How to Keep Your Car Clean When Your Kids Are Messy Animals

how to keep your car clean

Kids. Man, they mess things up, don’t they? Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids. They are my world. But before becoming a mom I vastly underestimated the amount of damage a toddler can do to a clean car with a snack cup of goldfish. Am I right? Well, keep reading friends – today I am sharing my tips for how to keep your car clean with kids.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Have a trash receptacle in your car.

Parents, let’s just accept our kids are messy. They are! They just are. Let me tell you what you could find in my van right now: empty Sonic cups, art from church, wrappers to fruit snacks, fruit snacks, the aforementioned goldfish, and probably many, many socks.

One thing I highly recommend is to have some sort of receptacle for trash already in the car. I’ve heard of people using plastic cereal bins and lining them with plastic shopping bags. I’ve heard of people using actual (empty) cereal boxes lined with plastic bags. As for me, I keep a diaper bag dispenser in my car. The bags are small and perfect for collecting the trash my kids seem to accumulate each day.

picture of a diaper bag dispenser
I like this because it is small and fits easily into a cup holder. I can use one bag and then I have more for the many more messes my kids will create in the coming days and weeks.

Every day, have your children spend time gathering any trash, cups, or clothing in your car.

Are my kids the only kids that take off their socks and shoes in the car? It never fails. I give my oldest a trash bag and instruct him to bag anything that needs to be thrown away. My other two children are responsible for taking in shoes, socks, books, backpacks – anything that has gathered in the car but really belongs inside.

Keeping clutter out of your car goes a long way towards the appearance of cleanliness and organization!

Line all cup holders will silicone cupcake liners.

I don’t know why, but dirt just seems to accumulate and gather and multiple in my cup holders. This leads to me spending way too much time scrubbing the cup holders with a toothbrush when I detail my car.

silicone cupcake liners

Who needs to spend time doing that? Not this girl. I line the cup holders with silicone muffin tins and then when I clean my car, I pull them out and run them through the dishwasher.

Keep a container a baby wipes in your car.

baby wipes

Not only can baby wipes clean up immediate messes and spills, but you can easily grab a wipe while sitting in traffic or in car line and wipe down your dash.

Remove odors with vinegar.

We’ve all been there. A rouge sippy cup, a diaper you forgot to throw away, a window you didn’t roll up before the rain can lead to some nasty, unpleasant smells. That’s easy to remedy! Just fill a small bowl with white vinegar and place it in your car overnight. The vinegar will absorb the smell.

Create a car cleaning kit and leave it in your trunk.

leather cleaner

My car cleaning kit contains the following items: a roll of paper towels, a package of baby wipes, grocery plastic bags, Windex, Armour All, and leather conditioner. If I’m out and about and want to go through the car wash, I’m ready to really deep clean my car.

Take the car seats out of your car quarterly.

Not only does crumbs, trash, and dirt collect behind and beneath the car seat, but you also need to clean your car seats periodically. I recommend you check your car seat manual for instructions on cleaning. I personally remove the seat, vacuum out any crumbs or dirt, wipe down the entire surface with a Clorox wipe, and spot treat any stains. If needed, I will remove the car seat cover and wash according to my car seat manufacturer’s instructions. I never wash the straps or submerge the straps in water because it can weaken the fibers.

Psst – have you read my post about How to Get Major Stains Out of Upholstery? I’ve used my “recipe” on car seats, car upholstery, and carpet!

Keep pertinent receipts in a small file folder in your car.

I like to keep all my car-related paperwork in my car. I have a file folder with the following tabs: registration, insurance, oil changes, tires, maintenance. I can easily look and see when I last changed my oil, or access my tire warranty if I get a nail in my tire or have a blow out.

Keep change in an old medication bottle.

I keep a couple of dollars worth of quarters in my car in an old medication bottle. This is useful when I need to fill the air in my tires or I’m headed into Aldi and forgot a quarter!

Create a car kit.

I really can’t stress the importance of this enough. I have a 31 tote bag that contains a first aid kit, jumper cables, a few bottles of water, some protein bars, a blanket, sunscreen, and a change of clothing for each of my children. I leave the bag in my trunk and replace the items in it as they expire.

Have a back up key for your car – or a trusty locksmith!

I’ve learned this the hard way multiple times. Jason has a key to my car, but he works over an hour away. The first time I locked myself out of the car, I had to sit in a church parking lot in the 100 degree weather and wait for him to come and rescue me. The second time, I found a locksmith to help me open my car and he quickly got me on my way. STL Locksmith can help you with all your needs: automotive, residential, commercial. Please check them out!

I hope you found this list of car cleaning and organization hacks helpful. What do you do to make cleaning your car (and keeping it clean) easier?

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.*

How to Get Major Stains Out of Upholstery

how to get major stains out of upholstery

My kids are major mess makers. It’s true; they just are. I spent approximately 1/3 of their lives thus far being mad about it and then I realized it’s kind of pointless to be upset. They are kids; kids make messes. They are not destructive by any means, but until they are older there will be accidents. There will be stains. There will be mess.

After I came to this realization, I decided that in order to deal I would need 3 things: an awesome vacuum, a carpet cleaner, and a great recipe for how to get major stains out of upholstery.

