January 6, 2021

How To: Dishwasher Tablets


I've done a lot of soul searching the last few months trying to really reassess the way we live as a family. I've looked at everything from the way we speak to each other down to the ingredients we consume on a daily basis looking for ways I can raise my kiddos to be kinder and healthier.

My first feat was to replace our cleaning products, skin care products, and candles with safer alternatives. While there are many products out there that are fragrance free and formulated to be safe and non-toxic, I decided to find ways to make products myself wherever I could. First, doing this saves me a ton of money not only by not purchasing cleaning products in stores, but also saving me a ton of unnecessary Target trips where I will undoubtedly buy a million things I don't need. Second, by making these items myself, I know exactly what is in them and they have fewer ingredients.

I plan to share the recipes I used to make these and honest feedback on pros and cons, how they compare to typical store products. What I can share so far is everything I have made has been extremely simple to make at home in under 10 minutes.

The dishwasher was actually the most recent product I tackled. I for sure thought there was no way I was going to be able to make something at home that cleaned dishes as well as the Cascade pods I was buying. I had become a loyal believer in rinse aid for my dishes and couldn't picture a world without it! I decided to see what recommendations there were out there for homemade dishwasher detergent when I stumbled on a similar recipe for tablets. I thought it was worth giving it a try and I am happy to report this is probably the product I was so excited to share! It WORKS! And really well. My dishes have truly been sparkling clean using this recipe, I was honestly shocked.

The tablets are super easy to make and use inexpensive ingredients. Your upfront cost will be a bit more, but they will last you for a year or more (depending on the measurement needed). I did do a calculation as well compared to the cost of standard dishwasher pods you buy at any store and the cost was still at least a $20 savings in the first year and more in the following years using the same ingredients. You can also swap out the ones I've linked with less expensive brands if you want to, I'm just linking what I used.

The only con I found is the size of the tabs tends to be too bit. This makes it tougher to fit them in the dishwasher compartment. You may have to crush them in there a bit when you close it or just leave it open. I also tried making them in a smaller cube mold (or just putting less mixture in each mold) to see if that made a difference in cleaning power. I'm happy to report a smaller size did NOT make a difference. In fact, knowing this now, the measurements below could make far more than just 24 tablets. Save even more $$.

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HOMEMADE DISHWASHER TABLETS

(makes 24+ tablets)

Ingredients:

  • 2 standard ice tray
  • Large bowl (for mixing)
  • 1 cup washing soda (Sky High Suds All-Natural Washing Soda)
  • 1/4 cup citric acid (Millard Citric Acid)
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients.
  2. Add water. The mixture will bubble and fizz. Wait 1 minute for bubbles to reduce, then stir to combine thoroughly. Mixture will be lumpy.
  3. Scoop about 1 Tbs. of mixture into each ice cube mold. Use finger to pack into mold and flatten top of cube.
  4. Let trays sit out on countertop overnight to dry thoroughly.
  5. When tablets have dried, give each tray a twist and crack to pop out.
  6. Store in airtight container. 

August 11, 2020

3 Ways I Cope With Grief




I briefly mentioned in my comeback post that my ex-husband, Tim recently passed away. I've talked about him before on my blog a few years ago, so I think it's important I address this enormous part of my life. I will be short on what happened, but I will be 100% completely honest. I will not lie about the state of our relationship or the reasons he passed away to preserve his memory because I believe they are all important lessons I have learned and lessons I will need to teach my children one day.

Tim and I divorced in 2019 after almost four years of marriage and two beautiful children, both boys, Cooper (4) and Callum (2). Our relationship and marriage were less than perfect but we did have many good years together before it deteriorated. Our issues began for many reasons with fault on both sides, we had grown apart after having children and were no longer compatible. But a huge factor in the demise of our marriage was that Tim was an alcoholic. His addiction not only changed who he was as a person, but how I viewed a lot of things in my life. Our values no longer matched. As much as we all want to believe "love conquers all", realistically love is not enough to sustain a marriage. A marriage takes hard work, selflessness, mutual respect, honesty, trust and partnership. We lost those things along the way.



 I made multiple attempts to beg Tim to seek professional help for his addiction, even after our divorce. He was not ready to address that he had a problem. Unfortunately, we cannot help people who do not want to be helped. It was when I noticed his addiction began to put my children in dangerous situations, it was time to end our marriage. It became clear to me things were getting worse and I needed to protect my children.

