Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Stain Mania: A Simple Furniture Makeover

We've had this old, unfinished chest hanging around in our basement for years.
I had a vision. Go time!
After a quick sanding, to remove any imperfections, I used a hand broom and Shop Vac to clear off any remaining dust.

Next, using Zar Wood Stain and a thin brush, I filled in all the crevices and then rubbed the stain into the wood with an old sock.
 Staining all these hard-to-reach- areas was the hardest part of the job. After this…easy peasy.
Once my gaps were filled in, I dipped my sock directly into the stain can and rubbed it into the wood. Keep extra rags on hand. Once yours becomes saturated, you'll need a clean rag to absorb excess stain.
 When your piece is entirely stained, allow ample dry time in a well ventilated area.
Once completely dry, I used one coat of amber Bulls Eye Shellac to finish and seal the entire chest. 
After the shellac was thoroughly dry, we added standard and safety hinges- to protect curious little fingers from the heavy lid. 
Such a vast improvement!
Our old new chest can easily store blankets, toys, books…and two children. Tried and tested. 
Love it!

It's amazing what a can of stain and a little shellac can do to update wood pieces around the house.
Try it and see. Feel free to link to your before and after photos. We'd love to check out your projects.
Here's to makin' the most outta what you've got!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

***Don't forget to enter the Babo Botanicals GIVEAWAY this week! Each reader has up to 4 chances to win three amazing products.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Babo Botanicals GIVEAWAY

Ready to start this week off right?
After my post, 5 Bath Time/Grooming Products We Can't QuitBabo Botanicals founder, Kate Solomon (Read her admirable story here. My kinda gal!) offered to share some amazing goodies with you, dear readers!

While searching the Skin Deep database for high quality products with safe and natural ingredients for our young daughters, I discovered Babo Oatmilk and Calendula Moisturizing Baby Shampoo and Wash and fell in love. 

Our whole family is hooked.

We use it in the shower and tub- adults and pipsqueaks alike. The (all-natural) scent is irresistible and the sulfate-free, soft lather feels amazing, leaving hair and skin smooth and moisturized. 
No formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic colors or fragrances
Wanna win some?

This week, one lucky reader will win THREE extraordinary Babo Botanicals products—a $45 value!
Prize includes:
(1) Oatmilk and Calendula Moisturizing Baby Shampoo and Wash
(1) Swim & Sport Conditioner with Cucumber and Aloe Vera and 
(1) Smoothing Conditioner with Berry & Evening Primrose Oil
Can't wait try Babo for yourselves? From now until March 31st, all readers can enter BABO25 at checkout for a 25% discount on any order at babobotanicals.com!

Good people.
Noble mission.
Premier products.

"Like" Babo on FB here, and stay up to date with all their exciting news.
Get those prizes! Up to FOUR chances to win this week!
So, how do you nab the prize?
Leave a comment on this blog postA randomizer program will select one lucky winner from the comment list on this page to take home the goods!  (1 entry)
Wanna increase your odds?
"Like" From My Hearth to Yours on Facebook for one additional entry. Already on board? Comment separately below and, I do declare, you'll be swimming in that game pool twice! Always trying to increase the odds for regular readers here at the Hearth! (1 entry)

Or scroll down on the right side bar to join up with From My Hearth to Yours on Google Friend Connect for yet another entry. Comment to notify me on this page, stay in the Hearth's loop, and tack on one additional shot at the prize! (1 entry)

Lastly, feel free to share the link to this giveaway on FB or Twitter for one more entry. Comment on this post to let me know you've shared. (1 entry)
Good luck, everyone! Each entrant has up to FOUR chances to win this incredible prize!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

*Giveaway is open to ALL From My Hearth to Yours readers until Sunday, March 2 at 9p.m. EST. Winner will be announced on Monday,  March 3. If prize is unclaimed after 72 hours, the next number in the randomizer list will be declared the winner.  Free shipping in continental USA only. 
                                                   ***GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. THANKS FOR PLAYING!***

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why You Need a Massage Table in Your Home

Aside from feeling UHHH-MAZING, there are dozens of benefits from massage therapy.

According to this Mayo Clinic article, massage can help with problems ranging from anxiety, headaches, digestive disorders and nerve pain. 
This Huffington Post article explains how massage therapy can also help with insomnia, PMS and depression. Other benefits? Alertness, immunity and energy boosts, increased blood circulation and emotional balance.

But dropping big bucks to have a pro work out your knots can take away from the relaxation you seek. Although I've had many professional massages, being soothed by a stranger can be awkward. 