My vacuum is the Shark Navigator Deluxe Upright Vacuum. We have two, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. It does an excellent job for a fraction of the price of a Dyson.

this is a great vacuumShark Navigator Deluxe Upright Vacuum // $127.99 on Amazon

While we’re on the subject of Shark vacuums, let me mention that they have incredible customer service. One of the prongs popped off the plug of my vacuum this summer. I called customer service and they sent me a brand new vacuum!

The carpet cleaner that we own is the Hoover Carpet Cleaner Max Extract. We’ve owned this particular model for over 12 years. Our original version broke about three years ago, and I replaced it immediately because it is a life saver when you have kids and pets.

this is a great carpet cleanerHoover Carpet Cleaner Max Extract // $213.88 on Amazon

These two items are amazing, but my stain recipe? That is epic, friends. I’ve used it on almost anything – laundry stains, carpets, car upholstery, bathroom scum – it can clean anything. But I especially love it as a upholstery cleaner.

We have this really expensive upholstered chair in our living room. It’s one of the first “nice” or expensive pieces of furniture that Jason and I purchased as a couple. It’s a huge, comfortable chair with an ottoman and I love it. I love to watch TV in it. I love to read books in it. I love cozy movie night, nights in front of a fire… it’s my favorite place to sit and relax in the house.

Well, the problem is that my kids and dog love this chair, too. It was so stained and gross that I used to drape a blanket over it before people would come over. I actually had a carpet cleaning company come out and clean it, for the tidy sum of $100, and it didn’t help at all.

Until my magical stain buster. Stains be gone! Y’all, it is magic.

Enough, enough already! Right? You want me to get on with it.

how to get major stains out of upholstery

Sorry for the poor image quality – I snapped this for an Instastory and it is the only before picture that I have. This chair is in Poppy’s room and it takes a beating. There are water stains, formula stains, spit up, diaper rash cream… and probably other assorted stains I’d rather not think about. I haven’t given it a good cleaning since we got it almost 3 years ago. It was past due! So what did I do? I busted out my tried and true recipe for how to get major stains out of upholstery.

Here are the items you will need.

SUPER STAIN BUSTER/UPHOLSTERY CLEANER RECIPE:

  • Vinegar
  • Hot water
  • BLUE Dawn Dish Soap
  • Optional, for tougher stains: Borax, OxyClean, or Baking Soda
  • Clean sponge with a scrub side

how to get major stains out of upholstery

I like to use a bowl, but you could use a spray bottle.

These measurements are approxiamate. Use more or less depending on the area you are cleaning. The chair above took me two bowls.

Combine 3-4 tablespoons BLUE Dawn Dish Soap and 1/8 cup vinegar to 3 cups HOT water. Use the hottest water you can stand. I honestly eyeball this; I’ve used more and less Dawn and vinegar with good results. Stir to combine and immediately get to work while the water is still hot.

Dip your sponge into the water until it is soaking wet. Move it to your upholstery and begin to saturate your surface. DO NOT POUR THE MIXTURE DIRECTLY ON THE SURFACE. You don’t want to get the middle layer of your cushions wet; we are just thoroughly wetting the surface. I use the soft side to rub in the water so that the fabric is wet, and then I flip over to the scrub side and begin to vigorously work at any stains.

Cover the entire surface – this is key! Often upholstery can sometimes leave water marks, so you want to wet the entire cushion/chair etc so that it will dry evenly without stains.

Let it dry overnight.

how to get major stains out of upholstery

It looks so much better!

Tips:

Depending on the stain you are dealing with, you can add either Borax, OxyClean, or Baking Soda to the water mixture. Borax is a stain figher so I’ll add that if I know it is a tough stain. Baking Soda disinfects and that is helpful for smelly stains, such as urine. OxyClean can get out or lighten dark spots. DO NOT USE ALL THREE TOGETHER. (Thank you to my friend Lindsey for her suggestion on using Borox and Dawn as a paste for stains!)

If you have a truly stubborn stain, make a paste of Borax and Dawn and apply it to the stain. Let it sit for a while, wipe away, and then use the method of cleaning I described above.

The vinegar smell can be off putting to some. Jason is super sensitive to smells and he hates when I use this because of the vinegar smell. Your furniture will smell of vinegar as it is wet, but the smell disapates as it dries.

That’s it! Easy peasy. Let me know if you have any questions.

Links are affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small percentage if you make a purchase.

Mommy & Mini Fashion: Valentine’s Day Edition

I haven’t done a post on plus size fashion lately, so I thought it was time! Read on for Mommy & Mini Fashion: Valentine’s Day Edition!

plus size fashion

plus size fashion

Can we first address the elephant in the room? I feel ridiculous. I am not a model. Still, hoofing it around the undeveloped part of my subdivision turned out to be a lot of fun! Jason was my photographer and I think he did a great job!

Kimono: Torrid $55 USE THIS LINK for 25% OFF /Similar: Amazon $15

White Tank Top: Lane Bryant $30, BOGO 50% Currently / Similar: Target $8 MY FAVORITE TANK TOP!

