No Sew Swiffer Wet Jet Homemade Pad

Here is my Swiffer Wet Jet hack.  You could either take this as being ingenious and will be totally impressed or you will read this and just be floored by how lazy I am.  Either way, it works well enough that my husband is no longer complaining that I won’t but new Swiffer pads.

First, if you have a Swiffer Wet Jet, there is no reason to buy new refills.  If you boil an empty Swiffer bottle cap side down for about 5 minutes the cap will twist right off.  Grip the piping hot bottle with a oven mitt or heat proof pad to avoid singeing your fingers and voila!  It comes off without a struggle.  I refill with diluted Pine-Sol, but you can refill it with whatever floor cleaner you want.

Second, instead buying the pads, microfiber cleaning clothes work miracles on every type of surface.  I have seen plenty of tutorials on cutting clothes to fit the Swiffer.  The microfiber clothes will stick to the Velcro on the Swiffer without any extra work but most clothes are too large and will trail behind the Swiffer, making it difficult to mop without everything getting wrinkly and lumped up.  So lame.

Ugh!  Extra Cloth Just Gets in the Way!

Ugh! Extra Cloth Just Gets in the Way!

You could either cut the clothes to fit the Swiffer and sew a hem to keep them from unraveling (which is a lot of work) or you could do this:

No Sew Swiffer Wet Jet pad

Genius I tell you.  Slip a rubber band over the Swiffer and stuff the extra cloth under it.

A Simple Rubber Band Does the Trick!

A Simple Rubber Band Does the Trick!

It stays out of the way – no need for sewing and cutting!

Swiffer Wet Jet Microfiber Homemade Cloth Pad

So easy.

 

The Alaska Museum of Science and Nature

The Alaska Museum of Science and Nature has become one of Little Man’s favorite places.

He loves the museum because the signs on most of the exhibits say:

“PLEASE TOUCH!!!”

Dinosaurs greet you at the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature

Dinosaurs greet you at the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature

The museum is full of replicas of dinosaur bones, claws, and teeth.  All of these are in easily accessbile drawers and low tables.  Children are allowed to pick them up, look at them, compare the different parts, and play gently.  How many places can you go and grab a t-rex claw or stegosaurus plate?  It is just too cool!

Replica Fossils are on Display for Kids (and Adults) to Touch.

Replica Fossils are on Display for Kids (and Adults) to Touch.

On higher tables and behind barriers are real fossils and art pieces related to the animals of Alaska, both prehistoric and alive today.

Whale Skeleton

Whale Skeleton

Cave Bear Skeleton

Cave Bear Skeleton

One of the aspects of the museum that is both engaging and frustrating is that a number of items are in drawers and shelves under the more formal displays.  Open one drawer and it is full of antlers.  The next drawer down is full of rocks.  Somewhere in there you will find some pelts and teeth.  It is quite a hodge podge of random artifacts.

Drawers and Drawers!

Drawers and Drawers!

It can be great fun to explore the drawers, but most of the bits and pieces of animals aren’t labeled so when you find something interesting you have no idea what it is!  Little Man will pull out a rock or tooth and say, “What’s this?” and I have to respond, “I don’t know.”  Most of the time it would be really fascinating to both of us to know what the item happened to be!

Presumably because the exhibits are made to be touched and moved, there are some aspects of the museum that seem a little haphazard.  Occasionally, one of the exhibits will have walked off.  Little Man was really interested in seeing the Megaraptor claw this trip but it was missing.

Thankfully, the museum staff members are always friendly, helpful, and engaged.  They are more than willing to give you more information on something you find or a question you may have.  It is really a friendly and comfortable environment for learning.

Ceratops Painting

Ceratopsian Painting

One of the really great parts of the museum is the art work.  Which you probably wouldn’t expect given that it is a small natural history museum!

Troodon Sculpture and Hadrosaur Skeleton

Troodon Sculpture and Hadrosaur Skeleton

James Havens, a local Alaska artist who paints really beautiful renditions of dinosaurs, has done a number of pieces for the museum.  The brightly colored, large scale paintings and sculptures really capture Little Man’s imagination.  Seeing the dinosaurs as such large and colorful creatures helps bring them to life in a way a fossil or picture in a book never could.

