Sunday, May 31, 2009

Girls Gone Yard Saling!

Hitting the yard sale circuit was more about having fun than finding a slew of bargains this weekend! I was so excited to go out and explore some sales with a friend!

I woke up a little earlier than normal on Saturday morning to get our "gear" ready for our big yard sale shopping trip. By gear, I mean a sippy cup and water bottle filled with ice cold water, snacks for the girls, a stocked diaper bag, and some cold, hard cash. Cha-ching!

I ended up being ready much earlier than I expected, so I ran up the street real quick because I knew the yard sale there would have some crafty stuff.
I found some Stampin' Up items in great condition, but not much else. I'm slowly but surely stocking up my craft area at home so I don't have to go to AC Moore, Michael's or JoAnn's every time I need something. It will be nice to be able to work at home after the girls go to bed at night. $5 for everything I bought...that's a steal, as the roller stamps are normally that much by themselves.

Around 7:45, my friend Meri pulled into our driveway in her mini-van with two of her four boys in tow! She was gracious enough to allow Natalie to finish up her "haffle" (waffle) before we did some seat assignment shuffling and were off. Natalie, overjoyed at the prospect of her first minivan ride, didn't complain at all about not getting to stay home and watch Cinderella for the 678th time. Michaela Byrd was really just grateful to be able to play with some toys that Meri's youngest left behind in his carseat.

The kids stayed with us in energy! They shopped hard, walked through a neighborhood, enjoyed the amazing weather, picked some weeds flowers, lost said weeds flowers in an unfortunate crushing accident, sang the "Bational Nanthem" repeatedly (Meri's boys), asked 453 questions (Natalie), attempted a stroller escape (Michaela Byrd), and generally had a great morning.

I felt bad that Meri and I didn't find much of anything, but sometimes yard sale Saturdays are just hit or miss, right? Meri did find an adorable little white bench with some storage in it that I hope she'll post about on her blog (that was a subtle hint, Meri).

I found this set of apothecary jars for $3. I am dying to attempt a burlap table runner for my dining room, and I am hoping that Jamie and Su-Su (brother and sister-in-law) will bring me some shells from their beach trip this summer. I am totally copying countless bloggers with that, and I'm okay with it.

The most fun was spending a Saturday morning with a friend, having some good girl talk, and watching our adorable kids interact. Next time, I'm taking my camera, Mer!!

Go see Rhoda at Southern Hospitality for more of the weekend's thrifty finds!

{What did you find this weekend?}

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spend Less Saturday: Date Night Ideas!

I received a great response to this week's Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap post on ideas for inexpensive date nights!

I loved a suggestion from Xazmin over at This is the Year. She mentioned finding a volunteer position as a couple! As a mom, I am already being forced to work serving in the church nursery, and I also help out at VBS for a week each year, as well as working on my MOPS group's steering team. I love the idea of finding something that both T and I care about. Xazmin wrote:

{I think an awesome way to connect would be volunteering together. There are so many service opportunites around, and working together for a cause that is important can really create some good conversation time, as well as just the good feelings of serving together...and it's pretty much free!}

Sara at Be Still and Know added that sometimes you can combine a date and some errands. A working date! I love it! She commented:

{I believe [Date Nights are] vital in a children all know the term "Date Nite" and that its reserved for daddy and mommy! Yes, sometimes we run errands but we also: go to our favorite restraunt (tapas mmmm...), but always end up going to Marshalls or TJ Maxx, then peruse the books and mags at Barnes and Noble. The best part is just talking together without being the phone, computer, children, neighbors, work etc,! Plus no matter where we go...if its just me and my man I glam up!}

Ashley at Domestic Fashionista had some good thoughts! Her ideas?

{Me and my bf like to do bike rides, picnics, renting free movies from the library or redbox...we try to do cheap dates as much as possible to save up for fun things to do every once in awhile!}

Ashley, I love Red Box! It can be hard for T and I to agree on a movie because he likes shoot-'em-up-guts movies and I prefer chick flicks more sophisticated films. I usually cave and watch what he wants to watch. As long as it's not horror, I enjoy most movies. And you can't beat the $1 ticket!

I am so glad that two bloggers feel the same way I do at times!

Julia at Hooked on Houses agreed that sometimes it's okay to {ditch the kids--er, leave the kids home} and go for ice cream!

And the fabulous Amanda at Imperfectly Beautiful admitted that she doesn't always feel like having a Date Night, because let's face it...sometimes husbands can be clueless and unromantic. Boy, do I feel that way sometimes (or a lot of times!). Sometimes a girl just needs some time for herself without anyone else around to recharge. When she feels like she's not going to lose it anymore, then maybe she's ready to attempt a night on the town with the Man! Amanda's solution?

