Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to be Cheap {9}

It'S tHe CAt's MEoW!

I've been searching for the perfect desk for my crafty stuff for ages. Our addition was finished back in September. It's now almost May. You do the math. (No, really. I am just truly bad at math!) I needed something larger than a child-size desk, but it couldn't be too large because of the spot it has to go in. I was hoping to find real wood, but those are hard to come by, and often larger that what I had space for.

For the past month or so I swing by Salvation Army every Monday morning to see what the cat dragged in over the weekend. I've also been shopping the early Spring yard sales to see what I could find. No luck.

Until yesterday! Even though it wasn't Monday, the Salvation Army near our house is about to bust with all the furniture they've got in there. They had a sign up that read "Let's Make a Deal!" which I personally took as a sign that translates: "We've got too much stuff in here. Make us an offer and hightail it home." (I had a hard time looking past all the diamonds in the rough. Oh, to have space for some neat stuff to remake!)

So I dragged the girls up and down the crowded aisles. And found this.


Michaela Byrd thinks it's so cool she can see through the table!


I love le cheap!


This is the back hallway in the addition where it will eventually go. That's the laundry room to the left.


I know it is hideous. I'm a little scared, as I've never purchased anything this ugly with the intentions of a makeover before. I have big plans for it. I think. It was marked $15, they took $8, and I am wishing I'd asked $5. I'll have to do a big reveal when I am finished with it, but it may be awhile because it's supposed to rain here for the next 12 years, so I won't be able to paint outside....
That's not all the cat dragged in at Salvation Army yesterday! I called Mimi at work, and as soon as school was done for the day, she drove over to SA to see what I found for her. See?

This is Jasmine (Natalie wracked her brain for the best princess name she could think of). She was the last of the four kittens left in the store, and Mimi just knew she had to take that kitten home!


I have never seen a child so excited over a kitten. When Michaela Byrd got a look at what was in Mimi's basket, she started shouting "Oh! Oh! Oh! Ditty! Ditty!" She wanted to love on that kitten so bad. I think poor Jasmine had a nervous breakdown.

When Mimi had to go home, Michaela Byrd stood sobbing in front of the glass door. I had to distract her to get her to come back in the house! Natalie is already asking if we can drive to Mimi's today to play with Jasmine while Mimi is teaching.


You can get all sorts of deals at Salvation Army, huh?! Hope you enjoyed the "tail" today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Get Your Dancin' Shoes On!

Get your dancin' shoes on, friends, and start warming up, because.....
So You Think You Can Dance premieres Thursday, May 21st!!

This is my favorite summer TV show. There's rarely anything good on TV in the summer or early Fall months. Usually a couple of celebrity cooking/weight loss/makeover/wife swap/TV movie type shows. Boooooooring. SYTYCD (as I shall now refer to it- I am a lazy typer) adds some spice to the summer TV line-up. It's the only show I watch in the summer because I am usually too busy slathering my kids with insect repellent and trying not to eat all the chocolate popsicles in the freezer.

If you aren't familiar with the program, think Dancing with the Stars, only with really good dancers. It follows a format sort of like American Idol...dancers from around the country meet up to audition in several large cities. Most of the dancers are trained, but some just have "street smarts." This is usually the one or two token street dancers, who usually make the cut and then get voted off later when they can't master the intricacies of the choreography. The dancers who make the first audition cuts get to fly to Vegas for the final rounds, where they endure *dramatic* trials and tribulations. They end the Vegas (baby!) auditions with the Top 10 Boys and the Top 10 Girls. In L.A. (where they rehearse in the same studio as Dancing with the Stars, I noticed), each dancer is paired with a partner of the opposite sex. Each week the couples dance a new routine (and sometimes an extra dance, plus a group dance). They are judged by a panel of now-famous choreographers, and viewers vote for their favorite pairs. Eventually only 5 couples are left, and I think after that they switch partners each week.

What I love about this show is that while it has its cheesy elements, it opens up the world of the arts to young viewers who would probably never care to go to a dance performance. SYTYCD is hip, edgy, and fun. It encompasses a wide variety of dance styles; it's not just ballroom, which can get boring after awhile. They showcase lyrical, contemporary, Broadway, hip-hop, latin, ballroom, jazz, disco, and more. They even had some Bollywood last season! The professional choreographers who create pieces for the shows stars do an excellent job of choreographing dances that are innovative, interesting, and sometimes shocking. The episodes can hold my attention, unlike Dancing with the Stars, which can be a bit of a drag after four Viennese waltzes. It's for this reason that SYTYCD is the number one summer TV show in its time slot. Several of the choreographers even won Emmys for their work.

Until the show premieres, I'll post a new video each week to hopefully catch your interest. You don't have to understand the "meaning" behind the movements and music, but hopefully you'll be inspired by the beauty and creativity you see.

Today's video is titled "Calling You," and was choreographed by Mia Michaels. She does some really crazy stuff, but I think she's brilliant. I love how she showcased unrequited love in dance form! (unfortunately the video isn't the same that was on TV, so you miss a lot of the good shots, but get the idea!) Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Million Dollar Baby (Butt)

Some of you might remember my post chronicling the insanity that was my recent trip with Mimi and the girls to my Nannie's house over Spring Break. I mentioned that Michaela Byrd had an awful diaper rash that required an urgent care doctor's visit (several towns away!) and a prescription. I didn't tell you about what happened when I went to fill said prescription.

I waited until the girls were down for their naps before I left them with Mimi and ran out to find a pharmacy. I usually hate to waste precious nap hours running errands when I could be catching up on chores, but all I had planned for the afternoon was sitting on the deck reading, so I knew I better go before they woke up, insisted on tagging along, and started eating Xanex from behind the counter.