After reading The Massage Book (and paying careful attention during professional sessions), we decided to try our own hands at massage work. 
This book + this table= best gift ever for someone you love
Now, if you're gonna do this right, you can't give a decent massage on a bed or couch. You need a firm surface to keep the body in alignment.

Last summer, my husband surprised me with this Ironman massage table, an incredibly beneficial addition in our home. Everyone needs one.

Very reasonably priced, sturdy, and delivered right to your door through Amazon, the table folds up easily when not in use and comes with a heated cover (with remote) and both a cushioned head and arm rest. Well worth the cost.
Ironman massage table heating pad remote
Obviously, you should study up on good massage technique (check out links here, here, and here) and then get to it!

How to set the scene? Try the "Music for Brainwave Massage" channel on Pandora for super relaxing tunes. Dim the lights. Light some candles if you wish. Toss a soft sheet on top of your heating pad/table and add a warm blanket for the top cover and then go!

Don't have any massage oil? No problem.
Make your own!

We use almond oil as a base and add a couple drops of essential oils for an aromatherapy kick.
Check out this source for more info on making your own concoctions.
After professional aromatherapy massages, the therapist sends me home with remaining oil in a tiny bottle— which I've saved to use for our own massage oil mixtures. The squirt-cap makes it easy to dispense oil into the hands while you're at work. Check these out if you want to buy your own.

Worried it will take up too much space? Told ya'—it folds right up for easy storage.

Feel weird having someone touch you? Learn to relax and let go. Here's a great way to build trust and intimacy at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. You'll find that giving a massage is just as rewarding as receiving, so take turns!

*Plus, it's incredibly beneficial to have someone who really knows your body—to help recognize any changes over time. 

Make massage a regular part of your routine. You and your partner will learn new techniques to strengthen your bond and working together, you'll create healthy, positive memories and experiences. 

What's your favorite massage technique? I love the hot stones. I've gotta try that at home.
Get a table. And use it. Often.
Thank me later.

*This is an unsponsored post. All opinions here are my own. 

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Build Your Own Igloo with Scaffolding

Wasn't anticipating a winter wacky enough to warrant an igloo-construction post, but it has been dumpin' this season.

And it just keeps coming down…
So igloos are where we're at these days.

My fella is the kinda guy who totally would find a way to scaffold a snow home. If you're not trying to go "all in" like THIS guy, (who used real ice blocks and made the most slammin' backyard igloo ever!) use outdoor furniture to frame yours. Keep it stable for longer!
scaffold igloo
Using a circular picnic table and benches, (really should have stowed this for the season-but igloos out of molehills) Lee grabbed a children's pail and began filling in the space between the "frame" of the set.

During the next snowfall, a larger bucket was used to fill in remaining gaps.
scaffold igloo
And although there were a lot of snow-eating breaks for the "helpers," the kids put in some effort filling buckets and packing snow between each brick for reinforcement.

Once the bricks were laid, a shovel was used to pack more snow around the framework.
scaffold an igloo
Helping hands worked to smooth 'er out and…
scaffold igloo
This structurally sound igloo is sure to stick around longer than our unsupported 7-foot-snowwoman, who keeled quickly...
as some do 'round these parts.

I've got faith in this here igloo though.
She's solid.
And with more white on the way, it's only gonna get better from here.
scaffold igloo
Now taking bets.
How long do you think she'll last?
You know I'll report.

Any resourceful tips on igloo construction? Send 'em along!
Have a thumbs-up kind of week, peeps.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

10 Reasons Why Wearing Eyeglasses Is a Drag

If you read last week's post Preparing for LASIK Surgery, you know that I'm stuck wearing glasses for most of this month.

My doctor says that everyone will need corrective lenses eventually, so this post is a call for help. Those of you with years of experience managing glasses, how do you cope with these 10 bummers?
1. Between kids fingerprinting the lenses, wayward toothpaste splatter and steam from opening the oven, keeping glasses clean is enough to drive a sista bonkers. Without the perfect cleaning tools on hand at all times, lens smears spread into a dizzying blur-fest. Come ON!

2. Try showering blind. Without specs, you've gotta rely on touch alone to determine if you've missed a spot shaving. I'm in there holding bottles an inch away from my face. Shampoo? Conditioner? Absurd.

3.Whaddya need wipers for these things? Trying to hang in the snow storms with my girls, I feel like I'm seeing underwater. Walk. Wipe. Toss snowball. Wipe. Wet lashes. Wipe. :::buzz kill
4. Wanna take a lil' snuggle-break or nap? Gotta lose the lenses. You can't stuff your face against pillows to cozy up for prime time either— unless you're down with frames digging into your head. Drag.