{I had a date with my little ol' self last night. Went to the movies solo and it was FABULOUS! I needed some ME time.}

Loved your ideas this week, ladies!

Hope you have a marvelous Saturday!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Frugal Friday Party!

I decided to try linking up to Wendy at The Shabby Nest for her Frugal Friday link party. After a lot of whining (Natalie and Michaela Byrd, sometimes me), a bunch of bickering (the girls) and about 78 time outs (Natalie's, not mine, unfortunately) this week, I am tuckered out. I needed something fun to post about, so I figured why not share the cool accessories I found at Salvation Army this week?

I got the little planter for $1.50 and the vase was $2.00. I have no clue where I will put that vase, because I don't have anything in my home that color (yet). But I loved the shape and color, so it came home with me! That lovely color is enough to melt away this week's chaos...almost.

It's hard to tell, but the metal planter was (note: I wrote "was") an olivey shade of green. No more!

A fresh coat of $0.97 white spray paint from Wal-Mart has transformed her into a new "tool" organizer for my Salvation Army makeover desk, which I will reveal on Monday when I link to a Goodwill Party at Thrifty Decor Chick's blog.

A little leftover black fabric paint (that was all I had!), a homemade stencil (check back on Monday to see how I did it!), and she is all dressed up with nowhere to go. Well, she has somewhere to new desk, but I can't show you that just yet.

Have you discovered any frugal finds lately? Hit a yard sale this weekend and see what you can find!

{Happy Frugal Friday!}

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap {13}

Last Thursday, I blogged about ideas for inexpensive and easy Girls' Nights Out. I thought that this week, I'd continue the theme, but extend it to Date Night.

When T and I first started dating, we were in college, and sometimes dates didn't start until 9 or 10 pm. I remember thinking, "The night is young! It's only 11 pm." That's a huge turnaround from date nights these days. They end around 10 pm, because we have to get home and release Mimi from her indentured servitude in child care. There's also quite a bit less alcohol involved in this era of date nights. These days, a cocktail just makes me want to go to sleep instead of dance like crazy.

We've been trying to be better about planning to do some things together as a couple. T works a lot and our family time hours are short. I think for us, it's important to have some fun without the kids every once in awhile. When they are grown and (hopefully??!) out of the nest, I don't want to look at him and think, "What do we have in common now?"

So...I think planning for some couple time can really help keep us connected. We're not very creative in planning date nights, but I do have a few ideas. Some are from a MOPS newsletter article I wrote awhile back.

~I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream! If you live in a town with a nice walking strip, get some ice cream with your significant other and take a stroll. There is a beautiful "old town" where we live with several ice cream shops. Sometimes it's fun to just sit and people watch as well.

~If you're short on time or if the weather is not cooperating, try a new restaurant and go for Coffee and Dessert. Much easier on the budget than T's favorite lobster tail and shrimp entreé!

~Take a class together! Ballroom dancing (don’t laugh, I know of at least one mom who got her husband to go with her!), foreign language, cooking, etc. Some spots may be offering deals now for those of us (all of us?) watching our budgets. I would really, really have to push for this, but it would so be worth it to make T learn to dance.

~Suck it up and try something your significant other enjoys! (The street goes both ways, though!) For me, this might mean going to look at plasma screens at Best Buy with T or watching him play indoor soccer. T and I don't have many similar hobbies (he is a "man's man" and I am about as girlie as you can get), but we do both enjoy target shooting. This is a win-win, provided we don't shoot for too long, because I get bored quickly.

~Try live entertainment instead of a movie. I love going to the movies, but it does kind of defeat the purpose of Date Night, if there's only going to be one that month! Many towns have coffee shops or restaurants that feature musicians and/or dancing!

~Double date! We did this with my MOPS group earlier this month, and it. was. a. blast. T, who can be sort of a hermit, really enjoyed chatting up some of the guys he knew from church. We all had a great time "touring" a historic dining/shopping area in a city not too far from our own. We also got to carpool, which was fun...especially the part where L's husband had to keep re-routing the GPS to keep us away from the gridlocked interstate.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a night on the town (or neighborhood!) with your spouse. If all you do is grab a popsicle from the freezer and go on a walk while a teen watches the kids, it will be time well spent!

We're going to a birthday party for a grown-up friend tomorrow night, and I'm counting that as our date night! Can't wait!

The days of luxury "dates" to Paradise Island are over for now. We need to start thinking about frugal ways to go out and have some fun as a couple!

{Do you have any ideas for a Date Night? If so, please leave me a comment, and I'll feature you in Saturday's Spend Less post!}

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Gingerbread Man?

