Tuesday, July 7, 2015

SO close!!

I get a lot of traffic through Pinterest... if you happen to be stopping by, and see that I haven't blogged since... APRIL?! Seriously?? I should FINALLY have my computer back soon. Maybe even by this weekend!

It's always something, right?!

See you soon with some updates!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Not in the Cards

I don't know WHAT the deal is, but for some reason, blogging regularly just doesn't seem to be in the cards for me.

My children broke my computer, the oil and gas markets fell making spending hundreds and hundreds fixing my computer not super attractive at the moment, and so I was sticking it out with my husband's old dino Dell. Except the dino Dell takes FORVER to upload pictures, and do just about anything in general.

Then they broke that one.

I am now relegated to using my husbands work computer where I can't just be downloading any old stuff. And our computer guy... I FINALLY got it together to try and get things squared away, and then he up and got married and went on his honeymoon.

SO... just in case anyone was wondering, that's where I'm at at the moment.

You can still follow me on Instagram HERE

And I'm on Snapchat @ AmyB325

Holla!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

DIY Posts Just Aren't My Bag, Baby

Edit of the Edit: Shout out to Google Domains for being the frickin' bomb.com!!!! Google Domains 4 EVA!

Edit: In the middle of typing this post I realized something might be up with my site, so I typed in my address and BAM... no Simply Sweet Life. I sort of panicked until I realized I am in blogger and typing, soooo it's not completely lost but apparently something happened when the renewal went through. So if you came by here and were like 'What's the deal?' That's the deal.


Starting.... now...

It has come to my attention, that furthermore setting out to start, complete, and then blog a project in DIY fashion may not be my calling in life.

Exhibit A:
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This, I believe I once proclaimed would be done by hopefully Christmas, or if not, just a little after the New Year. Which clearly in Amy Speak meant Easter. Or the 4th of July. Whatever.

In my defense, the 2-year-old HATES loud noises and will flip OUT if I so much as look at the saw. So I cannot cut any boards no matter how far away, but still in sight of me, the kids are. Which leaves me with two options. Nighttime. Pfffft. And naptime. Well, naptime is fine, but often I have to put two things together to square them out and then measure for another piece, and I can't do that because I can't drill and put stuff together during naptime inside the house where the project is now located. 'Tis a conundrum of sorts.

I did get doors attached though:
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Y'all this is seriously the worst carpentry job I think ever. Which leads me back to why I will never find myself some awesome DIY blogger. My whole post will basically be, "Well, I screwed these size boards together, but don't do that, because those size boards didn't fit any hinges, and they aren't very sturdy.

And then, "I put this board in place because the whole thing was still wiggling and I was pretty sure it wasn't supposed to do that."

Or, "When you attach your boards, first make sure they aren't warped because then one side will shut, but not the other."

Exhibit B:
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Really, I'm expecting HGTV to call any day now and offer me my own show.

On the bright side, I now have an excuse to play in some Annie Sloan paint and try and redeem this thing at least a little bit.

anniesloanpaint

The wood appliques should be in from Lowe's any day now.

I'm imagining chicks and felt easter egg garland, and a bird in a nest on the mantle, yeah?

We'll see...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Game Changer

If you know me personally, or if you've read even a little bit of my blog, there is likely one thing you've learned: Ikea and me, we's like peas and carrots.

Ah, Ikea. My mother ship.

People get all super snarky and put their noses in the air sometimes when I mention my love for Ikea.

"Don't you have to put it, like, together?' and there are usually insinuations that it's cheap.

And well, you do, and it is. But the quality (on most pieces) is there! I've have things from big box stores fall apart in less than a year, while I have Ikea furniture from when I was 16 still trucking through multiple moves and kids.

