Saturday, April 24, 2010

Days of Play--Hairy People

Rumor has it that it is spring time. Honestly, Wyoming hasn't gotten the message. *Sigh*

Anyhow, in honor of Earth Day we are making "hairy people." (Sorry to post this after Earth Day).

What you'll need:

  • plastic or styrofoam cup
  • rocks
  • potting soil
  • markers/stickers/googly eyes, etc.
  • grass seed
  • patience :)

What to do:

  1. Give your child a cup to decorate like a person.
  2. Put rocks in the bottom of the cup (for drainage) and put in potting soil.
  3. Add grass seed to the top.
  4. Place in a sunny spot.
  5. Wait for your little person to grow grassy hair (and help your child resist the urge to water the plant three times a day).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Frugal Fashion Friday: Accessorize Your Wardrobe Basics

Real Simple has a great "Wardrobe Basics" check list that you can find here. Today I'm taking their list of basics, throwing in some accessories, and showing you outfits you can make with limited pieces.

So here are the basics:

Now I got some comments and e-mails last week from folks who said they have a hard time using accessories.

Trust me, if you are going to have a basic wardrobe (see above) then accessories will make your style.

If you are like me you don't want to spend $30 on a bracelet. That's why I encourage you to check out accessories from stores like Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe (heck, even Kohl's, Target, and Wal-Mart have some awesome pieces!). Here is a sample spread of what I think are minimum accessories:

The list of what I think are accessory basics:

  • necklaces, bracelets, earrings in gold and silver
  • a statement necklace, ring, or bracelet in a trendy color (trendy this year are turquoise, tomato, and dusty rose).
  • a scarf (I chose white but a color would really be awesome!)
  • a black bag and a neutral bag
  • ballet flats in black, neutral, and bold
  • a pair of sandals (you might want two--one black, one neutral)
  • a pair of heels (ditto)

Okay, so if you take a basic wardrobe and mix it up with some basic accessories, here are 5 looks you can achieve (5? I know, I went a little crazy. This is like adult Barbie Doll stuff here!)

Outfit #1--All Dolled Up

Outfit #2--A Casual Affair

Outfit #3--Cool Chic

Outfit #4--Errand Running

Outfit #5--Dinner with Friends

Trust me when I say I had to FORCE myself to stop at 5.  Even the most basic wardrobe can be glammed up with a few accessories (and most of the jewelry I have posted is under $6!).

It really is amazing how a bold necklace can change the whole feel of a T-shirt and jeans.

What outfit is most "you"?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Things I Love--That's What She Said

Okay, I'm not a huge TV watcher but every now and then I get totally sucked into The Office.  I'd tell you the premise and point but I'm pretty sure there isn't one.

Anyhow, the main character Michael is always saying "that's what she said" to make seemingly innocent comments sexual and dirty.  For example, "How do you like your eggs?"  "I like them hard."  "That's what she said."


For some reason Matt and I just latched onto this play on words game.  It is super out of character for both of us but for some reason we can't get enough that's what she said.  Really, we do it all the time that's what she said.  Well, not all the time.  We'd never do it in front of our kids that's what she said.

Have you had enough?  that's what she said

At some point and time we'll have to stop this nonsense but for now the little inside joke just makes me giggle and I love it!

So I pretty much have to share the best "that's what she said" EVER.

Over Thanksgiving we were in Nebraska at my mother and father-in-law's house.  My husband's younger brother, Josh (who loves The Office too), was home and we were playing a game of Oh Hell (man, this post is getting racy!  Sorry but that's what the game is called).

Here's a photo with Uncle and the Divine Miss M


Can I digress or what?

Back to Oh Hell.  We were on our last hand and Josh and I were basically neck and neck that's what she said.  Before we bet, Josh says, "So the only way I lose is if you get yours and I don't get mine?  THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!"

