Apply Yourself.

Labeled Bottles Close UpIn March, A started going to daycare 2 days a week.  Her Grandmas continue to watch her another 2 days, and I play the role of Stay At Home Mom once a week.  Before she started I wanted to get her bottles all nicely labeled and organized (shocker).  I’m super pumped about the Applied Labels that I purchased online, and have been eagerly waiting to post my review (see picture above – names have been awkwardly covered with grey rectangles to protect the innocent).  They were actually love at first sight, but before publicly singing their praises on the interwebs I wanted to put them to use and see how they held up.  It’s been 2 months and they are fab.  No sign of them wearing down or off any time soon.

I toyed with the idea of using a label maker (who can ever resist an opportunity to use a label maker?!), but I wanted something that was created specifically to withstand being washed over and over.  A quick Google search yielded several sites making labels specifically for bottles.  I checked out a couple, but Applied stood out the most.  I liked how simple they were, and the ability to purchase things a la carte.  I went with a basic sheet of 30 Name Labels for $14.95 and a roll of purple Baby Tapes for $5.50 (that’s what you see above wrapped around the bottles, under the labels).  I did have to pay for shipping, but it was only $2 which isn’t too bad.  Between the 2 items, I’ve been able to label everything she needs at daycare and I still have 10 labels and about 80% of the tape roll to spare, all for under $23.

I used both the tape and the labels on her bottles (to help them stand out a little better to her caregivers), and I cut small pieces of the tape to put on the nipple collars and caps.  So this way everyone knows all bottle parts with purple tape belong to A…and only A!  I’ve also put the labels on things like her saline nasal drops and sunscreen, where marker would have worn off over time.  Both the tape and the labels are dishwasher safe, and so far they have stayed on nice and tight.  Not even a semblance of a peel-up.  The labels claim to be washing machine safe as well, but I have yet to use them on clothes or bedding.

So yeah, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m very satisfied with our whole bottle labeling system.  They are just so fun and easy to use, and they make things look so nice and orderly.  I’ve actually been trying to think of other things I could possibly label, just so I can continue my labeling streak.  I know KP and B could use labels for something, I just haven’t thought of it yet.  Suggestions welcome.

PS – It’s worth noting that I have zero affiliation with Applied Labels, I just bought their products and happen to really like them. 

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I’m in!

I'm in! NYC Marathon

Mark your calendars – KIN does NYC on 11/4/2012!

After checking the registration page several times yesterday I finally got through to check my marathon status.  I was shocked when I saw the screen above.  I generally do not have lady luck on my side, but apparently she had my back this time.  Not so much for B though.  She kicked him to the curb.  Oh well, at least now he’s only got 2 more years of applying until guaranteed entry.

I’ve got some time before I start to really train, but knowing me I’ll probably make a detailed training plan this weekend (and yes, it will probably be in Excel).  You know I love a list…and Excel…and a goal.  I’m looking forward to sharing my training experience and progress with you over the next few months!

The Feud.

B and I love watching YouTube clips of funny game show moments.  I don’t know why.  We will literally go through dozens of them, laughing uncontrollably with tears in our eyes.  Unrelated, we also love the new Family Feud hosted by Steve Harvey – it’s hilarious.  We re-discovered the show when we were home for maternity & paternity leave this fall, and we were hooked.  I probably shouldn’t admit this, but once or twice a week I’ll squeeze in a workout at the gym in our office, and I usually aim for the 12 o’clock hour so I can get a quick dose of The Feud.

This clip is one of our absolute favorite game show moments.  It’s hilarious, it’s The Feud, and it’s the British version.  It’s like the humor trifecta.  Happy almost-Friday to everyone.  Enjoy!

Good Till The Last Drop.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer

Know what irks me?  Going to put on lotion and knowing that there is definitely some left in there, but it’s down to the dregs so the bottle won’t pump or squeeze anything out.   I KNOW there is still lotion in there!  It’s just not making its way out!  I used to just  get frustrated, toss the bottle then frantically try to squeeze in a lotion run the next day during lunch.   But I’m very particular about the face and body lotions that I use, so quickly re-stocking was difficult, and it would pain me to see that last bit go to waste.  So a few years ago I decided to fight back.  After examining the “empty” tube of my absolute favorite face lotion – Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer – I was able to gauge where the lotion fill line was, and I cut the tube just above that point.  The picture below shows what the bottom part of the tube looked like afterwards.