This is where I was thankful for once to be in a small town. On the main drag, I found a tiny little pharmacy with a big sign reading '"S City" Pharmacy.' I handed over my prescription and pulled out my book to read while I waited. It wasn't two minutes before the kindly pharmacist called me over to inform me that the ointment the doctor had prescribed cost TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS and would be NINETY DOLLARS with my insurance!!!

I almost laughed until I realized that he was not joking. What kind of diaper rash ointment costs two hundred bucks? It better have solid gold flakes in it imported from Pakistan for two hundred bucks. For two hundred bucks, there better be a babysitter in that jar who pops out and applies it for you. I must have looked completely flabbergasted because he took pity on me and offered to mix up a cream that they use locally. I know for a fact the meanie at the CVS up the street from me would never in a million years offer to mix me up a local cream. No way. He'd charge me the ninety bucks and call it a day. Sometimes "Mayberry" has its perks, ya'll!

"I can fill this prescription for you, Mrs. T, or I can mix up our local cream for four dollars." he said.

I paused for half a second, wondering what kind of horrid mother I would be for taking the easy way out and purchasing the cheapie stuff. I decided that I would risk being a horrible mother. The stuff, labelled "fanny cream," worked like a charm! Its consistency is suspiciously close to Pond's cold cream, but a few days of liberal doses cleared her right up.

Wonder what I can do with my extra $86?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jackpot!

This past Saturday, my friend Erin and I took a road trip up "Nawth" for a MOPS leadership Summit. Some day I'll try to post about my story with MOPS and how it changed my life, but for now I'll just tell you about the amazing giveaway I won that might also change my life.

The Summit, which was mostly a live simulcast from Colorado, focused on being an authentic person, and leading authentically. That, combined with the networking time, would have made for a pleasant day, but when the local leaders added in a few giveaways...well, that just made it fantabulous.

Shanda, who heads a MOPS group not too far from the one I attend, gave a very effective talk on conflict resolution. This was great for me to hear, because most of the time I would much rather complain to T bottle it in than confront someone I'm having a problem with. Before Shanda's discussion, she got our attention with a Giveaway. I felt like I was on The Price is Right when she called my name. Guess what I won?








No, this is not a pen with a torture device strapped to it! It's a set of Sally Hansen LA CROSS tweezers, and I am so psyched about winning them. The little red thing is a flashlight!! The package says they have "diamond coated tips" and they are accesorized with a case that has a mirror. I don't know what "diamond coated tips" means, but anything with diamonds sounds good to me.


I have been, um, blessed with an overabundance of eyebrow hairs. Before I discovered this, I very much resembled Brooke Shields. From the '80s.

That's hot, folks.

I eventually found a great spa in town with a fabulous technician who did not rip the skin off my eyelids when I had them waxed. For awhile, I sported some really nicely shaped brows. Then this darn economy trouble hit, the spa closed, and I can't really afford the waxing so much.

I'm feeling the Brooke vibe again here lately.

If you live in an older home like I do, you know the lighting is not optimal for eyebrow grooming. So despite my best efforts, I am quite certain that I resemble a Brooke Shields/Groucho Marx love child.

Shanda, if you read this, please know how pleased I was that my name was drawn! I think perhaps it was more than "luck."

God must have looked down at me on Saturday and said, "Amanda, those are some cute shoes, but darnit you need to work on those eyebrows!"

If I can work on the brows, I can work on the authentic leading. People will take me more seriously. Right?

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Shout Outs!

I have been blessed with two very prestigous blog awards this week. Well, I don't know how prestigous they are, but it sure meant a lot that some friends thought to TAG me!! So I thought I'd pay it forward today.













My fabulous friend Suzanne mentioned me recently on her blog in a "Top 10 Faves" post. Suzanne and I go way back...maybe 6 or 7 years...from Southern Living, right, Suzanne? I'm usually just pleased if my sister or my sister-in-law read my blog, so to have someone list me as one of her Top 10 reads is pretty cool, I think!


I'm supposed to name my own Top 10 faves, so I'll do what Suzanne did and try to list some blogs that I don't think have been tagged yet. I like to spread some bloggy love, ya'll! Please check out these awesome blogs and leave some commentry (I just spawned a new word. It will totally be in Websters)


1.Amanda at Imperfectly Beautiful--this girl is so creative that it makes me a little bit mad. It couldn't be spread around just a little bit?!
2.Bella at Southern Somedays-- a real Southern lady!
3.Alison at They Gave Me a Mullet--my sister is downright hilarious, and she finally got a new camera, so she should be back to blogging now
4.Erin at Musings of a Stone Dodger--I (heart) this chick. She's the best road trip buddy evah.
5.Dawn at Life at Eventually Cottage--neat ideas!
6.Shanda at A Teachable Heart--A wise, discerning, and kind teacher!
7.The Scooper at A la Mode--just plain cute and insightful
8.Mom in High Heels--her posts are humorous, and I love reading about her life in Germany!
9. All-American Preppy at The Monogrammed Nest--she's pretty, her blog is pretty, there's pretty stuff to look at. It's all so pretty!
10.SongbirdTiff at Twelve Months of Christmas. This is her "secondary" blog, but she has so many neat ideas here!




Dawn at Life at Eventually Cottage also tagged me with the "Attitude for Gratitude" award! (Girl, how'd you know I love lemonade?!) Thanks, Dawn!