Matt, Josh, and I were in a fit of hysterics.  Seriously, I blushed (and I never blushed) and the three of us were laughing so hard we were crying.  It was priceless (especially since I won the game!).

My poor mother and father in-law had no idea what was happening with their kids.  They totally heard the comment but I'm convinced unless you know the context of the comment, you won't get it.  For the time being, we've decided to keep them in the dark.

But if you hear people saying "that's what she said" and you don't watch The Office, now you know why people are doing it.

(Wait, this is getting really good.  Matt just asked what I was blogging about and I said, "That's what she said."  He said, "Really, you like that?  I though you were just doing it to make me happy" that's what she said.  To which I replied, "No, I love it!"  And he said?  "That's what she said").

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What I Think About--Thank You Cards

When I was a kid, my parents made my sister and I write thank you notes for gifts.  When we went out to eat we were expected to say "please" and "thank you" to the people assisting us.  As horrifying as it sounds, we were even expected to say "thank you" to people at the grocery store, the gas station, or clients to our family business.

Were you raised with a similar value--the value of appreciating what others do for you and letting them know it by saying or writing "thank you"?

I know this seems like a petty post but I am actually disgusted shocked by how ungrateful people are. These days almost no one sends thank you cards for gifts or acts of service.  In fact, brides now send out mass-photo thank yous rather than writing notes (which makes me want to send a nice photo of the gift I would have bought them if I'd been a bit more thoughtful).

If you are like me you know someone (or many someones) who will not say thank you for anything.  If a gift is given, this person is under no obligation to call and say thank you, let alone write a nice card. Of course being pressed for time is a popular excuse for a lack of thank you decorum (if you'd like to read my diatribe on what I think about being "too busy" click here).

I think the popularity of ingratitude is upsetting--am I alone on this?

Now I know someone out there is going to read this and think, "if you are only giving a gift or service to receive a thank you then your heart is in the wrong spot."  I can't agree more.  And I don't give gifts because I want a thank you; however, I think it is pertinent to teach our children to be grateful and humble (Hebrews 12:28 "...let us be thankful...").  If we want to teach our kids this, it's probably important to do it ourselves.

My children are expected to "write" notes of thanks for gifts (M.E.'s thank you cards are always randomly folded paper with stuff glued to it but she puts serious effort into them!)  and to say thank you to people who help them. It isn't about appearing to have good manners, it's about teaching them to have an attitude of gratitude.

I truly want to cultivate in my children 
a spirit of gratitude.

Now I know that some people get bogged down when writing thank you notes but let's not make it more difficult (or time consuming) than it needs to be.  Here is a basic format:
  1. Salutation  (Dear Grandma Sue,)
  2. Mention the kindness (Thank you for the gift/party/service).
  3. Mention how appropriate the gift was or how you plan to use it (Your meal was a life saver/We used the money to buy _____).
  4. Use one line to up-date the recipient on your life (I start school again on May 7th or We had a great honeymoon). OPTIONAL
  5. Signature (Many thanks, Sally).


Dear Elizabeth,
Thank you so much for taking the time to pick out a necklace for my birthday; I look forward to wearing it to work.  You've always had great taste and I appreciate you thinking of me.  I'm heading out of town for a week but would love to meet you for lunch.  I will call soon.

Now, some thank you rules:
  • wedding gifts (within 3 months of the wedding)
  • sympathy flowers and cards
  • a party held in your honor (baby shower, engagement party, bridal shower)
  • shower/party gifts (yes, this includes gifts from birthday parties)
  • gifts received in the mail (this lets the sender know you got it)
  • being a guest in someone's home for more than 1 night
  • notes/gifts of congratulations
  • an act of service (a friend who babysits your kids, etc.)
  • gifts, cards, or flowers given for a hospital stay
  • After being interviewed
  • After being a dinner guest
  • After receiving holiday gifts
  • Don't use mass thank yous; they are impersonal and lack appreciation.
  • Don't take too long to send your thanks.  General rule of thumb is 1 week after the gift/service is received.  Exceptions being weddings (3 months) and gifts for a hospital stay (these should go out whenever the person is well enough to write them).
  • Don't patronize someone by telling them you are "too busy" to say thank you.  People see through this and you won't be seen as being too busy; you'll be viewed as being self-important or ungrateful.  