I was fair during the divorce. My goal was not to ruin Tim's life or take him for every penny he was worth like most assume divorces go. I simply wanted us to part ways and start new lives co-parenting. I had hoped my following through on divorce would be enough to encourage Tim to turn things around and seek help, but it turned out it made it much worse.

In the year following our divorce, Tim slowly became more forgetful, irresponsible, and flaked on me and the kids many times. He became very hostile toward me a few times, stalked me for a brief period, and continued to verbally abuse me. I had to distance myself from him as much as possible not only for my safety but for my mental health. Toward the end of his life, Tim and I were mostly cordial, but our relationship was strictly about the kids and nothing else. We did not chit chat, we were not friends. We were parents of the same kids. I hated that this was how it turned out, but it was necessary.

On May 17, 2020 at 2:14am, Tim passed away alone in the hospital after his liver failed him.  We were unable to say goodbye to him properly because of COVID-19. His addiction caused his body to crumble and he could no longer go on. He lost his life to an alcohol addiction, regardless of how you want to spin it. That is the truth.

I say that multiple times in that way because I am still processing this news myself. There are some days I feel I'm in denial and don't even remember this has happened. Some days I am extremely angry at how preventable this could have been with the right support. Some days I am heartbroken, because this was not the life we were supposed to have together as a family. Some days I feel guilty wondering if there was more I could have done to help. 



The reactions I've received from friends and people who knew Tim are mixed. Some give me hugs and share their sympathies understanding the position I'm in and how much I did care about him, regardless of our divorce. Others tell me shame on me for "speaking ill" of him after his death. To that, I say to please have some perspective and empathy. There are now two little boys who no longer have a father. Two little boys that I will raise alone. And one day I'll need to have a conversation and explain why their father isn't able to come to soccer games or the school play. Or why they cannot drink excessively like all their friends do. And I won't lie. They need to know because addiction is hereditary. They need to know they'll need to be more careful.

What you also need to remember is it is not up to YOU how someone else grieves. Grief is personal. The amount of time and the way some grieves is not your choice or place to judge. Until you've walked in my shoes you will never understand. 

I'm doing anything I can right now to keep it together. I've found some things help more than others the I hope can help someone else coping right now.

1. Writing and Sharing - Some people won't agree with my way of managing grief. I prefer to share my story with people. I find it extremely therapeutic and I find comfort when others can relate and feel solace in knowing someone else feels the same as I do sometimes. It makes me not feel so alone.

2. Self-Care - I've been trying to make a conscious effort to care for myself and my body more. I don't want to fall into a depression or slump. I want to keep moving forward. Mentally, I need this. My kids need this. They need and deserve the best version of me. I am taking time to rest, take care of my skin and my health, getting fresh air. Anything that brings me joy.

3. Acceptance - I find honesty to be important in this situation. Many of Tim's family and friends have told me things like "we don't really know if that's what caused his death", "your kids don't need to know that version of him." No. That's denial and that's not reality. I'm not going to live in a place of denial. I fully understand people cope in their own ways and I will never judge someone for that. But these are MY ways of coping and I chose to accept reality. Because I lived it. I lived with his demons. My children lived it. They deserve the truth. I pray that lessons can be found in the truth and I can hopefully save someone else's life with that.


There is no right or wrong way to cope with loss. And loss doesn't have to mean death. It could be loss of a job, a friendship, a relationship, a dream. Anything. You decide how you feel, not everyone else. Stop letting people make you feel guilty for feeling human emotions in response to life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism or other addiction, please seek help for yourself or them. You CAN fight it. You CAN be a survivor. You chose your own life.

Below are few resources available to you:

Nationally - SAMHSA National Helpline

Nationally - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Locally -  Phoenix House

August 4, 2020

Hey You! YOU ARE ENOUGH.



We are programmed as kids to believe that true happiness is found in the arms of a lover. We grow up watching movie after movie about princesses being saved by strong men. Then as teenagers, rom-coms tell us that we should ignore obvious red flags in partners because everyone is flawed and love conquers all. Then you grow up with the pressure to get married, have babies, and not be too old doing it. 

It's exhausting. And I'm here to finally call bullshit on it all! So let's talk relationships today...


