Mooooommmmmm!! I’m BORED!!!!

This is all I’ve been hearing the past couple of days. We live in Minnesota, and quite frankly, it’s literally too cold to go outside – the people who were too stupid to heed the news when they said not to go outside have now ended up on the news as the cases of frost – bite, so that hopefully no one else has to push it. (I’m sure they will anyway..) Anyway… I had to keep Thing 1 home from preschool today because of an ailment, and we had scheduled an appointment with his doc for this afternoon. So, I plotted out what the heck I was going to do with the kids until it came time for the appointment, and figured that once we got home I would be making supper and we would fall into the normal night-time gig – WRONG!
Unfortunately for me, I never go anywhere, and this lead to my engine freezing up, making us completely unable to get to the doctor’s office. Oh hell! Not that I was looking forward to it, but I really didn’t have anything planned to keep these kids (who are hyped up on the sugar cookies we had made) occupied and amused, and all Thing 1 has to say to me is “I like cold. Cold’s fine. We’re going outside.” Needless to say, that did not happen for him; but I did (of course) go digging through pinterest and found a really fun inside (CLEAN!) activity for the little monsters. As usual, here is the link to the original http://mummymusingsandmayhem.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/weekly-kids-co-opreal-life-play-water.html.
The whole thing is simply giving them a basin of water with some dish soap in it and a whisk to make bubbles. She then had them “wash” their play dishes. This sounded great since I obviously can’t leave and am back to a really sparse kitchen (out of milk again already!!!) I of course had to put my own spin on it. So I dug out my huge roasting pan, had them throw in their dirty play dishes, grabbed the whisk and the soap and paraded them off to the bathroom. This is why there are no pictures today. So I put them in the tub sat them down with the roaster and had them make bubbles. This was awesome for about 15 minutes before they started losing interest – enter play dishes! I got another 15 minutes out of that. After that started to get a little boring, mom zipped off to the kitchen and grabbed some food coloring. Two drops on the bubbles every once in a while and they were in business.
They were in that tub virtually SILENT (Oh yes, you heard me right), for an hour – again, not a typo – an hour. They had a blast, and Thing 1 actually broke down his scientific process for me when they got out. Mom gets quiet, kids are happy, and they learned something!!!! Why have I been over thinking this activity business for so long?!

Necessity is the Mother….

Of substitution.  As a stay at home mother I have the good fortune of being able to really cook all of my family’s meals; part of that is of course the ability to make what I grew up thinking of as “Saturday morning breakfast” four days a week (my son is in preschool, and there’s no way we’re hitting the door on time at 8 if I try this on those days). As an avid pinner I love to sit down with the kids and show them my boards for different meals and let them pick what looks good to them.  Last night I let Thing 2 pick out what we would have for breakfast totally forgetting that I was missing some very basic staples. She chose a blueberry breakfast cake. (recipe here –http://www.alexandracooks.com/2011/06/29/buttermilk-blueberry-breakfast-cake/)What girl wouldn’t?! I heartily agreed that it was a wonderful choice and we would most definitely have that for breakfast. Sounds pretty good huh? Great, until you wake up and go to pull ingredients and have roughly half.

Fortunately for me this is not the first time I’ve run low and had to do a little kitchen science. Here is the ingredient list for the recipe we did this morning and what we had/didn’t have: butter – none,  lemon zest-nil, sugar – YES! I buy in bulk :), egg – yes 3 even, vanilla – not a drop, 2 c. flour – had 1 1/2 all purpose, baking powder – yep, kosher salt – no, but have table variety, fresh blueberries – just frozen, buttermilk – I didn’t even have milk.  The math on this turns out to be that I literally did have half – 5 out of 10, with some substitutions already accounted for. So I ran to the store right? Heck no! I live in Minnesota and it’s much too cold to be frivolously leaving my nice warm home, opening doors and letting a draft in. I went shopping in my cupboards!! Here are the substitutions that we made to use this very recipe and have a lovely breakfast.

