Monthly Archives: July 2017

Customer Service…how to do it well!

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So, we recently went on a trip and we stayed in two different places while we were gone–one night at a kind of cheap motel and two nights in a resort. Now I realize that these are two radically different places, but I think that they both could have been good experiences if they were managed correctly.

First place we stayed was the hotel. It didn’t impress us a lot when we drove up, but it had decent reviews when I booked it. We got to the room and the fridge smelled bad–really bad. There was water dripping and stains on the floor in the bathroom. There were three of us staying in the room and usually they provide four pillows per bed, but this one only had 2 per bed. I started looking around for a phone number to call down to the desk, but couldn’t find a number until I found my reservation paperwork and used my cell. When I asked for more pillows they said that they could give us one more if I came down and picked it up.

When I got back up I saw not one, but TWO cockroaches which totally grossed me out. By that time people were tucked in bed and I just wanted to make it through the night. I used my own internet to check my mail before trying to sleep (because they never bothered to give me a WIFI password and I didn’t have the energy to try and find the phone number for the front desk again) and gave them a poor review on the site that I booked the room through.

Next morning we checked out at 6:30AM and were questioned my review and why I didn’t call down–they would have moved us to another room. I was annoyed at being questioned–I mean providing directions on how to call down to the desk would have been helpful in that situation anyway, wouldn’t it??

The resort was a completely different story. When I checked in they gave me all the information I needed to have a nice stay. Maps, WIFI passwords, their name and extension if I had any problems, and more. When we got to the suite, the sofa bed wasn’t made up for my daughter to sleep in. So I called down to the office (directions on how to was beside both phone extensions!) and they apologized for the inconvenience and said they would send bed linens right away. They called later that evening to make sure they were delivered, and made several other calls to make sure we were happy. They had the number to the local pizza place when my husband called to ask about it.

So the difference between the two places (besides obviously actually cleaning!)? I really think it was the communication–the hotel just assumed everything was fine and expected me to track them down to complain if I needed to. The resort went out of their way to make sure I didn’t have any complaints or if I did they got taken care of almost immediately. I didn’t even have to figure out how to make a complaint! Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone approached customer service that way? Trying to make sure you enjoyed yourself/were happy with your product that you didn’t even have to wonder how to complain?

Charcoal–Not Just for Cooking Out!

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Charcoal has been in the news a lot recently, hasn’t it? I remember seeing all those charcoal masks on facebook a few months back (didn’t they look painful!!) and I keep hearing about other charcoal products! Here are some reasons why activated charcoal is such a good tool to have and some different ways to use activated charcoal that I’ve heard about and a few that I use regularly!

There is a difference between regular charcoal that you cook with and the activated charcoal used in personal care products/household products. The activated charcoal is made especially for medicinal/household use. It is an substance that can remove dirt, absorb toxins, has antibacterial properties, reduces inflammation, and can brighten the skin. Amazing stuff, right?

First of all, I’ve been using charcoal capsules regularly (on an occasional basis) for years. They are perfect for stomach bugs, but I also use them when I get glutened! They work at neutralizing the poisons in your body and they work fast.  .

Did you know that there are charcoal air fresheners? Moso Natural makes these bags with charcoal (from bamboo) in them that freshen the air naturally without chemicals! I haven’t tried them yet, but they are supposed to be good for removing allergens, odors, and harmful pollutants from the air. Amazing right?

IMG_0007Something else I’ve tried is a charcoal water filter! We have used the Pur water filter on our faucet for years, but it is annoying because the indicator light regularly goes out and you have to buy a new one or trust to your memory. I thought a big black piece of charcoal in my water was pretty strange, but why not try it? It makes my water taste amazing! I’m excited that it lasts 4 months too! I went ahead and bought another one for work, because its an easy way to filter water without plastic.

I’ve tried doing this by breaking open some charcoal capsules and putting them on my toothbrush, but I think I’m going to check out this pre-made toothpaste next time I order. Charcoal is amazing for getting stains out and whitening teeth and my teeth could certainly use it!

17626678_10211825988155637_4508708721962668234_nFinally, some more personal care products that I’ve been using since this spring: The Charcoal Trio from Lemongrass Spa! It is made up of a bar soap (with a wonderful lemongrass and spearmint smell!) a face mask, and a face scrub. They all use activated charcoal made from coconut! I used all of these regularly and they make a great addition to my face care routine to help me keep my acne at bay. I use as directed–with cold water. The charcoal opens up your pores and gets the toxins out of your system and you want your pores to close up (with cold water) instead of inviting the toxins back in again (with warm water). I love how smooth the face scrub and mask leave my skin and I’m excited that the mask is a creamy clay mask–not those scary peel off ones from facebook!

So it seems like charcoal has a lot of benefits–did you know about all of these? Which one do you think you would like to start using?

