights spots like bathrooms – just be sure to choose the “recipe” that is right for your flooring type.

Earth Day is just over a week away!  How have you greened your clean lately?

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Things Loved Lately

1.  Pharrell Williams:  Happy

Things Loved Lately: Pharrell William's "Happy" | www.allthingsgd.com

If this song doesn’t put a smile on your face, you better check your pulse.  I love it so much it’s on repeat whenever I’m alone in my car.  Why do I have to be alone?  Because…

2.  Frozen

Disney’s Frozen

My kid is addicted.

(I might be, too.)

If Kate’s in the car we’ve got the Frozen soundtrack on repeat.  If we’re at home?  Well, let’s just say I think the DVD has already gotten more play than all of our other DVDs combined.  As a mom to an impressionable young girl I’m pretty critical of Disney movies (actually, all media) but this one’s a winner.  G and I love that the “love story” is the love between the two sisters, Kate adores the characters (okay, we all do – Olaf?  Come on!), and the songs are the best.

Have you gotten your mittens on Frozen yet?

3.  Kreg Jig, Jr.

Kreg Jig | www.allthingsgd.com

My Kreg Jig Jr. makes pocket holes a breeze!

I’m currently in the middle of a bathroom remodel, and my Kreg Jig Jr. (an awesome gift from Kreg Tool Company which I received at the 2012 Haven Conference) is saving my sanity!  The Kreg Jig creates perfect pocket holes in seconds, which allowed me to easily install 2×4 support braces behind cement board (in between studs) for my tub surround.  I don’t know what I would have done without this handy little guy!

4.  Kombucha

Things Loved Lately: Kombucha | www.allthingsgd.com

My friend Katie introduced me to kombucha and now it’s a must in my weekly shopping cart.  Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented tea made from live bacteria and yeast, and contains antioxidants and probiotics.  Kombucha devotees call it a “wonder tonic” and claim it contributes to all sorts of health benefits including improving immunity and digestion, lowering cholesterol, and fighting cancer.  What I love is its unique taste, and a small glass of it – think wine glass, half full (for once) – seems to give me a nice little boost in energy that doesn’t keep me up at night.  I’m a fan!

Anyone else enjoying kombucha lately?  What’s your favorite flavor?

5.  American Family’s DreamBank:

American Family DreamBank, located in downtown Madison, WI | www.allthingsgd.com

American Family DreamBank, located in downtown Madison, WI

First of all, my apologies to anyone who doesn’t live in Madison.

I could dedicate an entire post – actually, an entire blog – to how much I adore this incredible resource I’ve recently discovered in my city.  Located in a gorgeous historic building in downtown Madison, Wisconsin (a building that was originally a bank!), this treasure is totally geared toward helping people make their dreams come true.

Step inside, and you’ll immediately feel inspired.  A friendly “Dream Curator” greets you and asks if you’d like anything to eat or drink (they have chocolate-covered marshmallow clouds there – true story) and are available to provide help and answer questions.  Once you’re done swooning over how spectacular this building is (actually, the swooning never ends) you have the opportunity to explore a variety of interactive displays and hands-on tools to help you identify your dream and discover how to attain it.

At the time of my first visit, the DreamBank was decked out in a superhero-theme, but they change their themes and exhibits often, so you’ve always got some new eye candy and fresh sources of inspiration!

American Family DreamBank, located in downtown Madison, WI | www.allthingsgd.com

The American Family DreamBank, all suited up in a superhero theme!

American Family DreamBank, located in downtown Madison, WI | www.allthingsgd.com

American Family DreamBank: What’s your superhero identity?

American Family DreamBank, located in downtown Madison, WI | www.allthingsgd.com

The American Family DreamBank, located in downtown Madison, WI

As if all this wasn’t enough, the DreamBank also offers a variety of FREE events, workshops and seminars to help you achieve your dream.  I’ve already been to several and not only are they informative, helpful, and inspirational, but they’ve also connected me to other dreamers and expanded my personal community.

This place is amazing.  I want to live there.

You have to check it out if you’re in the Madison area.  For those of you who are not – who wants to move?

