All Natural Cleaning Things

Y’all, the most amazing thing happened in our house yesterday, and it involves the Internet, a few basic household supplies and some veryyyy dirty, slimy, grimy windows.

When we first moved in our townhome about a year ago, the window in the den that faces out onto the street was all smudged and smeared. So I casually grabbed a bottle of Windex and gave that grime a few spritzes. La de da, nothing out of the ordinary. Grabbed some paper towels and started wiping away. And then I wiped some more. And then I put some muscle in it and wiped some more. And then I scrubbed. And scraped. And yelled. And nothing worked. So frustrating!

After a few weeks, I noticed that it was getting worse and that’s when I realized the grime is actually dried doggy slobber from when Bentleigh (and the two adorable golden retrievers that lived here before us) likes to sit at the window (for hours at a time, literally) and stare out into the street.

So for anyone out there who is struggling with windows that are coated in years worth of dried doggy slobber, look no further! I have your solution!

I started getting into the homemade, all-natural cleaner trend back when Pinterest became all the rage and I realized that there were better, cheaper, healthier options out there for our house. Cleaning solutions are expensive, y’all. It’s crazy. And half the time you don’t even know if what you end up buying is actually going to work.

I didn’t even know how dirty and grimey our bathtub/shower was until I used this recipe for homemade shower cleaner. Get ready, it’s real tough. Have you cleared enough space in your brain? Ok.

Homemade shower cleaner: 1/2 part Dawn dishsoap, 1/2 part white vinegar. Pour into spray bottle, shake gently. Spray on grimey-ness, let it sit and then scrub it off. I often spray this stuff on about 15 mins before I’m about to take a shower. I just bring my little scrub brush in the shower with me and take about 5 minutes to scrub-a-dub my bathtub. Easy peasy.

So, back to my windows. I was in the middle of my Spring Cleaning yesterday, that grimey, opaque window was glaring at me the whole time just daring me to try to find a solution to it. I’m not sure why it took me this long to think of it, but I just decided to sit down and Google homemade glass cleaner. Well along comes this same list.

Homemade glass/window cleaner: 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup alcohol, 1 TBSP corn starch, 2 cups warm water. Pour into spray bottle and shake gently.

Now, my spray bottle wasn’t big enough for these measurements, so I did a little adjusting. Also, I didn’t have any rubbing alcohol so I just omitted that and doubled the amount of vinegar I used.

Y’all. THIS STUFF IS A GIFT FROM THE GOOD LORD HIMSELF! Take a look at our window before:

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And here is literally 3 minutes later after I sprayed that beautiful nectar from the gods onto that grime and used the smallest amount of muscle to wipe it off:

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I wish you could have seen this transformation in person because these pictures are doing this miracle about 15% justice. I’m pretty sure if I’d had rubbing alcohol on hand, it probably would have taken one minute instead of three.

Matt came home and the only thing I said to him was, “Check out the front window” and as soon as he glanced at it, he was like, “OMG. I can see through it!”

Seriously, the only downside of this stuff is that I can no longer justify walking around our den in the buff because the window is no longer opaque. Dang it, Google! This is all your fault.

Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend. Matt and I will spend Good Friday doing a little relaxing, going to the Stations of the Cross and waiting for his family to arrive so we can celebrate Easter and also my fabulous Father-in-Law’s birthday!

xoxo, p

Sofa Things and Pillow Things

We bought our couches about a year ago and as lame as it sounds, it was a memorable milestone in our marriage. A local furniture store was going out of business – you know how it is, the giant big neon signs, those cars driving aimlessly around the city with the ads on the roof that just seem to always be there no matter where you go or when – so I dragged Matt and my mom in one day “just to look.” And for the record, I truly just wanted to look because I really hate furniture stores and furniture salesmen. They are basically like car salesmen but slightly less slimy. I really dislike being hounded and prodded by sales people when I’m browsing their store. And at furniture stores they are just standing at the door waiting to hound you the second you walk in. Annoying.

I digress. We looked around and saw a set that we both really liked, but sofas are expensive, even when the entire store is going out of business. I walked by the set from behind, from the left, the right and the front. I walked around it in a circle, take a seat in the middle of it, get up and walk around again. Walk back, take a seat on the right of the sofa, get up, and do another lap around the store. I had a serious process here, people. Finally, when our little sales guy told us for like the millionth time that he could make us a “really sweet deal” especially for “two sweet young ladies (meaning my Mom and me)” – at which point I was like, “Seriously, bro?” – I was like, Ok, what’s a sweet deal?