Jeans: Target $25

Shoes: Amazon $33 I love these shoes SO much.

Necklace: Old, Forever 21 / Similar: Amazon $8

 

plus size fashion

 

plus size fashion

For my hair, I curled with a 1 inch Hot Tools Curling Iron. I used THIS hair wax for a little definition and THIS dry shampoo for volume. I finished with my favorite hairspray, Blo Pro.

plus size fashion

 

plus size fashion

 

plus size fashion

Poppy Grace is wearing Eleanor Rose (not an affiliate link). They do capsule releases, meaning they create dresses for a season or holiday and when they are gone, they are gone. I highly recommend you sign up for their emails and buy as soon as the collection is released. The dresses are not inexpensive ($35 range) but they are SO well made. I size up to get two years of wear, and the dresses can be worn as tops when they get too short (so I really get 3 years of wear with some pieces). The resell value of this brand is also great.

Please let me know if you have questions about any of the pictures of products above! I hope you enjoyed this post on plus size fashion!

Links are affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission from your purchase. Thank you for supporting Tickled Peach!

Should You Sell or Rent Your House When You Get Military Orders?

If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a while, you probably know these two things about me: I am a military spouse, and we own and rent our home from our last duty station. As a military wife who has been there, done that, I know all too well the stress of deciding if you should sell or rent your house when you get military orders. I thought I would talk a little bit about what that decision has looked like for us and what our recent experience with being a landlord has looked like. Should you sell or rent your house when you get military orders?

should you sell or rent your house when you get military orders

For those of you who are new here, Jason was Active Duty in the Navy for 10 years. He was a submariner, and these were our duty stations: Charleston, SC (2001-2003), Kings Bay, GA (2003-2004), Silverdale, WA (2004-2008), and Charleston, SC (2008-2011). He made the decision to separate from the Navy at the end of his enlistment in 2011, and we began our civilian life. Shortly after our move “home” to Georgia, he decided he missed serving his country and decided to enlist in the Navy Reserves. He has been a member of the Navy Reserves since 2011 and is currently a Chief Petty Officer.

We have owned 3 homes since we have been married: one in Kingsland, Georgia, one in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, and our current home in Augusta, Georgia. We initially rented our home in Kingsland but decided to put it on the market after a year. We were so lucky with that house! Shortly after we bought, the market boomed, and we sold quickly and made an excellent profit.

When we got orders back to South Carolina in 2008, we decided we wanted to buy. Base housing in Charleston is older and was at that time unrenovated. Because we didn’t have kids at the time, we would have qualified for a 2 bedroom despite the fact that he was higher ranking. Jason was teaching and really didn’t relish living with the students he taught, so we began to look off base. It made sense money wise to buy, so we leaped.

We closed on our house in January of 2008, and within months the market tanked. This was the height of the mortgage crisis, and our home value dropped almost $25,000 within 3 months of our purchase. By the time we needed to move, it hadn’t recovered, and selling would have meant we had to bring thousands of dollars to the table. Other friends we knew were taking a $10,000 check to closing, some were short selling, but we were hopeful that if we could just hold on to it that our value would improve over time.

We decided to sign a contract with a property management company since we would be living over 3 hours away. It made sense to have someone else be our eyes and ears. Our management company takes 10% of our monthly rent. They charged a one time fee when we signed, and they charge us for advertising when it is empty. We also pay a “bonus” when they place someone in our home.

THE GOOD

We’ve been very lucky to get renters promptly. We’ve had 3 renters over the course of 6 years. Our current renter has been living in the home for 3 years.

We’ve had good renters. They’ve all paid their rent promptly (knock on wood), and we’ve never had to deal (knock knock on wood) with excessive damages caused by a renter.

We have had an opportunity to pay down our mortgage.

Since we take a loss on the house (more on that later), we get tax breaks. I’m not sure what that will look like this year when we pay our taxes since the tax law has changed.

THE BAD

We take a monthly loss on the house. The amount we are currently able to charge for rent doesn’t fully cover our mortgage and the fee from the property management company. We are not making a profit. This is due in large part to the fact that our taxes more than doubled when we moved out of the home. My biggest advice would be to check on this before you make the decision to rent your home — our property tax went from 3% as residents to 6% when we moved out of the county.

We’ve had some high maintenance renters. I won’t really say more about that for privacy, but be prepared for phone calls about things that are serious and are not serious. Once I got called because my renter wanted maintenance to go out and change a light bulb. (I get charged $80 per service call, so that was fun.)

You need to have a pocket of money ready for repairs/lost rent/damages/etc. At any moment your renter could stop paying. Guess what? You can’t get them out immediately, and you have to pay the mortgage until they are out and you get someone new in. You have to pay the mortgage interim when someone moves out until someone moves in. When the house is empty, it’s still being sold, so you’ll also need to cover the electric and water. And then let’s talk about repairs…

REPAIRS

This is by far the most stressful part of being a landlord, but it is something you MUST prepare yourself for. Repairs will happen. They happen in the home you live in. They happened when you lived in the home you plan to rent out. It doesn’t mean your renter is tearing things up. It just means the house is aging.

