Whoa! Christmas

Christmas Cards Cheerful Type - Front : Ruby
from tinyprints.com
Anyone else feel the rush of Christmas coming already?  I've already got Christmas catalogs coming the in mail.  My kiddos are already looking at the toys, pointing, and saying "Mommy, look!".  Seriously.  What happened to savoring the moment?  I can already feel the urge to do Christmas shopping, to take advantage of the "deals", to be prepared and on top of the game.  But I am resisting.

Why? Because I don't like rushing.  I enjoy shopping at Christmas time.  I have requested a vacation day in December to specifically shop.  We have a budget set aside for holidays, so the money is sitting there.  I am not any less of a mother if I wait until December to do shopping.  If I do it all now, what will I do during the Christmas season? 

Please forgive my rant if you find it in bad taste.  I find the Christmas season a special, magical time of year.  I want to savor it and make it special for my family.  To me, part of what makes it so wonderful is that it only lasts one month.  There are 11 other months to enjoy life outside of the holiday.  Furthermore, I will not be blogging about Christmas until at least after Thanksgiving.  And until then, I am celebrating autumn, H's upcoming birthday, and Thanksgiving.


Weekend List

Making lists here seems to help me be more productive over the weekend.  So here it goes.

  • Walk.  Seriously do it.  Maybe three times.  oops.  didn't do this one.  i blame it on feeling poorly.
  • Church on Sunday.  You haven't been in nearly 2 months.  oops.  didn't do this either.  see above.
  • Hang up the curtains.  Again.  yesss.  one down.
  • Hem the curtains this time.  pinned up one.
  • Make of list of food needed for H's party next week.  Buy some of it.  yess. #2 done.
  • Put fall clothes away.  Trade out summer stuff. This deserves three bullet points. another win.
What are your weekend plans?  Anything more exciting then housework?

TV Free

We don't have cable.  Go ahead and gasp.  Most people do.  We do have Netflix, streaming and DVD.  See, we aren't that crazy.  At least not yet.  I like being able to control what the kids watch, not endure commercials, and oh yeah, its much cheaper than cable.  Even after Netflix's recent price hike.  Despite this, my kiddos are still couch potatoes in the making.  I mean, the love them some TV.  I could do without.  Yes, I already know I'm odd.  (just for the record, I do miss HGTV.  I could watch that all day.)  So on my last day off, we had a no TV day.

I didn't mean for it to go on all day.  I was just frustrated that my princess wanted to watch TV before she ate breakfast.  She and her brother have this habit of shoving the remote in your hand and announcing which show they want to watch.  They now know how to turn on the TV, and are working on starting there own shows without help.  Its scary, since they are under four, and I don't think their grandparents know how to do that.  Before kiddos, I always thought my kids wouldn't watch much TV.  Heck, they wouldn't want to because they were having so much fun with their toys, books, or each other.  Welcome to reality.  My kids love it.  They choose TV over just about anything.  I admit, it is a lifesaver sometimes. But my kids are starting to beg for it.  They cry when the show is over.  I'm not proud of this.

So we went a whole day without TV.  We played trains and cars.  We read books and sang along with books.  We played outside.  We did laundry and made dinner.  We had lots of tantrums and I really wanted to set them down in front of the tube so I could chill out.  But I didn't.  I had made it this far, so I decided to make a day of it.  Was it worth it?  I'm not sure yet.  But I know I can make it as a mom without TV on my day off, and still get something accomplished.  I guess that makes it worth it.

How do you deal with TV?  Do you set limits, or is it a free-for-all?  Can you survive without TV?


It's Here!!!!!!

Remember this?

Finally.  It's been nearly 16 weeks.  But who was counting?  Certainly not me.  I ordered her July 9th.  I endured the back-order.  The month until delivery.  Now, I am sitting on her typing this post.  I am elated.  I had almost forgotten what she looked like.  Yet, now, I can gaze on her everyday.

Isn't she lovely?  Meet my new Sweep Armchair from West Elm, upholstered in red maple ikat print.  Aren't the curves uh-mazing?

Now we have a papa bear chair and a mama bear chair.  The littles have their own chairs in their rooms.  I think mama bear really makes the room. 

Don't you?


Handsome's Lair

I realized I haven't shown you Handsome's room.  I supposed it is high time you saw it.

View from the door.

Another one, a bit closer.  You know I just picked up all the toys and Handsome is already making a mess 30 seconds later.  He says "mess" while doing it, too.

I would love another piece of art on the wall with the crib.  Not sure what though.  I really like maps.  I am thinking about getting more and making the focal wall all maps.  Then maybe the crib wall can stay blank and not compete with the map wall.