My inherent disdain for furniture salesmen meant that I was out to get a good price and if they wouldn’t agree to a number I had in my head, then we were going to walk out. And I meant it too. I hate when sales people win. So little sales guy says, “Well maa’m, for the sofa and the love seat I think I can getchya down to $1,000.” To which I was like, “Haha, ok see ya, BYE!” And he was like “Woah there little lady, slow down.” And I took a deep breath and said to myself, “Do not punch this poor man, he is trying to make a living and support his family like everyone else.”

So we chatted some more and I wanted to get down to $800 and the lowest they would go is $900 so we ended up leaving the store. I was really proud of us and how we stuck to our guns. But as we were driving back, Matt and I both decided that sometimes you gotta give a little to get a little. So I sucked up my pride, Matt pulled a quick little U-ey (he’s always the driver) and we were back in that store within 5 minutes. I said, “Little sales dude, make it $850 and you gotta deal.” So we did and we certainly did NOT pay an extra $90 for delivery. Ugh, makes my blood boil just thinking about it.

We bought our set in January using some leftover Christmas money and a little bit of savings and it really has been a good investment. A year later and they are still in great shape. My only complaint is that the cushions are velcroed to the actual seat so you can’t flip to cushions every once and awhile to keep them plump. It was so hard to spend that much money all at once, but at the same time it felt so grownup to be making the investment. It is definitely an experience I’ll remember. The set was originally $2,000 so we saved over $1,000 and that felt really good too.

(For the record, the above conversations are more of a paraphrase than a verbatim recollection. I’m terrible at remembering specific conversations, but the overall tone and gist is accurate)

This post was actually supposed to be brief one about how I tried to make some new pillows for our couch (only took me a full year to get around to it) and I failed. The couch came with some pretty ugly generic pillows that just didn’t match with our – OK my taste, lesbihonest, Matt does not give two flying flips about what the couch pillows look like – tastes, and plus they were all the same and that’s just boring. Here’s a pic of the couch on the showroom floor the day we bought them. I convinced them to throw in a letter “T” from one of their showroom titles glued to the wall. Since they were closing, they weren’t opposed to letting it go.

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Booooring pillows. Excuse me whilst I yawn dramatically just at the sight of them. So I’ve picked up a few pillows along the way that I liked and I was at Hobby Lobby the other day and saw what I thought was the perfect complimentary fabric that I’d been waiting for all along. ImageHere’s a preview of it all laid out on the floor ready to be pressed when my ever-so-helpful assistant came along and decided to take a nap on it instead. So I go to use this brilliant tutorial for an pillow envelope, realize I didn’t get enough fabric to cover my 20 x 20 pillows, made a custom sized pillow and stuffed it with the fluff from inside my booooring pillows and liked what I saw.

ImageNot bad right? I thought so, too. I skipped on down the stairs singing a little tune which was promptly interrupted once I put my little babies on the couch.

Womp. Womp.

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It was like Clash of the Titans but worse. It was like Vicki and Tamara on last seasons’s RHOC. Or everyone and Alexis, also from RHOC, duh.

I realize we don’t really have a set “style” in our den but still, the colors were just all wrong. Way too bright and way too crazy for everything else in the room. And it just didn’t match. It was the exact opposite of what I envisioned in my head. Fail.

So, color me bummed. The hunt for a complimenting pillow is back on and I will probably be taking apart the pillows and using the fabric for something else. Poor things were just getting used to their new lives as little-appreciated, undervalued decor pieces.

So this post was completely all over the place and sort of random, but I wanted to document our sofa story so that I can read this 10 years from now and remember where we started. Who knows where our sofas will be then, but this will be a cool way to remember them. And also I can remember that time that I made a terrible decor decision (not the first, obviously) and how it had me cringing in embarrassment at its very sight any time I walked in the room.

Happy Tuesday! xoxo, p

Book Things

I just finished reading a book called The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I am by no means any good at being a literary critic, or just a plain ol’ critic for that matter, but I wanted to write about the book because if anything at all, I felt it should hold at least a small matter of space in my tiny, little blog that is buried deep beneath a large pile of other blogs floating in the abysmal black hole that is the World Wide Web. While The Fault in Our Stars has already achieved an overwhelming number of literary acclimations (NYT #1 Bestseller, movie rights, etc.), I wanted to write about it because I think it is going to become so much more than what it already has. And just like I still tell everyone that I listened to Fall Out Boy before everyone else listened to Fall Out Boy, I want to be able to say I read The Fault in Our Stars before everyone saw The Fault in Our Stars movie and subsequently read The Fault in Our Stars book.