Saving Face Lotion!

With the tube open like this I’m able to use my finger as a scoop to get the last of the lotion.  And usually there is about a week’s worth of face lotion stuck in there!  That’s not as insignificant as you might think – a tube of LMTM usually lasts me about 2 months, so if I can squeeze out an extra week every time, that’s 6 weeks extra per year – almost an entire tube saved.  If the math doesn’t make sense don’t worry, I love numbers and I love puzzles, and I also love to make things more complicated than they need to be.

Back to our tutorial.  To prevent the lotion from drying out I also snip off the top of the tube and wash it, and then fit it inside the bottom half as a makeshift cap, like in the very first picture above.  It takes a little manipulating to get them to fit together, but plastic is pretty malleable and it will get in there.  It holds its shape pretty well after the first few times so it should get easier to cap/recap.

You can also use this trick on larger, standing pump bottles for hand and body lotions.  You will need to poke a hole into the bottle with your scissors first (be careful!) and then cut around the bottle from there, since they are usually too round/big to just snip off like the LMTM tubes.   Remember to cut low enough that you’ll be able to reach in and scoop your lotion, but high enough that the leftover amount won’t spill out. Continue the same way for using the top of the bottle as a cap for the lotion as well.

As I’m sure Benjamin Franklin intended to say, “A drop of lotion saved is a drop of lotion earned…”

Supermarket Sweep.

Organized Grocery Shopping List

Some people are obsessed with saving money.  While I do enjoy my fair share of frugal finds, I personally am obsessed with saving time.  Figuring out the most efficient way to do just about anything is my idea of a good time.  Nowhere is this more satisfying to me than at the supermarket.  I’ve gotten pretty good over the years at getting in and out of the store in record time, without missing anything and with pretty-close-to-perfectly packaged bags.  I’m sure you sense a tone of arrogance here, but I’m so passionate about my supermarket skillz that I’m not even going to pretend to be modest about this. I am just that good.

I actually enjoy grocery shopping, but my philosophy with any errand (or chore, for that matter) is, why linger at the store for over an hour back-tracking the aisles when you could be doing other things more important and fun things?  I have to stress, however, that it isn’t only about running errands quickly, it’s also about efficiency.   It’s way better to take the time to plan upfront and do it right the first time.  In the end it will save you way more time and energy.

So without further ado, here are some of my tips for supermarket success:

1. Always make a list ahead of time.  Always.  If you find yourself buying the same core items every week, it might help to create and save a “standard” list on your computer or phone, print it each week and then add to it depending on what your supplemental grocery needs might be for the week.  Take a look at my grocery list from a few weeks ago (posted above).  Every week I buy fruit, vegetables, milk, yogurts, and cereal.  Since I’m completely nuts, I actually enjoy writing out my list each week (I also change up the fruit and veggies I’m getting depending on the time of year…let’s pretend that’s my real reason…).  But what I could do if I wanted to save some time on the thinking and the writing was just have that short list of items saved somewhere and then tacked on the other things for that particular week like balsamic vinegar and our favorite Rao’s marinara sauce.

2. Organize your list.  Group the items on your list based on your local store’s layout.  On my list I’ve matched each ‘section’ of food to a different aisle, and they are listed in the order of how the aisles are in the store.  So when I first walk in I can start knocking off everything at the top of the list, and keep sweeping through the store.  This prevents you reaching aisle 12, and then realizing the last item on your list was all the way in aisle 1.  Amateur move, and a waste of time.

3. Save time at the checkout line!  You can manage the speed at which you move through checkout by being smart about how you group your items on the belt.  First, I group frozen foods together so they can stay cold-ish on the way home.  Then I alternate a few heavy/bulky items on the belt with some smaller packages to fill in empty space when they reach the shopping bags.  This should help distribute the weight in your bags.  I always leave produce last since those items have to be keyed in and weighed.  Otherwise, if the clerk is looking up codes and weighing every few items, it totally takes them out of their scan-and-pass rhythm.

It takes a while to get the hang of planning and shopping like this, but once you have it down, it really can save you a lot of time and energy at the store.  Or really on any errand, for that matter.  Now get out there and dominate that next grocery run!