Are you blinded by the light?  Sorry 'bout that, I'm still learning how to use my camera.

His room is also the playroom.  Since he is still contained in a crib while sleeping, the toys are safe in his room and not distracting to Princess.  I'm gonna try to make him sleep in his crib until he is five.  do you think it will work?  I'm gonna cross my fingers.  Play table and chairs were made by my grandfather for me and my brothers.  I had kids first, so I won the table.  Yay for me.  Toy bins are from Land of Nod, and the soft chair.  Growth chart from Home Goods,  name picture from Name Your Design, play rug from Ikea.

  I really don't have a theme going on.  Maybe a map theme is going to evolve.  I got mine at Michael's for 15 bucks.  Tis cheaper then the framed versions going online for 100 beans or mores.  What do you think?  Loving or hating the maps?  Anyone else trip on legos and trains four times a day?

Project Living Room

Here is another update on our living room.  It is still a work in progress, but I like how it is shaping up. (see before pictures here.)

View from the front door.  Yes, we moved the shelves.  They are now more centered on the wall.  

Here is a closer view of the shelves.  I love just about every item on them!

View toward the kitchen.  We use the smaller shelf as a kiddo toy station.  The baskets under the TV are now on the shelves.  The large basket on the shelf as been re-purposed in another room.  The top of the small shelf has our cell-phone charging station and ipod music center.

View back toward front of house.  Hubby's prize leather reclining chair.  It was a steal of a deal at the Pottery Barn Outlet.

Another view toward the front door.  The square basket holds blankets and a few throw pillows.  The smaller round one has shoes.

My accent chair I ordered from West Elm has still not come.  The fabric was on back order.  It shipped the end of September.  And because it was a special order item, it cannot be returned or cancelled.  Seriously, its been almost four months.  Original estimate was 8 to 10 weeks.  ugh.

Here is an updated to do list:
  • purchase accent chair
  • purchase throw pillows for appropriate season fabric and color
  • hem curtains
  • add more curtains for fullness?
  • put up more pictures/artwork
  • disguise ugly cable outlet somehow
  • accessorize shelves
  • replace computer chair
  • add functional end table and lamp?  (have temporary ones in place)
I really want to add some artwork.  We are also thinking about a coffee table, but are afraid it might take up too much room/be a kid hazard/make the place feel squished.  I'll try to post again once the accent chair comes.  Maybe by then I will have some art, too!


Not so Picture Perfect

A few weeks ago while we were visiting my parents, I conned my dad into taking "family" pictures.  It was a crisp day, perfect for long sleeves and scarves.  Plus, everything was still green. Not that you can tell, since I made most of the pictures black and white.  Heck, we didn't plan outfits for family photos.  Trust me, your glad I'm only showing them in black and white instead of pink, green, purple, blue, and red.  We are a bright family.  Anyway, here are the good ones.

Yes, this kids are moving, and actually I am too.  But we all have mostly pleasant faces.

I have no idea how Handsome was instantly quiet in this picture.  He must have had some deep thoughts.


Hubby and I don't have any pictures of just the two off us.  So my dad snapped a few.  We took them in the backyard (or jungle as my kiddos called it).  The lighting was patchy because of the trees, which can be quite pretty, but hard to photograph two people of very different heights.  It seemed my face was usually dark and Hubby's was bright.  Oh well.

I despise how difficult it is to take family pictures.  I am after the "perfect" one,  You know, when we are all looking at the camera, with happy faces, no one is moving, our outfits aren't abrasive to look at, everyone looks natural and not staged.  I didn't plan on being that kind of mother, but it happened.  And I never get that kind of picture.  But I do have over 2800 pictures in iPhoto.  So you know I try.

Anyone else have picture envy?  Are you a mission for the perfect family photo?  How do you manage?


Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

I've been jonesing to make cookies for a while.  Chocolate chip cookies to be exact, because to me, there is no other cookie.  My work schedule has been in the way, and when I'm off, I'm too tired, or something else seems more pressing.  Well, I had a day off and decided I'm sending Hubby to the grocery store.  I set the kids at the table with crayons and paper and made these scrumptious treats.  I found the recipe via Pinterest (of course).  Here is the link to the blog its first found on.


I don't really take pictures while I'm baking, so I will summarize.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/8 t baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 2 T butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1 t vanilla  ( I also added 1/4 t almond extract.  I like the additional flavor it adds)
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F ( I think this is too hot for the cookies.  Next time I'm gonna try 350 and adjust the baking time)
Combine first four ingredients (dry) in a bowl.  Set aside.  Cream next five ingredients (wet) in another bowl.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonful onto baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are golden brown.