"Run, run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me. I'm the Gingerbread Man."

I've always liked "The Gingerbread Man" fairytale. Mostly for the gingerbread, and not so much for the running part. Plus, he does have a catchy little rhyme, and that appeals to the English major in me.

I'd rather eat gingerbread, sit on the couch, and paint my toenails any day of the week than run. Eeew.

So I truly thought my sister Alison was joking when she asked me last night over dinner if I'd be interested in running a 5k with her and the rest of the bridesmaids in August as a "Bachelorette" thing.

I stopped laughing when I saw the earnest look of sincerity on her face.

"Really?" I guffawed. "I mean, seriously? I do not run."

My last memory of running would be from the college days when an entire meal would consist of two leaves of lettuce, a rice cake, and a Diet Coke. I ran back then in a frenzied attempt to stay thin. If I had known what two kids and a lot of watching Thursday night TV would do to me, I think I would have just sat down and had a brownie.

Even when I could run, I hated it. At this point, I think running to the end of my (very short) driveway to get the paper would be disastrous, at best. Why run when you can walk and enjoy the fresh air and the view of the neighbors' enormous van backed up to their front door?

I gave my sister and the rest of the table my reasons for not feeling inspired to run a 5k:

1. I don't like to run.

2. I don't like being outside and sweating. Unless I am on the beach, in which case I can just dip my toes in the cool, refreshing ocean.

3. I don't own any good running shoes. Cheap running shoes from Target to wear to Body Jam at the gym do not count. Plus, my red stiletto sandals are way cuter.

4. I don't like to run.

5. August is hot.

6. I don't wear shorts anymore.

7. I am a much better cheerleader. Why can't I stand at the finish line and hand out water bottles?

8. My iPod is too bulky and heavy to run with.

9. I don't like to run.

10. Running is boring. It would be ever so much more fun to just drive the course. I know this because my friend Erin (who is a runner) and I drove the course of the Marine Corps half marathon a couple weeks ago to hang signs for our friends who were running it. I very much enjoyed riding in the car.

Then they hit me with a real whammy. Did you know that a 5k is THREE miles? I did not know that. That is why I got a degree in English, Speech, and Linguistics. I hate the metric system.

I am usually a joiner. My sister knows this and tried that approach with the "Everyone else is doing it. And Sam and the guys are doing an Adventure Run."

I don't know what an Adventure Run is, but what happened to the good, old-fashioned bachelor/bachelorette wildness?? I may be twenty-faux, but I'll take a darkened club, flashing lights, dancing, some form of alcohol over plodding along down a boring old course in the heat and sunshine that may or may not give me skin cancer. I could be wrong, but I don't think they hand out French martinis at mile 2.3.

I could see that they were not giving up any time soon, so I decided to break out the big guns.

"What's in it for me?" I wanted to know.

They stared blankly at me. I think in their addled little brains, they assumed that I would run for the sheer joy of it. Um, no.

T offered to buy me some real running shoes. Eh, unless they've got lots of pink and are studded with diamonds I'll pass. Hmm...speaking of diamonds...

I glanced across the table at the diamond ring on my mom's (Mimi) finger. The ring that, by family tradition, should have been passed on to me when I turned twenty-one. Mimi has all sorts of excuses as to why I can't have the ring. She swore 6 or 7 years ago that she'd give me the ring if I gave her a grandchild. Two grandchildren later, and now she claims she said "a grandson." I guess I don't qualify yet.

Alison saw me staring at the blindingly dazzling beauty of the ring.

"Mom will give you your ring if you train for the race and finish it." she stated.

Darnit. She had to add the "finish it" part. Mimi looked panicked for a split second, but then relented.

"Oh, fine." Mimi said. "I'll give it to you if you run the race with your sister and the girls."

They've hit one of my weaknesses. Glittery, shiny things. They're like kryptonite to me. I am powerless to resist.

Not really sure if running and getting all sweaty outside is worth it, or if I really believe Mimi this time, but it's worth considering.


Should I follow the example of the delicious, sugary Gingerbread Man and run?

Or should I just eat some gingerbread?
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

I thought I'd follow up last week's Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap post on Girls' Nights with a great recipe that you could use for a Girls Only brunch. Today's submission to Jen's Tasty Tuesday party is something that I whipped up the night before a Bible study, and found very easy to haul over to church and serve up to my girlfriends.

{Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake}

from Rachael Ray magazine


2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temp.

2 large eggs, at room temp.

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips (or, if you're me, just dump a whole bunch in there until it looks chocolatey enough!)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8 inch square baking pan. In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon.

Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and remaining 1 cup sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in sour cream and vanilla. Fold in flour mixture in 2 parts, until just combined.