Be prepared for repairs. Have some money set aside for emergencies. Make contacts with reputable HVAC companies, electricians, and plumbers. Your property management may have a company they use, but I’ve found many times it is easier and cheaper for me to make the arrangements on my own.

Our most expensive repair by far has been our HVAC unit. It kept going out this past summer, and almost monthly I had to pay for repairs. My husband and I finally decided to call in a second opinion, and when we did, we realized that in the long term it would be better to replace the unit. That was a tough repair to swallow, but it was necessary.

Our current dilemma is something relatively small, but we do need to address it. We have granite-looking laminate countertops in our kitchen (that was the style at the time). There is a place right above our dishwasher and on our island where the laminate keeps separating. We’ve reglued several times, but again, it may be wiser at this point to consider new countertops. I have a friend who recently replaced her countertop through Premier Surfaces, so I’ve been browsing their website for ideas and am thinking about reaching out for a quote. Premier Surfaces fabricates and installs custom countertops and surfaces. I like the fact that they have three decades of experience!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really wanted this post to be truthful and transparent about the real advantages and disadvantages of being a landlord. It’s a whole new ballgame when you are a military member or spouse, trying to manage the rental of a home that is miles away. We can’t go to the house in person to check on our renters. We can’t personally handle repairs. It’s hard and it’s tough. I didn’t want to downplay that in any way.

However, it can sometimes be our only option. We don’t often get to choose when or where to move, and sometimes rental is the best financial choice. I would highly advise you to start by researching rentals in your market. What are homes your size, with your specs, renting for? Will the rental price you are able to charge (don’t forget your management fee!) cover your mortgage?

If it will, I would then start asking for recommendations for property management companies. Facebook is a great resource for this! Most bases have an active Facebook group, and that would be a great place to solicit advice.

Interview with a few management companies until you find one that feels like a good fit.

I also highly recommend marketing the property yourself. Your management company should put out ads and place it on the “market” but you can help by promoting it as well. AHRN is a good place to start.

I hope you found this a helpful resource as you start to make the decision about if you should sell or rent when you get military orders. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I’m happy to answer!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Valentine’s Day Fun

Hello friends! I hope you had an amazing weekend. Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday this year, we decided to celebrate on Saturday. I’m sure I will do a little something for the kids and Jason on the actual day, but since we have school and church it just made more sense to celebrate on Saturday when we had more time together. Read on for more about our Valentine’s Day Fun!

First up, the table! Y’all who know me know that any holiday starts with a decorated table. This is something I love to do for my kids, and I try my best to do it for each holiday. There’s just something about fun themed decorations and balloons that make their faces light up as they enter the room.

More Examples: Boo to You Halloween Dinner * Back to School Table Decor

Valentine's Day table decor

We do presents for each child. I know some people don’t do presents and that’s completely OK! I set a $10-15 budget for each child and Jason and I have recently implemented a rule that they can’t have toys with a million tiny pieces (Legos are the exception). Poppy got a Princess Belle doll, Sullivan got a Mickey and Roadster Races race car track (that I found on clearance), and Cooper got a Pokemon Lego set.

Valentine's Day table decor

The table runner is old fabric from Hobby Lobby. I’m not honestly sure where the heart boxes are from; I’ve had them for years. The center heart is plastic and was from the Dollar Tree, as were the plates and napkins. Do you recognize the envelopes? They are old and from the Target Dollar Spot.

Valentine's Day

My kids love balloons. LOVE. I mean they honestly were more excited about the balloons than the presents. I got these from the Dollar Tree.

I picked up doughnuts the night before and we had a sweet treat breakfast and opened their presents.

Valentine's Day table decor

This is a little tradition I started a few years back. I have different colored hearts for each child, and Jason and I take turns writing reasons that we love them. Some years we get the kids in on the action and they write hearts for their siblings. I used heart doilies this year, and foam hearts for Poppy. All were from – you guessed it – the Dollar Tree.

Valentine's Day appreciation gifts

Next up are some Valentine’s Day goodies. The cookies are for my girlfriends – the package of Oreo Red Hot cookies says “Valentine, you are red hot!” The bottom cookie is Chips Ahoy Smores and the tag says “I need SMORE friends like you in my life.”

The gift on the left is a teacher gift. It was a hand towel from Wal-Mart ($1), a package of Lindt chocolate truffles, and I’ll be adding a $5 gift card before I give it to Cooper’s teacher on Wednesday.

Valentine's Day

Everyone needs some soft and sexy makeup for Valentine’s Day, right? On Tuesday, I’ll be sharing how to achieve this makeup look on Instagram. You can find me @andrearhouse. I will post the tutorial to my Instastories, and if you are viewing after the 24 hour period has elapsed, it will be saved to my highlights. Come check it out!

Update: Unfortunately I was not able to post a tutorial on Instastories on Tuesday, but it is coming soon! Make sure you are following me, and you can always check my Highlights for pas tutorials, product reviews, and swatches.

What are you planning for Valentine’s Day?

Five on Friday: Favorites

Today I’m linking up with Smidge of This and Carolina Charm for Five on Friday.