 

Menu Plan Monday, July 17th!

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Halfway through July already–is anyone ready for back to school? I can’t believe its starting in just a few weeks here! We had some deviations from my plan last week–its been raining (when I say rain, I really mean torrential downpour) pretty much every afternoon and one afternoon I just felt like pancakes, so that’s what we had. We liked them so much (the Princess ate TEN!!) that I’m making them again this week!

 

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Sunday’s Dinner

 

Breakfasts:

I’m still not bored of eggs and smoothies and they might make an appearance this week, but I need to make some breakfasts that I can grab and go. I’ve made a routine of walking before leaving for work, but the Princess hasn’t been getting up as early so we end up rushing out the door or just getting to work late pretty much every day because I don’t have something pre-made for breakfast. So here’s the plan for this week:

Not-A-Grain Bars subbing apple butter for the blueberry preserves because the Princess is picky about texture.

Blueberry Pumpkin Muffin Bars

Lunches:

For me (I never ended up making this last week, so hopefully it happens this time!)–Quinoa Black Bean Salad

For my daughter: beans and hot dogs

Dinner:

Paleo Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

BBQ Chicken, baked potatoes, coleslaw

Salmon and Asparagus

Steak, Baked sweet potatoes, veggie

Leftovers (or soup or a snack supper)

Pizza: I’m going to be trying these new grain free crusts. They look yummy and easy (easy being the key!) I haven’t made pizza crust in a while between sales on frozen and having some bread available, but this looks simple enough that even I can pull it off at the end of a long week.

If you need more menu ideas check out Organizational Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for specific gluten-free ideas check out Celiac Family and their July 10th menu plan!

What I’ve Been Up to in June…

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June wasn’t as crazy as May, but it seemed to zip by pretty fast–I guess that happens when you get older. First we were looking forward to vacation and then BAM it was there and done! Here’s what I was up to last month:

Reading: The Blue Castle by LM Mongomery. This was recommended on a podcast I listened to and it sounded fun, so I thought I would give it a try. I had a hard time getting ahold of it! There is only one copy at my local library and the kindle version wasn’t available…

Planning: up until the day we left I was planning dinners out and more for our 4 day vacation!

Watching: I got a free month of Netflix mostly so I could catch up on some Once Upon A Time as I never watched it before. I finished season 1, but then I had enough for awhile. I guess a little bit of fairy tales goes a long way for me? Does it get better as it goes on? I know people really love this show, but I was exhausted after the first season …

Cooking: I started baking some grain free goodies including this blender bread and this cobbler and this brownie. I was a big fan of the cobbler and the brownie. I need to try the bread again.

Eating: Well, this is more what I haven’t been eating: sugar! I stopped eating desserts at every meal, so that was a big cut right there. I haven’t been limiting my fruit though–I mean who could in the middle of summer? Berries taste really sweet to me and are low in sugar 🙂

Drinking: I have been trying to make some fruit infused water at least once or twice a week!

Pinning: grain free breakfast food–this is where I need the most help with grain free cooking because as much as I love eggs I can’t eat them every day!

Crafting: I stuck with decorating my planner and doing my nails. Simple, but fun! It’s also finally summer so I could get out all my summer stickers and my neon colored nail polish.

Dreaming: of walks on the beach. I haven’t made it to the beach yet this season and I’m missing it.

Going: To the Orlando area–that’s where we spent our weekend away. We visited the Crayola Experience and did lots of fun stuff and stocked up on crayons for what I would like to think was a few years, but will actually probably be a few months!

Feeling: like summer is speeding by way too quickly–in another month we’re back to school again! WHAT?!

Listening: The Reconstructing of Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. This was an interesting book–I don’t think I would have chosen it, but it was in the books I already had. It was a bit of a thriller, but it had a lot of language which I didn’t like. It’s based on a girl who killed herself–or did she? Exploring her life the few months before it ended and including texts, emails, facebook, school, and home is what the book is all about.

Celebrating: Our ten year anniversary! I can’t believe its been that long already…where does the time go?

 

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One of my favorite pictures from our wedding: June 2007

 

ReBlog: Taste Memories: Orange Jello Salad

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I thought this would be a fun post to revisit–summer is the time for getting together and this salad makes a great dish to take along!
Please welcome my mom as she share her memories about one of her favorite special occasion foods: Orange Jell-O Salad!

Orange Jell-O Salad and the Little Church on the Prairie

My mom with her parents on the left and her grandparents on the right

My mom with her parents on the left and her grandparents on the right

I was four years old when my parents moved us out of the only home I had ever known. We moved 1800 miles away from everything and everyone I knew. My dad had gone to a Bible institute and prepared to be a pastor and that was where the church who called him was located.