Being grateful is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I suffer from the "Keeping Up with the Joneses" Syndrome. I know I've mentioned before that it's hard for me to be thankful for our older, smaller home, when many of our friends live in big, beautiful McMansions and their children have all the latest and greatest toys. I have recently started to really remind myself to be grateful for T's job. We live in a scary world these days, and I see people being laid off left and right! I thank God for T's job whenever I think of it! I have SO MUCH to be thankful for: our family's health, a roof over our heads, food, clothing (from Target!), and fabulous friends! Thank you, LORD!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Fun...The List

When Xazmin posted recently about her top 5 celebrity crushes recently, I thought "Hubba, Hubba indeed!" It immediately reminded me of a very important and in depth conversation I had with some MOPS friends a year or so ago.

If you are a big Friends fan like me, you know the episode where they all pick their Top 5 Celebrity crushes (fast forward to minute 2:25...priceless!).


My friend AP already had a list (hers included Chuck Norris, which led to some merciless teasing), and she inspired L and I to create our own lists. Here's mine...I'm interested to hear about yours. It should be noted that mine changes sometimes, but this is what I came up with for the post.

1.










Matthew Fox as Jack Shephard on LOST. Be still my heart! Tall, dark, handsome doctor with a hero complex...what's not to like?


2.











Josh Holloway as James Sawyer on LOST. I couldn't decide between the two. I guess I like scruffy, witty, resourceful good guys with bad boy tendencies....

3.



Hugh Grant in Love Actually (sorry about the Spanish...wouldn't let me embed a copy in English...you don't need to speak Spanish to enjoy his dancing!)

4.




Clark Gable as Rhett Butler...swoon!

OR






Peter in It Happened One Night (love that movie!!!)

5. I was going to go with George Clooney, but I came of age in the late 90's ya'll, and Leonardo DiCaprio reigned in those days. Sooo....



Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo (man, can he quote some Shakespeare!) OR

Leo as Jack in Titanic

Sigh...so who's on your list?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap {8}

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees, but You Can Save Some at The Dollar Tree!

I'm still fuzzy on how it happened, but two years ago, I somehow became the Newsletter Coordinator for my local MOPS group. It was like they slipped something into my Starbucks at a meeting, and when I came to I had some responsibility! One of the perks of this position is that I get to read all sorts of fun things that are submitted. So when my friend Kelly wrote a Feature Article for me about the wonders of The Dollar Store, I knew I had to share it with you guys! I'll post it here and then share a few of my own recent Dollar Store acquisitions.


Dollar Stretching Magic, by Kelly B

As evidenced by the growing number of articles, websites, and TV shows devoted to saving money, many moms are looking for new and fun ways to stretch their dollar. What better place than at the Dollar Store? When I say “Dollar Store” I specifically mean the Dollar Tree, where everything is one dollar. Don’t be intimidated by the quantity and variety of items at the Dollar Tree. Leave your children at home, and browse the store at your own pace. As you pass through the aisles, think about how many different uses an item has, not just for what it is intended. Use your “mommy creativity” to think outside the box! I have discovered that the three best uses of the Dollar Tree are Party Prep, School Supplies, and Gift Giving.


The first and probably the most money saved is when using the Dollar Tree to plan a party. Don’t spend a lot of money on party supplies at a specialty party store or even your favorite discount chain store. Head to Dollar Tree and pick out supplies that match your theme. Mylar helium balloons, napkins, plates, cups, tablecloths, and more come in a variety of themes. By only spending a dollar on each set of items, you will end up saving a lot of money that can be put into your food budget or an extra gift for your little one. Party favors are very inexpensive. You will find the same type of party favors as the discount stores, but the price is much better. I even buy enough helium balloons for each party guest so they have something extra to take home and I’m not left with a lot of balloons dying in my family room.

Savings are not limited to kids’ parties! For example, I took $20 to the Dollar Tree last Christmas and bought all of the decorations and favors for my MOPS table’s decorations, including the beautiful red table runners, vases, flowers, and even some of the serving pieces. For special Christmas gifts, I gave each mom a wine glass with a battery operated votive (votives were two for $1) and I made a cute lamp shade to go on top. Because these were so inexpensive, I was also able to buy supplies to make each mom an ornament.

For homeschooling moms, the dollar store has great school supplies as well as teaching aids. I’ve found everything from blank accomplishment certificates to large teaching posters, plus math and English flash cards. There is no need to shop the expensive online sites or teacher stores when you can find a lot of items you need at the dollar store. And for those of you who have children in school, sometimes buying paper, notebooks, special folders, and other school supplies at the dollar store can save you a lot of money as well.

Gift giving is much cheaper at The Dollar Tree. You will find unique items for gift baskets as well as the baskets themselves: candles, frames, bath and body items, and so much more. Stocking and Easter Basket stuffers are just as good as other stores in town, but much less expensive. Now, before you object, saving money on gift giving doesn’t just mean shopping for thrifty gifts. The variety and size of gift bags and wrappings will truly amaze you. Tissue paper, specialty wrapping paper, and many types of ribbons will save you a bundle at the Dollar Store and allow for more money to be spent on your gifts.

I have one last word of advice about dollar stores, though: do not purchase items that are less than a dollar at the other discount chain stores. If you follow that advice and start thinking outside the box, you will save a lot of money this year. Good luck and happy bargain hunting at the Dollar Store!


I hope Kelly's article gave you some good ideas! I know I wrote about framing some old family photos in one Thrifty Thursday post, but I've found some more great stuff there too! (When I eventually hang all of them, I'll do a big old decorating post!)
Kelly was right when she mentioned The Dollar Tree's gift bag/gift wrap section. Some of it is just plain ick, but if you really look around, you can find some cute cute cute gift bags. I think I mentioned before that finding cute gift bags is my spiritual gift. Here's one I found recently:




Isn't it sweet?? They had several in different shapes and sizes, but I only let myself buy one. I'm saving it for the perfect gift! You'd probably spend $3 or $4 on a similar bag at Target (I can't believe I just typed that 'cause you all know I love me some Target!)
Remember Natalie's Sesame Street 3rd birthday party? A lot of the decorations were picked up during a frantic run to The Dollar Tree, and no one would be the wiser if I weren't telling you right now.