Ok, so most of  you know I can't leave a recipe alone.  I have to change something.  I guess that's my quirk and it usually drives my Hubby crazy.  So here is what I did differently.  I added 1/4 t of almond extract.  I LOVE the flavor it adds.  Plus, I have non-stick baking sheets.  The directions said to grease the baking sheet, so I did for the first batch.  The cookie bottoms were a little brown for my taste, so I stopped greasing the sheets.  I think that might also be a result of the temperature being a bit high.  I think next time I might try baking at 350 and adjusting the baking time.

The Verdict:
Soft, chewy cookies.  Bottoms a bit crispy.  Edges were golden brown, but tops still light colored.  Cookies did not spread out.  Love the almond taste, love the soft texture.  Not exactly like cheesecake, but still delicious.  Easy enough recipe that I will try again.  Can't wait to eat them with my coffee tomorrow morning!

Let me know if you try them, and what you think.  I'd love to hear from you!

Princess Room Update

We have made some updates to the Princess's room. (previous)  Remember the lamp dilemma?  We have a partial solution.  It works for now; I hate to do too much more since I'm not sure how long we will be here.

Isn't the lamp adorable?  It is from Target, my shopping mecca.  I would still love to add some overhead lighting somehow. (paper lanterns?  I'm sure she would rip them down)

The laundry hamper is barely visible on the right side, and on the left is a small box of shoes.

I added the stencils behind the bed, but had a bit of a problem with the paint job.

 See the dark spot?  While I was putting up the last stem, part of the adhesive tape pulled off some paint.  It escalated into a lot more paint.  Several layers, actually.  We had a can of paint left by the owner, so I thought I would touch it up.  As you can see, that really didn't work.  Oops.

The wall art is from Blik, although I purchased it through Land of Nod.  I adore it.

Here is her reading corner.  The basket has books and a few blankets.  The chair is from Land of Nod, the growth chart I found at Home Goods.  Her name picture was a Christmas gift from last year, from Name Your Design.  We also added a few Command hooks at three-year-old height for sweatshirts and tutus (and the occasional swimming "soup").

Somehow, I didn't take pictures of the window.  Could that be because it was so bright?  It has curtains on it, white embroidered sheers in the middle with light green panels on each side.  They allow the light to shine through, but still add a bit of color.

So what do you think?  Its almost complete.  We could still use a bedside table, maybe some overhead lighting, and a clock.  However, I think those three things could be destroyed or mutilated in a single nap time, so we are doing without for now.  I'm working on picking my battles.


Beautiful, My Darling

I've been working up the courage to DIY my own art for Princess's room.  Pinterest has lovely images and ideas, but I'm still new at this whole creating thing.  Plus, purchasing the supplies can be intimidating and pricey.  After spending a few hours at my local arts and crafts store rummaging through all the aisles, I finally had the items I needed.  Please don't laugh when you see the finished product.  I'm really only arty in the sense that my best friend got a degree in Art History.  Maybe some of it rubbed off on me.  Probably not.

So I began with a phrase I found on Pinterest.  Its actually a scripture, Song of Solomon 4:7 to be exact.  Yes, I found the inspiration from the internets instead of my own scripture reading time.  Please don't rub it in.  Then, I thought about how I could make it into a frame-able piece of art.  I thought about painting.  No experience there.  Stencils seem too easy and artificial.  Not that I really should be judging anything.  Then, I found scrapbook paper.  Some of them are beautiful works of art in and of themselves.  My goal was to find a pretty one in the right color that I could enhance.
Bingo.  A whole book of beautiful paper.
Next, I had to figure out how I was going to get the wording on there.  I tried acrylic painting.  Lets just say I wasn't able to produce the effect I wanted.  Enter in Sharpie Paint Markers.
I love Sharpie markers.  And the fact that is has paint in the name sounds a bit more artistic than a plain old marker.  Plus one for the advertising team.

Ok, here she is:
Ok, so I can't take a picture without also capturing my reflection.  Stupid reflective surface.  Anyone have tips for me?  However, this picture does capture the green color the best.
Less camera, more yellow.  I clearly still have more to learn about taking pictures.  But at least these are bright photos, with more light.  No more auto mode for me.
And here is a picture of it in here room.  I might hang it on the wall, but I haven't decided yet.  I love the idea of my daughter reading this everyday as she grows up.  Ok, so maybe she really won't be reading for two to three more years.  I am an over achiever, after all, and had to have it finished early.  Just in case she is brilliant or something.