5. The night time fumble makes me insane. What time is it? Oh, let me feel around for my glasses, which inevitably knock onto the floor and slide under my bed while I'm reaching. Awesome.
6. Ladies, please. How do you manage makeup with glasses? With a small mirror 3 inches from my face, I'm trying to swing a one-handed eyeliner application that simply will not do. Boo.

7. Sunglasses. How? Seriously.

8. I'm pretty bummed that I'll be stuck squinting if I want to swim with my kiddos this month. What do swimmers with glasses DO? Blind breaststroke? Um...

And although I can manage yoga in glasses, vigorous workouts are more of an issue. Sweaty specs? Ew.
9. Hair outta control? Need a spritz? Gotta stash your specs or you'll be scrubbing product off those lenses (see #1). Guess you've just gotta go at it blind for both hair and makeup.

10. The big one...dependency. What if these suckers break? Back ups on hand all the time?
I currently rely on four things in life—family, friends, coffee and birth control. Corrective lenses don't make the cut.
Now don't get me wrong, there are some pros to wearing eyeglasses.

Aside from clear vision, they offer extra protection against sand, dust and debris, have the potential to add some style into your daily groove, and if you're like Piggy from Lord of the Flies, they can increase your chances of survival if you're stranded on an island.

But we all remember how that turned out so…
With that in mind, I'd say it's best to keep all senses sharp.
For me, contacts lenses were a bummer at times but reliance on glasses is a substantially bigger drag.

All eyes ahead for this LASIK. Make me see!
Until then, coping strategies are welcome.

How do you deal with wearing glasses?
Counting down to clarity!
Have a happy week, friends.
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stink Bugs in the Dead of Winter

Seriously, you guys.

In the dead of winter, with land that has been covered for weeks in snow and ice, the inside of our otherwise lovely home is literally buzzing with brown marmorated stink bug EFFERS!

Scenery ruined.
If you've read my previous posts, Our House- The All-Inclusive Stink Bug Resort, Ten Scenes of Horror: Living with Stink Bugs, and Stink Bugs: They're Baaaaaack!, you know we've got a bit of an issue out here.

It's no joke.

This disturbing cohabitation has gotten so intense that we have committed to a serious scientific eradication mission.

Again, it's either that or we're moving.
Because they're everywhere.
And they're still crapping all over the joint.
We've made light traps. Minimal progress.
Relentlessly, we collect and destroy every miserable spawn that creeps in our paths.
Still they thrive.

For years, we've been taking notes of observations.
But this winter, we're seeing a new pattern.
God help us all.
Usually, we find the most stink bugs in our home as soon as it gets warm outside—in late spring, when they awaken from their slumber and begin to sneak out of our home to get outdoors to the fields.

We've noted another rush of swarming in mid-autumn—when they make a beeline to find warmth indoors to survive the winter.
If this is any indication of what May will be like, I'm tweaking already.
In the past, they've stayed dormant for most of the cold season, but this year…during the coldest, most brutal winter we've had in years, they're kickin' it big time out here.

What gives?

Another interesting observation- this winter, most of the stink bugs we've collected have been smaller, quicker adolescents as opposed to the typical adults we usually see.

So what now?

:::start Terminator theme song here and listen while you continue reading:::

We've got a plan—
a hardcore, aggressive, pull-out-all-the-stops battle plan.

What does this entail?
Stay tuned for the upcoming war tactics.
This is gonna be big.

In the meantime…
stink bug snowballs.
If you come across anyone studying stink bugs, please get us connected.  They need to study this hub while we embark on the most aggressive stink bug eviction ever.

We're gonna do this.

What stink bug observations have you made this year? 
If this new stink bug with attitude is really headed our way, we'd ALL better get prepared.
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Preparing for LASIK Surgery

I'm doin' it.

My vision is pretty beat, friends, and I've had it with the dependency on contacts lenses/glasses.

If you wear contacts, you know.
There are the days when something is stuck on that lens and scratches at my eyeball all day.
There are mornings where my eyes will tear for hours, despite incessant lens cleanings.
There are nights when taking my contacts out is as relieving as finally taking off my bra.

I'm done with it all.
It's time to LASIK these peepers.

So it's on now.
After research, a lengthy consultation and initial testing, I signed on to zap 'em.

Tomorrow will hopefully be the last day I have to endure contact lenses again.
Starting mid-week, I must wear glasses only so that my eyes are in tip top shape for surgery at the end of the month.

Now I loathe wearing glasses, but I'll get through this three week stint knowing that every day inches me closer to freedom from blurriness.

I'm all in.
Talk me up!

Did you or anyone you know have LASIK? Send tips my way to help me prep for the big day. 
Here's to seeing clearly and feelin' free!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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