Y’all know I talked HERE about how I was on the search for a good drugstore liquid eyeliner that actually delivered? Well, I think I found one. I’ve used it about 10 times now and it doesn’t smudge or fade! I’ll be updating soon with a full review, but I wanted to let you know this is GOOD STUFF. The best part? It is only $3!

Essence Eyeliner Pen Waterproof: Amazon / Ulta / (It’s $4 on Amazon vs. $3 at Ulta)

 So I’ve been living under a rock. I admit it. While the rest of the world was been Netflixing and chilling, I’ve been Amazoning and Priming. I guess I just figured that Amazon Prime Video and Netflix were virtually the same thing? Well, THEY ARE NOT, says the naysayer herself. I finally started a free trial of Netflix and I won’t be quitting it anytime soon. With that said – I need your Netflix suggestions! What should I be watching? I asked this same question on Instagram last week and this show was recommended.

Can’t stop won’t stop. Jason and I are obsessed. I know it’s a teenager show (please don’t tell me actual teenagers are watching this; it’s so not appropriate) but I love the suspense and the plot! We finished the first season within a week and since Season 2 isn’t on Netflx or Hulu (boo Hulu – get CW shows!), I ended up purchasing the season on Amazon.

I stumbled upon an incredible Instagram account the other day and I wanted to share it with you. Hello Jesse Martin is a photographer and a mom, and she has some amazing photo editing tips on her Instagram page @hellojessiemartin.

I’ve always considered myself hopeless with photography, and I can’t begin to understand how to use Lightroom, Photoshop, and the like but her tutorials have helped me to break out my big girl camera and try my hand at editing.

I’m using two apps she recommended – VSCO and Lightroom. Both are free with in app purchases. I actually find VSCO easier to use, and I purchased a preset library for $8.99 that I can see totally meeting my needs for the foreseeable future.

This is a picture I took with my Canon Rebel EOS SL2 and edited in VSCO and Lighroom, using a tutorial I found in her Instagram highlights.

I obviously have more to learn, but I think this is pretty darn great for my first time ever editing a picture outside of Instagram filters.

So this is so random… but I really love Entenmann’s chocolate doughnuts. Is that weird? I can’t help it; I yam what I yam and all that. Recently Jason went to Walmart for me to pick up a few groceries, and he sent me this picture.

It’s part brownie, part cookie and TOTALLY DELICIOUS. The man loves me.

This crazy weather has my skin SO dry. Confession: I scratch at my legs during the night while I’m sleeping and don’t even realize I’m doing it. I wake up the next day with terrible scratches on my skin.

I absolutely have to apply lotion every single day when I get out of the shower, and these are my two favorite lotions.

 

 

This Eucerin Skim Calming Lotion is a heavy cream, but it sinks into your skin quickly, without leaving a heavy residue. It’s a little expensive in stores (around $10 a bottle) but I found it on Amazon HERE for $7. Tip: Target and Walmart also make a generic version of this lotion, so look for that to save a little money as well.

This is my favorite lotion ever. I know, I know, Johnson’s is supposedly bad. But my skin loves this lotion. It’s marketed as a creamy baby oil, but it applies like a lotion. It sinks in immediately and your skin feels soft and moisturized. I love the smell, too.

This is really hard to find in stores. My Walmart doesn’t carry it anymore, and it is hit or miss at Target. When I find it, I buy multiple bottles. It’s HERE on Amazon for $12.75 (pack of 2). If you can find it in stores, it is usually around $5 a tube.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What have your favorites been lately?

Links in this post are affiliate links; if you purchase using one of my links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting Tickled Peach.

Amazon Alexa Hacks

If you follow me on Instagram, you are probably familiar with my deep and abiding love for Alexa. We got our first Echo in December of 2016. I purchased it as a Christmas present for Jason and we put it in our kitchen, which is the main gathering place for our family downstairs.

Amazon Echo – Sandstone Fabric – $84.99

To be honest, I’ve always felt we didn’t use Alexa to her full potential. I occasionally ask her the weather, and I use her to play my Pandora stations when I’m cleaning the kitchen, but I just have never really understood all she could do. We don’t have smart devices in our home, so using her to turn off lights/change the thermostat/etc was out.

This Christmas my mom gave Jason an Echo Dot, which we are now using upstairs in our bathroom. I love it – it’s awesome to have as we are getting ready. I will say that Echo Dot is for sure the better value money wise, but in my opinion, the sound quality is less.

Amazon Echo Dot – $39.99

As I’ve said, lately I’ve felt like I wasn’t using Alexa to her full potential, so I’ve put together some great hacks for you if you are like me and feel like you don’t completely understand everything she can do.

MUSIC

First of all, did you know you can connect your Pandora stations to Alexa? Simply say “Alexa, play my Hillsong United Pandora station” and she will comply. She will also play I Heart Radio and Spotify!

If you’re a Prime member, you can stream over 2 million songs for free. Try saying “Alexa, play Michael Jackson music” or “Alexa, play pop hits from the 90s”.

