Monday, June 30, 2014

The Hearth's 10 Most Popular Posts

To set sail into our most exciting week of Summer 2014, I'm bringin' back some reader favorites.

If you missed any of these goodies, check out the top ten posts of all-time from the From My Hearth to Yours archive.

#10 The Genie in the Lamp and the Meaning of Life
SO pleased this story made the cut. A profound surprise…

#9 Our House- The All-Inclusive Stink Bug Resort
Sorry this did make the cut. Guess that means many of you feel my pain. Death to spawn!
#8 Ride Safer Travel Vest
Oooooh, friends! If you were interested in this awesome invention, stick around! We've got another giveaway coming up soon.

#7 Made in the Shade
We're about to rock this umbrella/tent for the third summer. Even loaned 'er out to our buds for their beach extravaganza. Still kicking it!

#6 Reachin' for the Moon!
Our moons are an integral part of the bedtime experience for both our girlies. Wish I'd had one when I was a kiddo. Makes you dream big.
#5 Stink Bugs: They're Baaaaaack!
More spawn. Damn.
#4 Choosing Favorites: My Top 5 Book Collections for Kiddos
I totally stand by these choices. For birthdays and baby showers, book collections are my gifts of choice. If you use 'em well, these books can really make magic happen.
#3 How To EFFECTIVELY Ditch a Spider
I don't think there IS a better way.
#2 Three Steps to the Toilet- Living in a Tiny House
Still wanna have a beer with this gal.
#1 The Best Gifts We Gave This Year
My heart is happy knowing that this post has reached the most readers.
Give when you can.
It will make you, and someone else, feel good.

High-fives and beaming smiles to all you readers. 
Thanks for hanging at the Hearth.
Here's to a week of so-much-smiling-your-face-hurts…

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why You Should Drive Across the Country

In 2003, Fella and I drove across the country and back. 
It was, definitely, one of the most fulfilling adventures of our lives. 

With our Jeep packed full of camping equipment, clothing-stuffed duffle bags, food, water, one basic cell phone (with no Internet) and a big ol' road map (no GPS)...

we hopped in the car, 
turned on the radio 
and started driving west. 
Our single map and travel journals
The goal was simple— hit as many national parks as possible, swim in the Pacific and venture home.

That was our only real plan.
Everything else was left to chance.
Tagging the Pacific for the first time!
And THAT, my friends, is exactly why you need to make this journey.

Our society spends so much time planning, especially with the immediate-gratification of today's technology.

Where's the nearest gas station? Google it.
Which campground has the best reviews? Ask Siri.
How many waterfalls are in Yellowstone? Boom.

As we charged forward on our cross-country journey, we couldn't rely on technology (no email, texting, social media or web searching for over one month) so we relied on each other instead.

And it was one of the most liberating, inspiring times of our lives.  
We kept track of the most frequently played and weirdest songs we heard and movies to watch again (after being inspired by stops on our adventure)
People, if you know me…
I'm a planner.

It's an issue of mine.

At first, the idea of driving across the country…freestyle, scared the hey-ell outta me.
But I trusted my fella and knew the voyage was bound to be the exploration adventure of a lifetime.

And, whooo-doggy was it!
Our only source of direction. No GPS.
Over a month of driving, camping, adventuring, gabbing, and discovering the phenomenal wonders of our country assured us that we were on the right path in the changing chapter of our lives and as a unified team together.

Find the perfect partner and go.
Say you will.
Because those spacious skies couldn't be more beautiful…
Send me a postcard from as far as you can get.

See it all!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

LASIK Follow-Up Report: The Dry, Hazy Truth

I posted LASIK- 7 Notes for a Clearer Future two weeks after my procedure was completed. 

Now, over 3 months later, an honest update is due.
For me, things are a little dry and hazy.
Gotta keep it real.

I was told that it's common for LASIK patients to need time for newly corrected eyes to adjust, so I haven't been too worried about my less-than-perfect distance clarity.

But at my 3-month follow-up appointment, my doctor determined what I already suspected—my eyes have become so dry from the procedure that my distance vision is slightly compromised (I'm at 20/20 and 20/40).

Naturally, I prefer greater visual precision. Gotta make some moves to improve clarity.

I've been feeling pretty bummed out that I could see more clearly with my contacts, and this squinting biz is the pits, so I'm all in for following orders to improve distance clarity. 
LASIK dry eye
The plan is as follows:
1. Use artificial tears as often as possible, every hour if I can remember.
2. Take odorless fish oil supplements daily.
3. Begin using prescription Restasis drops both morning and night for several months.

All relatively simple steps but worth a warning to those of you who are considering LASIK. If you're on a budget, you know that LASIK ain't cheap. Insurance doesn't cover much and you'll likely pay a hefty out-of-pocket sum. 