I always do a small themed tree in the kitchen for Natalie's birthday parties, since her birthday is in early December. I got the characters at a kids' consignment sale, but the "ornaments" were part of a teacher's bulletin board border set that I got at...you guessed it--The Dollar Tree.
Close up. If I'd had the time, I would have backed each "ornament" with colored paper, but I just had too much to do. The different colored ribbon punched through each circle was purchased as a big pack of 4 colors for $1 at The Dollar Tree. Those also came in handy at Christmas-gift wrapping time. I've been buying my white tissue paper for gift bags there too...why spend $3 on it at the drug store?
Used the same ornaments in the Dining room, and also bought a cheap balloon plastic table cloth at TDT for the kids to color their hats on. Crayons also purchased at TDT because I was not gonna shell out $2 a pack for crayons they'd use for five seconds. I still have the table cloth and pull it out for crafts since I STILL don't have a craft desk yet.
Stickers on homemade "Pin the Cookie on Cookie Monster" game? The Dollar Tree, of course!
Check this out!




























I made this fabulous little notebook in a Stampin' Up workshop that Kelly hosted. Best part? If you have some stamps and some leftover scrapbooking paper, you can buy a pack of those little plain notebooks at The Dollar Tree! I think there are at least 4 or 5 of them in a pack...for a dollar!

We used some coordinating papers to cover the front and back (one piece) and cute a smaller piece for the spine. The front can be stamped or decorated however you like! It's small and thin, so it would be easy to stick in your purse. It could be a cute sticker book for a child, an idea book for a blogger, a notebook to count your calories, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Do you have a Dollar Tree in your area? I've found that they really do have better stuff than the other Dollar stores (like Dollar General).


Have you found anything fun at The Dollar Store that you could redo? Leave me a comment, and I'll feature your response in my Spend Less Saturday post!



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Smorgasbord

Today's post is a big old mishmash of *stuff.* Good stuff, I hope!

First, I've been meaning to follow through on Xazmin's fun Prom Picture TAG for a good week now, and I just couldn't find my "prom" pictures. I had a whole album of them, and I have no clue where they disappeared to! Here's the photo I did find:























Can you guess the year?


This was my Junior Year Extravaganza. That sounds so lame, huh? I went to private school, and they didn't allow dancing, dances, or anything that might resemble a dance. We had to call our cheerleading dances "routines." Because dancing clearly leads to, well, you know...sex. And that leads to death. For high schoolers anyways. That's what I'm gonna tell my girls!!!!

I HATED my updo...they never get it right. It ended up looking like a beehive, instead of a brunette Grace Kelly-esque style. See my cheerleader bangs?? I did like the dress though. I could probably fit my left thigh in it now....

My date was J, and he was so sweet! The Juniors and Seniors travelled to the Bull and Bear Club in Richmond for dinner. It was lovely. Then they made us go play lazer tag. Maybe that was their pitiful attempt to make up for the fact that we didn't get to dance to classics like the Macarena, Barbie Girl, Tubthumping, or other various forgotten hits of that year. All the girls had to change out of their beautiful gowns, don jeans and sweatshirts, and ruin our $50 updos to run around and play army. Ick. That part was not fun.

But it sure was memorable! T was at the same "prom," but he was a Senior. I remember thinking about how handsome he looked in his tux! I had a picture of him and his date (%$#@) in that album. If I find it, I'll post it because I was totally way hotter than she was!

I think J was married last year. We lost touch after high school, and I didn't see him at our reunion. I have seen him on Facebook though.

So now it's my turn to tag some friends! Here are the rules, via Xazmin:

❶ Leave me a comment guessing which Year this photo was taken. I will post the correct year in a few days after a few guesses come in...how fun! Don't hurt my feelings and guess too old, haha!

❷ If I TAG you...DIG up your old Prom picture...post it and lets guess the date too...(if you really are that self-conscience and don't want us to know the date...maybe we can guess the decade?)~If you are married to your Prom date let us know!~If you are not...try to post a Prom picture of your Prom & a second picture of your husbands prom too...let us know where each of your Dates are now...and their relationship status!! (and of course YOU are way cuter than his Prom date!)~If you are Single...let us know where your Prom date is now!

❸ I am gonna TAG some people...and then those taggers need to keep it going by tagging 5 other people! I can't wait to see all of your pictures! This will be fun!

Okay, I TAG:
1.Alison at They Gave Me a Mullet.

2.Meri at Seriously?Ridiculous!

3.Erin at Musings of a Stone Dodger

4.MomInHighHeels

5.Mommy at Mission Motherhood


My birthday yesterday was great! Twenty-faux just keeps getting better, ya'll! Some girlfriends from Bible Study took me to lunch after study. We went to CiCi's Pizza because the kids eat free there, we could get a salad and pizza, and the kids could pretty much have the run of the place since it was deserted. Fun times!

I got home to find that the Cookie Cake Fairy had indeed visited. It was pure torture to wait to slice it until T got off work at 9 pm. I had to keep the box closed to be good! I sure got blessed in the gift department this year! Even though my present was supposed to be this laptop (from aforementioned Debacle), T surprised me with a gift card to Border's. I can't to go (by myself!) to peruse the aisles and find a new read! My brother, Jamie, and his wife, SuSu, gave me a gift card to JoAnn Fabric to buy some fun crafty stuff (see, it pays when people read your blog posts!) and some pretty pretty lip gloss! Mimi gave me a beautiful silver monogram jewelry set and an Initials Inc. purse. T's parents got me a DVD of Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which I saw last year and adored. If you haven't seen it, view the link to the trailer and then hit the RedBox for a rental! They also gave me some cute earrings, a potted cluster of pink (!) gerber daisies, and...




