This Old Home

The finished project!

The finished project!

We live in a home built in the 1940s.  And it was built really well.  The "bones" of the home are so gorgeous and thoughtful.  There are beautiful details all through our space and one of the best is the original hardwood floors.  But like anything that is almost 80, the floors needed a little oomph to make them look nice again.

The husband and I ran headlong into this DIY project because a.) we hate to pay people to do anything in our home.  b.) it looked so easy when I watched the videos on YouTube.

(fyi- I frequently think that it looks easy but then it turns out that the project leaves me sobbing and covered in paint and glue with the house falling down around me.  Ask me how I removed the carpets in the living room...by myself...in one piece...UGH!)

Thankfully, this project was straightforward and it turned out GORGEOUS!!!  What do you think?

Before

Before

During

During

Stained

Stained

Aluminum Foil Is Killing You- Panic Now!

Listen, I'm as real as you are.  There is a new study every day that refutes a study from yesterday and it's hard to sort the facts from the fiction.  But there are some things that are worth taking a look at.  You saw my post (didn't you?) yesterday about how we're all into cast iron cooking to get more iron in our day and to keep away from the toxic emissions that nonstick pans...emit.

This article made me sit up and take notice though.  It's such an ingrained part of our culture to cover things in aluminum foil, but have you ever considered what might be an inherent part of heavy metals against your food?  I hadn't either.  Read it here:

http://poliside.net/doctors-are-now-warning-if-you-use-aluminum-foil-stop-it-or-face-deadly-consequences/

Norwex has silicone lids that are safe to cook with, store food in, and keep bugs out of your food.  Will there be a study tomorrow telling you how unsafe silicone lids are?  Maybe.  But I have been using them for a year and I can't say enough good things.  I have the whole line.  The silicone drink lids keep my coffee hot all morning, make my regular coffee mug an instant travel mug (hello- running late to school!), and they keep mosquitos out of my adult beverage (bonus- the stainless steel straws fit in the hole!) in the summer.  The rectangular lid is perfect for lasagna pans and, if you have a huge family like I do, and you make lots of dishes in the Pampered Chef roasting pan, two rectangular lids side by side cover a whole turkey dinner to keep it from browning too quickly!

Check out the article.  Check out the lids.  You are now an informed consumer and that's the most important thing you can be!
http://courtneyspears.norwex.biz/en_US/customer/shop/product-detail/101759
http://courtneyspears.norwex.biz/en_US/customer/shop/product-detail/101757

Cup lids for your summer shenanigans!
http://courtneyspears.norwex.biz/en_US/customer/shop/product-detail/101758

Iron Clad Love Affair

I actually have a cast iron love affair but the title isn't as catchy.  ;)

I inherited this pan with gorgeous cast iron lid.  It's the hardest worker in my arsenal.  I used to use nonstick pans and I thought that was all the rage.  Then I learned that the nonstick ON my pans sloughs off (I had noticed little picky bits in my scrambled eggs) and is toxic to my family.

No bueno.  I did some research, on pinterest...duh, and discovered oodles of people touting the benefits of cooking in cast iron.  Top reason: it's nontoxic, secondary reason: it adds iron to your food and most Americans are deficient in iron.  That was a double win in my book.

I remembered seeing an old, rusted cast iron pan on the wood burning stove downstairs...which we never use...and I had kept the pan because I thought it looked charming on the top.  So rustic and sweet.  Now that pan was going to have to meet higher standards and get to work.

After consulting my scientific journals (just kidding, pinterest again) on how to clean it I was elbow deep in sea salt and halved potatoes getting the thing glowing and shiny again!  Bless her heart, cast iron loveliness ensued.  I seasoned it obsessively and now just look at the beautiful, slow food my family enjoys. 
hashtag blessed.

Yes, I typed that out on purpose.  It's meant to be ironic.  But I do love how quick the cleanup of my messes is!

It's So Fluffy I'm Gonna Die!

I mean, not like DIE die.  Haven't you ever seen Despicable Me? Minions?  I digress.