Pour half the batter into the cake pan and sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture and half the chocolate chips. Spoon remaining batter as evenly as possible over filling, spreading gently. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture and chocolate chips.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Share with your girlfriends, and if your kids ask for some, give them some crackers instead! You'll be the most popular girl there, for sure!

{Bon Appetit!}

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

I'll think of you all today as you barbecue, run in the sprinklers, and drink lemonade. T always works big "retail holidays" like Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, etc. His parents invited the girls and I over for dinner tomorrow night, so that's our big plan. We may hit up JoAnn fabric to use some more of my birthday gift card (thanks, SuSu and Jamie!), but that's it.

Take a moment today to say a prayer of thanks for all of our military service men and women. My sister, Alison is a nurse in the Air Force and her fiancé, Sam, flies Black Hawks ("heliploppers," as Natalie calls them) for the Army. They have both served in Iraq, and Sam deploys again this Fall after their wedding.

My dad went into the Air Force after college and did civilian work for the Navy after his service, and his father (my O'pa) is a retired Air Force Colonel. He fought in World War II, flying B-17 bombers over Germany. He also fought in the Korean War. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, 3 Air Medals (flying heavy missions), European Theatre Commendation Medals, and other Commendation Medals.

My mom's dad (my Poppy) served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy during World War II. He was a Communications Officer aboard the Miantonomoh CM-10, which hit a mine at La Havre and sunk in the North Sea. He and the radioman were the last two off the ship, and my grandfather was the only one of the pair to make it. He earned a Purple Heart, a President's Commendation for valor, and a Commendation for superior work at Fleet Post, New York and San Fransisco.

People like this are real heroes to me, particularly the World War II vets. They did their job and didn't ask for recognition.

Thanks to all who serve. You are appreciated more than you know.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Shout-Outs!

First off, I found this awesome Giveaway through the SITS site this morning, and had to share with any of you who share a penchant for girlie hair accessories as I do. I'm hoping to win though, just so you know. Check out this blog, The Big Piece of Cake (just the title is appealing to me!) to see what she's giving away. You won't be disappointed!

Several bloggers graciously tagged me with some fun games and awards this week, and I wanted to pass along the fun!

Lacey over at Lacey in Love (This girl is seriously talented! Love her style!) tagged me for the What's in Your Purse game. Do you really want to know? Okay, here goes....

This is my gloriously enormous bag. I got it at Target last summer. I love it. I can fit all sorts of junk inside. Don't laugh at me. I'm a mom, okay?

Who doesn't need two cell phones? I have my silver one for everyday use, and a pink Disney Princess one for a night on the town. I can talk to Cinderella whenever I want. A "Snack Trap" of goldfish to bribe small children with, keys, lotion, hand sanitizer spray, my Vera wallet, a pink coupon organizer, checkbook, glasses case, brush, pen, chapstick, and lip gloss. We round it out with some Wet Ones because you never know when you're going to have to wipe down a crumby table in Panera. Phew! That's a lot! But I must have all of it.
Lacey also tagged me in the game 6 Unimportant Things that Make Me Happy. In no particular order:
1. Finding the perfect accessory to match my outfit for the day
2. The first glimpse of the ocean as I reach the top of the dune
3. Getting something in the mail that is not a bill or junk mail
4. Discovering a piece of chocolate in the bread box. Did I hide it from myself? Who cares?!
5. Invitations. It doesn't matter if it's an Evite, a card in the mail, or a phone call...I love making plans to do fun stuff!
6. New shoes
To participate in this fun, I tag:
1.Alison at They Gave Me a Mullet
2.Suzanne at Southern Inspiration
3.Xazmin at This is the Year
4.Amanda at Imperfectly Beautiful
5.Meri at Seriously?Ridiculous!
6.Emily at The Webbs

On to the awards portion of our show!

Thank you to MomInHighHeels at My Life in High Heels, Katie at Sunshine and Bubblegum, and Annissa at A Page in My Book for thinking of me!

Here are the rules:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to 10 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. (It was 15, but that's an awful lot of links to post!) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

{Here are my picks!}
Some of them might be "famous" blogs, but I have only recently discovered them, and they are all fabulous!

1.Kate at Centsational Girl
2.Darby at Fly Through My Window
3.Becky at FarmGirl Paints
4.Holly at Homebody
5.Crystal at Olive Rue
6.Vanessa at V &. Co.
7.Sherry and John at This Young House
8.Sara at Whimsies & Whatnots
9.Hostess with the Mostess
10.Karla at It's the Little Things That Make a House a Home

Enjoy these links, and enjoy your holiday tomorrow!
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Spend Less Saturday: Girls' Night Out!

