Saturday, November 27, 2010

Days of Play--Christmas Countdown

I read a post a while back from The Dating Divas about creating a Christmas Countdown calendar for your husband and I loved the idea.

So I did it for my husband and my kids.

To make my calendars I bought 50 blank holiday cards at Michael's (they came in packs of 8 for $1), one roll (10 yards) of wired ribbon, and 50 clothes pins (from Target for $1.50).

Then I cut up a paper sack into 50 squares (that way I can re-use the cards and this idea next year too).

On each of the squares I thought of a funtivity to do with my kids every day leading up to Christmas.  Some are elaborate--like going sledding, acting out the Nativity story, or baking cookies for neighbors.  Others are simple, like eating a candy cane, watching a Christmas movie, or reading a Christmas book under the Christmas tree.

For Matt, I followed the idea from the Dating Divas more carefully. 
  • 1/3 of the squares were a funtivity we could do (go to Starbucks, drink Nog and watch Elf, play a game).
  • 1/3 of the squares were compliments.
  • 1/3 of the squares were services (make his favorite dinner, give him a back rub, and a few sexier ideas that I won't dish on ...)

When all of the activities were written and mapped out, I stuffed them in a card, put the card in a numbered envelope, hung the ribbon, and put the cards on the ribbon.

Each day my kids and husband will get to open one card and will be surprised with a fun pre-Christmas activity.

For a more elaborate and traditional scrapbook design (instead of my retro-colors) please go to the Dating Divas and check out their free downloads!

--------->CLICK HERE<-------------

Friday, November 26, 2010

19/30--Black Friday

My sister is a shopper like me.  We love to hit Black Friday sales (but we also love to miss the crazed 3 am crowd).

We were going to go at 7.

She woke me up at 7:10.  Oops.

We left the house at 7:30.

Dressed?  Check.
Make up?  Check.
Hair?  Um, well ... that's what the hat is for!


I love to entertain.

But I'm really BAD at delegating.  It's a pride/trust issue. I feel like I can't trust anyone to do it as well as I can.  I must work on this.

I worked in the kitchen all day whipping up cranberry sauce, stuffing, turkey, sweet apple cinnamon brie en croute .... in my pajamas.  Shocking! I never do that.  NEVER.

When I finally got dressed around noon, I threw together something simple but classic--slacks, turtleneck and ballet flats.


These photos were taken in the family room of our newly finished basement.  We still need to stone the front of the fireplace but it is soooooo close.  And that circle swivel chair is proof that my husband loves me :)

17/30--Better Late than Later

With the busy Thanksgiving holiday upon me, I've been spending a bit less time blogging and a bit more time turning pumpkins into puree for pies, soup, muffins, and bread.  Mmmmm.

Never fear, I'm staying true to my 30/30 Challenge!

P.S.  I took the black heels off about ten minutes after this photo was taken so I could put on my uber ugly, need to be replaced slippers.  Who wants to cook in heels anyway?

Cute story.  This morning it was positively frigid in Wyoming so I offered to let M.E. wear some comfy, fleece lined pants. 

"Do you want to wear your warm, comfy pants?" I asked her. 

"No," she replied, "I want to wear my skinny jeans."

That's how I know she is mine.

Well, that and my friend Sarah was observing M.E. at school and heard M.E. ask a helper, "Does this juice stain?"  That's how I REALLY know she's mine.

Frugal Fashion Friday--Required2beInspired

I almost shuddered at doing a "frugal fashion" post on Black Friday.  After all, isn't this the day when we all cram into stores in hopes of screwing the person behind us out of the $3 DVDs?  Ah yes, frugality at its worst.  Merry Christmas.


I actually like Black Friday.  I like shopping and I like crowds.

I just hate that the season of merry making starts with the nightly news re-telling the tragic story of a person being trampled to death over a video game console.

I also hate the consumer mentality--buy, buy buy.

So today, I want to introduce you to Required2BeInspired.

Canadian Cutie Natasha (a fellow 30/30er) has created several DIY fashion tutorials.

If you don't want to brave the crowds (or if you want something unique), check out some of the DIY projects on Required2BeInspired.

Some of my faves:

Embellished Scarf

Fabric Necklace
3 in1 Jacket

So if you want to be frugal and be fashionable, skip Black Friday, head over to Required2BeInspired, and get your craft on (and make me a necklace while you are at it!).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

{Holiday} Things I Love--Thanksgiving

For some reason stores break out Christmas trees and mini-light up houses at Halloween.

And by Thanksgiving the Christmas season is in full swing.

Poor Thanksgiving--it gets so overlooked!

I love Thanksgiving.

I love the food, and football, and family time.  I love the festive air (without even the hint of having to give an obligatory gift).