I did start to find that when I would ask for specific songs or albums, they would sometimes be unavailable. I recently subscribed to Amazon Music Unlimited. I haven’t found an album or song they didn’t have available yet. To enable a free 30-day trial, say “Alexa, I’d like to try Amazon Music Unlimited.” Warning: it will give you a 30-day free trial, and it will cost you $3.99 monthly thereafter… for the one device you enabled it on. For additional devices (if you have more than one Echo in your home), you have to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Those options start at $7.99.

Ask Alexa for your favorite music playlists: hip hop, pop music, oldies, country hits, etc. While she’s playing songs, you can also interrupt and ask her “Alexa, who sings this song?” or “Alexa, what’s the title of this song?”

SHOPPING

One way I love to use Alexa is to ask her to add items to my shopping list. As I’m in my kitchen each day, I often find items that we are running low on or need to replace soon. I simply say “Alexa, add toilet paper to my shopping list.” Then when I’m making lists for the store or am menu planning, I can open up my Alexa app on my iPhone and add items to my grocery list. This has been a huge benefit for me because I’m notorious for forgetting those little items and having to make multiple trips to the store during the week.

Another thing I love is that you can re-order Amazon items. Let’s say you order your child’s diapers through Amazon – simply say “Alexa, reorder diapers” and she’ll place the order for you.

TO DO LIST

You know how sometimes you are doing one thing, and you get sidetracked by the realization that you have something else that really needs to be done? (Maybe that’s just me.) Tell Alexa to add tasks to your To Do List. You can then access the To Do List in the Alexa app on your phone, or simply ask Alexa to remind you of a task later.

PRODUCTIVITY

Here are a few ways Alexa can help you be more productive:

  • Alexa, set a timer
  • Alexa, what time is it?
  • Alexa, what’s the weather like today?
  • Alexa, what’s the forecast for this weekend?
  • Alexa, set an alarm
  • Alexa, read me a book (if you have an Audible account)

NEWS

Here’s where I’ll admit that I’m sometimes woefully ignorant of what is going on in the world. I no longer watch the news, and our television is seldom live. I check in with Alexa each morning for headlines by saying “Alexa, give me my flash briefing.” This will give you an overview of the major headlines of the day.

You can also ask for local traffic. “Alexa, what’s local traffic like” or “Alexa, how long will my commute be today?” are two helpful commands.

COOKING

Ask Alexa for recipes. I will often ask for conversions – “Alexa, how many tablespoons are in a cup?” or substitutions “Alexa, what can I substitute for buttermilk in a recipe”.

Did you also know you can ask Alexa to help you figure out what to cook for dinner? Say “Alexa, I have ground beef, onions, and potatoes; what can I cook for dinner?”

KIDS

My kids love Alexa, and we have fun figuring out things she can do.

  • Alexa, launch spelling bee
  • Alexa, tell me a knock knock joke
  • Alexa, open a bedtime story
  • Alexa, listen to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
  • Alexa, play lullabies
  • Alexa, let’s play Simon Says

Kids MD is an Alexa app created by the Boston Children’s Hospital, and as a parent, this is a nifty tool for medical questions. Ask “Alexa, what is the Tylenol dosage for a 2 year old” or “Alexa, what are the symptoms of the flu?”

FUN THINGS

  • Alexa, use the force!
  • Alexa, tell me a random fact.
  • Alexa, play 20 questions.
  • Alexa, play Animal Game.
  • Alexa, what does the fox say?

Obviously, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all Alexa can do. What do you use Alexa for? Do you have any Alexa hacks to share?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small percentage of any sale if you use my links to purchase. Thank you for your support of Tickled Peach!

Nursery to Big Girl Room Transition

My daughter, Poppy Grace, is 2.5 years old. She’s my last baby, a precious firecracker who brings excitement and laughter to our lives each day. I truly can’t fathom how in the world she’s already 2… didn’t I just have her? Wasn’t she just a newborn baby, snuggly and sweet? Did I not just paint her nursery and lovingly hang pictures and canvases on her wall?

I’ve been denying the passage of time, and as I’m sure you other mothers know, somehow time always catches up to you. I had this idea in my head that if I just kept her nursery intact that she would still be my baby. But she’s growing up and I’m slowly realizing that her room needs to grow up with her.

Her latest achievement is that she’s finally figured out that she doesn’t have to (physically) stay in her crib if she doesn’t want to stay in her crib. A couple of weeks ago, my husband laid her down for a nap so that I could take a hot bath (my favorite form of relaxation). I was lounging in the tub, reading a book, when I heard her chatting with her brothers in their room. I got out of the tub, dressed, and went into my boys’ room to find out what had happened, expecting that it was one of them who had helped her out of the crib. Nope! she informed me. She had gotten out on her own, and she was all too happy to show me how she had done it. Turns out my petite girl can now pull herself up, hike a leg over the railing, and then jump down.

Fun times.

Since then, she takes great joy in getting herself out of the crib whenever she objects to the atrocity of me trying to get her to go to sleep. That’s quite often. I’m thinking maybe it is time to start thinking about transitioning her to an actual bed.

I’ve begun making some initial plans about how to best transition her room from a nursery to a big girl room. I know that I don’t want to do anything drastic to her room. The accent wall and wall colors will stay the same, and I want to keep the same color palette. The furniture, except the crib, is in good condition and will remain.