Today's post is a follow-up from my Thrifty Thursday post. I received several great ideas for fun, inexpensive, and easy ideas for a good Girls' Night Out. You don't have to go to The Melting Pot and spend $40 to have a good time with your girlfriends. Here are some more ideas from other readers:

Xazmin over at This is the Year suggested a Progressive Dinner!

She wrote: " move around to each other's houses. People could "team" up if you have a bunch. The first house, and team is in charge of appetizers, then then next team, and next house is the main course, then you move to the last place fore dessert! We used to do this at Christmastime when I was a kid and it would be our family, then my uncle's house, then my dad's cousin, and close family friend. Our 3 families were really close and we did this every December."

Xazmin's other idea was to start a Book Club. I think this can be loads of fun when it's done right. None of this "I'm only coming to the meeting if it's a book I like" stuff. To be fair to the other members and hostesses, members should make an effort to attend if at all possible. If each member brings a snack to share, the hostess only has to worry about giving her home a quick once over. You don't have to discuss canonized literature...why not switch it up and do some chick lit, a cookbook (each person try a recipe, bring it to share, and/or review it), mysteries, etc.? Have fun with it!

Carole from Hey Mom, What's for Dinner Tonight? had some great suggestions for the Yard Sale Morning idea I offered.

She wrote: "A friend of mine joins me and we go to the local thrift shop. It's huge and it's like hitting many garage sales at once; might save on gas, too, because you're not driving all over town going to multiple garage sales. It's so much fun to shop thrifty with like-minded people.You could actually make a morning (or afternoon) out of it by bringing along your own fresh-baked muffins & coffee so you can recharge in the car."

Suzanne over at Southern Inspiration had a fabulous idea for a Girlfriends' Swap!

Suzanne's comment? "I think it would be fun to have a swap could be to swap maybe a theme swap, recipes, coupons, half completed projects, decorating ideas, or decorating items that maybe you're tired of.....maybe even clothes or accessories!See what you could do with this idea???"

Love it, Suzanne. Good thinking! I'd love to swap with you, cuz I know you have good stuff over there!

My sister, Alison, whose blog is hilariously titled They Gave Me a Mullet, had several awesome thoughts:

"1. Get obsessed about a TV show and watch it together every single week...I mean, come on, it's 1 hour. We TIVO the show, swear we won't watch it and then pick a good night that we can watch it together (Therefore, when we all have to work or study a 1 or 2 hour show can actually be like 35 minutes!) Typically, there is also a theme...When Stacey and I watch Biggest Loser - we eat chips and salsa or pizza. When we watch Intervention on A&E - we drink a glass of wine.

2. Just meeting for a walk. It doesn't take more than 15 minutes of planning ahead to call somebody up, strap on your tennies, and park in front of their house to meet for a walk! (I have to insert here that it always takes more than 15 minutes of planning when you have kids because it involves scheduling around naptimes, packing snacks, finding stray shoes, shuffling kids to the car, etc. But it would be worth it!)

3. Something else I love - I google "Best of ________" (the blank is the city I live in) and then pick something off the list and go see it and bug someone to come with me. Best of BBQ? Best Place to Cure a Hangover? Best Park for Kids? Best Museum? Sometimes you can find things like a drive-in movie or music on the lawn that you never knew existed!"

Amanda at Imperfectly Beautiful had a fun, fun idea for something you could do with your friends and their kids!

She mentioned starting a Kids' Book Club. I think this would be so fun and a great learning experience for elementary school-aged children! (At the stage I'm in, a kids' book club would involve a riveting discussion of the symbolism in Good Night, Moon.) At the end, the kids could play while the moms chat.

Thanks everyone for your wonderful suggestions! I'm looking forward to some sanity-saving Girls' Night of my own this summer. Gotta survive until preschool starts up in September!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

This is What Real Torture Looks Like...

If Obama objects to water boarding, then he'd really flip if he saw the way I tortured my three year old with this unopened cake for 24 hours.

If it had been chocolate, I don't think that cake would have made it to Nannie's 98th birthday party last weekend.

Natalie's first question when she heard we were going to Nannie's birthday celebration?

"Will there be cake?"

Sometimes you have to ask the tough questions.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap {12}

Today was my last day of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) until October. Please excuse me, but I am a little bit in mourning here. I think the only thing that will pull me out of it could be the premiere of "So You Think You Can Dance?" tonight.