Butter – Coconut oil in the same amount

Lemon Zest – Half the amount recommended with dried lemon peel (I know this seems like a weird thing to have on hand, but in the amounts that it actually gets used I throw the bottle in the freezer and just whip it out for these special occasions)

Vanilla – Maple syrup in the same amount. Believe it or not it works fabulously for baking. I have had to use this sub many times and have never been caught by my husband or anyone else for that matter.

Flour – I had most of what I needed, but today I made up that little missing bit with bread flour. If it had been more that I needed I would have used wheat flour or whatever I had on hand for the extra.

Kosher salt – already determined that we threw in plain old table salt. I do tend to use a little less than called for on this sub as the table is finer than kosher.

Buttermilk – This was my greatest achievement today. Normally, if I needed buttermilk I would throw a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into my liquid measuring cup and then just fill it up to a cup with milk. (I usually make a good 2 c. to keep on hand as soon as we bring in a gallon of milk lately). As stated, I didn’t even have milk today. Fortunately, I keep non-fat dry milk on hand for dog biscuits (instructions on that here –www.subsistingsuburbia.wordpress.com), and also to make my kids’ hot chocolate mix (will totally share that the next time we make it). I started my buttermilk mission by just following the instructions on the box and making some re-hydrated milk and then just followed through with my usual method.

Frozen vs. Fresh Berries – Easy simple no brainer swap. I just would add that with frozen berries and baking I never thaw them – I feel like it lends them a more bitter/tart taste than if they are thrown in fully frozen. I think it actually says this on some packages too.

So, how’d it turn out? Pretty darn good!

img_0733 img_0734Despite that part of my subsisting is hardly ever turning on a light, I’m sure you can see that the top of this doesn’t look the same beautiful brown as the original or what I would normally look for in a baked good of this kind, and I think that’s a reflection on the coconut oil sub. I did leave it in the oven a lot longer than I think I should have because I always just look for that golden eat me sign on top of everything, hence it got very very slightly dry compared to my usual/ have all ingredients productions.  However, despite it’s looks and being baked by an aesthetically inclined shallow baker that left it alone for too long, it came out wonderfully. Thing 1 wanted to just have the pan after I was done, and Thing 2 who can be incredibly picky made it to seconds on this one.

I will be updating this post as I remember/have to find more substitutions in the hope that someday we might achieve an all inclusive list that will make it so this recluse will only have to leave the home in truly dire emergencies.

More Substitutions:

Sour cream: 3/4 c. Buttermilk + 2 Tbsp Butter replaced 1 c. Sour cream in my stroganoff last night. No one knows 🙂

Heavy Cream: Equal amount of half and half, or 3/4 c. milk + 1/4 c. butter – may add 1-2 Tbsp flour for fat free milk

I Gave Birth to Matisse… and Pollack

Yes, it’s true, my children are both fantastic artists, and that being said, their masterpieces cannot be contained by mere pages or coloring books. Oh no, they need a much larger canvas for their multimedia work. I present to you their gallery..er ahem, my hall.

Lovely don't you think?

Lovely don’t you think?

As previously stated this is a multimedia work, using crayon, pencil and pen. Unfortunately they skipped out on the markers on this particular work.  Having such gifted children I’m sure you can imagine just how many different techniques I have tried to remove these little works from my walls.  We have allowed Thing 1 to keep one of his masterpieces from a little over a year ago to reward him for properly using the term ‘mural’, but this one.. well, I think they just grabbed some art supplies reached their arms out and skipped back and forth down the hall.  Anyway, this is the method I have found that will absolutely get out crayon, pencil, most markers and scuff marks, and as a perk, you lose the little finger prints too!

*Just a note about magic eraser- it does work great at getting stuff out, however on my painted walls it was a little too great, and now, I have a two tone ombre effect in my dining room starting at my children’s height. This will not dull or take off any paint unless you go at it like it’s a strong man competition.

Here’s what you need for this little project:

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Oil – any kind you have on hand. I got this olive oil cheap and obviously in bulk otherwise I would probably use straight vegetable oil.

