Thursday, June 30, 2016

How to Make the Best Iced Coffee

I love coffee.  I know I have mentioned it before, but there it is.  I love it.  I love to hear the coffee pot going in the morning, I love the smell, and I love a nice hot cup of coffee as soon as I get up (but after I brush my teeth!).


Something happens in the summer though, I still love my hot coffee first thing in the morning (Maine mornings are cold!), but once that first cup is gone, I tend to want iced coffee.

Now, while I love to go to my local coffee shop and get iced coffee once in a while, it is definitely not a daily (or even weekly) occurrence.  We are still in our debt payoff strategy, and unfortunately coffee out is not a need.

A couple of years ago I had finished my morning coffee, and realized I still had a bit left in the pot.  I didn't want to throw it away, but wasn't sure what to do with it.  I decided I would put it in the freezer in an ice cube tray, figuring that I could use it with the other ice for my iced coffee later on in the day.


However, I ended up with an entire tray full of coffee ice cubes.  

When I went to make my afternoon iced coffee, I decided to use only the coffee ice cubes, and it kind of changed my life.

No longer did I have a layer of water on top of my coffee as the ice melted, instead, I had a layer of coffee, which I then just mixed into the rest of the iced coffee.


An incredibly simple way to make iced coffee!  Freeze coffee in ice cube trays, put in a jar, top with more coffee and add a bit of cream or milk.  Delicious!

Do you make your own coffee creations at home?  How do you like your coffee in the summer?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stock up for the Summer and Avoid the Oops!

This is a sponsored post from SheSpeaks and Walmart.  As always, the opinions are my own.

Lazy summer days, oh how I love you!  I have always taken the idea of "no plans so we can make plans" to heart in the summer.  I want to have our weekends free for spur of the moment BBQ’s and playdates for the kids.

But, that also means a lot of spur-of-the-moment cleaning!


The fact that we have kids, and they are in and out all day long means that our house gets dirty quick – especially in the summer.


I try to “avoid the oops” of dirt all through the house by keeping a bucket of water next to our front door.  I am sure that my kids appreciate the ability to get outside in the dirt and mud, although I don’t necessarily appreciate all the extra cleaning it makes for me.  I know that it is good for them though.  And when friends are over, it increases the level of dirt that starts in our entryway, leads to our bathroom, and eventually throughout our house!


There are so many oops moments for me – forgetting to pick up toilet paper before Jack’s big 5th birthday party last year is one that comes to mind.  Nothing like going to set out all the supplies for the day, just to realize you forgot most of the paper products!


I was so excited to try out Avoidtheoops.com through Walmart!  What a great idea to have all of the P&G products you need in one central spot to be able to order.  And as a mom of three kids, anytime I can have things delivered directly to my house is a win.  I am able to stock up on what I know that I need for the summer, and not worry about as many ‘oops’ moments down the line. 


Diapers, wipes, they have them.  My personal favorite – the Swiffer wet jet replacement solution and cleaning pads, they have it.  Toilet paper, yes!  Pretty much anything you can think of in kitchen, bathroom, laundry, cleaning, and baby, they have it.


What is your biggest “oops” moment?  

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Garden Tour - Week Four

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

I can’t believe I am already writing about the 4th week in our garden!  But, of course, time always tends to fly by. 


This week a lot of progress was made on the weeding front.  It may not look like it, but I took a lot of weeds back that were surrounding the boxes.  The boxes themselves seem to be pretty weed free, which is a nice change.


I do have my potatoes that are in a complete weed jungle right at the moment, but I can only get so far before I need to tend to something else.



I finally planted the rest of my seedlings in pots this past weekend.  I have no idea how they will end up doing.  The seedlings might be too far gone, although they all looked relatively healthy if not stunted in their little seedling pots. 



My plan is to watch the pots for a couple weeks.  If it looks like they aren’t growing at all, then I will pull all the seedlings and try and plant some other stuff in the pots instead.  There are a lot of veggies that I can plant later in the summer for a fall crop, as well as herbs which are always welcome in my kitchen. 



I do hope they grow though, because my peppers typically do the best in those EarthBoxes and I know the peppers in my garden beds are not growing very well at the moment.


The sugar pie pumpkin is going to take over the garden before the end of the summer.  I noticed that it is starting to crawl over to one of the other garden beds, which is unfortunate.  I was hoping it would grow in the other direction, towards the fence and the rest of our back yard, but it looks like I might have to interfere a bit with the direction it is going.  If I can manage to keep the vines between the boxes instead of grabbing onto the other plants, I will be happy.  I’m not very optimistic though, those suckers hurt to touch!