One thing I hadn't ventured into until recently was Ikea's lighting. Mostly because (cover your ears Ikea), it's not really my style. But then I kept seeing these awesome dome lights that I wanted for the playroom, but they were all plug-in, meaning I'd have to plug-in and then unplug the lamp every time we wanted to use it. I bought one anyway and guess which lamp didn't get used because no one wanted to crawl under the table and behind the bench to turn it off and on every time?

Yeah.

Cut to Christmas and I bought this super cute airplane lamp from Land of Nod, with a switch, but when I got it, the switch was like a whopping 8 inches from the plug-in site and was not going to work at all with where I wanted it.

That's when my father-in-law (who owns and runs his own electrical company) says, "Oh yeah, you can just get another switch and install it further up. They sell them at any store really, it's easy".

Easy, you say?

So here we go... if you ever see a very well priced, OK OK cheap, lamp that you aren't sure of because there isn't a switch, you now have no reason not to get that bad boy and bring it home...
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I am going to start with a flat cord. I walked around my house and discovered that most of the cords around here are flat cords. Basically it's two small cords fixed in the center. One side will be totally smooth which is the "hot" side you'll be cutting, and the other side, which will remain intact, will have little ridges you can see and feel.

Step 0: Unplug the cord. Duh, I know, but just covering the bases.

Step 1:
Gather Materials
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You don't really need a wire cutter/stripper, we just happened to have one. You can use plain old scissors, too. Just be more careful when you are using them not to snip right through the actual copper wires. You'll see more what I mean in a few.

IMPORTANT:
Instructions will come with every switch you buy. They read mostly in ancient hieroglyphics, and I want to show you in a less confusing way. However, please read them and follow any warnings or instructions specific to your switch. Mostly this is all the same, but I am not responsible for any electrical mishaps or fires that may result in not installing your switch properly. You should also only install in-line switches on polarized cords, or cords that have plugs with one prong larger than the other. We don't have a single new lamp/cord that isn't polarized like this, but just double check in case.

Step 2:
Figure out where you want to install the switch. I marked below where I wanted to put mine with electrical tape, but just know where you want to put it.
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Step 3:
Use your knife to separate the two wires. How far you separate it will depend on how big your switch is. My slit is about 3".
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Step 4:
Cut the smooth wire in the center like so with scissors or wire cutters
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Step 5:
Our set is old, but you can even see where it says on the tool itself "Wire stripper" with arrows to show you which part to use, and then further up it says "wire cutter" where it's sharp and will cut through the whole wire itself. If you use scissors for the part just go carefully!
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Start pinching and turning
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You will then see the wire and remove the sheathing
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Yay! Exposed wire.
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Don't be jealous of my amazing manicure and black paint splattered hands. (I was painting our front door earlier in the day and I'll be a monkey's uncle if oil based paint isn't hard to get off skin.)

Check to make sure you have removed enough. My instructions called for 3/4" and yes, I totally use my second knuckle to measure an inch all the time
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Step 6:
See how those wires are all separated? Twist them around to make them a nice, neat little wire bundle.
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Step 7:
Do this to both sides of your cut, smooth, "hot" wire
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Step 8:
Take the outside screws out of your switch
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and open it up
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Step 9:
Loosen the copper screws inside the switch
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Then put your newly twisted wires under the screw 3/4 of the way around, and then tighten the screw to firmly hold the wires in place
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To make this easier, put the wire in from the left side of the screw. I tried to show that with the arrows. When you turn the screw to the right (righty tighty! lefty loosey!) it will keep the wire under the screw. I also used my knife to sort of hold the wire in place while I screwed it down so it didn't get squished out.

Clear as mud? I think once you go to do it, it will make a lot more sense. If you put the wire in and wrap it around the screw from the right, when you go to turn the screw that direction, it will push the wire right back out and make it hard to get it all under there nice and tight.

Step 10:
Once you have your wires screwed down well, place the ridged side of the cord into the channel on the other side, and run the both out of each end. It will look like this
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Place the top back on and screw it back into place. (Not an actual picture of this step obviously but it will look like this, only with wires attached and screws back in)
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Step 11:
Plug it in, flip the switch and pat yourself on the back. You did it!
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Since this lamp already came with a switch lower down on the cord, I simply left that switch in the "on" position, and use this newly installed switch to turn the lamp off and on.