If you really can't dedicate a few minutes to write a thank you, at minimum call and say thank you (but not to an answering machine).  In my opinion, though, phone calls take a lot longer than writing a thank you card.

Some people find e-mail thank yous a bit impersonal so take a bit of time to add a few more personal details if you take this route.

A good rule of thumb is this:
you can never be in the wrong for thanking someone so err on the side of being too thankful.

I bet you can guess what I think about Thank You cards--
Send them

P.S.  I had *another* question to Real Simple published.  You can find it on page 86 of your magazine or here.  I love how Etiquette Queen Julie ends her thoughts: "A personalized thank you note will tell the gift-giver everything she needs to know."

What are you thoughts on Thank Yous?  Do you send them?  Do you have your children send them?

Do you have someone in your life who won't say "thank you"?  How do you deal with it?

Are you opposed to sending thank yous? Why?

 I can handle your criticism.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday's Too Clean Tip--Organize your Bathroom

Okay, okay.  I'm an organization nut.  What can I say?

What I've learned, though, is that not everyone loves things quite as organized as I do.  Now I lucked out and my DH is mostly Type A and really likes stuff to be cleaned and organized.  But he's not quite as anal about it as I am.  So, despite my love to keep things organized, sometimes my most organized places start looking like this:

Okay, I can't blame this mess totally on Matt but he did inspire most of it!

Two Saturdays ago I decided to tackle my master bath closet.

Here's what I did:

  1. Pulled everything out and put it into coordinating piles (jewelry, meds, lotions, etc).
  2. Wiped down shelves and swept/mopped floor.
  3. Went through bins and got rid of stuff.  If I don't need it, I toss it.
  4. Minimize packaging from items bought in bulk.
  5. Re-label bins.
  6. Re-organize in the closet.  Some items found new homes (like Matt would prefer if I kept my feminine products under my sink).
This is a photo of my whittled down pile of first aid supplies, cold medicine, and prescription meds.

Here's the final product.

The space in the center is just waiting for me to roll towels and put them there!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is coming soon--May 9th to be exact.

At our house we go for an annual Mother's Day Hike but other than that, we don't really have any Mother's (or Father's) Day traditions.  I personally like to stay away from the Mother's Day "fun" that is spring cleaning and yard work.  Really, who decided working on this day is celebration?  If you want to celebrate mom by cleaning up, do it on May 8th.  Or May 10th.

Another thing about Mother's Day is who to buy for.  Do you just get something for your mom?  Your Mother-in-Law?  Your grandmas?  Sisters?  Friends?  It's all very confusing.  And expensive. What always happens to me is I have NO IDEA what to get anyone.  Hence, this post.

I've collected some ideas (bargain to splurge) of gifts for the moms around you.  Of course I've included ideas for my favorite gift--gifts of time!

Sisters or Friends
  • Buy packets of flower seeds and attach a small, handwritten note saying, "Happiness held is the seed.  Happiness shared is the flower."  John Harrigan
  • Buy a bright summer shade of nail polish and attach a small note saying, "Paint a rainbow inside of you, paint a rainbow and let your smile shine through.  When it's cold and gray, push the clouds away, paint a rainbow in your heart,"
  • Write a sweet and sincere note telling the "mom" what you love and value about her.
  • Send a bouquet of flowers with the same note.
  • Give the nail polish and note above with a gift certificate for a manicure.
Gift of Time
  • Give the seeds and note along with a certificate to plant a garden together.
  • Go to your friend/sister's house with a bowl, a towel, lotion, and nail polish.  Wash her feet, give her a foot massage and paint her toenails.  Giggle while you do it!