Finally, in the back room of the museum is a play area for smaller children.  There are dinosaur puzzles, learning toys, books, and the DINOSAUR DIG!

Dinosaur Dig

Dinosaur Dig

The dinosaur dig is an ingenuous area for small children.  There are four small pits filled with really comfortable rubber mulch/chips.  In each pit are lots of dinosaur toys and plastic bones for the kids to uncover and bury with provided shovels.  What kid doesn’t love digging in a soft medium surrounded by dinosaur toys?  Every kids does I tell you!

Dinosaur Dig FUN!

If you have occasion to be in Anchorage and you are looking for a place to take your natural history or dinosaur loving tot, the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature is the place to go.  Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children, but a family pass can be obtained for a $50 for a year worth of entry.

We can easily spend about an hour and a half exploring the museum and digging.  Which is plenty of time for a 3 year old.

For more information about the museum, check out the website: Alaska Museum of Science and Nature

The Anchorage Museum

Good afternoon!

Today has been a lovely, lovely day!

Little Man and I went out to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center for the morning.  The Anchorage Museum is a great place to visit if you have children.  In addition to the artwork and visiting exhibits in the main museum, the Imaginarium Discovery Center is a large, interactive area for kids to learn and play.  Little Man will regularly ask to go to the museum as an activity.

Within the Imaginarium, there are a few different places to explore.  

In the BP Kinetic Center, in the Imaginarium, at the Anchorage Museum, in Anchorage, Alaska.  Great fun for children and toddlers.

BP Kinetic

 

The BP Kinetic Area is a learning space with exhibits that allow for the hands on examination of different aspects of physical science.  Little Man is only 3, so he really isn’t learning about force, light waves, or inertia.  However, there are lots of moving parts to the exhibits – balls bouncing, balloons flying, air blowing, etc.  It could keep him busy for hours.

During our visit today, it was obvious the exhibits were being upgraded and changed around.  A little upgrade is certainly needed.  After years of little fingers experimenting and playing with the parts and pieces, they were starting to look a little rough around the edges.  I can’t tell exactly what the new exhibits will look like, but I hope they are still engaging for all ages.

Moving further into the Imaginarium from the Kinetic Area, there is an exhibit with giant bubble making devices. This is an area that can create an amazing mess.  Thankfully, there is a hand rinsing station next to the massive open tanks of bubble soap.  Making the big bubbles takes a little patience and skill.  Little man can’t make the bubbles and at times this is frustrating to him.  But, if I make the bubbles, he loves to pop them!

Chomper the Turtle in the Imaginarium at the Anchorage Museum in Anchorage Alaska.  One of many exhibits for children and toddlers.

Chomper the Turtle

A tempting, but never accessible, activity is the tank with invertebrate coastal animals.  The tank has an open top that calls to little hands with the siren song of slimy sea creatures, but there is always a giant sign up letting you know you need to wait until there is an attendant present.  Unfortunately, we are never there when an attendant is on duty.  Never.  If you are interested in touching Alaskan sea creatures, I would suggest the Sea Life Center in Seward.

Right next to the open tank is an aquarium with “Chomper”, a large snapping turtle.  While Little Man looks forward to seeing “Chomper” every time we visit, I have only actually seen him move once.  A couple months ago, I started to suspect that he had passed away and had been stuffed.

Bush Plane model for children and toddlers in the TOTES Kids space for toddlers at the Imaginarium in the Anchorage Museum

Bush Plane!

Play area in the TOTES Kids space in the Imaginarium at the Anchorage Museum in Anchorage Alaska.

Play Area in the KidSpace

After a long tour of the actual exhibits, Little Man likes to decompress with the other little kids in the TOTES KidSpace.  There are little slides, a water feature, toys, a doll house, a train set, and a bush plane with lots of buttons.  The plane is always the first choice activity.  Today, the kid instruments, including a drum and xylophone toy, were the second favorite.  Unfortunately for the other parents, the instruments accompanied a rousing rendition of the five frogs on a log song, sung by me, at Little Man’s request.

Train Set in the TOTES Kids Space in the Imaginarium at the Anchorage Museum in Anchorage, Alaska.