My MOPS group is what keeps me sane most of the time. I've made a ton of friends through our church's program, and I rarely go somewhere and not see someone I know from MOPS. The meetings are a wonderful two hour break from my crazed gorgeous children, and I enjoy grown-up girl time with socialization, speakers, and crafts. Although I know bunches of neat ladies now, I still don't have that special connection with a really close girlfriend. I think most women crave a relationship with a real "bosom friend," as Anne of Green Gables would say. Someone you can share honestly with and call up at the drop of a hat for coffee. Someone who remembers to do the same for you.

Let's face it, the last thing T wants to hear about is my conquest of the clearance aisles at Target! Some days, I feel like this blog is my bosom friend, ha ha. Finding a bosom friend has moved its way near the top of my prayer list.

So until I find that connection, I do my best to make it to the Moms' Nights Out that my MOPS group sponsors. Sometimes, I try to plan my own. Nothing refreshes and recharges you more than a few hours away from your family with some girlfriends! Here are some thrifty ideas for ways to get together with your own girlfriends:

*Potlucks - In this crappy economy, who doesn't love a good potluck? As a busy mom, it takes all my energy just to hide all the toys and laundry clean up my home before company comes, much less prepare food for the group. You can get creative with a potluck!
~Try a girls' Ice Cream Social! You, the hostess, provide the ice cream, and ask each guest to bring a different ice cream topping. Whipped cream, hot fudge, sprinkles, brownies, caramel sauce, Reeses Pieces, strawberries (I had to throw that in there for you healthy people), and my favorite--Reese's Peanut Butter sauce. While your kids are sleeping at home in their beds, you can lounge around, chat, and flip through magazines. An easy get together!
~Another approach to a potluck could be a Brunch. This would most likely require the presence of your children, but that's okay sometimes. Same idea as above, but you could provide some juice boxes and a bag of cheddar bunny crackers or something for the kids. It won't be the end of the world if they sit and watch Peter Pan for awhile, or you can attempt to corral them in the playroom with some select toys. If you're a guest, be sure you stay to help the hostess pick up. Nothing's worse than being one person strapped with cleaning up a mess made by 15 children.

*Movie Night!- Movie Night is one of my favorites! My friend L hosts these every so often, and they are the highlight of my summer (it doesn't take much to highlight summer for me because we never go anywhere). She has a big, cool basement and a projector screen for DVDs. In the past, we've all brought a few movies to choose from and vote on one. There's always a big potluck buffet over to the side, and we have social time before and after the movie. This is a laid-back, fun event! You don't have to have a big, fancy projector screen to enjoy the movie. A regular old TV will work just fine! My picks: The Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City (for some audiences), 27 Dresses, Twilight, Far and Away, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (!!!!), and Sweet Home Alabama. You could take it a step further and do something my friend Meri suggested once...have everyone wear black and white and watch an old movie. (My faves for a fun night would be: It Happened One Night, The Major and the Minor, Some Like it Hot, Holiday Inn, Cheaper by the Dozen, Meet Me in St. Louis, and The Seven Year Itch--the last two aren't black and white, but they are fabulous!)

*Spa Night. We did this for MOPS this year, and it was a hit! I also went to one at a girlfriend's home once. We poured big potfuls of hot water into a baby pool and sat around to soak our feet with the sudsy stuff. Bring your own nailpolish to beautify your feet!

*Hit the Yard Sales! This will require an early morning, and in my case, also bringing the children, but it makes for some cheap fun with good returns! Meri and I plan to hit the town next Saturday (L, if you read this, you wanna come??). We'll plan which sales to hit, a stop for donut holes for the bebes, and score ourselves some bargains! Yard sales are fun, but I think they'll be more fun with a friend along.

*Gym Rats. After gorging yourself at all of these potlucks, it could be fun to schedule some gym time with a friend or two. I can't afford a trainer these days, and I'd love to find a friend going to the gym at the same time as me. It could be so helpful to have someone to keep me accountable, and push me. L and I sometimes take a Body Jam class together. We have a blast making fools of ourselves.

I am plumb out of ideas.

{If you have a cheap idea for a girls' night (or morning or afternoon!), please leave me a comment, and I'll feature you in Saturday's Spend Less post!}

I'll leave you with this quote today:
"Give me one friend, just one, who meets the needs of all my varying moods." ~ Esther M. Clark

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Everybody Dance Now!

Today is my final installment in my quest to lure you into my obsession with the cult that is "So You Think You Can Dance?"

Because SYTYCD will premiere tomorrow night on Fox, I'm going to share more than one video today, just because I can. (Reminder: Tomorrow night is just auditions. The real competition will begin in all its awesomeness in another episode or so.)

I am so pysched!