The colors of Thanksgiving, the smells of Thanksgiving, the sounds of Thanksgiving... I love it all.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I Think About--Mom Friends

As Thanksgiving rolls around everyone starts to ponder what they are thankful for.

Obvious answers come to mind.  I'm thankful for my husband, children and family.  I'm thankful for a safe car, a warm house, and good health.  I'm thankful for a job I love and blog readers.  I'm thankful for spiritual freedom, the blood of Jesus, and my right to an education.

But this year something else came to my mind.

What I am most thankful for this year are my mom friends.

If you've ever read Things I Can't Say, then you've heard of Motherbitches.

Motherbitches are what happens when nasty junior high girls grow up and become moms.


Shell and other bloggers have done a great job of telling you "You might be a Motherbitch if ..."and I'd encourage you to follow the links and read them (for a good laugh or in case you are afraid you might be one...)

There are a lot of motherbitches out there and to be honest, they are the reason a lot of women don't have many mom friends.

I can't count the number of times I've heard people say, "Oh I tried a mom's group but I couldn't handle the gossip" or "Other moms are so judgmental." 

I really feel bad for people who haven't made good mom friends because my mom friends are very often the single factor in my life that keep me sane.

About four years ago I co-started a mom's group with three other gals: Jenny (our fearless leader), Beth, and Alicia. We get together for playdates, craft nights, and girl's night out.

We've celebrated pregnancies, warmed new houses, supported deployments, mourned miscarriages, counseled marital problems and taken the Twilight premiers by storm.

Our group varies by religion, socio-economic status, political affiliation, and ethnicity.  Some moms work outside of the home full time, part time, or not at all.  We have biological children and adopted children.  There's not a single motherbitch in the group!

We are not the same but we make it work.

At no time did we develop "rules" in our group.  For some reason we've all just clicked and common sense has kept us from forcing our opinions too strongly, belittling parenting styles, and talking smack about other moms (or other children).

I love my mom friends.
  • I love that some days my house is a wreck and these women don't care.  They'll even help me clean it after the kids wreck it more.
  • I love that I can be myself with them and even though I'm TOTALLY overwhelming, they don't seem to mind. 
  • I love that my children have grown up with their children.
  • I love that what I say in confidence to them, stays a secret.
  • I love that when I'm having a bad day, they understand.
  • I love that when I flip my lid, they've have been there.
  • I love that we can talk about poop and sex and knitting without it feeling weird.
  • I love that there is someone there for me when I need them.
  • I love that we all have strengths and weaknesses that we are willing to share/own up to.
So many women go through life without the kind of support system I have.  They navigate motherhood on their own.  I am so thankful that I have so many special women who care for my family and me.

What I think is that I have been abundantly blessed by my mom friends. 

A special dedication to: Beth, Jenny, Sarah L., Krista, Jenn, Sarah M., Kelly, Sarah K., Kim, Alicia, Rachael, Andrea, Amanda, Rene, and Kristen.

You ladies make me a better mom and woman and I wouldn't want to ride the mom roller coaster without you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

16/30--Blue and Gray

So, I'm a total history nerd.

I have a Master's degree in Modern American history (1865-present).  Don't even get me started on the Reconstruction Era Amendments or the history of lynching in Wyoming.

One day I want to travel to all the Civil War battle sites.

True story.

And I won't even apologize for it.

My dad was watching a combo of the history channel and military channel last night (so at least I come by it honestly) and there were some photos of Civil War era uniforms.

Blue and Gray.

I guess you could say they inspired my outfit today.  Well, not the stiff looking wool uniforms but the colors.  The uniforms did have buttons, so there's a connection.  And they did have belts (but they were probably for practical, not fashion, purposes).  Sadly when soldiers got a pair of shoes they were boots not zebra striped ballet flats. *sigh*

You might be wondering why I'm making that face.  Good question.  I'll let you know if I ever have the answer.

The Divine Miss M was dying to get into a photo this morning.

M.E. has quite the fashion sense--gauzy dress over floral pj pants, and a hoodie.  I should let her dress me!

Tuesday's Too Clean Tip--Flight of the Bumblebee

Do you have guests coming for Thanksgiving?

Do you have dust bunnies you want to hide before your guests come?

Do you NOT have enough time?


My home is almost always tidy (I added "almost" because during basement construction, it has pretty much been a dust war zone and I've waved the white flag until the carpet is down.  Honestly, I got tired of vacuuming and dusting three times a day).  However, whenever guests are due to arrive I focus so much on food and fun that I foget *ahem* to clean.

Translation: T -60 minutes until guests come and you can write your name in the dust on my breakfast bar.

If this situation sounds familiar, here's what to do when you have to clean fast.