Train Set

If you happen to be visiting Anchorage, Alaska with children on a beautiful summer day, for the love of all that is good, get outside and enjoy the parks, trails, or festivals. If it has gotten rainy or you had the misfortune of traveling to Alaska during a cold season, consider the museum as an excellent way to pass the time. One of the nice things about the museum activities is that there is something to engage the entire family.

We have a membership to the museum.  For us, because we come so often, the membership is totally worth the upfront expense.  However, there are numerous “free days” sponsored by local businesses over the course of the year.  If you only plan to come a few times a year and your dates are flexible, it may be worth it to wait for a one of these special events.  We have come on numerous sponsored days and even though it is a little more crowded, it is never intolerable.

For more information about the museum, check out the website:  Anchorage Museum

After a few hours at the museum, we were off to home for some peanut butter sandwiches and water balloons.

Water balloons are a joy to any little boy.  Last night, Little Man popped them by biting them.  This engaging activity came to an abrupt halt when one popped and gushed water up his nose.  It was one of those mom moments where you wonder if you should have known better than to allow your child to do something so utterly ridiculous.  Today we had some more coordinated activities to avoid any sort of water balloon related trauma.  We set out targets on the lawn to be hit by water balloons from the deck and set up water balloons on the lawn to be stomped by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

All in all, this was a really delightful day.

 

Homemade Marinara Recipe

I love marinara.  Love, Love, Love.

On pizza, french fries, baked potatoes, pasta, and just about everything else it’s amazing.

I am willing to put in a couple minutes chopping to make the perfect sauce.  (By “a couple minutes chopping” I mean pushing the button on my food processor.)  

Life can be so hard.

Where to begin…

How about with some fresh basil, garlic and olive oil?

To make things cheaper and easier, I buy large packages of fresh basil and process them in my handy food processor with garlic cloves and olive oil.

Read Basil + Garlic + Olive Oil = Yum for more information.

Basil, Olive Oil, Garlic

A great marinara requires sloooowwwww cooking.  With a toodler runnning around, tending the stove like an Italian grandmother isn’t practical.  Thank goodness for crock pots.

Every time I write about a crock pot and forget to add in a space, my computer wants to change it to crackpots.  I think it’s trying to tell me something.  

I use the basic recipe from Mom on a Mission (which is the most amazing blog).  I say basic because I am too lazy too accomplished in the kitchen to be bothered with measuring or extra onion chopping.

Into the crock pot goes roughly 90-100 ounces of crushed/diced/sauced tomatoes.  If I have been to Costco, I’ll use a #10 can.  If not, I’ll use whatever collection of tomatoes I have in the pantry.  Honestly, my favorite sauce is made from generic Fred Meyer crushed tomatoes.

Then I add in my basil/oil/garlic mixture (1 cup basil, 8 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup olive oil).  Chopped up in the food processor.

Next comes some onion powder (about 1 tbsp.), some salt (about 1.5 tsp), and a sprinkle of pepper (about 1/2 tsp).

Cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Stir occasionally.  If you cook it longer, it could burn.  Trust me.

If the taste of this over some spaghetti doesn’t curl your toes, you need to go visit a doctor because your taste buds might be dead!

Marinara with fresh basil in a crockpot

Some of the sauce gets used for dinner.  Some goes on pizzas.  Some goes in the freezer.

Yum!

Easy Crockpot Marinara

- 90-100 oz Canned Tomatoes (diced, crushed, or sauce)

- 1 cup Fresh Basil Leaves

- 8 Garlic Cloves

- 1/4 cup Olive Oil

- 1 tbsp Onion Powder

- 1.5 tsp Salt

- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper (substitute Cayenne for an extra kick)

1.  Pulse Garlic, Basil, and Olive Oil in the food processor until chopped.

2.  Add Garlic mixture, Tomatoes, Salt, Pepper, and Onion Powder to crockpot.

3.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

 

Linked to Thrifty Thrusday at Living Well Spending Less

 

 

Random Advice for Success and Happiness – The Totally Awesome Partner

Enjoy another little bit of random advice for finding love and happiness:

Choose a Partner Who is Totally Awesome

What do I mean by totally awesome?

I mean someone who will be an asset to your life, your goals, and your happiness.  How many women and men have I met who are with someone who isn’t a good partner?  Countless.  If you choose to spend your time with someone who doesn’t move you toward a more positive life, you will be perpetually miserable and exhausted!  Find someone who will contribute to your happiness and then spend your days contributing to theirs!