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In case you have a round cord, as my Ikea lamp that started this whole thing does, just know it's only a little different, and equally as easy

Round cord:
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Step 1:
Use scissors to carefully! cut through the outer sheathing. I keep saying carefully because this is where I almost severed the whole dang thing. Apparently my scissors are really sharp.
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Side note: There was a lot of insulation, papery type stuff inside this sheathing, I just cut it away where I didn't need it for inside the switch.
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Step 2:
Cut away as much of the sheathing you need by putting your scissors lengthwise in the wire and cutting to your desired point. Don't pull it; cut it. Seriously, don't be like me and end up with a tattered end from tearing it
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Was it so hard to pick up the scissors, Amy?!

Make sure it's just the right length to fit inside your switch
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Step 3:
Cut the BLACK "hot" wire, then strip the end of each side just as you did in the flat wire tutorial above
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Step 4:
Install twisted wire ends of the black wire into your switch just as before. Also, put a slice of electrical tape over any compromised sheathing on wires you may have accidentally snipped in the process (Oops!)
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This switch was bigger and easier to fit the wires into. It also had these neat little metal clasps to screw down and secure the wires in place at the ends which I liked

Step 5:
Put the top back on and screw it into place. If you decided to be awesome like me and pull your sheathing off your wire and you have insulation poking out the back, just wrap a piece of electrical tape over that, too. It's just insulation, not an exposed wire, so it's fine, just cosmetic and something I don't want my kids to see and pick at
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Step 6:
Plug it in, turn it on, and you're ready to go!
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See, that's not so scary, right?

I definitely thought dragons would come out to eat me and the whole house would catch on fire if I ever touched anything electrical, but it was really simple and I am so glad I got those things done and the lights are actually being used now.

Now you can feel free to buy any cheap-o light without a switch you want. Spray paint and add crystals or twine like you saw Pinterest to your hearts desire!

Game: Changed.






Tuesday, January 27, 2015

4

Over the weekend, our free spirited, unafraid, hilarious (and often most stubborn) baby turned 4. Well, she's not really a baby anymore although she will tell you differently, and she is actually the "middle child"

But I am pretty sure it was just last week that she was this small...
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I'm dying over here. That face!
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And then one night we went to bed, and we woke up and she looked like this...
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Hangin' with Chuck on Sunday
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Happy 4th birthday to this sweet Janey baby!! We love you SO much! And I say it all the time, but I still want to be as adventurous, unafraid and funny as you are when I grow up. Love you to the moon and back lil' mama. ??? photo 10530478_10102237574564806_7124941297156066525_o.jpg


The night before we had a little party with family and close friends for her. She is a champion hugger, btw
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She asked if she could get two front teeth for her sister. No dice
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I read a little "10 things parents of grown children want you to know" thing the other day, and it really hit home. She talked about how you write down when they crawled and when they lost their first tooth, but that it's the littlest things that mean the most and that you honestly won't remember. Like how they say "sneak-a-boo" instead of "peek-a-boo" or call a cow a dog, and how their favorite color was green
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On New Years, I printed out some "New Year Interview" questions and wrote everything down. I hope to keep doing that each year. I don't know that I'll ever be on top of things enough to do a colorful "About Me" chalkboard picture with them in a perfect little outfit an brushed hair, but I can do a printout and write some things down
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The article also talked about getting things on film. The way their room looked, the everyday dinner, the way their voice sounds, and how they twirl their hair, or bite their nails or look when they are being shy. Of course I followed that up by not filming a single thing all weekend, but it's definitely something I need to start now. We have lots of video, but not nearly as much as I'd like.
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These are the important things I want to remember...