For those who know me well, I've always been boy crazy and a serial dater. While it's not something I enjoy being known for, I also am not ashamed to have a big heart and that I am hopeful. Over the years, the boundaries I've set for myself in relationships have changed, as they should with age and experience. I've learned to narrow down what I'm looking for (and what I'm not). I've been in manipulative and abusive relationships. I've been in wonderful relationships that I wish didn't have to end. For each and every man that's ever been a part of my life, I am thankful. They have helped shape me along the way. 

All of these lessons are well and good. But something I wished I'd learned about myself sooner is that I am enough.

I'll say it again. I AM ENOUGH. I'm more than enough. Some might even claim "too much". But I love those parts about myself. And as soon as I began to love that about myself is when I started to see the quality of my relationships change. 

Reentering the dating pool as a single mom has been a challenge. It's not just you in the car anymore, and you have to find a co-pilot willing to be OK with the passengers you're bringing along. Additionally, after divorce there is this immense pressure put on you and the you put on yourself to find the "right" person. People share sweet encouraging sentiments like "you're going to find someone great! You deserve a good man!" And they are right, I do. But what I've come to learn is it's OK if I don't find someone great, or "the one". For once, it's more important to me that I find someone great in myself first and that I show my children that it's OK to be a lone and not to settle. 

In every relationship I've had, the common theme I've always found with what went wrong is not that someone cheated, or that I was being disrespected, or there just wasn't any connection. To me, the common thread has always been how I felt about myself while in those relationships. Weak, compliant, oblivious and anxious. It's a version of myself I hate seeing appear, but also has been a huge indicator for me when things aren't right. When I feel uncomfortable and unnatural, it's time to let it go. 

I don't need to be in relationships that do not serve me. I don't need to go looking for "the one". When the universe wants me to have it, it will make its way to me. Until then, I'll continue to find more things about myself that I am proud of and improve the pieces I am not. That's plenty enough for me.

July 22, 2020

How to Initiate Change In Your Life




So you'd stopped allowing yourself to self-sabotage. Now what? What comes next?

Living the life you want takes a lot of thought, time and patience. And time and patience or some things we just don't have (or I know I don't at least).

A few days ago, I was cleaning out my closet. Occasionally when I do this, I check the space behind my dresser with a flashlight to make sure nothing important has fallen behind. It's been awhile since I did it last so I opened my flashlight app on my phone and took a peek. I was surprised to see an old journal had fallen back there. Forgetting I even owned that beautiful Kate Spade journal, I was excited to find it. After pulling the journal out and flipping through it to see if it was blank, I found a few journal entries in there that I had to read. 

July 17, 2018 was the first dated entry. Only a few days after my late mother-in-law, Deb had been buried. I began reading through each entry to find a common theme. Scared, lost, needing direction, and questioning everything in my life. 

"There has to be more to life than this..."

For more than two years, I have been feeling this way. And what shocked me the most is I still felt all the same things now except tenfold. With Tim's death (something I still plan to share and address here at the right time), I've really come into a place where I don't want to be patient any longer. I feel I've served my time. I've waited, and tried to live the cookie cutter path set forth by my previous generations. And it's time for me to go now.

So what do you do when it's time to go? You set the stage. 

How to Initiate Change In Your Life

Manifestation
Take time to really consider what it is in your life you want. Ask yourself what it will take for you to feel fulfilled, happy, successful. Tell yourself you will have these things.

Outline Your Dream Life
In this dream life, what are the different aspects that make up your world? Where do you live? What do you do for a living? What does your day look like? Who is in your life? How do you FEEL?

Create an Action Plan
In each of those items that make up your Dream Life, what is one action item you need to take to get closer to that dream? Is your dream to own a home? Then you might need to model a homeowner budget to see if you are ready to take that step. Or maybe you are ready to contact a mortgage broker to get pre-approval for a loan. Whatever it is, write it down. If you don't write it down, you will lose sight. I prefer writing everything down in a journal. But if you prefer to go paperless, the Mindly app is a great tool for mind-mapping and setting tasks/notes for specific aspects of your life.

My timeline is 12 months. In 12 months, I will change my entire life. I will be on the path forward to living the life I want and deserve. By July 2021, I will be financially sound to not feel stressed at the topic of budgets and bills. I will be in love with the life I have created for myself. 

Someone asked me, "what happens if you fail, is there a backup plan?" No. There is no backup plan. Because I am not allowing myself to quit going after what I want anymore. Changing your mind to match your desires sets the right intentions. Failure doesn't need to mean "it's over." It means it's time to redirect my attention to another way of doing things. The end goal remains the same...
Find your WHY.