The story is simple and matures quickly. Two teenagers diagnosed with cancer, one wise beyond her young and limited years and the other almost seemingly too sanguine for this fatalistic story, fall in love. They have something like 24 hours of totally healthy happiness before the reality of a cruel world crashes down on them and they fight a remarkably noble and ultimately fruitless battle against not death, not cancer, but against the oblivion. This will only make sense if you read the book, so go do it. Now. 

So Hazel and her boyfriend, Augustus, fight each remaining day to figure out how to make a mark in this giant, unremarkable world before they leave it for good. Their fight is beautiful. And believable. And powerful. And tragic. And inspiring, though I don’t think the characters in the book would like if I said that. All of these contradicting adjectives all at the same time. And literally, from the first words on the first page, you are in the story, right in the trenches of the fight. This girl, who just so happens to be dying from living with cancer, is so completely relatable to her very core and you can’t help but fall in love like she does, “slowly, and then all at once.” Almost everything she says and everything she thinks I read and re-read slowly because I want to absorb it all and just be able to look at life from her perspective.  How does a 16-year-old cope with cancer and death and mortality and immortality and the afterlife and all of these painfully existential concepts? How could a teenager possibly have all of or even one of the answers to all of these questions, let alone a 25 year old or a 50 year old? Of course there is not a perfect answer, but The Fault in Our Stars does a remarkable job of bringing these questions down to earth, to a level and a perspective we all can reach. 

I’ve watched three of my family members suffer and die from cancer. Once when I was seven, another when I was nine and the last when I was 24. Obviously it was easier when I was seven, but it was worth more when I was 24 and I could appreciate life for what it is, short and fleeting and not a wish-granting factory. 

Thank you, John Green, for your remarkable talent and this story which I will never forget. Unless I start thinking of something else. Or get amnesia. Or something. 

Shelf-ly things

Yay, we did it! Shortly after gulping down my afternoon hydrocodone from my wisdom tooth extraction, I had just enough synthetic courage to drill massive holes in our rented walls put up some super easy, but super good-looking shelves in the office.

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Once we got past the drilling anxiety, this was one seriously easy project. Materials include:

  • L brackets (size of your choice)
  • 2 x 6 cut into pieces
  • 2 inch screws
  • Stain of your choice
  • Drill, screwdriver, level and stud finder

For stability’s sake, I wanted to screw the L-brackets into the studs, so I knew they would have to be 16 inches apart. Obviously, I wanted the shelf to be longer than the brackets so I had the guys at Lowe’s cut my 2×6 into as many 24 inch pieces as possible. Obviously, they have L-brackets that are made specifically for hanging shelves, but I wanted a more industrial look so I got some out of the “Hardware” section at Lowe’s.

I slapped some Minwax on the boards when I got home and gathered my wits for about 24 hours while I waited for the stain to dry. Btw, I just found out YESTERDAY that it’s Minwax not MINIWAX. Mind. Blown.IMG_2368

Then when Matt got home from work today, which coincided perfectly with my drug-induced enthusiasm, we headed up stairs with the drill in hand. I used the stud finder to, well, find the studs, eye-balled the height I wanted and marked it off with a pencil. The guy at Lowe’s suggested we drill a pilot hole first before putting the screw in, so we did and it worked great. It really was pretty easy to get all of this done, it probably only took about thirty minutes and that’s because I’m super paranoid and made Matt stop every five minutes to make sure things were level.

 I threw a few things up there for decoration’s sake and I also went ahead and hung up my Gatsby quote while I was in the hanging mood. I love how everything turned out! 

Office update

Turns out I’m kind of weird when it comes to putting a room together from scratch. I’ll check something big off the list, like paint the walls or finish the desk, and then take like a week off and regroup or whatever you want to call it. I’ve got the desk kind of set up and the bookshelf kind of set up and the bar-cart-looking-table kind of set up and I’m hoping it will all kind of fall together once I get the study chair in there. Here’s how things are looking now. 

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The vintage radio was the most perfect, wonderful Christmas gift from my perfect, wonderful husband and I got that little lamp at an auction for two bucks. I made that sad lamp the Little Lamp That Could with a few coats of red Krylon. I got the industrial char off Craigslist and I wish SOO badly that the dude had one more to sell because two is always better than one especially in the case of this awesome chair. But alas, one will do for now. 

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I have big plans for what will go in that giant blank space on the wall above the desk : shelves involving a few L brackets and a 2 x 6. I am sooo not good with power tools which makes this is a real nail-biter, peeps. Especially since I don’t own those walls I’m drilling into, just rent them for a ridiculous amount of money per month. Also, our stud-finder is sometimes reliable, most of the time not. So that makes it a little worse. Probably should get that worked out. 