This first video is another contemporary routine. Wade Robson choreographed "The Hummingbird and the Flower" for Jamie and Hok, and it is just beautiful. I believe he won an Emmy for it! I know a lot of you (Emily, wink wink) think that contemporary dance is just a bunch of rolling around on the floor, but if you really watch these two dancers, they encompass their roles so well. Hok nails the frantic, quick movements of a hummingbird, and Jamie is so graceful.

This next video is "Mercy." I love the scorned girlfriend idea...she just won't leave, huh? If I were the scorned girlfriend, I think I'd just slash his tires and call it a day, but that's just me. (Sorry for the quality of the video, but YouTube took down the original) Mia Michaels, a brilliant choreographer, created this piece for Twitch and Katee, who were amazing together.

Tabitha and Napoleon choreographed "No Air" as a hip hop routine for Katee and Joshua. For those of you who think that hip hop is just a bunch of gangstas jumping around, check this video out and see how smooth they are! They play an Army serviceman and his girlfriend who just found out he's being deployed. The ending is great.

I'm sharing this last video one more time just because I loved it so much. Another Tabitha and Napoleon hip hop. So smooth--they really use the music and lyrics to blend with the movements.

I hope I got you a teeny bit interested. You won't be disappointed if you stick around for the actual competition (the first couple of episodes are a lot like American Idol with the bad auditions. Funny a few times, then it gets tiring)

Hope you'll tune in!

I'm going to warm up right now, Blair!
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: Not-So-Amish Cinnamon Bread

Some people drink too much. Others gamble, suffer from shopaholism, or watch excessive amounts of TV.

In our house, T is addicted to that Amish Cinnamon Bread. A friend from church gave us a starter several weeks ago, and we've gone through two more since the original. The idea is that a friend gives you a bag of "starter" mix. It looks like cake batter in a gallon-size ziploc bag. You mush the bag each day (adding some flour and other ingredients on the day specified in the directions), and on Day 10, you add a bunch of ingredients and bake the most delicious bread you've ever tasted in your life. It is so sweet, you can almost hear your teeth screaming. You also have some batter left over to hand out to a few friends.

When the magical loaf of deliciousness is gone, T hovers near the kitchen counter where I keep the "starter." Each day he asks, "Is it bread day yet?"

When the joyous Bread Day finally arrives, he drives me batty with his constant "is the bread ready yet?" questioning. The bread never lasts long in our house. As picky as T is, you know it must be good.

As much as I'd love to share a starter with all 37 of my Followers and the two or three lurkers I know are out there, I don't think you'd appreciate receiving a lumpy old bag of dough in the mail. So I scoured the internet until I found a recipe as close to what I have. I'll share it today as part of Jen's Tasty Tuesday party at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam .

I highly doubt that the Amish use instant Jell-o Vanilla pudding mix in their delicacies, so I am calling it "Not-S0-Amish" Cinnamon Bread. This is the first time I've ever actually followed through and made the bread. I usually give up about 5 minutes after the starter makes it home. I found that since I spend half of my life washing dishes, keeping it by the kitchen sink helps me remember to mush it each day. It is so darn good that I have to keep making it! Some friends are too lazy busy to accept a starter bag when I have them ready, but I've found most people are eager to try it.

It says not to use metal utensils or bowls. I have no idea if this is a valid rule or not, but I decided not to offend the Amish and did it the way they typed it up on the internet verbally handed it down through generations.

Here's the recipe for the STARTER:

Not-So-Amish Cinnamon Bread Starter

found on

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 cups white sugar, divided
3 cups milk


1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a 2 quart container glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly. Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature.
2. On days 2 thru 4; stir starter with a spoon. Day 5; stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Days 6 thru 9; stir only.
3. Day 10; stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Remove 1 cup to make your first bread, give 2 cups to friends along with this recipe, and your favorite Amish Bread recipe. Store the remaining 1 cup starter in a container in the refrigerator, or begin the 10 day process over again (beginning with step 2).

NOTE: Once you have made the starter, you will consider it Day One, and thus ignore step 1 in this recipe and proceed with step 2. You can also freeze this starter in 1 cup measures for later use. Frozen starter will take at least 3 hours at room temperature to thaw before using.

Not-So-Amish Cinnamon Bread

Found on


1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter (which you will have made in the recipe above)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used 2 teaspoons in the recipe I was given)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

**My recipe also called for 1 Large box of instant Jell-o Vanilla pudding mix. I know it's not very Amish, but darnit, I am putting this on the internet so I don't think they'll see it. Plus, it makes the bread SO moist!**

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 2 (9x5 inch) loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, combine the Amish bread starter with oil, eggs, 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well.

3. Pour into prepared loaf pans. (My recipe has me mix a 1/2 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and dust the sides and bottom of the pan and sprinkle the rest on top of the loaves before baking. It is worth it!!!