New fluffy towels came out in August and they are so scrumptious it's ludicrous!  And the pet towel is this soft too!  (Shout out to Fido)  These purple and blue darlings are technically kids towels, but can I confide in you?  I use them.  I use the heck right out of them.  They are seriously so soft and plush that it's like settling into a favorite stuffed animal after a shower.

The towels DO have the Norwex BacLock in them as well, which means they have the self-purifying silver.  SELF PURIFYING.  Towels that don't get funky in the summertime!  Towels that don't grow creatures inside them.  Towels that are so squishy, deliciously soft that you want to spread it on a cracker and have it for tea.  (Too much?)

I love these towels and I think you need to include them in your next baby shower, graduation present, Christmas gift, or birthday basket!  You can grab them here: 
http://courtneyspears.norwex.biz/en_US/customer/shop/product-detail/101946
http://courtneyspears.norwex.biz/en_US/customer/shop/product-detail/101947

Five Minute Oven Cleaner

By now you've heard about my love affair with my stove, right?  My little beauty makes our food and looks gorgeous while she does it.  You know, like me!  #shegetitfromhermama

Once a year I try to really give the old gal a good scrubbing (if you're interested, it's more often for myself.)  Norwex Oven and Grill Cleaner is a dream product.  Warm the oven to 100*, spray the enzyme, wait 5 minutes, use a soaking wet spirinett to lightly buff all the liquefied grease out off. 

Yep.  Legit that easy.  But don't tell anyone that.  Let them all think you took all day to clean your oven.  No one needs to know if you read a whole book instead.  Like Outlander.  *sigh*  Outlander is my favorite book of all time.  In fact, let's add that as an oven cleaning step.

1. Clean oven.
2. Read Outlander.
3. Tell your husband you spent all day cleaning your oven and definitely not falling in love with a dashing Scottish highlander...

No Fail Bread Recipe

IMG_5195.jpg

I make homemade bread.  I LOVE homemade bread.  When I first started staying home with my kids I HAD to make bread because we had no money and a $30 grocery budget, so bread had to be homemade or we didn't have it.  We had a lot of bread, biscuits, muffins.  Anything that could be filling on a $3 bag of flour.  I got really good at making bread and I'm sharing my recipe.

This recipe is a no-frills too.  Bonus!  No rising, waiting, proofing, etc on this recipe.  It's dump and go.  I don't know if you've ever stayed home with a 2 year old and an infant, but I didn't have a blessed minute to spare to remember things like proofing bread.

I have made this recipe ever more frugal by making a double batch at once and dividing the dough in half, using one half for bread of some sort (baguette, peasant loaf, bread bowls, etc) and using the other half to make healthy(ish) cinnamon rolls.  #momwin.  I don't care if the kids grab these for after school snack or for breakfast because they are essentially glorified bread with not too much sugar.  It streamlines my day!

After you make the recipe, make sure you have your Norwex dish cloth ready (yeah, the weird blue net looking thing) because it is Boss at scraping all the flour gunk off the counter with no waiting!
 


6 1/2 cups flour (whole wheat or unbleached are my preference)
3T (yes, tablespoons) of yeast
1T sea salt
3 cups warm water.

Fit the kitchenaid with a bread hook.  If you don't have a kitchenaid, I feel bad for you son.  I got 99 problems but a kitchenaid ain't one.

Throw all the ingredients together.  Turn it on.  Watch in delight as it does all the work.  Leave it alone for 10 minutes.  Heck, forget it for 15 if you want to.  If you come back and the ball of dough looks like it would stick to your hand, put a little more flour.  If it looks all dry and floury, put a little more water.  It should be smooth and elastic.  Check pinterest if you don't know what that looks like.  Heck, add me on pinterest while you're there.

Cover it with a Norwex kitchen towel (seamist is my fave) and leave it alone for 4 hours at least.  It should be humongous.  Divide it in 2.  Make two things with it.  Bake at 375* for 20(ish) mins until it's lightly brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.

Yeah, I'd tap that.

Revel in your prowess as genius bread maker, you culinary genius!!

We Stopped Over Unannounced

Last week we were in Dallas at Norwex Home Office and we decided to extend our trip and see some of the sites Dallas had to offer (it was a lot!  You should probably put that on your bucket list).  The last day of our trip we realized it was the 4 year anniversary of Norwex opening their U.S. Distribution center right there in Dallas.