Your dream is out there.  Go get it.  #longlivedreams

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#SpringCleaning

I had the pleasure of appearing on WKOW’s Wake Up Wisconsin earlier this week on behalf of Hometalk to share some “make your own money-saving cleaning supplies” – just in time for spring cleaning!

 

Check out Hometalk.com and search the hashtag #SpringCleaning to find even more great projects, tips and tricks to get your home refreshed and ready for the warmer weather!

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Reusable Produce Bags Made from T-shirts & Onesies

Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

I’m on a mission to go through every corner, closet, nook, cranny, and drawer of our house to clear the clutter and repurpose, recycle or get rid of of things we no longer need.  T-shirts are my latest target (how do we have so many?!) and after repurposing G’s old tees by turning them into reusable disinfectant wipes, I wanted to do something equally productive for the planet with mine and Kate’s.

Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

T-shirts and onesie pulled out of dark closet corners and about to get new life!

I die a little death inside each time I pull a plastic produce bag off the roll at the store…but I also die a little death seeing the price tags on the reusable options.  I go through a lot of these bags when I shop, so when I saw the idea of making your own produce bags out of t-shirts on Pinterest, it was like hitting the jackpot.  Delia Creates (linked above) shows a great how-to on her blog, but it really is as simple as this:

  1. Cut the top off your shirt.
  2. Turn it inside out and sew what is now the bottom of your bag closed.
  3. Use a rotary cutter (or scissors) to cut staggered slits through the fabric and a little handle at the top.
Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

T-Shirt Turned Grocery Produce Bag

This large-sized produce bag is great for larger, lightweight produce like lettuce and kale:

Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

No more plastic produce bags for me! You’re welcome, Earth.

Next, I upcycled a size 4T t-shirt (that’s already pretty proud to be green) into a fantastic, sturdy little produce bag.  I wanted this tee’s fitting green message to appear upright, so I sewed the bottom of the shirt closed and made the neck hole the top of the bag.  I also cut off the sides of the shirt to remove the sleeves, and sewed new seams along the sides, leaving me with a small, rectangle bag.  I decided to keep this one free of slits throughout to make it extra sturdy, but did use my rotary blade to cut little handles at the top just below the neckline:

Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

I started this project thinking I’d use the larger sized produce t-shirt bags the most, but much to my surprise, the smaller bags – like the one made from this size 4T shirt –  are my favorite to grab!

Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

After loving my little 4T-sized produce bag so much, I decided to take it a step further, and upcycled one of Kate’s old onesies as well:

Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

A 6 month onesie, upcycled into a reusable produce bag.

This little gem is my favorite!  Similar to the 4T bag, I made this one using the neck hole as the bag’s top.  Then I cut and stitched along the sides and bottom to make a rectangle-shaped bag.  Lastly, I used my rotary cutter to add a few rows of staggered slits to the bottom:

Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

Kate’s old onesie is now my favorite grocery shopping bag!

I made this gray bag from one of my old t-shirts using the instructions at the top of this post, except I decided to skip cutting slits through it, so this one is more like a t-shirt tote.  I love it for holding vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots that would always poke through and shred those plastic produce bags.

Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

Sweet potatoes won’t be poking holes through THIS reusable produce bag!

I love that I found a way to repurpose some of our old shirts, and I REALLY  love that I’ll no longer be filling landfills with disposable plastic produce bags!  Bonus?  These reusable produce bags also qualify for “bring your own bag” credits at the grocery store – They help save the planet, and save you money on your grocery bill!

Reusable produce grocery bags made from t-shirts and baby onesies. | www.allthingsgd.com #repurpose #upcycle #green #earthday

These reusable t-shirt bags help save the planet, AND save you money on your grocery bill!

Like this repurposed project?  Check out these other ideas from a few lovely ladies who also share a love of repurposing, recycling, and reusing!

Repurpose_Recycle_Reuse_April_2014

Thrifty and Chic: Clearance Napkins Made Into Cute Art
Bigger Than the 3 of Us: DIY Tiled Table Out of An Old Plant Stand
It All Started with Paint: Gold Dinosaur Necklace
Lovely, Etc: Old Book & Rulers Turned Trinket Box

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Chocolate-Covered Banana Pops

Kate is the “Top Banana” at school this week – a little something that is A Very Big Deal in preschool land.  We spent the better part of our Momday narrowing down photos of her and our family to be displayed proudly on the class bulletin board, and the rest of the day baking banana chocolate chip muffins for school snack time (Kate’s clever idea).