Overall, I am happy with how it turned out.  It really wasn't that expensive.  Definitely less than paying someone to do it for me, or scrounging the internets for a suitable substitute.  And now I have lots of scrapbook paper to do something with.  Heaven knows I don't scrapbook.

What do you think?  Have you taken on any projects outside your comfort zone?  Anyone else still working up the courage to start a project?


Simmer Pot Recipes

2011-10-18-simmer.jpg Remember my earlier post about house perfume?  I found a few more recipes to share with you.  Although, I'm happy with just throwing a bunch of cinnamon sticks into a pot of hot water, here are a few more yummy concoctions to try.

Recipe #1
Cinnamon sticks
Apple peels
Orange rinds
Whole cloves
Recipe #2
Peel from 1 lemon
Peel from 1 orange
2 bay leaves
3 cinnamon sticks
2 Tablespoons whole cloves
Recipe #3
A few drops vanilla
Orange peels
Recipe #4
1 cup dried lavender
1 tsp anise
1 Tablespoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1 Cinnamon stick
Recipe #5
5 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon

These are all from re-nest.com, found here. Hope you enjoy!


I like what I see

What do you think of the new look around here?  I view rearranging furniture as a hobby so you might have to get used to the "look" changing around here.  I've noticed other blogs I've been reading have changed their design, so decided to give it a try.  Now, I'm not going to spend any money for the whole seven of you that read this, but I did google around for FREE backgrounds.  I settled on this one.  I think it brightens up the place a bit.  Don't you think so?  If I get bored, it might change in a month or so.

PS.  I found this one at thecutestblogontheblock.com.

Fall Decor

A few things that remind me of Fall, even when its 80 degrees outside.

These pumpkins I purchased a few years ago from Target.

Fake flowers in Autumn colors.

Another pumpkin, this one glass (found at Walgreens), filled with seasonal M&Ms.

Its not much, but pair these few things along with fall scented candles or stove-top potpourri, and I can smell the changing of the seasons.  What says fall to you?  How do you prepare for it?  I'd love to hear from you!


October Birchbox

Yesterday I received my Birchbox

I probably haven't been this giddy about the mail arriving since I was 10 waiting for birthday money!  I heard about Birchbox through the blogging community and decided to make it my birthday present. (yes, one of many)  At the time, I didn't subscribe to magazines, so I figured 10 bucks a month isn't really a splurge.  So, if you are unfamiliar with the company as I was one month ago, basically you get a small box in the mail with samples of high end beauty products.  They are customized to your preferences.  For example, I have light complexion, color my hair, and if given the chance, would splurge on hair products over other cosmetics.  You can then purchase full sizes through the website, as well as read about tutorials, etc.  It gives me an opportunity to try before I buy; to have someone else knowledgeable recommend something for me I wouldn't normally try; and educates me on more beauty secrets.  Its also great for those that don't have access to stores that sell these products.

Anyway, here is more about the contents in my box this month:
Lovely presentation

  • BeFine Lip Exfoliator 
  • Spackle Tinted Under Make-up Primer in Bronze
  • Oribe Shampoo and Conditioner for Color Treated Hair
  • Orofluido Elixer (hair serum)
  • Caudalie Vinoperfect Cell Renewal Night Cream
I already tried the lip exfoliator , the make-up primer, and the hair serum.  I can't wait to try the rest.  Come November, I will be anxiously awaiting my next box.  Anyone else giddy about a special package in the mail?


Mercury, I think I love you

I have an unhealthy mercury glass obsession.  Have you noticed?  To make matters worse, I am seeing it everywhere.  I discovered mercury glass two years ago around Christmas time.  Target had some lovely pillar candle holders (they were really plastic, but looked like mercury glass) I purchased for my Christmas display.  Then I found some lovely votive holders.
  • Remember this from my birthday?  ( I received the medium one)
     My Momma also gifted me with two of these to add to my Target collection.

    Pottery Barn has some lovely lamps.  Pinterest even has pins with tutorials of how to re-create the look with spray paint.  I'm not that brave to try it.

    Now, I am seeing mercury glass everywhere!
    I don't think I found a piece I don't love.  However, I think it looks best in small doses.  I am battling my inner three-year-old and feel that everything I see is mine.  I adore decorating with the shiny stuff at Christmas, but I think having an object or two out all year is lovely.  Although, I might have to splurge on the lamps.  Santa?  Are you reading?

    What do you think?  Is it too trendy?  Too blingy?  Do you own any?  No wait, don't tell me, because then I will want it.