This is the view of her room as you enter the door. I’m so very sad that the crib has to go. It has held all three of my babies and has been in use since 2010. I’m thinking I’m either going to have it made into some sort of furniture or keep it in the attic for any future grandchildren.

Right now my plan is to replace the crib with a twin bed, placing the bed where the crib is now. Her dollhouse will have to be moved either to the hallway outside her room or downstairs to the playroom. I’d like to keep the chair in the room for now because she does like to be rocked (and I’m not giving that up until she refuses to do it anymore).

I absolutely love her accent wall – it’s pink gingham, and yes, my husband and I painted that ourselves. It was a labor of love, let me tell you.

The curtains will remain as well. My mom made the curtains with fabric we found at a fabric store that has since gone out of business. We also made the cornice board ourselves and covered it with fabric.

I have a large gold monogram that hangs above her crib but it is in her closet at the moment.

I love her bedding. LOVE. The colors, the print… it is beautiful, soft, sweet, innocent…. all the things I wanted her room to be. I’m thinking I would like to perhaps track down the fabric and make a twin bed skirt. That can’t be that hard… right? My mom has been promising to teach me to sew for years, but she works full time and is busy so it has just never happened. A friend recently shared SewingMachine with me. They are a business based out of Atlanta, which is an easy day trip, that sells sewing machines, supplies, and even offers classes to teach you how to use what you buy! Let’s face it – I love my mom, but we’d probably kill each other if she had to teach me to use a machine, so maybe I’m better offer learning from a professional. Ha!

Here’s what I refer to as “Bow Corner.” I’d like to add some decorative hooks or shelving for headbands, purses, and assorted little girl accessories.

This is the wall that faces the crib. To the left is her closet. I’d like to get the frames up off the dresser and expand the gallery wall. What I really need help with is styling – any tips? What would you put on top of her dresser? I need it to be practical yet pretty.

Here’s the other corner of her room. The dollhouse will need to be moved, but as I said, I’d like to keep the chair. The bookcase baskets hold diapers (every day, nighttime, and swim diapers). I’m hoping by summer we can get rid of those. The top basket holds her sound machine (a must) and my breast pump (so random – why is that still there?!).

I’ve had that mirror since Jason and I first got married in 2003, and it has hung in all three of my babies’ nurseries. It will definitely stay.

I’d love to get some feedback from you! What changes would you make to the room? Do you have styling tips for me? Help a girl out and send me some sources for bedding that you think would go well in the room!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Weekly Prep: Steps To Start Your Week Off Right

Confession time.

I’d like to say that my New Years Resolutions are still going strong, that I’m crushing my goals, and that I am rocking 2018.

Not so much.

The truth is that there were no New Years Resolutions. I haven’t set any goals for myself. January was a hard (and long) month and I’ve struggled through most of it, feeling as if I was doing the absolute minimum to get by. Excuses: my family has been sick, the weather has been dark and dreary, my depression is rearing its ugly head… whatever. None of that matters. Sometimes you just have to pull yourself up and tell yourself you are going to do better.

With that said, things have needed to change. I need to get back into a routine and on a schedule. I need to figure out what is working for me and what’s not. I need to focus on productivity and organization. When these things are being addressed in my life, my anxiety is lessened and both me and my family are both happier and healthier.

So what’s working for me? I’m still a work in progress, obviously. But lately I’ve been focusing on really using my Sundays to set myself up well for the week, and spending a little time each night to prepare for the next day. I’d love to hear from you as well – what do you do that helps maximize your organization and productivity?

Weekly Prep: Steps to Start Your Week Out Right

  • I’ve been using grocery pickup at Walmart for my groceries since the summer, and that has been a total game changer for me in terms of being organized, being efficient, and saving money. I schedule my grocery pickup on Sundays after church, and we swing by to pick up as we drive home from service.
  • When we get home, I immediately prep my produce. I wash all my fruits and let them dry thoroughly on the counter as I unload the rest of the groceries. When they are dry, I store them in Tupperware with a paper towel lining the bottom. This has been an amazing hack in terms of my fruits lasting longer! You can change out the paper towel as it gets damp. I love that I can just pull out fruit for meals with no washing or cutting.

  • I keep my lettuce in the plastic containers they are sold in, but again I open them up and line the container with paper towels. I replace the paper towels each day. This has been a huge help in making sure my lettuce/spinach/arugula lasts longer!
  • Another thing I like to do is make a huge batch of hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot! I load up the pot with about 18 eggs, cook them, peel them, and store them in the fridge with a bit of water. Jason loves to grab a couple and eat them as breakfast, the kids eat them as snacks, and they are a quick meal or snack for me if I’m running short on time. I usually make about 18 eggs at a time.