We had lived in my grandparents’ home in a suburb of Philadelphia. Their front door faced on a street with many homes and neighbors; their back door looked out on a Jewish cemetery and every Sunday Hebrew families dressed in their best dutifully came to visit the graves of their deceased. My life was full of people who knew me, and whom I knew. If I picked a neighbor’s flowers, my grandmother, who cared for me during the day, knew it before my little red trike rolled back into the yard.

Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles...

Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles…

Pleasant Heights, Colorado was a small farming community 40 miles from the nearest town. The daily dust storms kept my mother busy. In our yard we had tarantulas and rattlesnakes. Under the house we had a storm cellar in case of tornadoes. But there were some gorgeous sunsets and rainbows.

Rainbow on SE Colorado praire

Rainbow on SE Colorado praire

The only buildings as far as I could see were the parsonage where we lived, the little church on one side of us, and the one-room schoolhouse on the other. Oh, and the two outhouses on the school grounds. They were three-seaters; one for the boys and one for the girls. I remember my mom lamenting that all she could see was miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.
Pleasant Heights Baptist Church’s congregation couldn’t have exceeded 30 people. Maybe thirty-one after my brother was born. But those farm people took good care of us. One lady had us over to eat one Easter Sunday. I suppose there was ham. But the pièce de résistance was the Rice Salad. There was just something…dare I say it…addictive… about that combination of orange Jell-O, cooked rice, grated carrots and pineapple in a Miracle Whip dressing.
My daughter who can’t eat anything makes it for me regularly on holidays or just for when the family gets together. ‘Cause she’s good like that. Here is the recipe:

Rice Salad
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup finely grated carrots
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup crushed pineapple
1 small box of orange Jell-O
2 cups of hot water
When the above gelatin mixture begins to set, fold in ½ cup of Miracle Whip. Leave in refrigerator until firm.

Menu Plan Monday, July 10th!

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Last week went well! We ended skipping a couple of meals because we just had so many leftovers in the fridge, then we got sick and didn’t feel like eating or cooking. So there will be some repeats going on this week! I did manage to eat up all the fruit and veggies–isn’t summer wonderful? I’m seriously excited about the fruit! I’ve got peaches, cherries, and strawberries in the fridge (some of them might end up in the freezer!) and I want to take advantage of a sale before it is over tomorrow to get some more!

 

 

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Creamy Shrimp with noodles and mushrooms

 

Breakfasts:

I am not bored of the eggs/smoothie routine yet. I want to make some of the  Vegan Gluten-Free Blackberry/Blueberry Cobbler for breakfast–I didn’t get to it last week before getting sick. Maybe a version with peaches too! I got bruised peaches because they were cheaper, but that means they need to be gone soon!

Lunches:

For me–Quinoa Black Bean Salad

For my daughter: We made some tortilla/ham/egg/cheese wraps for her. She had one for breakfast and said it was delightful.

Dinners:

Best Damn Pork Chops, rice pilaf

Eggs Benedict Strata from Celebrations (Against All Grain) cookbook with strawberry spinach salad

BLT’s

Tuna Salad/Sandwiches

Pizza

Fish tacos and sautéed veggies

Leftovers

Brownies from a box–I don’t indulge often, but the Aldi’s brand of brownie mix is pretty amazing tasting.

If you need more menu ideas check out Organizational Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or for specific gluten-free ideas check out Celiac Family and their July 10th menu plan!

New School Year, New Routines

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Yes, I said new school year–we’re starting back up in a month, can you believe it? One thing that makes the new school year go smoothly for me and usually for the Princess is having a simple routine in place with clear expectations. That usually means revisiting the chore charts/checklists and redoing them for new year! I just love new lists!

I love the amount of free printables available on pintrest–I really do. However, they don’t always match up with exactly what I had in mind. So I was thrilled to find this tutorial for a daily routine checklist using canva.com. This made it easy to customize colors, items on the list, make extra lists and so on. I mean isn’t this beautiful?

Morning routine

While I was creating I made a few chore checklists too. It was time and its nice to have in black and color the very minimal expectations I have for cleaning certain rooms in the house. (Everything off the floor is a big one!)

other rooms checklist

I used this downloadable printable for inspiration of what to put on the chore lists. I honestly needed some help–my house may be mostly clutter free (probably because I keep THROWING STUFF OUT!) but it certainly isn’t clean as evidenced by the chunks of dust I picked up from my new craft station I created over the weekend!

So hopefully, over the next month we’ll work out the kinks in these new routines and I will get these laminated for easy checking off! I’m also planning on punching holes and putting them on a ring to hang somewhere when not in use. My previous lists I put in picture frames so there was no need for laminating, but for some reason the picture frames always walked off and could never be found when wanted!

So how about you? When do you reevaluate what’s working and what’s not working in your routines? Do you use the beginning of the school year too? Or is it more of a beginning of the year thing for you?