Baking Soda

Dishsoap – I only use Dawn – I really don’t know if that’s the only one that works, so if you try something cheaper and it works great please let me know.

Small bowl

3 clean dishrags

Mix up equal parts oil and baking soda in your bowl – I had the whole hallway to tackle (not just the little bit I’m sharing) so I used 1/3 c. of each.  Stir it up with a fork until it’s a uniform consistency – If you’re just eyeballing amounts just keep this in mind -you don’t want soup, but you don’t want paste either as you will be spreading this onto your wall and if it’s too thin it will just run, too thick it will just plop off onto the floor.

Here’s what I generally look for when I don’t measure.

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Once you have your concoction all set to  go, grab your bowl and one of your rags and trudge on over to your gallery. Dip your rag into the mix and smear it onto the offending masterpiece liberally like so:

img_0723Once you have a good glob on your wall start working it over the marks in a circular motion; this should totally remove the crayon and dull the pencil marks. If the circular motion isn’t getting you anywhere, just scrub along the line as it was drawn (up and down for vertical/left to right for horizontal) Don’t ask me why, but certain crayons just don’t want to come off unless you rub them right.  Do this all over any marks, including normal kid dirt and finger prints. Do not be discouraged about the remaining pencil, pen and marker that will probably still be there. This is what the parts of my wall with scuffs, pen and pencil looked like after the initial baking soda/oil scrub – unfortunately my kids skimped on the marker on this wall.

Pen

Pen

Pencil

Pencil

Scuff Mark After Oil/Baking Soda

Scuff Mark

Once you get to this point, put away your oil/baking soda mix and grab a clean rag. Throw some dish soap on it and dampen it really well. Go back over your wall again, flipping and refolding as it becomes covered with your baking soda mix. Here’s those same spots after this step – I left some of the initial marks so you can see that I’m not just faking you out with a totally different part of my wall.

Pen

Pen

Pencil

Pencil

Scuff Mark

Scuff Mark

On the scuff mark, a portion of that bit left turned out to actually be a ding in the wall that got pigment from whatever smashed into it. That will not come out, but as you can see it is infinitely better.  Once you’re done going over the trouble spots, give the whole area you already scrubbed a quick wipe down. Follow this by grabbing your last rag, wetting it and doing a quick “rinse” wipe over the whole area. Done! I know this seems like a process when it’s laid out, but in reality, doing that whole wall took a total of  just under 10 minutes.  And here is the before and after!

After

After

Lovely don't you think?

Lovely don’t you think?

Mom’s Best Friend

In my household, there is no secrecy about it whatsoever – mom has a favorite child. I sometimes remind them all by snuggling this wonderful creature and reminding him that he is the best of my offspring. (He has no clue he’s adopted). You might be tempted to call me cruel or unkind, but the fact is, he’s a lab, and despite being a perpetual 2 year old, there could never be a human child to match his loyalty and goodness.  With him being the golden boy, there is simply no way I would feed him store bought fake-o treats, and he wouldn’t eat them anyway, so today we are making doggie cookies!! Here is the link to the site that has this and other recipes – this is the very first one on her list. http://turtlewoman.hubpages.com/hub/Top-10-Homemade-Dog-Treat-Recipes

Start off by preheating your oven to 300 degrees.

Here’s whatcha need:

2 c. Whole Wheat Flour1 c. Oats2     Eggs1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp H2O1/2 c. Nonfat Dry Milk1 c. Peanut Butter

2 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 c. Oats
2 Eggs
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp H2O
1/2 c. Nonfat Dry Milk
1 c. Peanut Butter

Usually I would include 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, I just happened to be out today, but I highly doubt he’ll mind that these aren’t freshening his breath just this once.

Throw your flour, oats and dry milk together in a mixing bowl and give them a good stir. In a separate bowl beat your eggs.

This is how I beat eggs –

Shake shake shake!!

Shake shake shake!!