If you, too, end up with dry eyes after the procedure, the cost of drops, supplements and prescriptions starts adding up quickly. 

LASIK was expensive on its own, and now with dry eyes, my current treatments are getting pricey.
Food for thought if you know you'll break the bank on the procedure. Remember that follow up care might get costly as well.

If my current situation doesn't improve after several months, the next step will be to insert punctal plugs in both tear ducts to block drainage. It sounds worse than it is—a simple, in-office procedure.

You KNOW I'll be reporting as time passes.
Just wanted to keep you in the loop if you're weighing LASIK pros and cons. 
Do your homework. 

The ultimate question- Do I regret getting LASIK?
Nope. I packed an overnight bag last weekend with no glasses, contact cases or solutions and felt so liberated. And today, I'll be swimming without the worry of losing a lens! No regrets at all.

The process worked. It's just not perfect. Yet.
Will update soon.

Open for questions and advice if you're into this.
Here's to clarity!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why We've Been FEEDING & SAVING Stink Bugs

Shaking your head yet?
Wondering if I've gone totally wackadoo?

You heard me right.

Not only am I collecting and saving stinkers instead of the standard slaughter, I'm feeding them as well.
Weirder still?

I'm keeping them hydrated,
cleaning their messes,
and changing their food.

Say whaaaaaaa?

We've crossed over, changed our thinking and decided it's time to make bolder moves for mass destruction. 
Because that's enough now.

After contacting a local research lab, we began collecting and caring for every bugger we'd otherwise gleefully murder. 
Stink bug cage with food and water vessels
A young, bright and completely AWESOME scientist brought us a collection cage, fresh carrots and green beans (to balance their diet) and water vessels to keep spawn healthy during captivity.
Our mission now is to collect and send off as many bugs as possible, with the hope that our contribution can aid in evicting stinkers for good.

Ask around and look for a local collection site near you. 
stink bug cage
We catch bugs in an old pill jar,  pull off the cage's net, toss 'em in and them ship 'em outta here.
If you live near Rutgers, you can drop off live specimen here, send them to Eastern NY-Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Project here, Oregon State Department of Agriculture here, or Texas AgriLife Research here

And that was just a 5-minute search. 

Imagine how many other places are looking…and might even PAY for your stink bug specimens?

Most importantly, each bug collected will help scientists find a way to eradicate STANKIN' SPAWN from our turf. 
We've sent off over 165 stinkers so far!
All stinks need a constant water source (we have cotton soaked in water, but you can use damp paper towels) and a few fresh green beans and carrots for a balanced diet (replace veggies once they show signs of spoilage as the mold will kill your POWs). 

Been throwing uppercuts at stink bugs whizzing by in your family room?
Find a research center near you, suck it up, trap, collect and pass them off to the scientists.
Lend a hand to help send spawn on their way, would ya?

Our biggest home eradication move of all is about to go into action.
Stay tuned…

Here's to a stink-free scene!

Catch up on the horror show with previous posts-
Stink Bug Hideout
Stink Bug WAR- Phase 1 Tactic
Stink Bugs in the Dead of Winter
Stink Bugs: They're Baaaaaack!
Ten Scenes of Horror: Living with Stink Bugs
Our House- The All-Inclusive Stink Bug Resort

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Monday, June 2, 2014

How to Convert a Bookshelf into a Storage Headboard

Whenever I pop into my daughter's room, I wonder if the mess qualifies for disaster relief. 
Kid needs storage and organization tactics. Quick.

We've had this old, unfinished bookshelf laying around forever. Out of necessity, I decided to amp it up  for use as a headboard in our kiddo's bedroom. 
Bookshelf- with makeshift sides to be used as supports for conversion
To start, I jazzed up that bookshelf with a fresh coat of stain and shellac.
Check out previous post Stain Mania for specifics on how to add pizazz to unfinished pieces. 
After allowing ample dry time, my husband screwed supports into the bottom of the piece and we brought 'er upstairs for the big set up.
Our daughter had such a blast filling her new headboard with books, toys, photos and trinkets.

Now, she has easy access to some of her favorite goodies and shouldn't need to be bouncing 'round the room after lights out. Everything she needs is immediately within reach!
Clean-up has been much more convenient with the additional storage space.
Converting this old bookshelf into a useful, storage-filled headboard couldn't have turned out better!
LOVE the look. LOVE the functionality.
This was an incredibly simple, successful project that will be enjoyed for years to come. 
Two thumbs up for thwarting kid room clutter!

Don't forget to enter the Hugg-A-Planet GIVEAWAY here and score the coolest prize for someone you love!
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