Some characteristics of a totally awesome partner are:

- Respect.  Boom.  There it is.  A totally awesome partner will respect you.  Your opinions, needs, wants, quirks, and flaws.  This does not mean they will always agree with you or do everything you want.  Respectful partners will treat you better than you treat yourself.  They won’t criticize, belittle, or make fun of you to elicit change.  But, they will always inspire you to be the best possible version of yourself.

- Support.  A totally awesome partner will support you in the areas where you are lacking (yes, even you have some deficiencies); encourage you in the areas where you excel; and they will stand beside you along the way.  They won’t dedicate themselves to being your cheerleader and sacrifice themselves for you, but they will devote themselves to ensure that together you are both happy.

- Comfort.  A totally awesome partner will make you feel comfortable and comforted.  You will want to put your best foot forward and impress your partner, but you won’t feel compelled to be someone else’s version of perfection.  With a totally awesome partner, you should be able to be yourself and have a sense of pride in who you are deep down.

- Fun.  Your perfect totally awesome partner will be someone who you enjoy being around.  You won’t have to work to enjoy his or her company.  You will laugh, smile, and enjoy just being with this person.  If you can’t have fun with your partner, at least sometimes, what in the world is the point?

Find that person who makes you feel amazing and makes you want to make them feel amazing and enjoy!  Choosing someone by your side who builds on your strengths and supports your weaknesses is one decision you can make that will make finding happiness easier.

Stay tuned for thoughts on how to find and keep a really stellar partner.

Honeyberry

The honeyberry was new to me this year.  I was trolling nursery websites and came across a listing for a honeyberry bush.  With some further investigations courtesy of Google, I made some interesting honeyberry discoveries.

First, honeyberries are perfectly suited for Alaskan gardens.  Second, these bushes are reported to be very difficult to kill.  Perfect!

Honeyberries are also called haskap or blue honeysuckle.  These plants are native to north eastern Asia in areas of Russia and Japan but have only recently gained the interest of fruit cultivators in the United States and Canada.  The University of Saskatchewan has an extensive fruit program focusing on cultivating fruits for northern climates and has been working with haskap.  U of S Fruit Program here.

Honeyberry – by Opioła Jerzy (Poland)

Most honeyberry plants are cold hardy to -40F.  Some plants are rated for zone 1.  Most of the plants available for purchase from commercial growers are rated for zone 2.  Here in Anchorage, these plants should thrive in our chilly weather.  Additionally, these bushes can grow well in partial sun, which makes them a great choice for some of the less ideal garden locations.

The fruit of the honeyberry, when fully ripe, is said to have the taste of a strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry rolled into one.  However, according to the information from the U of S, there are some honeyberries that are sweet and delicious and some that are bitter an unpleasant tasting.  It is important to select a variety that has been cultivated for tasty fruit production.

It is also important to wait until the honeyberry is ripe until you pick it.  The plant will generate fruits that look like long blueberries.  They will turn dark blue long before they are ripe on the inside.  Once the inside of the fruit is also blue/purple colored, the berries are ready to pick.  If interior of the fruit is still green, it is unripe and will not taste good.

Honeyberries will attract birds, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you feel about birds (boo) and whether or not you plan to eat the berries when they are ripe.  If you aren’t in love with birds and want to harvest some fruit, it may be best to use some netting to protect your plants.

Honeyberry is a name most commonly used in the United States.  Honeyberry sounds so lovely.  I imagine the creation of the name went something like this:

Greenhouse owner 1:  How are we going to market these super hardy, yummy berry bushes to people in the northern US?  No one will know what a Haskap is – it sounds like a disease.

Greenhouse owner 2:  Let’s just rename the things.  Something appealing.  Something catchy.  Something cute.

Greenhouse owner 1:  Sweetfruit plant?  Juicyberry bush?  There already is a blueberry, so that is out.  What’s tasty, sweet, juicy and natural sounding?

Greenhouse owner 2:  Sugarberry?

Greenhouse Owner 1:  I think you’re on to something!  How about honeyberry?!?

I ordered my honeyberry bushes from Stark Bros.  The bushes seem to be doing alright, here is a link to their page.  Stark Bros Honeyberry Bushes