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Lid on and shake it!!!

Once your eggs are shaken..er… beaten, add in the water and peanut butter. I totally needed a bigger jar for this….  With the jar method, it won’t get as smooth – this was actually my first time putting the peanut butter in the jar with the eggs and water. Once it’s as mixed as you feel like it’s going to get, mix the wet ingredients into the dry.

See? Pretty lumpy, but it did soften it up a bit and mixed in just fine.

See? Pretty lumpy, but it did soften it up a bit and mixed in just fine.

Stir it all together. Don’t worry if it seems dry, you can always add more water later if it really needs it, just stir until it starts to pull from the side of the bowl like a dough. Once it has pulled together a bit, dump it out and knead. As you can see mine is still pretty dry, but I do have one pretty good chunk going.img_0649

This is the point that I usually find myself adding water, sprinkling about a tablespoon at a time over the whole top and then kneading that in to incorporate it. I added about 2 Tbsp of water to this mess to accomplish this effect –

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Once you have your nice kneaded ball of dough, grab your rolling pin and flatten it out to your desired thickness. My boy seems to like thicker chewier treats, so mine are anywhere from 1/4 – 1/2″ thick. Grab some cookie cutters and make them pretty, or just bake and break – whatever works for you. We do cookie cutters, because, afterall, he is just marvelous and deserving.img_0651 * Important note – I always line my cookie sheet with parchment paper here! Don’t know what happens if you don’t grease or line it, and I don’t want to find out! Once you’ve cut/flattened, throw them in the oven for 30 minutes or so – for the thick ones I do 30, for the 1/4″ version I do 20. Once your little buddy has had these, do not be surprised if he becomes a very serious oven guard…

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Take them out, let them cool and watch the drool!!

The Best Part of Waking Up…..

Oh hell, there’s not even a good part let alone a best part when you actually have to get up before dawn to Thing 1 an inch from your face holding a thing that shoots ping pong balls and Thing 2 squeezing your face and screaming “MOM!! BREFAS!!!”  But!!! Coffee with good creamer is a pretty good consolation prize; easing the blow that yes, your house and family are still here, being messy and screaming.

So today, instead of grabbing that bottle of artificial crap and throwing it into your perfectly fragrant, delicious, much needed and well deserved daily stimulant, we’re going to make our own. You might wonder, “What’s wrong with my artificial crap?! It looks like cream and tastes like cream you old stuck up…” I digress. The problem I have with it is firstly, it leaves a really funky after taste that has me using my awesome homemade toothpaste way too often, secondly, it contains stuff like corn syrup solids, trans fat oil, sodium caseinate, and dipotassium phosphate. Now, I don’t know about where you live, but none of that is available at my grocery store for me to just buy as is – that kind of bugs me. If I can’t just buy it straight and eat it, why would I want to get it all mixed together and drink it?

I have been using the same base recipe for a while now, but this one just kept coming across my stream on pinterest, so of course I had to try it – how could that many people be wrong? Here is the link to the original site –http://cookinwithsuperpickle.blogspot.com/2010/07/homemade-coffee-creamer.html – of course, I didn’t have sweetened condensed milk on hand, so I had to make that off the instructions at the bottom of the blog entry used. SO! Now that all that giving credit and back story is over with lets make some creamer before someone gets shot! Today we are making chocolate almond flavor ( I have a thing with almonds apparently..)

To make the sweetened condensed milk you will need:

1/2 c. Cold Water1 1/3 c. Nonfat Dry Milk3/4 c. Sugar1 tsp. Vanilla

1/2 c. Cold Water 1 1/3 c. Nonfat Dry Milk
3/4 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

Whisk your milk powder into cold water and put over medium heat, whisk in sugar keep on heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool and either use or jar it up.