Sister reading her birthday cards to her
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How much she loves to color (bonus points when she does it on paper)
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And how girly and princess-y she is
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You have been so much fun to watch grow over the last 4 years, baby. You are so incredibly different than me and I often just sit back and wonder how in the world I made you. You make me see the world in a different light, and I really do hope I can be every bit as adventurous and fun and free spirited as you are when I grow up.
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I love you to the moon and back and back

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Do Over

Holy Crap.

Can I just go ahead and have a 'Do Over' for this week?

Long story short... lots of technical difficulties (kids break everything), I've eaten my weight in girl scout cookies, and just, yeah.

Be back Monday morning!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fitness Friday- Week 1

So this week went a little bit better than last. It wasn't perfect, but I definitely got more on the ball and any progress, is great progress in my opinion!

A few things before we get started.

What Healthy Eating Means to Me

I know right now there is all kinds of health info out there. I'm sure you've heard of Paleo, Primal, Vegetarian, Vegan, Carb cycling, and a thousand more.

I know some people have health concerns and issues and that eliminating a certain group of foods from their diets really helps their bodies heal and function better.

I also know some amazing people who have devoted their lives to advocating for animal rights and for that reason they have chosen to live a vegan lifestyle.

I could go on, but long story short is, whatever works for you is awesome.

For the purpose of this blog however, I will outline my general definition of "healthy" eating:

1. I try to avoid processed foods.
Mostly this means I try to make our diets up of organic grass-fed meats and animals products (butter, cheese, etc.), organic veggies, whole grains which includes whole wheat and steer clear of things with labels like "low-fat", "sugar-free", "fat free",  "dairy snack", "processed cheese food" and on.

2. I said "try"
We live in a small town, and I don't always have a ton of options so when I post recipes everything may not fit what I've written above. We also visit our local chain hamburger joint about once a week and I will eat the crap out of a processed bacon BLT on white bread and drink my Dr. Pepper happily. I also may choose convenience at times, like drinking protein shakes some of my more "hard core" real food friends would look down on. But I am actively trying to take small, sustainable steps for our family to switch to eating more in line with the real food philosophy more often.

3. Healthy eating is about balance
We are a pretty normal family and I try to do the best I can and balance well. I am really excited to grow our own garden to have easy access to fresh, organic produce, and I have been researching into local farms for buying grass-fed meats. I am also really hoping to get some more chicks this spring after our chickens were eaten by a very smart raccoon a couple of years ago so we can get our farm fresh eggs back. I used to work at a gym and a girl I knew who was an NPC competitor (binki competitions) used to chew sugar-free, dessert flavored gum in order to quell cravings. She looked amazing, and I was always in awe of her determination. But for me, I'd rather just whip up my own real whipped cream, and have a small piece of dessert and quell my sugar cravings with a bunch of grapes at other times. People have their own goals and ideals, and these posts will just be written from mine.

4. I Am a Real Person
I am not in any way a nutritionist, dietitian, or personal trainer. I am a mom of three hoping to not jiggle so much in my bikini and not see my belly button pop out like a prepackaged turkey thermometer every time I eat a big meal because my abdominal muscles have been stretched and pulled apart. This is just my story, and I am not in any way telling anyone the "right way" to eat or get into shape. Besides, I think the "right way" is different for each person and their needs and goals. I am hoping to share that adding veggies back into your diet, not eating all your kids' Christmas candy, and moving for 20-30 minutes a day, a handful of days a week, will really get you somewhere.

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Starting Weight: 141.4
Today's Weight: 141.8

Inches: Only difference is my thighs measured 1/4 of an inch smaller. Probably all those squats :)

Total Lost: +.4

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The one ab-centered HIIT workout this week I felt already made me bulge a little less in the center, but now I just look like a nice rounded 3-4 months pregnant
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Ok, so I didn't lose anything this week. But I didn't gain anything either! I didn't work out except once this week and that is a major contributor. I wasn't drinking as much water as I should be, nor have I been getting enough sleep, and I still don't see nearly enough veggies.