Get the concept of "heavy" cleaning OUT of your head.

Be realistic.  Now is NOT the time to organize your kids' toys or to alphabetize your book collection.  It is also not the time to dust baseboards, shine your sink, or dust your fans.  It is time to do base-level cleaning (the kind of cleaning that people think "wow, she has it together" until they open that ill-fated closet or junk drawer).

Focus on the rooms your guests will be in (kitchen, bathroom, guest room, and living areas).

At some point in time you'll want to throw in a load of laundry and make your bed but for right now, close doors that need to be closed and turn your attention to the rooms you can't hide.

Tackle the cleaning!
Here's the plan.
  1. Move everything that shouldn't be on the floor--have kids take toys to their rooms, put shoes in the closet, put dirty clothes in the hamper.
  2. Spray fabric softener on your carpets (this will make carpet look fluffy and will make your house smell lovely).
  3. Shake out rugs and sweep your hardwood/tile/laminate flooring.
  4. Vacuum.
  5. Mop.
  6. While floors are drying,  clear away clutter on flat surfaces (including your kitchen counter tops).  DON'T go through it now but put the items away in a bag or drawer or closet until you can attend to it.
  7. Dust flat surfaces: coffee tables, entry way tables, TV, etc. 
  8. Put dishes in dishwasher or wash up dishes.
  9. Wipe down counters and table.
  10. Clean guest bathroom in 5 minutes.
  11. Add fresh towels and toilet paper (LOTS of toilet paper) to the guest bathroom.
  12. Make guest bed.
  13. Clean easily noticeable glass--entryway door, mirrors, etc.
  14. Light a candle and turn on light background music. 
  15. Grab a drink of water.  You did it.
And what you put in the closet will be our little secret.

Monday, November 22, 2010

15/30--Same Difference

I really, really wanted to do the 30/30 challenge so I'd learn to be creative about mixing stuff up and "shopping"my closet. 

Today I am halfway through.  YAY!

Why the countdown?

Here are a few reasons:
  1. I miss my red MaryJanes (and my red leather coat and my black coat and my jean jacket).
  2. I'm getting tired of my selections.
  3. I didn't do a good job choosing--too many warm weather tops and dress pants (read: not enough jeans and sweaters).
  4. I miss Brown and Gold Saturdays
  5. I want to wear a new blazer I got at a HUGE sale (cheater, cheater ...)
But the real issue is that I feel like I keep wearing the same outfit.

Case in point: Outfit #15

It has the same scarf as outfit #1 (and a similar long T with blazer look).
It has the same blazer as outfits #4 and #6
It has the same feel as outfit #8 (gray shirt, brown outerwear).

On the one side, that I can get so many different outfits out of so few clothes is AMAZING and totally convicts me of having an overflowing closet.

On the other hand, I'm kind of ready for some outfits that don't seen so similar.

Gosh I'm complaining too much.  Boo hiss!

12/30, 13/30--Weekend Re-cap

Sometimes I post these 30/30 photos and I really have nothing to say. I guess there's a reason I'm not a fashion blogger. I am loving the challenge but posting photos everyday is a bit grrrrrrrrrr .... probably feels the same way reading it, huh?

This weekend we worked like crazy on our basement. On Friday I got dressed in 30/30 clothes long enough to go to Lowes. Tell me I'm not the only one to wear slouchy boot and a great necklace to a hardware store?

BTW, this necklace is from Greece. I love it.

On Sunday we skipped church. I never got out of my work grubs. My hair was in tiny pony tails that looked like antennae. My 30/30 clothes were ignored because I didn't want them ruined.

In this photo our camera actually captured the falling dust. The kids and I were sweeping and vacuuming the floor.

We get carpet TODAY!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What's Cookin'--11/22-11/28

The holiday season is officially upon us but we've been so busy finishing our basement that I've hardly noticed.

I've even forgotten that we are supposed to eat (which explains the growing mountain of pizza boxes and carry out containers in the recycling).

The good news?  We are getting carpet on Monday. The construction zone is nearly finished and eating will return to normal!

I just now finished our weekly menu and our Thanksgiving feast.

Monday--Lime chili steak wraps with Spanish rice 
Tuesday--Orange Honey Teriyaki chicken with brown rice and asparagus
Wednesday--Garlic rubbed pork loin with steamed potatoes
Friday--Turkey noodle soup, salad, rolls
Saturday--Chili and cornbread (after our town's annual Christmas parade! YAY!)
Sunday--Baked potato bar

My Thanksgiving line-up:
Sweet Apple Cinnamon Brie en croute
Cranberry sauce
Sweet potatoes
mashed potatoes
fluffy salad
dinner rolls
green beans
relish tray
apple pie a la mode martini
pumpkin pie