But, in other news, I found the perfect chair to complete the room at the Salvation Army in Charlotte. It’s still currently in Charlotte for various reasons but it shall be here soon and I can NOT WAIT. What’s that? A sneak peek you say? OKAY!

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Isn’t she beautiful and perfect??? Can’t wait til she’s in her little corner in the study and everything will be right with the world again! 

xoxo, p 

Day of Surgery

As I sat down to write this post it occurred to me how amazing/terrifying it is to realize what anesthesia can do to your brain cells. My memories from the first few weeks post-op are scattered and blurred around the edges. Luckily, I have my parents and my husband to fill in holes for me.

My surgery was schedule for January 10, 2013 at 9:00 am. We had to be at the hospital around 5:30 am. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to shower/wash my hair for awhile after surgery, I showered the night before and woke up around 4:00 am to give myself enough time to straighten it. I slept surprisingly well the night before, but as soon as I woke up, I had an anxious feeling in my stomach that pretty much never went away. Honestly, from the time I woke up to the time they started to put the IV in me, I talked to God. I asked him for guidance, for courage, for strength but mostly for His watchful eye. Obviously, some of you reading this may not see this as a particularly helpful option, and that’s totally fine. It was my way of distracting myself and calming myself down. I highly recommend finding something that can take your mind off what’s to come. Maybe listen to your iPod or tell stories back and forth with your family?

This procedure was a surgical first for me. I’d never had an IV or a catheter before, both of which terrified me (silly, in retrospect) and I’d really never been in the hospital before, besides a brief ER visit. I was so fortunate to have a friendly, informative nurse who was great with my IV and with answering all of my nervous questions. I suppose this could be different depending on where you have your surgery, but it made me a little nervous that I was without my family/husband for about an hour while they have you change, put in your IV, ask you medical questions, etc. But like I said, the staff was great and made things a little easier. Both my anesthesiologist and my surgical PA stopped in to check on me and explain a few things and this was really helpful as well. Turns out my anesthesiologist went to the same high school I did, so we chatted about that for a bit. By the time they were done with all of this, I got to see my parents and my husband for a bit, but things were moving so quickly, they were pretty much in and out.

All of my anxiety washed away when the nurse anesthetists put a nice dose of Valium into my IV to calm my nerves before the actual anesthesia. And let me tell you, that stuff is fun. I’m sure it effects everyone differently, but I was one happy girl. I remember them rolling me down the hallway to the operating room and I could’ve sworn we were going about 80 mph. Once we got in the operation room, I remember being amazed at the number of people in there. I looked around and said slurred to my nurse, “Are all of these people here for me?” I don’t remember her answer but I remember feeling slightly comforted that I was surrounded by so many capable hands.

After surgery is done, they take you to “recovery” to wake you up from anesthesia. My first memory after coming out of surgery is coming out of anesthesia. For whatever reason, my brain did not like the process. I remember waking up feeling upset and panicky. There were two nurses there (whose faces are literally blobs of color in my head) who would help calm me down. I would fall back asleep for however long and then wake up panicking again. This happened several times before I woke up a little more clear in the head and they rolled me to my hospital room.

Eventually, my parents and my husband came into the room and I remember feeling so relieved that they were finally there but I was still in a weird, panicky mood. According to my husband, I was upset for about 15 minutes, but unable to explain myself. He thinks I was in pain and confused about how to deal with it. Sounds about right to me.

When you wake up you are going to be in pain. No doubt. It’s going to hurt to make just about any movement. On top of that, you will have all kinds of needles, tubes and wires coming out of and going into your body. You’ll have your anesthesia IV on one arm and another on the other arm that they use to administer antibiotics throughout the day to prevent infection, as well as any other medications you might need. There will be a heart monitor attached to your chest and a drain that comes out of your back to keep your incision as clean as possible. There are two pad things wrapped around your lower legs that inflate and deflate to keep blood flowing throughout your body since you aren’t moving. They reminded me of the little pads you stick your hands in at the nail shop when you get a manicure. And then there’s the catheter which turned out to be the easiest, least noticeable one of all. It’s not painful at all and it’s obviously a blessing to not have to get up to go to the bathroom those first few days that its in. You hardly know it’s there and don’t even feel it when they take it out. Here I am post-op Day One. See all the wires coming out of God knows where?

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Most importantly, you have a PCA morphine pump attached to you and simply put, you will feel like it is the most beautiful advancement in medical technology ever. My hand was pretty much glued to that thing. Whenever I started to feel even a twinge of unfamiliar pain, I hit that button quicker than Ken Jennings on Jeopardy.