I mean, is this kismet or what?  Being the Norwex nerds that we are, we decided to bring the building a cake.  We rushed breakfast, jumped in the car and let the GPS drive us to the nearest grocery store.  We selected a cake from the bakery and asked the woman behind the counter to write on our celebration confection.  I think it may have been her first day.  Or her last and she couldn't take it anymore.  I'll say no more on the matter but check out these supporting images... seriously?

Off we rushed to Norwex Home Office to surprise them and guess what...  Unlike me if you drop in unannounced, no one was wearing sweatpants and pajama tops.  The building was open and welcoming, same as it had been when the red carpet was rolled out for us the days before (you know, when they were expecting us).

Out comes the beautiful Catherine to greet us, DeMario rushing behind her to be part of the fun.  They laughed and hugged and took pictures with us.  We were invited into the customer care center to be able to deliver the cake.  I was not allowed to answer a call.  I tried.

In short, Norwex is exactly who they profess to be.  LED lighting, zero waste warehouse, happy employees, all the customer service reps were encouraged to come have cake, and everyone had a plaque denoting them as employee of the month for various months.  May you all be so lucky as to work for a company with ACTUAL integrity, and not just words on a marketing campaign.

Mother's Day

I was told I couldn't have kids. At least not without medical intervention.  

 

And then I did. 

 

I was was so overjoyed and I knew I was going to be the perfect mother. No tv. No chemicals. No GMO. No yelling. 

 

Hahahahaha. My kids are currently playing an iPad in another room so I can watch Bad Moms and revel in the obscenity. Thank God for Norwex. At least I'm doing something about the chemicals because I'm missing the mark on all other counts. 

 

*sigh*. They seem to be turning out pretty awesome. Happy Mother's Day to all my other (Im)perfect moms out there!

Women in Industry

I have a job with meaning.  With purpose.  With mission.

I have seen single women find their own voice and income.  I've seen single women find their confidence and their husband.  I've seen married women surprise husbands with anniversaries.  Mothers surprise children with Christmas when it seemed like there wouldn't be one.  I've seen quiet women shout and dull women find vibrance.

The cloths are incredible.  And they do genuinely work as well I as I promise.  The cleaning paste has cleaned more messes than my kids could make in a lifetime.  But the women, it's the women that gives my job such a future.  There is a real income, a real friendship, a real team mentality.

I am so excited to see where we will all be in five years, because the last five have been transformative. 

Plastic Roads

<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FATTNVideo%2Fvideos%2F1698337710471183%2F&show_text=0&width=400" width="400" height="400" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

Roads made out of plastic!!  Sometimes when you know things, you want to share things.  I know that single use plastic is the number one contributor to ocean pollution.  And I share that fact.  A lot.  Annoyingly a lot.  Like, my family can repeat that sentence in their sleep.

Single use plastic is the number on contributor to ocean pollution.

I'm from a water-rich, seafood industry town.  Actually, my home town is best known for making naval destroyers.  Fun fact:  My high school mascot is a Shipbuilder.  Say it fast.  Yeah.

We eat a lot of fish locally.  We have a large fishing industry.  Several local men make their livelihood on the bounty of the ocean.  (That feels like I'm writing a Disney documentary.  "There was the bounty of the ocean.  And there were hard times too.  Alas, poor fishermen."  Alas is important in my monologue.)  But seriously, they feast or famine by the quality of the fish.  We're dumping tons of crap in the water.  We're screwing up.  (Disney will never hire me now)

Take back the earth.  Take back your bottles.  Try drinking from a flipping water bottle that you actually (gasp) have to refill.  I love Diet Mt. Dew as much as the next girl (what, just me? pfff) but water is better for me, and the fish, and the families who pay their mortgage {OR NOT} based on whether I kill the fish with my choices.  Know better.  Do better.

Don't Look Behind your Stove!

I moved the stove.  The atrocities behind the stove were astounding.  I move the stove once a year and every year I think to myself, "It won't be as bad as last year.".  I'm always wrong.