  • Go to a photo site and create a collage of photos.  8x10 prints run around $4.  
  • Make a mixed CD of music the mom would love (Josh Grobin and Celine Dion oughta do it--Matt if you are reading this and you make me a CD with either or those artists you will be judged most severely. Leave off anything by Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber or Katy Perry, too!).  
  • Make a plaster of paris handprint for each of your children's hands.
  • Get mom a Mother's Ring or mother and child necklace. 
  • Make a blog book or a hard-bound photo album.  
Gifts of Time
  • Take a walk down memory lane with mom.  Pull out old photos and letters and learn all about her (as someone whose mom has dementia, I can't push this one enough!)
  • Host a tea party.  Invite mom over for mini-sandwiches and cakes and a cup of hot tea.  Children can help serve and can provide the entertainment by reciting cute verses or singing songs.

  • A fashion consultation from The Good Life For Less
  • A killer new bag
  • A pair of wedge sandals for spring
  • The Everlon love-knot right-hand ring I love :)
Gifts of Time
  • Go shopping together to pick out a gift
  • Go to Goodwill and do a style challenge.  Whoever puts together the most fashionable outfit for less wins (loser buys ice cream or cheesecake)
  • Help mom clean out her closet to make room for a new season of clothes.

Supermom (who needs pampering)
  • A basket full of homemade body scrubs, body butters, and soaps
  • Gift certificates for: back rub, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.
  • Car wash and detail (water guns encouraged)
  • Hire a maid service for a month (or twelve)
  • A day at the spa
  • A night away at a hotel with room service
Gifts of time
  • Give mom a copy of Don't Panic Dinner's in the Freezer.  Plan a Once a Month Cooking event and do it together.
  • Give mom a home-based spa day complete with bubble bath, massage, pedicure and manicure.

The Homebody
  • Buy and play Farkle
  • A new book with a sweet inscription (May I recommend Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers for the romantic, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen for the fiction lover, and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson for the non-fiction lover?).
  • A new movie
  • A new reading chair (or other piece of furniture)
  • A great new blanket to cuddle in
Gifts of Time
  • Organize a family game night or movie night
  • Do a mini-makeover of a room 

The Adventurer
  • A travel book
  • A new piece of equipment for their favorite activity (think air pump for a biker or goggles for snorkeler)
  • A first aid kit
  • An exciting day trip: white water rafting, hot air ballooning, Ferrari driving, etc.
  • A vacation 
Gifts of Time
  • Pack an outdoor picnic and go for a hike.  
  • Spend some time recreating together--go for a walk, a bike ride, etc.

The Practical Mom
  • New stationary complete with stamps (if they still make those--ha ha!)
  • Knee-high dress socks
  • A bin full of birthday wrap, bags, and cards so she's never out!

  • A year subscription to Real Simple
  • A great pair of comfortable shoes (think Dansko or Keen)
  • A gift certificate to her favorite store for new jeans
Gifts of time
  • Go shopping and put together emergency kits for the home or car
  • Run errands together
The Nature Lover
  • A book of birds
  • A home made bird feeder
  • A gardening set: knee pad, hand shovel, and gloves
  • A bird bath
  • A garden bench
  • A chiminea or fire pit
Gifts of time
  • Go on a bird watching expedition
  • Make a s'mores kit (skewers, marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars all in one organized container) and have a camp-out complete with scary stories or sing-alongs

So did any gifts peak your interest?  
Did you get an idea of what you can give?
Should I leave you a fill in the blank so you can print this blog and leave it laying around where your husband can see it?

Dear Hubby,

This year for Mother's Day I'd really like ___________________________________________.