In sticking with the banana theme, yesterday I popped into school and surprised the kids in Kate’s class with these quick and easy chocolate-covered banana pops.  My Top Banana and I read a banana-themed book to her class while everyone happily chomped away!

Chocolate-Covered Banana Pops | www.allthingsgd.com

Chocolate-Covered Banana Pops

These banana pops are so simple even a (barely trained) monkey could make them:

  1. Cut banana in half.
  2. Insert popsicle stick.
  3. Dip in chocolate.
  4. Cover with sprinkles.
  5. Eat it like you mean it.

Like things dipped in chocolate?  You can also try my 10 Tips for Perfect Cake Pops, these quick and easy Marshmallow Pops, and (if you’re feeling extra adventurous) Chocolate-Covered Strawberries that POP!

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The Time I Quit My Job

If you had asked me 5 years ago where I thought I’d be today I probably would have said:

Happily married to G.
A mom.
The COO of a nonprofit, saving the world one child at a time.
Still searching for that perfect shade of lipstick.

Four years ago I held Kate in my arms for the first time and my whole world changed in a way I never could have imagined.  Before Kate was born I didn’t even like babies.  Before Kate was born I would’ve bet money I was going to cut my maternity leave short.  Before Kate was born my vision of myself was as a suited-up woman working a 40+ hour job outside of the home.

I had an incredibly difficult time returning to work after maternity leave, and was so grateful when I was able to negotiate a reduced schedule at work that allowed me to stay home with Kate on Mondays (our “Momdays”).  It felt like the perfect fit for our family for a long time.

Until it didn’t.

My commitment to Kate had always been no TV, no laptop, and no phone as long as she’s awake.  I bent that rule when Kate started watching kids’ shows (I’d check my email or social media during that time) but other than that I did a pretty good job of sticking to the expectations I had for myself as a parent.  Our “Momdays” were especially sacred, and even though it was a work day for my coworkers, I’d set the limit up front that I would not be checking my emails or responding to messages on that day.

I pretty much thought I was kicking ass at the whole work/life balance thing until about a year ago.  After 10 years of working for an incredible nonprofit that truly is saving the world one child at a time (we support children with mental health issues) the balance was beginning to shift.  There was more work to do than there was time in the day to do it, and I had allowed my limits to erode.  I started checking my email and taking care of work things when it should have been family time.  I was stressed over making sure I spent enough time physically at the office, which meant missing out on precious, limited family time at home before Kate went to bed.  Life pretty much looked like this:

Wake up, get ready, drop Kate off at daycare, drive to work (20-40 minute commute depending on traffic), work from 8:30am-5pm, and drive home (40-60 minutes depending on traffic).  G and Kate are already home, and Kate is sitting alone at the kitchen table eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while G is doing dishes.  If we’re lucky we have 30 minutes to play before Kate’s bedtime.  Put Kate to bed, come back downstairs, and start making dinner for me and G.  If we’re lucky we eat before 9pm.  (On nights G does bedtime I start dinner sooner and we eat around 8pm.)  After dinner I open my laptop and work until bedtime.

“This is not the life I envisioned for our family!” I cried to G one night.

What I wanted was for all three of us to sit around the table and eat dinner together – a home-cooked one, containing neither peanut butter nor jelly.  I wanted my daughter not to rush to bring me my phone if she saw it wasn’t sitting near me.  I wanted to be present – truly there – for my family, instead of distracted, stressed, or buried in a laptop.

“What’s the end game here??” I asked myself over and over.  Work harder?  Work more hours?  For…what?  Anyone who works in the nonprofit world knows the pay is minimal and raises are nonexistent.  Flexibility and the mission were  two of the things I loved about my job, but flexibility can only go so far and there’s no mission more important to me than caring for my family.  “What’s the end game?” I’d wonder as I sat in my office chair, staring at this card pinned to my bulletin board and the time-wasting commute ahead of me:

When Kate was born and my world shifted I became unreasonably fixated on the day she starts kindergarten.  This day terrifies me more than Juan Pablo is terrified of the L-word.  I knew, no matter what, that when the time came I wanted a job that allowed me to pick Kate up and be home with her after school, and to also do some volunteer work in the classroom throughout the week.  In my mind that’s what I’ve been working toward and dreaming of since before my c-section had healed.  