Can't wait to flip through this one! I bet there's all sorts of garbage I've been giving my kids that is labelled as "healthy" and is really on the "Not That!" list. I'll let you know!
Last order of business...if you like gorgeous stuff to make your house a home, and if you like funny, witty posts by a super-nice chicky, go check out Amanda's blog at Imperfectly Beautiful. Amanda is hosting a {GIVEAWAY} in honor of the grand opening of her new Etsy shop. Go explore her blog and her store pronto--> you won't be disappointed! She is sweet and talented, and I'm so glad to have her as my bloggy friend. Cute stuff over there, my friends!
Happy Wednesday, Friends!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tweeeeenty-Faux Candles...

There are more than sixteen candles (love the movie. love the song.) on my proverbial cake this year. Just a few....I'm turning twenty-faux. Again. To have some fun on my twenty-fauxth birthday, I thought I'd do a list of ten things about some birthdays I've had. I was going to do twenty-faux, but I ran out of ideas at 12.

1. My favorite cake to have on my birthday is one of those cookie cakes from The Great American Cookie Company. The more icing the better. A decent back-up would be a chocolate cake with white icing. No fruity crap. That's not dessert, people.

2. The first birthday I can really remember was my 4th birthday. I got the Care Bears' Cloud Mobile and was over the moon.
3. I really just like my birthday. This is a picture of my sister's first (?) birthday below. You can see the joy on my face as I share the spotlight with her. Classic pout.
4. Plans for my birthday today: Café mocha this morning (Starbucks, maybe?), Bible study, lunch with some girls from study and our kids, work on MOPS newsletter and clean up the house. Not much else since T won't be home from work until after 9 pm.
5. Best birthday gift I've ever received? It's a tie: T gave me our dog, Emma, as a birthday gift five or six years ago. When I turned 16, my dad gave me a nice, hardback copy of Gone with the Wind because I'd been asking for it. Now that he's gone, the note he wrote me on the inside is the most special.
6. I think those trick candles are silly. They mostly just make me mad. Why delay the cake??!
7. Gift wrap or gift bag? I love gift bags. Picking out a cute gift bag is a talent of mine. It might be my spiritual gift.
8. I don't think I'll get a gift from T this year, as this fabulous laptop I am now typing on was my early birthday gift after the Great Laptop Debacle. That's okay...this counts big time!
9. What do I wish I'd receive this year? A massage at the spa, some new books, a maid, and some crafty stuff. And better skin.
10. Natalie is planning on making me a card in the nursery at Bible Study tomorrow. I hope it has a picture of a person on it. She just started drawing blobs that actually somewhat resemble people.
{What's the best birthday gift you've ever received?}

Monday, April 20, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods...

...to Nannie's house we went. For one day. That was plenty.

I've always maintained that "vacations" with children are not really vacations. It's really just watching your kids in another location. Without all their stuff.

We left at the crack of 11:30 am on Thursday morning for a visit with my Nannie in Tarheel country. I woke up at 6 to work on packing, and was still throwing stuff in the car when my mom (Mimi) arrived to distract the girls from taking all of my makeup out of my bag and strewing it around the bedroom helping me pack.

Michaela Byrd fell asleep within minutes of being strapped into her carseat. I think the thrill of finally weighing enough to ride forward facing like a big girl was just too much excitement for a 15 month old to handle. Rather than watching Barbie and the Magic Pegasus, Natalie opted to throw a fit because she convinced herself that "the ear things" were "broked." Every five minutes, for four and a half hours, she would ask, "Ummm...Mama? Mimi? Are we there yet?"

We *enjoyed* a leisurely meal at a McDonald's on the trip to and from North Carolina. Traveling with children always requires stopping at a dining establishment that boasts a play area of some sort. This one also boasted a plethora of delightful germs...we made good use of Mimi's hand sanitizer.

When we finally arrived at Nannie's house, she wasn't home yet from her Easter trip, so Mimi went to ransack the glass house off the carport to find the Hide-a-Key. I suppose that "in a metal box on the shelf" translates to "in a black plastic box under a cardboard box of really old stuff on a table" to a 97 year old.

We let ourselves in and Natalie and Michaela Byrd gave themselves a grand tour. Surprisingly, Natalie remembered the house from last summer, but to Michaela Byrd everything was new and delightfully exciting.

Here's Nannie's charming house. It overlooks a peaceful pond on the golf course. You'd never know that a toddler's dream come true of rooms full of easily destructible items lurk inside.
Exhibit A: within five minutes of entering Nannie's home, I heard some loud banging that sounded very much like glass crashing upon glass. I rushed into the living room to find Michaela Byrd joyfully pounding one of Nannie's five turquoise candy dishes into the glass top coffee table (one of two glass top coffee tables in that room, I might add). Thankfully, nothing was broken.
Michaela Byrd: Ooooo...an entire wall of breakables...if I could just climb up onto the couch, I could scale that baby in 10 seconds flat.
Michaela Byrd: That's okay, 'cause lookee what I found. All at eye level. A whole menagerie of breakable stuff to play with!
I put the fear of God into Natalie and she knew better than to touch Nannie's stuff. I think she's a little bit afraid of Nannie. This is good. Natalie is not normally afraid of anyone. Every so often she'd look around and ask, "Is Nannie gonna yell at me?"
Getting comfy in one of Nannie's white leather (?) armchairs. A true relic of the 60s!
Portrait of Nannie's Aunt Byrd. The "Byrd" on my side that Michaela is named after. (There's another Byrd on T's side)
Trying to find the chipmunk they saw through the window.
My favorite spot in Nannie's house. The back deck. All of the furniture out there is 50-60 years old. It's comfortable and sturdy. She has a great view too. If I could get internet anywhere in her town, that would be the perfect spot to sit and blog.
Chilling out on the glider love seat!
I *got* to share a room with Natalie while we were there. It wasn't quite as horrible as our last roommate experience. I am NOT one of those co-sleeper moms. My kids sleep in their rooms in their own beds and they don't get out of bed until I say it's time to get up. Sharing a room with a three year with a penchant for early morning singing and playing is not appealing to me. She woke up early on Friday and sat in bed looking at a picture book without so much as a peep until it was time to get up. This was wonderful, as I had spent most of the night getting out of my bed to reposition her...I've never seen a child move so much! Half the time, she had both legs dangling off the big queen-sized bed!