I have a couple lone strawberries on my strawberry plants.  I don’t expect to get a good strawberry crop until next year or the year after, but it is nice to see them putting off a few strawberries.  Perhaps I will get a second growing later in the season.


The biggest news is the weather around here – dry dry dry.  It is kind of funny because my husband went on and on about how much water we have in Maine in our new washing machine video; and we do.  However, it seems like the rain is staying to the south this year.  I can’t figure out if it is good or not.  I haven’t been watering nearly as much as I probably should.  The reason is because the weatherman keeps saying that there will be rain, but then none comes.  I got out early to water this morning, and it is close to 90 today, so I will probably be out there tonight as well.  Most of my plants love a good deep soak, so I am doing what I can.


I’m excited to see the little flowers on the tomato plants.  We are still a long ways off from fresh tomatoes, but they all look really good, and that makes me happy.  My goal is to grow a ton of tomatoes because I love to can them, but it is always up in the air how well they end up doing.  I tend to keep the back-up option of buying canning tomatoes from one of the local farms to even out what I pick.


What are the new fruits and vegetables you are seeing at your market, or in your garden?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

June is Internet Safety Month

I am a blog ambassador with U.S. Cellular, and this post is sponsored on their behalf.  All opinions, as always, are my own!

Yesterday Emma came home from Vacation Bible School (VBS) and asked when she could have one of my old iPhones, so that she could get Snapchat.  She is eight.  The kids in her class at VBS are eight.  How do they even know what Snapchat is?!

It reminded me that I need to take my own advice, print off this Parent-Child Agreement and have a talk about internet safety, and what is acceptable.


Now, I’m not sure how many other parents out there have little kids like mine that want to get their own cellphones, and I think my kids might be a little more aware of it all because of my job as a blogger, but goodness it surprised me.

Of course, once I thought about it a little more, there isn’t a day that goes by where I am not taking pictures for Instagram, filming a video for YouTube, asking the kids if I can mention them on Facebook and Twitter.  I even sat with Emma a few days ago as we took pictures on Snapchat and played with the different filters.

According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, the average age children receive cellphones is 13.  It still seems so young to me – especially since I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was in college.  But, technology seems to be entwined into every facet of life these days, so knowing how to use it safely and efficiently is the most important point.

With homeschooling, we spend a lot of time online researching different subjects, looking up answers to questions we have, and finding new ideas for games and activities to keep learning fun.  I definitely struggle with how much freedom to give to my kids regarding their technology.

They love Minecraft, and both love to make videos.  They love YouTube Kids, and also like to remind me when they are doing something particularly exciting and I should take a picture or video of it.  They read books on their kindles as well as watch movies.  It is amazing to have one device that can do so much, so much for learning, but also so much for entertainment.


I think the main goal should be open communication.  Using things like the Parent-Child Agreement as a conversation starter.  Making sure the kids know the boundaries and then sticking to them.  Also talking about proper etiquette online – that even if you can’t see someone, you should still speak to them as if they were right in front of you, and always treat others with respect.

There are so many challenges to kids these days, especially with the amount of cyber-bullying, hacking incidents and phishing scams, I want my kids to feel safe, and enjoy the technology we have access to, but also to know the right way to use it.


When did your kids first get cellphones?  If you are a blogger/vlogger, do they seem to want more access because you share online?

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Garden Tour - Week Three

I’m always amazed at the new growth after a week.  And last week I did my garden tour a little later than I had originally planned, so it hasn’t been a full week, but the changes are noticeable.


The first change that I noticed this weekend was the arrival of my day lilies.  These flowers were planted here when we bought the house (all the flowers were, thankfully!).  I love the succession of flowers; first, my irises, then the peonies, and finally the day lilies.  I’m always surprised when I see them pop up. 



The vegetable garden itself, well, my ideas about putting straw between the garden beds was a good one – but I probably should have put newspaper or garden fabric down before I did the straw.  But, seeing as how I am on a tight budget for the garden, we did not do that.  Now the weeds are coming up around the garden boxes, and I need to do something about that. 


My thought was to have Matt weed whack around the boxes, but he pointed out what a mess that would make, and the likelihood that most of the weeds would then end up in the garden boxes themselves.  My next thought was to just pull them, but they are surprisingly strong, so I am thinking of getting more straw, and trying to stamp them down where they are not easily pulled.  As long as they aren’t in the garden boxes themselves, I’m not all that concerned.



I am happy to report that the fence has been doing a great job at keeping out the woodchuck.  The lettuce and kale seem to be coming back just fine, and some of the cabbage is as well.