I want to be paying enough attention to understand what my daughter needs when her world shifts for the first time.

I want to be home when my family gets home.

I want to have after school snacks ready, and Kate sitting at the kitchen island doing her homework while I prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal.

I want all three of us to sit around the table each night, eat dinner together as a family, and talk about our day.

I want how I spend my time to reflect what I value in life.

End game defined.

I knew I was off course.  My actions weren’t getting me to my end game.

In August I started my Wildtree business, helping busy people save time in the kitchen through freezer meal workshops.  I know it sounds crazy to add something else to the chaos, but I fell in love with the products (they’re all-natural and organic) and wanted a nice little discount on my groceries.  Interestingly enough, I also discovered that the time Wildtree saved me in the kitchen equalled what I put back into my business, so time-wise it was a wash.  On top of that, I was making money and had slashed our monthly grocery bill.  It became just the thing we needed to shift our world again.

At the beginning of October – 11 years after I was first handed my office key and a box of business cards – I gave my notice.  It was a hard conversation to have, but I knew it was time and I knew it was the right thing for our family.  I reported directly to our Executive Director and there is no one else at my agency who does what I do.  I care a lot about my coworkers and this organization we’ve built over the past decade, so I worked with my boss to plan for a very long and thoughtful transition out of the agency.  I turned in my keys at the end of January, although I am happy to say the ties aren’t cut completely as there are still a couple of projects I’m working on.

I will forever treasure my time there.

And I will forever treasure this time I have carved out to focus on my family.

Life today looks much different for us than it did a month ago.  I’ve been working from home doing some nonprofit consulting, working my Wildtree business, and writing my blog.  The only commute I have is to the grocery store.  Momdays are once again work-free and filled with laughter and fun.  I am home when my family gets home, and the three of us sit around our kitchen table and eat a healthy meal together.

Simple things, but they mean the world to me.

I have no idea how this will all pan out or what life will look like 5 years (or even 5 months) from now, but to Me 5 Years Ago – here’s the scoop:  You’re still happily married to G – the most thoughtful and supportive husband in the world (and no, you still don’t deserve him).  Together you had a daughter and she is everything.  You’re not COO of anything, but you save the world every day for one child.

Now if only we could find that lipstick…

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Veggie Surprise Pops: For Kids Who Think That Veggies Suck

Veggie Surprise Pops: For Kids Who Think That Veggies Suck! | www.allthingsgd.com

Does your child love to eat their vegetables?

Congratulations.

You’ve hit the parent lottery.

Feel free to brag on Facebook, buy brussels sprouts in bulk, and check out my next post – this one isn’t for you.

For all those moms who are smothering broccoli in cheese sauce and sprinkles, grandparents who promise a bag of cookies for one bite of cauliflower, and dads who are still making the car engine sound as a fork of squash is heading toward your four-year-old’s mouth – this post is for you.

Our kids hate eating vegetables.

We have to be smarter them.

My latest trick?  Hiding them in popsicles!  I’ve discovered Kate will eat anything that’s frozen in a shape attached to a stick.  Here’s the spinach & mixed berry blend I recently made to get some greens into her little belly:

Veggie Surprise Pops: For Kids Who Think That Veggies Suck! | www.allthingsgd.com

Ingredients
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup fresh spinach, rinsed, stems removed
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
3/4 cup orange juice

Blend in a blender until smooth. Pour into an ice pop mold and freeze.  When it’s time for a “treat”, pull the pops from your freezer, run cold water around the outside of one of the molds until the pop is loosened, and serve.

Feel free to substitute non-Greek yogurt or half of a banana (instead of yogurt) in this recipe.  Actually, any of your favorite veggie-packed smoothie recipes should freeze up great for this recipe!  The thing I love about using fresh spinach is that it blends so smoothly that you won’t even know it’s in there – perfect when you’re trying to pull one over on your preschooler!

Veggie Surprise Pops: For Kids Who Think That Veggies Suck! | www.allthingsgd.com

What are your favorite ice pop or veggie-packed smoothie recipes?

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