That stove is heavy, it's from the 1930s and it's my pride and joy in the kitchen.  All four burners work, both ovens work, it's gorgeous and well maintained, and it creates beautiful food with me.  I have to make some adjustments to accommodate this beauty of course.  I have to turn the pies halfway through cooking.  I bet you've read that somewhere before and didn't know why you would need to.  Modern ovens have no hot spots and cool spots, they are all the same temperature.  My oven has a coil at the top and bottom and it's uneven.  It makes charming patterns in a piecrust.

I can't expect it to be heated immediately.  She requires a little finesse.  But the payoff is so worth it.  Look how gorgeous that oven is.  But man does she have a little junk in the trunk!  So I gather my strength once a year (actually I ask my husband but same diff) and check behind it.

Let's just say, an Envirocloth is a necessity in every house with a mess.  Because, whoa.  Two minutes of wiping a wet cloth on the floor and the year worth of spills and...idk what all, and we're back to being perfectly clean again.  Muah!

Housewife Life

Yeah, I'm a housewife.  Not like a modern housewife, like the kind of housewife June Cleaver would be friends with.  I like to pretend I'm friends with June Cleaver.  Like you've never done that...

Stay-at-home moms get a lot of buzz for doing the hardest job around and, while I don't think it's ever going to be as cut and dried as that (I mean, I assume astronauts think their job is harder but idk) I will say I have found it to be a challenging career.  Kids are amazing.  And selfish.  And relentless.  

But housewife?  Man, so far this gig is amazing!!  The kids are in school during the day and it's just me and the pets at home.  It could be so easy to turn on Netflix and sit myself on the couch all day but I treat this joint like my real-life J-O-B.

Girl, I'm on Pinterest looking up recipes, decorating, crafts.  I use my Norwex to clean like maybe my best friend June (Cleaver, remember that time she agreed she was my best friend?) is going to stop by.  I have something under the cake dome nearly all the time.  There is coffee at the ready.  The house is tidy and there is a plan for the day here.

Here's a dirty (actually clean) little secret though.  It takes 10 minutes start to finish for me to clean all my floors, mopping included.  It takes another 10 to wash the counters, windows, make my bed {boys make their own}, and even use my body cloth to wash my face and do a quick touch up in the pits.  I know, gross, but it's real life up here.

You know what that means?  I can fit in a Netflix show.  It looks like I've worked all day but I still have time to write a blog...so...  ;)

Courtney Does Dallas

Settle down, not like that.

Putting the responsibilities of being a Norwex consultant to the side, I had a whole day unsupervised with two of my friends (teammates) and we were lucky enough to have a local teammate to point us to some of the hot spots in the city.

Here are some of the highlights:
We went to the Etsy fair!  Did you even know Etsy had a fair?  They do here.  It was full of artisans and rad people selling great things!  I bought the hubs something small, don't tell him.  Then we went to some stores to shop and found a cute little gelato shop with chocolate jalepeno gelato.  It was amazeballs! We went to a park with tons of food trucks (try the asian tacos, they were to die!) Then off to the mall <<oh, Louis Vuitton, how I love you>>.  We capped the day with a movie with margaritas and a full dinner while watching The Circle (it's a movie.  a not-feel-good movie).

I'm excited to hold my babies tomorrow but as far as a day at work, today didn't suck.

I Hugged Her

I'm not a hugger. 

I mean, it's not that I'm exactly against hugs, but I am the world's most awkward human when interpersonal hugging is involved.  Now you'll be watching for that the next time you see me hug.  Crap.  Listen, it's just that I don't know if you want the Duggar side hug (please, don't want that kind!).  I don't know if you're going to commit and squish your front to my front.  (See, I made it awkward).  Or if we're going to tap while keeping a middle school dance appropriate distance between us.  And I always guess wrong and make it uncomfortable.  I'm the human equivalent of saying "Thank you" when someone says "I love you."

But I will hug the stuffing out of Debbie Bolton every chance I get.  In fact, at my first conference as a leader we were instructed to NOT hug her because it would take too much time.  I broke that rule spontaneously and spectacularly right on stage.  #noregrets.