  • I always skip breakfast. It’s a horrible habit that has wrecked havoc on my metabolism, and one I’m determined to change. One way I’m attacking this is breakfast smoothies! We have a Nutra Ninja and I absolutely love it for convenience sake. (We also have Vitamix, but I find myself using the Nutra Ninja more. It’s quicker to use and easier to clean.) To make things even easier, I prep our smoothie cups the night before. I add in greens, fresh fruit, and the protein powder. The next morning all I have to add is almond milk and some ice. I store it in the fridge and it is easy to just add two more ingredients, blend, and go!
  • Once a week, I made a big batch of soup. We eat it once during the week for supper, then I go ahead and portion out the rest into individual containers for easy lunches.
  • On Sundays, I update my calendar and to do list. I like to head into the week knowing what I’ve got scheduled and what needs to get checked off my list.
  • Each night I update my to do list and try and create a loose schedule for the day.
  • Every afternoon when Cooper comes home, I go through his folder and backpack, we do his homework, and I restock his snack and prep his lunch (if he is taking lunch that day). I also set out his water bottle so it is ready to go in the morning.
  • I try to set out everyone’s outfits, including shoes, the night before. Shoes are really the crucial part  – someone’s shoes are always missing as we walk out of the door and it results in me loosing my temper and yelling because I’m scared we are going to be late.

One thing I don’t currently do that I would like to start doing is getting up early! Cooper goes to school late (at 8:40) and I confess most mornings I sleep until 7:00, which is when I wake him up. This always results in me rushing, being frazzled, and a lot of times being in a bad mood. I never have time to shower, and if I do, I never have time to actually get ready. My goal is to get up at 6:00 so I can get myself ready and hopefully have a quiet time before the kids get up and things get hectic.

What about you? Do you have any mom hacks for smooth and productive days? I’d love to hear them!

Coffee Chats – Super Bowl Edition

Happy Monday, friends!

Let’s chat, shall we? If you are anything like me, you read blogs while you drink your coffee. Grab a cup and join me!

I don’t have any specific topic in mind – this will be a brain dump of sorts. Please feel free to join in – either by linking your blog post in the comments or by leaving a comment with your thoughts.

So…. let’s discuss the Super Bowl. Keep in mind I’m writing this just after halftime and thus I’m missing out on the second half of commercials. I plan to make Jason do a quick recap/rewind once I’m done.

 

Food:

Every year I usually do a smorgasbord of appetizers, but this year I wanted to keep it simple. I made buffalo chicken in the Instant Pot and served it on sweet rolls. SO GOOD. I put mayo on the buns and top with a thick slice of extra sharp cheddar cheese. On top of the chicken, I serve a dollop of blue cheese dressing.

Want the recipe? It could not be any easier.

Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken

  • 4 chicken breasts (I use frozen breasts; your time will need to be adjusted if you use thawed)
  • 1 cup Franks Red Hot sauce
  • 1/2 stick butter

Cook on manual pressure for 30 minutes. Quick release pressure immediately. Shred chicken and serve.

This is great on rolls, in lettuce wraps, on salads, and on baked potatoes.

 

Drinks & Dessert:

I made beer-aritas every year for Jason. I’m not really a drinker anymore – I went without for three years while pregnant and nursing Poppy, and it just has lost its appeal for me. But Jason loves this and it’s so easy to make! I made a big pitcher and he drinks out of it all week.

Beer-aritas

  • 1-2 cans of frozen lime-aid concentrate (you can use lime margarita mixer, found in the frozen foods section, if you can’t find lime-aid. Just omit the liquor.)
  • 6 cans of beer. Jason prefers Bud Light Lime.
  • 1 lime, juiced

Combine, stir, and store in the fridge.

Dessert was a vanilla cake with fudge icing from Publix – if you’ve never had this, IT IS AMAZEBALLS. They keep them in the frozen section by the bakery. It’s a 7 layer cake with fudge icing – the kind your grandmother probably made. You know, the icing that scrapes against your teeth as you eat it because you can feel the sugar granules? It is so good. Get you some.

 

Commercials

Like I said, I’m writing this having only seen the first half, but so far I’ve loved the Toyota amputee commercial. I also really liked the Doritos/7 Up fire and ice commercial.

Are we excited about Jurassic World? I’m a huge Chris Pratt fan, and I’ve seen every Jurassic movie, so the answer is yes from me. Question: why do they never just blow up the island that the dinosaurs are on? It’s a never ending cycle with these Jurassic people. {shakes head, mainly at myself because I think about these things.}

I also thought the Danny Devito M&M commercial was spot on – I mean, if ever there was a person I would think of as an M&M, it is Danny Devito.

 

Halftime Show/ Justin Timberlake Concert

I’ve been unbelievably pumped about this performance for weeks. I love Justin Timberlake and I think he puts on a great show. However, I was the teeny-ist bit let down.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a great show. I just… expected more, maybe? I’ve gotten used to guests so I was surprised that he didn’t have anyone join him. I think in the back of my head I thought he was going to bust out NSync for some Bye Bye Bye and obviously that didn’t happen. BOO.

Beyonce, you have ruined me for halftime shows.

I did LOVE that he closed with Trolls, and his interaction with the little boy was so wonderful – I bet that boy is on top of the world today.

 

Football

No clue. I’m not your girl for that. I spent the first half of the game (minus commercials) working on my bible study.

 

This Is Us

I’m not emotionally prepared. I’m going to give everyone time to watch and process and I’ll discuss my thoughts in my Friday Favorites post this week.

What was your favorite commercial? What did you think of the halftime show?