Birthday Loot

So I had a birthday last month.  I posted about my wish list here.  They day itself wasn't spectacular.  I had to work, it rained most of the day, I gave 18 flu shots before 2pm, it was pretty hectic.  I did receive a sweet card from my hubby and one from my babies (they even colored in the card to "sign" their names!).  Later that week we went for a dinner date to The Melting Pot to celebrate.  I enjoy eating there.  I mean, I eat waaaay too much, but everything is so yummy.  I highly recommend it for a special occasion dinner.

With birthdays often come gifts, and more evidence that I am spoiled well-loved.
Hubby surprised me with a new pair of slippers.  While this may not have been a gift I picked out for myself, I really appreciate the thought he put in to it.  I have been wearing the same pair of slippers since I was a freshman in college.  They may be slightly discolored.  Hubby scoured the internets for a replacement that could surpass my expectations.  And he found them.  They are beautiful fluffy soft lambskin slippers with arch support in "ocean" blue.  I may have worn them just about every day since receiving them.

My Mother-in-law (and Father-in-law, but I know who did the shopping) blessed me with an assortment of gifts from Bath and Body Works.   Candles, lotions, body wash, and a candle holder.  She also gave me a lovely pair of silver earrings and two gift cards.  Don't worry, I don't stink, she just knows how much I love beautiful scents.

My Momma hearts West  Elm almost as much as I do.  In fact, I think she is the one who introduced me to them.  She furthered my stash by gifting me with this vase and two votive holders.  She also gave me these awesome measuring spoons from Anthropologie.  Oh, and mom also gave me two white serving platters.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of them.

All in all, I had a wonderful birthday celebration with family.   They all "know" me enough to gift me with something I love, something soft and comfy, something lovely to smell, and something blingy!  Thank you!


More Money

Ok, so its been over a week since I tried YNAB (you need a budget).  (read about the introduction here.)  And, honestly, I am disappointed.  You see, the free trial was to last one week, however, I didn't get a chance to check back in.  I spent a few hours setting up the budget in the program.  My plan was to check in again in a few days and monitor our spending.  But life happened, and the seventh(or eighth) day came and YNAB would not allow me to look at my previously made budget without purchasing the software.  All my work was lost.  I was mad and frustrated.  I didn't look at our bank account for almost two weeks.  I didn't want to face it. Yes, I realize this is silly, but hey, its the truth.  I'm not ready to commit 60 dollars to a download I'm still iffy about.  So I haven't.  But I have returned to my senses and looked at my bank account again.  I revisited Dave Ramsey's online budget tool, used an old fashion calculator, paper, and pen, and re-wrote our budget.  I found it oddly satisfying.

I think YNAB could be helpful, just not for my needs.  I was able to import the data from my checking account directly into the software.  I then assigned categories to each expenditure.  YNAB allowed me to view how my spending compared to the budget I set up.  It was easy to see where the money went.  I recommend it for those who feel they need help identifying who gets their money.  I, on the other hand, am well aware where my money goes.  I am a planner, so I want the plan on paper as to how I am going to spend the necessary money.  Once all my bills are paid, I want to know how much free money I have left to apply elsewhere; like paying off debt.  For this reason, I like the budgeting tool by Dave Ramsey. 

With Gazelle Budget Lite, I can plug in my income and the fields are pre-populated with the recommended numbers for each expense.  I can then change the fields to reflect what I actually spend, or need to budget.  It is easy to see if each category falls within the recommended range.  The old fashioned person that I am, then writes all of this down in my notebook so I can refer to it as often as I want to.  I also usually write out the subcategories and further breakdown the budget.  For example, in transportation, I also write out the amount to budget for tags, taxes, oil changes, repairs, gas, and insurance.  Overkill?  Maybe, but I want to be sure I don't forget anything and have a 500 dollar surprise later.

So have any of you tried these or other budget tools?  Any questions?


Study Session

I've fallen off the wagon of my reading goals (mentioned here.)  I did pretty good for awhile, however, I've been pretty busy the last few months and reading has slipped to the bottom of the list.  I did have a chance to finish up Boundaries while we drove to my parents house  (the e-book version on my ipad) and I highly recommend it.  I have read a few other books by the same authors, but not the original Boundaries.  Its something I will probably re-read a few times.  There is a ton of information and hard to digest all at once.

What are you reading?  I am really interested in suggestions for my next read.  It doesn't have to be something deep...I like to alternate light reading with the hard stuff.  Tell me your favorites that you re-read, something inspiring, or what makes you laugh.  I'd love to know!