My newest pest, however, is the lovely grasshopper.  Now, I’m not entirely sure if this little grasshopper family is eating my plants, but I have a suspicion that is the case.  I noticed the stems of some of my pepper plants, and also some of my cucumber plants, seemed to be getting eaten.  I also noticed that something is eating the actual leaves off the cucumber plants – which I haven’t seen before.  Of course, this could have been damage from the woodchuck before, but considering I found a family of grasshoppers hiding beneath one of my cucumber plants, I am apt to think it is the grasshoppers. 



I did actually google whether or not grasshoppers were bad for the garden – praying that grasshoppers were not anything close to locusts.  Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that grasshoppers are bad for the garden.  And I have no idea how to combat them.  So we are going with the wait and see approach.  I also explained to Matt that this is part of the reason I want to get chickens again – we need them.



Overall, I am really pleased with how the garden is coming along.  I’m also excited to get to the first “pick your own” season soon – strawberries!  There is nothing like freshly picked strawberries, and all the wonderful jars of jam to come from them!


Do you have a pick your own farm in your area?  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in order to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

This year has definitely been the year of “organize my life.”  I have been working so hard to de-clutter our home, put new cleaning routines into practice, overhaul the way I budget, and figure out the best way that I can plan my days without feeling overwhelmed.  Goodness, what a difficult task that is to undertake!

When I saw Ruth’s new book, Unstuffed, I knew that I needed to read it.  A book about getting rid of the excess from all aspects of your life seemed right up my alley, and it did not disappoint.


Unstuffed is full of great advice as to what we need to do in order to get rid of the clutter that fills our homes, our schedules, and our souls.  But, it isn’t only advice.  She takes us through her own journey of getting rid of the clutter.

It is always interesting to me to see the transformations that people can make over the years.  I love to see the changes, and so this type of book is fun for me to read.  The journey that person goes on – I think that is why I enjoy memoirs so much, being able to relate to a certain path, or know that I am not alone in wanting to change certain aspects of my life.

Unstuffed takes us on a journey to get rid of the excess in our lives and to more fully appreciate our lives without the stress of all the stuff we seem to cling to.

I think the most interesting fact that I read in the book was about the amount of information that we process daily and how overwhelming that is.  The sheer amount of information that is created now as opposed to years ago is staggering.  And we are constantly connected to it with the internet, and cell phones.

If you are looking for a book that encourages you on your own path to simplify without becoming a minimalist, this is definitely a great book to read.  It is full of practical advice, and great stories.  I felt myself nodding my head through most of the book.


Are you trying to organize your life and home this year?  Any tips to share?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Changing up my Laundry Routine

This post is sponsored by SheSpeaks/P&G.  As always the opinions are all my own.  I was compensated and provided product for this post.

As a mom, I feel like I am constantly doing laundry.  And to add insult to injury we are a paper free home – which means a lot of rags/washcloths/towels being washed constantly.  It seems like as soon as I have all the laundry washed, there is another load ready to go. 


I love the advice of doing one load of laundry at a time, really I do, but for some reason, I can never seem to get that to work.  Instead, I do three loads of laundry pretty much every other day – crazy, right?!

We recently got a new front loading washing machine, and immediately my laundry routine was thrown off.  I wasn’t entirely pleased with the smell and feel of my clothes after washing.

So, I did what every mom out there would do.  I switched up my laundry routine.


I have always been a bit of purest when it comes to my laundry.  I like to make my own laundry soap, we didn’t use fabric softener or even dryer sheets; but I needed a change.  I started using DownyFabric Conditioner.


Now, I want you to know that it has absolutely changed my laundry routine!  I no longer have to worry about a weird musty smell when I wash my laundry, it smells so fresh and clean as soon as it comes out of the washing machine.  I am also amazed at how it has breathed new life into the myriad assortment of rags, washcloths and towels that we seem to use and wash constantly.

They are old.  They probably should have been replaced long ago, but I don’t like to get rid of useful items.  Even though these rags and washcloths felt like they had been hung out to dry on the line (you know the feeling – rough, scratchy, anything but soft), two washes with the Downy Fabric Conditioner, and they were soft as the day I purchased them.


Because we are constantly washing our clothes and towels, they can get agitated and wear out easily.  Downy conditions, strengthens and lubricates each fiber to protect the fabric from the agitation that normally happens in the wash cycle.


My clothes come out feeling soft, smelling fresh, and will end up lasting longer.  The colors stay bright, and that is good for everyone!

Downy Fabric Conditioner can easily be picked up when you do the rest of your shopping at Walmart and also on their website.


Do you use Downy Fabric Conditioner?  Can you tell the difference when you don’t use it?