That was so easy! Now, let’s use it to make creamer! Here’s what you’ll need:

2 c. Whatever Milk you like (I use almond - surprise!)Your fresh condensed milk - or a 14 oz canFlavoring

2 c. Whatever Milk you like (I use almond – surprise!)
Your fresh condensed milk – or a 14 oz can
Flavoring

For flavoring I am using 2 Tbsp of  this die for homemade chocolate syrup( http://tonetiki.com/2012/07/05/step-by-step-video-fat-free-chocolate-sauce/ Even if you aren’t dieting or working on yourself check out her recipes my children and I have loved every one we have tried so far) and a tsp. of almond extract. I know on the site he/she says to use cocoa powder for this flavor, but I really just hate the sediment in the bottom of my cup when I use the powder in my usual base – you just can’t strain or shake it enough it seems.

Process:

The site says to just throw it in a bottle and shake the hell out of it, but I think that to really develop flavors and get a cohesive texture to anything it really should be heated before jarring it up, so I just threw everything except the extract into a sauce pan, whisked it together and waited until it was nice and steamy. Then, just remove it from the heat and throw in the extract. DONE!

Ok, so mine is totally still on the burner, but the heat is really off I swear.

Ok, so mine is totally still on the burner, but the heat is really off I swear.

Looking pretty good so far!!

Looking pretty good so far!!

Yum! And I feel less homicidal already!

Yum! And I feel less homicidal already!

So, after my initial happiness, I am very sad to report that it did have a bit of a funny after tasty thing going on. This might just be from my modifications to it, so definitely don’t rule it out just because I felt that way, but once this is gone (I refuse to throw away consumables) I will be posting the tried and true base that I absolutely love. GOOD MORNING!!!

 

Washin the Washer

I often find it really hard to believe that I have city water because our water is sooo full of mineral deposits and gunk. A perfect example of this is our dishwasher. It has always left a really nice sandy sediment in anything that upturns itself during the wash cycle. We sort of corrected this problem by of course investing in a water softener, and using a rinse aid and citric acid for every wash, but still the ickies have persisted. Case in point, my dishwasher that I have put off cleaning for far too long and now looks like so (you may want to grab your barf bags):

img_0662     img_0663

Pretty yucky eh? I once again, have a solution directly from pinterest that I have used in the past when the diswasher wasn’t nearly this filthy that had great results, so I thought I would try it again and share it with you.

Firstly, you’re going to need to take out the bottom rack of your dishwasher, brace yourself and fish around for chunky stuff.

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Rack out!!

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Fish here….

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and here….

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Now close your eyes and blindly fish around under here.

Next, crack out some white distilled vinegar and pour yourself a nice ol’ cupful.

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I used two because this thing is just soo nasty.

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Set your cupful into the top rack of your washer – Say cupful five times fast and giggle like an idiot.

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Run your washer for a full cycle with the hottest water possible

I used the normal wash cycle this round.

Put your kids down for a nap, grab a magazine and a drink and wait…….

Open washer and (drum roll)…..

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Well s**t. That almost looks worse…But! We shall carry on.

Sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom of the washer

Sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom of the washer

Run washer again…

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Look like an oxymoron to anyone else?

Kids are up from nap, no drink, fill time by losing mind and tugging on own hair while repeatedly counting to three aggressively… And the big reveal!

img_0698 NOTHIN!!!!

So, since that totally sucked and did absolutely nothing, I decided to move on to my cure all method for absolutely everything – let’s make some carbon dioxide!! First, re-sprinkle (I coated- there was no true sprinkling involved at this point) all over with baking soda. I even coated the door. Then for the fun part! Spray or splash vinegar all over your baking soda.

img_0700 BUBBLES!!! (My kids always ask me if I’m a scientist when I do this – I tell them yes.)

Close the door and walk away from the stupid thing for a good half hour, or however long you need to cool off after the disappointment of farting around all day with the dang thing for nothing…..

When you’re calm and ready (I took about 30 minutes), open it up and just wipe it down.

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Since the thing was so grimy I wanted to give the whole interior a wipe down so I took the top rack out as well – here’s how:

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Find this nifty end cap..

squeeze and pull it out.

squeeze and pull it out.