I always see those giant green smoothies and they awesome in theory but most of the time I am too lazy to actually make one.

I recently came across a new company called ALOHA that has all sorts of health and wellness products, and I found this whole menu board in their recipe center with tons of actually yummy looking veggie recipes.

This one looked so good..

Superfood Spaghetti Squash & Avocado Pesto
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Photo credit: Mini McCormick from their website

I think I am just secretly looking for a reason to use the spaghetti squash I keep buying other than a sub for wheat pasta noodles.

Their recipes call for their "ALOHA Daily Greens" packets, but it looks like it would work just fine without it. While I was looking around on their site though I saw they had a free trial you could sign up for, so you could try it with their products.

I think I liked vegetables more as a kid than as an adult. I'll eat them if they are put in front of me, but the extra effort it takes to make them usually means I'm less likely to make them and I know that's a struggle for a lot more people than just me. These looked like a much easier way to really pack in some nutritional punch to already healthy foods. The less I have to put together, the better! So those might be popping up in the next couple of weeks in my "What I Ate" chart.


What I Ate:

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Breakfast
-1 cup
Oatmeal w/ 1 tbsp maple syrup & Cinnamon
-2 cups coffee with 1 tsp half/half
-1 cup Oatmeal w/ 1 tbsp maple syrup & Cinnamon
-2 cups coffee with 1 tsp half/half
-1 cup Oatmeal w/ 1 tbsp maple syrup & Cinnamon
-2 cups coffee with 1 tsp half/half
-1 cup Oatmeal w/ 1 tbsp maple syrup & Cinnamon
-2 cups coffee with 1 tsp half/half
-1 cup Oat meal w/ 1 tbsp maple syrup & Cinnamon
-2 pieces bacon
-2 cups coffee with 1 tsp half/half
-2 Pan sausage w/ cheese wrapped in breading (horrible for you, pretty sure)
-1 cup Oatmeal w/ 1 tbsp maple syrup & Cinnamon
-2 cups coffee with 1 tsp half/half
Snack

Strawberries

-Bunch of grapes
-Handful honey nut cheerios


Lunch
-Ham & Provolone Cheese sandwich (just meat and cheese no extras)
-Leftover White Cheddar Chicken Spinach patty on half bun with just a little mayo
-5 cherry tomatoes
-Bowl of raisin bran
-Peanut butter & Jelly
Snack

-2 handfuls of popcorn
-Bunch of grapes
-Shakeology shake with 2 strawberries and half a banana

-1 sugar cookie
3 handfuls of popcorn
Dinner
-Half slice garlic bread
-mixed veggies
-1 whole wheat roll w/ a little butter
-Sort of just picked, wasn’t super hungry
-Green beans
-Green tea
-BLT
-Dr. Pepper
-French fries
-3 Thin Mints
-Peanut butter & Jelly

-BLT
-Dr. Pepper
-French Fries
-Shrimp & Pasta in cream sauce (this is such a cheat meal but it's SO good. Will post recipe soon) 
Work Out

HIIT work out:
-Jumping Jacks
-Squats
-Plank
-Scissor kicks
-Mountain Climbers










          
*HIIT = High Intensity Interval Training. Warm up for a few minutes. Then do the first exercise, as many as you can (don't overdo it!) for 30 seconds straight, then rest for 15 seconds, then do the next exercise for 30 seconds, then rest 15 seconds... until you've completed all 5 exercises. Then rest for 1 minute and start over. Do 5 sets.

This is better than last week, so like I said, I will count any progress. But I have lost zero weight and still have a lot of room for improvement. It doesn't help matters that I currently have 79 CASES (12 boxes each!) of Girl Scout cookies sitting in my dining room. Why do they sell these stupid things at the beginning of the year?!

Definitely will give me more of a chance to use my nonexistent willpower.