According to my parents and my husband, I basically spent the rest of the day drifting in and out of sleep. I was woken up by the health & nutrition women who were there to deliver meals. This, essentially, was a joke. I had absolutely no appetite whatsoever. Much to the chagrin of the lovely health and nutrition ladies and despite all of their best efforts, I didn’t eat any solid food until my third day post-op.

You’ll also be woken up by the nurses who will casually flip on the giant overhead florescent light as if they are unaware that the darn thing is like a giant UFO hovering over you ready to suck you in to experiment on you or something. Then they poke and prod you, checking your vitals and administering medicines and forcing Miralax down your throat to help you erm- use the bathroom. Sorry, poo talk makes me awkward. They won’t let you leave the hospital til ya do the doodoo, and it’s kind of a tough task if you can’t even manage to keep down solid foods. Jokes aside though, nurses are a God send. They have a tough job and they are essential to your recovery, so be nice to them!

Apparently anesthesia also makes me a sassy because when my anesthesiologist came to visit me post-op and revealed the he went to medical school at Duke University, I matter-of-factly told him to get out of my room. I don’t really remember this, but I feel bad about it. Sorry, doc!

So here is my account of surgery, day one. My intention was to dedicate this post to the entire first week of surgery, but I’m very long winded and it just didn’t make sense to have such a long post. I hope this has been helpful in giving anyone an idea of what to expect from the day of surgery. I definitely don’t want to scare you off, I’ve said it already a few times, but every bit of what I’ve described above is worth it. Here’s the before and after again in case you don’t believe me:

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Weekend Things

We had a lovely St. Patee’s Day weekend here at the Tomsic household (see what I did there?). The weather was absolutely gorgeous here in the Lowcountry. I’m talking mid-70’s and sunny.

Friday night was Carolina’s first round of the ACC tournament, and Duke’s first AND last round of the tourny HAH. We were fortunate enough to watch the last half of their embarrassing loss at Mellow Mushroom while we waited for our to-go order. Sometimes a Duke loss is just a little bit better than a Carolina win. When we got home to watch the game, this happened:

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Slightly embarrassing, but it worked. We won!

I spent most of Saturday morning at Page’s Thieves Market in Mount Pleasant scoping out some great furniture and collectibles at theirIMG_0606 latest auction. Oh, how I dream about an empty house to furnish with lots of antique furniture and eclectic decor. How cool is that steamer trunk? I wanted somewhere to put it sooo badly. I think it ended up going for about 40 bucks. Such a steal. I wish I had taken more pictures, they had a great selectiIMG_0608on of furniture and other various pieces. I did take home an old Ukelele for $2.50 and a hand-carved statue of St. Francis of Assisi. There was no way I was passing him up after we just elected the first Pope Francis ever! Any locals out there should check out Page’s. They are a great locally run business and the auctions are super fun. I followed up the auction with a trip to Goodwill where I found this great bar cart looking piece (minus the wheels). That’s what the pros call it. Obviously. It was silver and rusty and $10. So I grabbed it, sped home, sanded off the rust, and polished it up with a single coat of gold spray paint. One coat and she was done. She’s going up in the office next to my study chair. Pictures soon.

After an eventful morning, Matt and I headed to the outdoor bar at Water’s Edge to enjoy the sunshine and watch Carolina play Maryland in the ACC tourny semi-finals. We were bummed when we showed up to find that the management recently decided to cover the exposed area surrounding the bar. So much for sunshine, but Carolina won so it was a wash. Perfect way to end the day? Chicken nachos and tequila with friends at Taco Boy.

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We woke up Sunday morning and headed to Charleston Bagel Company for some delicious bagels on their outdoor patio. Are you starting to see a theme to our weekend? And of course we had to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the good ole fashioned Irish way. Drinks at Red’s. Honestly, my Irish roots forced me to do it. My maiden name is Farley, so it just would have been a wrong to not have a beer. Don’t worry though, we went to church a few hours later to balance things out. Somewhere in here, Carolina lost the ACC tourny to Maryland and got completely screwed in their NCAA tounry bracket seed, but we aren’t going to discuss that.  IMG_0617                                                                               IMG_0620

I’m not sure how this post turned into one giant advertisement for like every business in the city of Charleston, but looking at this review of our weekend explains why our bank account was so low this morning. Curse you, St. Patrick!

In other news, since I haven’t had enough of needles or pain killers or doctors in the past few months, I’m getting my wisdom tooth out tomorrow. I’m desperately hoping for an experience as awesome as this one.

Is this real life? I have two fingers. You have four eyes. Is this gonna be forever?

xoxo, p