There are identical caps on the back of these that you will need to remove to wipe down everything.

And now, for our grand finale!!

img_0705img_0706

As previously stated, the original method used was from another site, and it did work really well with a much less filthy machine.Here is the link to the original site, http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/02/how-to-clean-your-dishwasher.html if you’ve never been to the site before I definately would recommend hanging out and checking out more of her stuff, she has an absolute wealth of tricks and tips that are absolutely awesome. Now to throw the disgusting dishes that have been waiting all day into my nice clean machine!

 

 

And we brush and brush and brush!!

I am NOT a dentist!!! That being said we can move on. Thanks to pinterest, I have rethought my oral hygiene. Yes, it’s scary – teeth do not regenerate from nil at 26 years old. I read a couple of articles on remineralizing your teeth and they definitely gave me some food for thought here they are http://www.project.nsearch.com/profiles/blogs/how-i-healed-my-child-s-cavity, http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2012/04/rethinking-oral-health-care-a-homemade-toothpaste-recipe-for-tooth-remineralization.html, and last but not least, the basis of my concoction  http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/03/homemade-toothpaste-with-coconut-oil.html After reading these and really sitting down to contemplate risking my teeth it occurred to me that our bodies are nearly fully regenerative. Our skeletons are constantly renovating, red blood cells live a whopping 120 days our skin is constantly cycling – so why do we think once our teeth are damaged its irreversible? Furthermore, why in God’s name would our teeth be absorbent if they weren’t supposed to absorb stuff? Think about it – not one cave man (or woman) would have had adult teeth for long if they were supposed to be coated in fluoride. (A note on my fluoride stance – my kids do use fluoride toothpaste. I do not think kids should stop using it – they simply don’t have the motor skills to brush as effectively as an adult – moving on). Aside from just the teeth, I considered the whole of my mouth. I have brushed the hell out of my teeth for years – and my gums paid for it. I was told that gum recession is completely irreversible – again, my mouth contains the only soft tissue on my whole body that won’t repair itself. I just don’t buy that. What follows here is my own toothpaste recipe – it is not for remineralization, it is simply for keeping my teeth clean and cavity free. I am counting on my teeth absorbing what it needs through what I put in my mouth – the traditional method is always my favorite in all things. After using this recipe for a month I did go to a dentist and I told them what I’d been using – my teeth looked great, and yes, this is totally effective and safe according to my hygenist. She recommended following with a fluoridated rinse – I don’t, but I do have fluoride in my drinking water, so I do get the trace amounts that come from the gallon a day that I gut down.

What You Need:
Coconut oil
Baking soda
Whatever extract (optional – it’s basically like rubbing vodka on your teeth, but if you hate the salty taste it’s super helpful)
Container for your toothpaste!

Procedure:
Put a bit of oil into your container (or, if you like, you can use a microwave safe bowl for mixing it all up) I don’t use an exact amount, just a good lump or two will do – I used about 2 heaping tablespoons worth on this batch

lumpyoil

Zap it in the microwave for a wee bit – I think I did 35 seconds or so – coconut oil melts at a really low temp so don’t over do it – you can see mine isn’t even fully melted and it doesn’t even have to be as liquid as this some folks don’t melt it at all, they just mash everything in – I’m too lazy to mash.

melty oil

Throw in a roughly equal amount of baking soda and stir it up good so it’s nice and uniform.

img_0637

If desired, toss in a bit of extract to your taste. I think I’ve most seen a teaspoonful recommended, but I think that depends on what flavor you’re using, and of course your preference. Today I tried almond extract (I don’t care if you think it’s weird! It turned out really good) and I just did 1/2 teaspoons worth since it is awfully potent, and it doesn’t really clash with the baking soda taste as much as say, peppermint.

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Give it one more little mix to incorporate your flavor if you’ve used one and then just let it sit until it firms up again.

I don’t share this container, so I just scrape my toothbrush through it, but I don’t see the harm in sharing one container with your loved ones.

Happy Brushing!

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