Friday was uneventful except that Michaela Byrd had a diaper rash so bad that when I called the ped's office in Virginia to see what they thought, they told me to take her to an urgent care clinic to have them take a look. Of course, Nannie's town doesn't have an urgent care, so we had to drive 25 minutes to find one. After a 2 hour, $60 doctor visit, we headed back to Nannie's. If you want to hear a shocking drug store story, check back in tomorrow! I drove happily back to Nannie's, where she was just returning from her weekly hair appointment, which she insists on driving herself to.

She proceeded to leave her car running for two hours in the carport. I heard the engine when I went out to my car to grab something. Nannie usually plays off her (numerous) accidents as if they are not her fault, but she had no alibi this time, as we were all sitting right there. Her response?

"Well, I just don't know how that happened."

No comment.

For dinner on Friday, we all squeezed into my Trailblazer and cruised over to The Cafeteria, the Senior Citizen hot spot. If you don't like a salad bar or cafeteria style old people food, you have your choice between Sir Pizza (a lackluster pizza and sandwich joint), The Dry Dock (sea food, really really long wait...not a good idea with two children), or an overpriced restaurant with burgers and steaks. We rarely dine anywhere that requires a wait longer than about 5 minutes, so The Cafeteria was an obvious choice for us.
We drove by Aunt Bea's on the way home. Remember Aunt Bea from The Andy Griffith Show? This was her house. My grandparents looked at it once upon a time when it was for sale, but she had about 80 cats and it smelled like cat pee. Everywhere.
By Saturday morning, I was ready to head home! To be honest, I was tired of listening to my mom plead with Nannie to hire someone to regularly check in on her. Nannie is adamant that she wants to do what she wants when she wants, and no one is going to change her mind. Listening to she and my mom go over her ledger, which was filled with various checks written to "charities" with names like "The American Legal Defense of Our Borders," and "Adopt a Native American," drove me a little nuts. She wants to live alone, drive (yikes!!), and handle all of her affairs herself, and she could truly care less that her entire family (as well as friends who often call my mom to tattle on her) are worried about her. Nannie and I had a little "disagreement" over her stubbornness, but we worked out our differences before I had to leave.

All smiles. We're going home!
I couldn't be too angry, because she remembered that my birthday is tomorrow (the big TWENTY-FAUX, ya'll!!) and gave me a very thoughtful gift! I'll show ya what it is tomorrow.

Here's a hint: We have to be related, because we both agree that "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend!"

Glad to be back!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

When You're 97 Years Old...{ReMix}

In honor of the "work-ation" at my Nannie's in North Carolina, I thought I'd repost this while I'm gone, because it will give you some insight into what surely happened on my few days down there. I know you'll want to meet my Nannie after you read this. She's a stitch!

...Anything goes! We had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with my grandmother this year. She came to visit all the way from North Carolina. My Nannie is a wonderful, loving, outgoing, perplexing woman. We enjoyed our visit with her, but we always get a few laughs when we talk with her. I guess when you are 97, you just let all of your opinions about everything out to air. Here are some highlights from our Thanksgiving with Nannie:


1. Thanks to Nannie, we are now aware that the "red Chinese" have amassed troops on our borders and are waiting to attack the U.S., take over, and turn us all Communist. (I hate to break it to her, but I'm pretty sure our Congress will take care of that.)


2. Her thoughts on the election, spoken with sadness and great conviction: "Poor, old John McCain." (This in and of itself is so wonderfully hilarious because she is as old as poor, old John McCain's mother!)


3. It should be noted that she and my grandfather were always ardent Democrats, probably since before FDR and his New Deal. JFK might have been their Second Coming. I think my grandfather would have voted for Mickey Mouse if he had run under the Democratic ticket. (Honestly, I think Mickey would do a better job than Obama, but that's just my opinion.) So it came as a great shock to us when she passionately announced that my grandfather would have hated the way that the party is being run these days (she thinks the Clintons want to take over the U.N., which is funny because I know for a fact she voted for Clinton in both of the 1990's elections). She proclaimed that "we are Republicans now." I'm not sure why she added the "we" in there, as my grandfather passed away in 1994, but perhaps she feels so strongly about her recent political defection that she felt he also needed to be included to save his good name.


4. On facial hair: Riding next to my brother in the car, she stared hard at his new beard and finally said, "I don't like beards." Jamie felt so bad he went home and shaved it off.


5. She has special water. Thanks to Nannie's hair dresser, who sold her a marvelous contraption, Nannie now has "special water" that she must take everywhere with her. She claims that it can heal cuts and bruises, and it makes her loose weight. She strong-armed my mom into bringing a small cooler of it up from North Carolina. Mom took a sip of it when Nannie wasn't looking and it tasted just like her regular water...filtered. Jamie's sister-in-law did not help the situation when, over Thanksgiving dinner, she told my grandmother that it sounded like magic water. I am pretty certain that Nannie said that's ridiculous. It's just special, that's all.