Our time at the home office came to an end and I graduated with my Masters in Norwex.  Just kidding, that's not a thing but I'm saying it is anyway and checking "Higher Education" instead of "4 year college" on the 1% of the time I'm ever asked to check a box.

It has been lovely and loving, fulfilling and stretching, and (get this) I'm not as much of a space cadet as I thought!  I actually had VALUABLE things to add!  Legit, best weekend of my business EVAH!  Now I'm ready to make new goals and crush them- my team better be ready for some extra fun!

Overwhelmed with Gratitude

I'm here at Norwex home office for the Senior Executive Sales Leader Academy for a weekend of training.  It has been a long, full day.  We have been given SO much information.  We have been gifted gorgeous office supplies, beautiful food, Norwex filtered water, and our CEO Debbie Bolton has been sitting in all the meetings with us, alongside us.  Because this company is not about title and prestige.  We're all about the power of one, and the Power of One ANOTHER.

I have never felt so supported by an industry, so genuinely cared for, as I do here.

Hands down, the best experience we've had in this overfull day is that we were taken through our distribution center!  We saw, and got to participate in, packaging orders!!  Sorry to any customer who receives an order I packed!  How many warehouses let you in to see behind the scenes and is PROUD of it?  And at the end of the workers patiently showing us their job and helping us understand the whole process, Norwex brought in huge "Thank You" signs and platters of cookies and let us Red Jacket Leaders cheer for the workers as they received their well deserved treat for their kindness.

See but that's my company.  That's who I work so hard for.  A company that cares as much for the customer as they do for the worker as they do for the leader.  A company that uses 100% recycled or recyclable materials (there are NO trash cans in the warehouse.  none).  A company that turned down an amazing contract because the company they would have purchased from had a sub-par warehouse and we won't support that.

That's why the cloth means so much to me, it's never been the cloth.  It's been how the cloth is changing LIVES.  Like everyone of those workers who has a safe (and crazy fun) work environment with tons of recognition.  Thanks, Home Office!

Quoting all the Quotes

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead's eternal quote is so true it hurts.  We all have to be part of the change we wish to see in the world.  Man, I'm quoting everyone up in here (up in hurr).

Today (and everyday) I'm so grateful to be part of the mission to make the world better.  We don't inherit the Earth, y'all, we're borrowing it from our kids.  

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I come from a family of Dallas Cowboys fans.  I mean, it makes no sense.  I grew up in Maine.  But the fact remains that my Daddy is a big Cowboys fan and that means my sisters and I are big Cowboys fans (because we're big fans of Dad).

So you can imagine my excitement that for the second time this year I'm headed to Dallas, Texas.  Home of the Cowboys.  And home of Norwex USA.

Today I'm flying out super early to go to the Academy.  It sounds intense, right?  I don't know if I'll have to muster, meet muster? do a muster?  I need to learn what the heck muster means.  What I do know is that Norwex has put together a rad training for me to take and they are paying for my stay in the land of the great Dallas Cowboys.

I'm hoping to learn a ton of new information.  And maybe casually run into (ruthlessly stalk) Dak.  

Happy Star Wars Day.  May the fourth be with you!

I'm the Freak who loves Laundry

I love laundry.  I know, I'm sick.  I love organizing things, rearranging my house, painting rooms, the KonMari method, and laundry.  I love wine more than all of it, but I do love laundry.

Laundry speaks to my OCD on a special level.  It starts as a big mountain of clothes and ends as neat little rows of color.

I do all the linens on Monday (it's also the day I try to stay home all day with coaching calls and catching up from the weekend).  Six loads of wash on a Monday and one-to-two other loads of wash every other day of the week.  We all take karate, both boys do soccer, both do basketball, and one does basketball.  We swim, hike (I don't like to, but God gave me these two active boys, so...), adventure, get sweaty, and my husband works on a demolition site.  Our clothes are filthy at the end of the day and we all wear multiple outfits in a day.  (Mine is multiple sets of yoga pants, #momlife)

I like the Norwex laundry detergent because the whole mountain goes in, colors and whites and all (I'm a renegade like that), smelling funky and looking a mess; I put a teaspoon {{A TEASPOON}} of Ultra Power Plus and everything comes out looking clean and smelling like...cloth.