To family members who are reading this.  Sorry to ruin the surprise.  And if you steal these ideas, we'll keep it between the two of us!  Well, maybe not.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blog Award--Honest Scrap

This past week Amy from Chapters of Me gave my blog an award.  Thanks, Amy.  For those who don't know Amy is a loyal WITMIM? fan who has an honest, inspirational, and informational blog that I can't get enough of.  And FYI--don't mess with her 'cuz she's a hot mom who's doing P90X (code for "she can outrun us and beat us up and look like a rock star doing it!).

As a recipient of this award I'm supposed to tell you 10 thing about me and then share 10 blogs I'd give this award to.  Here is goes.

  1. I have an unhealthy obsession with in-grown hairs.  I'm not sure when this started or why.  My dad has a re-occurring in-grown hair that I dream of taking my tweezers to.  Sadly I'm not joking.
  2. Everyone in my little family has a "presidential" name.  Reagan, Delano, Madisen, and Carter.  We planned it this way.  It's kinda like those families who name all their kids with the same letter (like my parents) but without the confusion.
  3. I don't like ham or corn.  I will compulsively eat cereal any time of day.
  4. I came home from my first day of kindergarten and told my parents I wanted to be a teacher like Miss Mueller.  Before having kids I was a middle school teacher.  Now I'm getting my doctorate in curriculum and instruction.  I won't make you call me "Doctor."  On second thought...
  5. We stayed at a "fancy" hotel in London that was so small I could touch opposing walls by spreading out my arms.  And to make it better, I could literally sit on the potty to tinkle, shower, and brush my teeth in the sink all at the same time.  I was 6 months pregnant and I cried.  Now I can laugh at it.  
  6. My friend Jina and I listened to "Insensitive" by Jan Arden 67 times during the summer of '96.  I can't remember WHY we did that now but it felt like a huge accomplishment then.
  7. I owned 100 pairs of shoes when I graduated from high school. 
  8. My husband taught me to wake-board by bribing me with jewelry (though I bought shoes instead. See #7).
  9. Since I've known my husband I've had different tones of 3 hair colors (platinum blond to brown-black).  I can't actually remember what my natural hair color is.
  10. For my 21st birthday Matt organized a HUGE cake food fight.  It was the best time ever.

Okay, so blogs I love that I'd give an award to:

Jilly Moos:  Two gals who have a fashion for passion--on a budget.  Love it!

Ain't She Crazy: Courage, conviction, inspiration, and honesty.  Your one "spur me on in my faith" stop!

Just Organize Yourself: Advice from a gal who makes me look like a hoarding mess. Go to her for your organization fix.

Mommy's Camera: I so want to be a better photographer (but with a point and click camera).  Jamie's got the skills to show me how. She can help you too!

The Munchkin and Little Miss: A newbie to blog land this gal is not afraid to make herself vulnerable on her quest to become a better mom, wife, and woman.  She's keepin' it real!

Threads of Beauty:  Another blog newbie who's tackling real issues for Christian women.

Frontier Kitchen: I know, I know.  I talk about this blog all the time.  But I do it for a reason.  Great food.  No casseroles.  That's perfection in a cooking blog if you ask me.

Things I Can't Say: I might not say it but Shell will.  And she'll make you laugh while she does it.  Don't get her started on "motherbitches" though (her word not mine!)

The Improbable Housewife:  Writing challenges, chick chat, giveaways, gift ideas ... she's got it all.

Naptime Notes:  Meandering thoughts on life, Christ, and motherhood.  Fresh and refreshing.  

Thanks again, Amy, for my blog award!

What's Cooking 4/19-4/25

So here's what we'll be dining on for din din at our house this week.  We are going out of town at the end of the week to spend some much needed time with my big sister!

Again, most of these meals come from my mass OAMC event.

Monday--Breakfast for dinner (I still have Monday classes so DH is cookin' tonight and he rocks breakfasts!)
Tuesday--Honey-Lime Chicken with lime-cilantro rice
Wednesday--shredded beef tacos with all the fixins
Thursday--Chicken marsala over whole wheat pasta and salad
Friday, Saturday, Sunday--Dining out!

Happy Dinners!