6. The wonder of the Playstation: Jamie got bored at my mom's and found his old stash of Play Station 1 games. He decided that even though the graphics are terrible, he'd play Madden 2000 on the Play Station 2 to pass the time. My grandmother toddled in with her cane, peered at the TV, and exclaimed "Oh, who's playing?" My brother didn't have the heart to tell her that she was watching a (very poor) version of a video football game so he told her she was watching the Colts and the Skins. She sat down to watch and said, "Well, I've never seen football players on ice skates before. Why are they ice skating?" It was all Jamie could do to keep his cool. He decided not to say anything because he knew she'd be asleep soon anyways. Sure enough, he looked back two minutes later and she was fast asleep in my mom's big arm chair.


7. On our new addition: Most people who've come over to see our new room have shown polite admiration for all the work that went into it. Nannie made one positive comment on Tim's bookshelves and then all she said was, "I put the closet over there [on my plans]." Oookaaayyyy.





If I make it to 97, I hope I have the energy that she has each day. I am looking forward to being able to speak my mind too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Like Little House on the Prairie {ReMix}

I'm on "vacation" (or Work-ation, as my friend Meri would say) at my Nannie's for a couple of days. Here's a fun post I wrote in December of 2008. I've "remixed" it for you! I'll preface it by saying everything worked out...$400 later.

Let me begin by saying that I was always a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books growing up. I used to imagine what it would be like to ride in a covered wagon, shop in a general store, and share a cozy bed with my sister on a cold prairie night. Well, scratch that last part because I shared a room with my sister for 7 years and it was pure torture most nights because she found great joy in making me miserable.

This week has come about as close to life on the prairie as I want to get. We have some kind of BIG, unfortunate clog in the pipes under our house, which resulted in some major backing up in the downstairs bathroom. Ick! So T declared that we must not use the showers or the toilets (except for Natalie because it's impossible to ask a three year old to hold it) until the situation is resolved. He seemed to think that it would be okay to use the dishwasher and the kitchen sink because those lines weren't affected. Wrong. Whatever clogged the pipe blew the kitchen pipe apart, so all the water we were using went under the house. Great.

So I've really felt like Laura or Mary Ingalls as I get in my (covered) Chevrolet Trailblazer and drive to WaWa to use the bathroom. And showering at my mom's house has sort of been like camping out in the wilderness...her mood can sometimes swing and she'll go all Comanche on you. Dangerous.

Today is Day 5 1/2 of "The Great Plumbing Debacle of 2008." The plumber sent his guys over last night, and they tried to run a monster snake down the line, and even that wouldn't go through. They asked if someone might have flushed a toy down the toilet...meanwhile, Natalie is standing at the door wearing a red scottie dog dress, pink fairy wings, and pink dress-up shoes with flowers on them. They must have been referring to T.

Yes, I am sure I've seen him sneak his He-Man action figures into the bathroom. It couldn't have been Michaela Byrd--she prefers playing in the dog water. But just to be safe, we asked Natalie, and the look on her face was priceless. Her mouth dropped open in shock that we would even consider accusing her of such treachery. "No! I di'int!"

Well, okay then. Back to square one. Looks like they will have to replace the entire line under the house if their magic balloon trick thingie doesn't work tonight. I honestly don't care anymore. I just want to be able to shower at my house! I am PRAYING that they can just fix the darn thing tonight...and let the record show that if they take the pipe out and discover a Fisher Price Little People car, or a My Little Pony, or any sort of toy a 3 year old might find fascinating to flush, there will be a very unhappy little girl on L Avenue. And that someone isn't me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Hottest New Accessory

(This post was originally posted in September of 2008. I'm leaving to visit my Nannie for a few days with my mom-Mimi- and the girls. This should provide some excellent material for new posts. Stay tuned! I'll schedule some oldies but goodies for the next couple of days!)

That's right girls. I have an inside tip for you. This one is so hot that it hasn't even hit the runways in Milan or Bryant Park yet. Wanna know the most coveted new accessory in every designer's line? Come closer, lean in....

Baby spit-up. Yes, it's true! And guess who was the first one to discover the fabulousness of this new look. Moi! I can rock this look like you wouldn't believe.

I had to go to church the other night because I am working with a photographer friend on a directory for our 567,894, 327, 963 member church (I admit it's not really that big, but it's a pretty large church). I was running late because (if you are a mom, you know what I am talking about) my dear husband needed instructions on how to care for his children...but that's a different post for a different day. So I threw on a pair of khakis, left my red top on, and ran out the door.

The photography sessions were going just fine. The other assistant was showing me the ropes: how to take orders, sell packages, etc. I was in my element; meeting new people and learning new things. We had a lull and stood around chatting for a few minutes. Suddenly, the other assistant gave me a knowing smile, and reached toward my shoulder. "Here," she said. "You have a little something there." And she brushed off the remains of a tasty meal of formula and Gerber Stage 2 squash. How embarrassing! What made it even more embarrassing was that the meal wasn't mine...my eight month old daughter had consumed that very same meal for lunch. TOA (The Other Assistant) made me feel better by recounting her own tales of strategically placed baby spit-up.

If you're a mom, then wear your mashed pea corsage proudly. Like I said before, it's the hottest new look. I totally saw Christian from "Project Runway" sporting some strained pears on the pages of Vogue. If you're a young fashionista, don't laugh. Your day will come...sooner than you think.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Whatcha Cookin' Wednesday?

I wasn't planning on posting a recipe every Wednesday, but it just happened that the past few Wednesdays I've had some floating around that I just had to share.