Yeah, it has no smell.  Sometimes I wish it had a scent but when I'm feeling reminiscent for my fragranced detergent I just put a little essential oils on the dryer balls and choose to be thankful that toxic mess isn't on my kids.

PLUS One bag lasts me 6 months.  Of sorted, organized, colorful bliss.  #winning.

Why your balls are making static. Yeah, I said that.

The Norwex dryer balls come in two type- BPA free plastic or wool.  Functionally, in my opinion, they work exactly the same and increase your dryer's efficiency.  (Hello saving money on the electric bill!)  Here's the problem: Your dryer doesn't know it has to be more efficient.  And we have given control to the machine to decide when the clothes are dry.  

So you went to a Norwex party and were convinced to give up your (crazy, ridiculous, super, over-toxic) dryer sheets and fabric softener in favor of these tiny marvels in our dryer balls.  You received them proudly and threw those suckers in your dryer.  The whole time congratulating yourself on your smart buy, thumbing your nose at the electric company as you outwit them.
You started a load in the dryer with high hopes and went about your business, coming back to the chiming of your dryer only to find....SUPER STATICKY CLOTHES.  You cursed the balls, mistrusting the consultant who sang their praises. 

But wait, before you go try to commit a dry by dryer ball pegging- let me tell you this.  The dryer balls did their job.  They made your dryer more efficient.  Too efficient maybe.  Your "more dry" function on the dryer that was your old stand-by may not be the route to go any longer.  Change is hard.  You'll be ok.

What I had to do was set my "timed dry" to 35 minutes.  Go check the laundry.  Still wet?  Add 5 minutes.  You may have to walk to the machine more than one time, but once you determine what YOUR dryer's optimal time WITH dryer balls in is, you should be set after that.  See, if the dryer balls work the way they should, your clothes were probably dry 20 minutes before your dryer stopped running, and rubbing hot cotton against itself will create a massive amount of static.  Like, enough to do fun tricks with the balloon against your hair- you know, if you want a parlor trick.  But if you want dry clothes without extra static, throw those balls in the dryer, set it to the optimal time, and NOW stick your tongue out at your electric bill.

You won.

Why I got excited about rags.

I went to my first Norwex party in 2011, with two little boys at home I was always needing some time with adults.  Women especially.  But this was an especially important gathering for me because it was the first time I'd left my house to be in a large group since mid- 2010.  A stay-at-home mom who medically had to STAY at home.  I was going bonkers.

Both my boys were born by c-section.  The first, unplanned (upside down, twisted, and backwards the dear overachiever) and the second scheduled because he came unexpectedly soon after the first.  Surprise!  The second c-section resulted in a massive staph infection.  Massive.  It required a four hour surgery to remove all the dead tissue just one week after my delivery.  God was so good though and it could have been MRSA and it could have been flesh-eating and I was spared from both, and I'm SUPER grateful.

What DID happen was a year long recovery.  The wound had to stay open to heal, it wasn't stitched closed and it needed to be packed twice a day.  And the packing used was Ag dressings, silver infused dressings to keep me free from infection and the area clean 24/7.  Silver is a natural antimicrobial- it kills bacteria without the need of anything else.

Fast forward back to the first Norwex party and the first time I was allowed to go out and be with my Village.  It was cloths infused with silver.  How ironic is that?!  The rest is history as they say.  I lost my bloody mind, wanted to buy the whole catalog (but had no money), and decided to sign up as a consultant.  It was $10, I mean, what was there to lose???!

As someone who has been a devoted convert for years and years now, I'll tell you, these "rags" (ok, but don't call them that!  lol) clean your house, your kids, your bathroom, your.... you know....and the silver self-purifies the cloth all the time.  All.the.time.  NOTHING in my house cleans itself except the cats and they gag the results back up for me to clean....with my Norwex cloth.  Full circle, that.  I would pay 10x the amount for the amazing clean I get, the chemicals I keep away from my kids, and the speed I can get it all done.  And get back to binge watching Netflix and folding laundry.