I've made the fabulous pie recipe that I'm sharing today a few times, and it's always a hit. The first time I made it was for a Girls' Night viewing of the Twilight movie at my friend AS' house. Yes, I am a huge dork, and yes, I think Edward Cullen is da bomb. When my friend L and a bunch of other girls from my MOPS group raved about Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, I sort of rolled my eyes. I love chick lit, but I drew the line at books marketed to teens.

Come on, girls. I thought. We're grown women. Why are you obsessed with an angst-filled teen romance series about vampires? I hate vampires, horror, and blood and guts stuff. Isn't there anything better to read?

No, there is not.
I got sucked in (pun intended) from chapter 1. I started reading, confident that my superior literary taste gleaned from a college degree in English, Speech, and Linguistics would save my mind from the drivel I had just purchased at my favorite bookstore. Turns out I like drivel. A lot.

Apparently I'm not the only one. As I stood in line at Border's to purchase the remaining books in the series, practically bouncing up and down with excitement, there were no less than 4 other women chatting about their obsession with the series. Several had teenage daughters that got them hooked. It's like a drug, really. We all need rehab. The Twilight series is not Spenser, Dumas, or Shakespeare. That's like comparing a filet mignon to some amusement park cotton candy. Twilight is complete fluff.

But it's delicious.

Just like this pie. (Betcha were wondering how I'd tie that in...hehe)

Ya'll this pie is so sinful, you just might have to go to church and say a prayer after you eat a slice. It's so good, it's baaaaaaad. Here you go:

{Decadent Peanut Butter Pie}
from Jif

Ingredients:
1 prepared chocolate cookie pie crust
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Jif creamy peanut butter (I've also made it with Peter Pan because that's what we had, and it was not as good as the Jif pie!)
8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
4 1/2 cups non-dairy whipped topping (12 oz. container)
1 (11.75 oz) jar of Smucker's hot fudge topping


Directions:
In a medium bowl, beat peanut butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Gently fold in 3 cups of whipped topping and spoon mixture into pie shell. Using a spatula, smooth mixture to edges of pie shell. Put hot fudge in a bowl and microwave for one minute. Stir, then cover the peanut butter layer and freeze.

Note: I like to drizzle a little bit of that Reese's peanut butter sauce (you can find it in the ice cream aisle) on top to make it pretty!







Mixin' it up!















You could just eat it like this, but it's only a few more steps, I promise!














This is the......................I'm sorry, I got distracted by the mouth-watering beauty of the chocolate.







Voila!
Bon Appetit, Ya'll!
If Mimi and I end up taking the girls down to NC to see my Nannie, I'll plan on posting some oldies but goodies for you all for Thursday and Friday!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Drumroll, please....

Thanks to everyone who entered my very first ever GIVEAWAY! Your sweet comments really made my day! I had so much fun putting it together, and I pinky swear that there was absolutely no rigging whatsoever in this contest--I even let Natalie put the paper strips with everyone's entry(ies) into the basket. She was very excited to choose for me!







Very official























(Closing her eyes so there's no cheating)


















And the winner is....................................................






TheSmithFamily!




Please email me so you can start enjoying your copy of Eat This, Not That!


I hope you aren't too devastated if you didn't win. The wait list at the library is only 6 months. Chin up! I promise I'll do another giveaway when I get to 200 posts! If you need to console yourself with something utterly sinful, I'll be posting my recipe for a Decadent Peanut Butter Pie this week. It's to die for.


In a totally unrelated matter, it seems that I am also the recipient of an award...yay! My friend Meri, who had a really neat decorating post yesterday, sent me this fantabulous award and I am supposed to pass it on to seven worthy bloggers! I just realized that this kind of sucks because I am not feeling too creative (Kreativ) right now...I think I ate too much Easter candy.

Here Are The Rules:
1. Link Back to the person who gave you the award.
2. List 7 Things you LOVE!
3. Link to 7 Blogs and let them know you have an Award Waiting for them on your blog!
For me, my family and friends are givens, so in no particular order, here are 7 things I love!
1. A good café mocha} I think that Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Panera all make them well--the latter two being a bit sweeter than Starbucks. WaWa does NOT make a good mocha. They taste like day old chocolate milk that maybe my dog might have licked. And then spit out.
2. Shoes} Charlotte: Well I could never! I have a most terrible fear of heights!
Carrie: Well, I do not...you've seen my shoes.
3. Target} They know my children at the checkout line. The Dollar Spot and Home Decor areas are as close to Nirvana as I can get.
4. The Beach} This is most unfortunate, as my present state of fitness shall require that I do not, under any terms, don a bathing suit this year. Or maybe next year too.
5. Dessert} And none of that fruity, tarty stuff either! It's gotta have some chocolate in it to be a real dessert!
6. Girls' Trips to NYC!} This trip is one of the highlights of my year! I (Heart) New York, for sure! I love choosing new places to explore, shop, and dine each time. It's become an annual thing...we have a blast.
7. Any TV show with dancing} Dancing makes me giddy. I do fast-forward through the boring stuff on Dancing with the Stars (like Steve Wozniak doing the cha cha cha, see below), but So You Think You Can Dance? leaves me breathless in it's fantabulosity. I like it best because it showcases a wide variety of genres and the dancers can actually dance, as opposed to Steve Wozniak.


But this is perfection:

I tag:

1. MomInHighHeels

2. SongbirdTiff

3. Amanda at Imperfectly Beautiful

4. Paula at Sweet Pea

5. Alison at They Gave Me a Mullet

6. AnNicole at Our Suburban Cottage

7.50sHouseWife

Hope you all have time to do this. I am looking forward to reading your lists!!

Have a great Tuesday!

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