4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

I have two starters going right now to indulge T. I am an enabler. No...really I am just going to freeze the extra two loaves I make. Glorious sugar.

I separate the new starters to give to friends and family, being sure to mark the date and "Day One" so my friends know when I started theirs.

Extra cinnamon and sugar for the crust!

This is what heaven looks like (to T anyways.) A slice is great with a tall ice water cafe mocha. Just sip your ice water mocha and enjoy Nirvana.

It seems like a lot of work, but it is soooooo worth it. Really, is it that hard to mush a plastic bag a couple of times once a day for 10 days? Don't answer that!

{Bon Appetit!}

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Musings On The Bachelorette...

...good Lord, that girl has nice hair!

That's all.

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Thrifty Treasures Monday

It's Thrifty Treasures Monday again over at Rhoda's Southern Hospitality blog, and I wanted in on the party! Go see what she chanced upon this past weekend when you're done here. She always has something fabulous!

I had a MOPS event to go to on Saturday morning, so I had just enough time to swing by a sale on my way to drop the girls at my in-laws. We stopped by a church yard sale just down the street from us (I love church sales!), and found some good stuff this weekend!

I love this Thanksgiving platter! It will be perfect to serve with this year if I can convince T to stay home again and forgo the torturously long trip to Tennessee to see his enormous extended family. I don't have many seasonal holiday pieces, so I really liked this one!

I picked up this German gingerbread tin on a whim because I thought it was cute. It has German all over the back and side, and "lebkuchen" (gingerbread) was the only long word besides "Nurnberg" I could pick out. I googled it when I got home and apparently they are pretty collectible. I thought it would be cute in one of the girls' rooms.

I couldn't resist this Gymboree turtleneck for Michaela Byrd for next winter. It has salon puppies all over it and says "Beauty Salon." It will look so cute with a little jean skirt, tights, and an adorable bow.

Jen found the same wrought iron Southern Living piece at a sale and mentioned in her post that it originally sold for $75! I'm going to use it for my sister's bridal shower this summer. The wooden pedestal thingie has already been spray painted white, and Babe-Pig in the City is awaiting a trip to the VCR when the kids are driving me insane and I need a few minutes to chant "Serenity Now" to myself.
$7 for everything I got! Woohoo!!!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Why I Love Toddlers...

Yes, that is my toilet, and no, I do not know when she did that.

I am guessing Michaela Byrd snuck into the downstairs bathroom after Natalie left the door open and I was washing the dishes from lunch. I remember going down the hallway from the kitchen and seeing her come out of the bathroom rather quickly, shutting the door.

Underestimating the craftiness of a 16 month old, I assumed she was just playing with the door, but I should have known better.

The kid has a slight obsession with water.

There's the dog water, which I often catch her splashing in, standing in, or just giving herself a refreshing face wash.

Then there's the bathtub. She likes to just stand next to it and throw things into it. As you can see in this picture, she took matters into her own hands one night when I literally walked three steps to her room to grab her towel. This had to be documented.

Most recently, she has turned her attentions to the toilet. I forgot to close the bathroom door a few weeks ago before naptime as I was reading Natalie a story. Sometimes Michaela Byrd will sit and listen if it's a story she enjoys, but most of the time she toddles around wreaking havoc on my upstairs. Out of the corner of my eye while I was reading, I noticed her wander back into Natalie's room sucking on a hairbow. Not seeing any imminent danger, I ignored her. Until she walked back into the room minutes later, looking rather wet. On closer inspection, I noticed the hairbow she was sucking on also looked pretty wet. We followed her into the bathroom and discovered that she had decided to throw herself a pool party in the (clean) toilet. Eww!
How could someone so adorable do something so disgusting???

I love toddlers. They make life so much more interesting. (This is what I am telling myself)

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Grey's Anatomy

Izzie???! George???!

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Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap {11}

"If you're a fly girl...get your hair did."

Who knew I'd be quoting Missy Elliot for this edition of Thrifty Thursday?!

Like many moms of little girls, I love fixing my kids' hair. I do not, however, love to spend lots of money on fixing their hair. I once spent six dollars on a clip-on bow half the size of my pinky finger, only to have a toddler Natalie rip it out in the car. I found it two years later.

Some time ago, my friend L introduced me to the online Boutique, Spoiled Rotten Girls, where they sell instructions on how to make your own hairbows. Unfortunately, all the pictures and words just confuse me, so I rely on L to occasionally just make them for me. It's a nice trade off... She reads my blog, she makes me some hair bows. A fair arrangement, I think.

When I saw this post by Ashley at Domestic Fashionista, I knew I had to give the hair bow thing another try.

First, I gathered some supplies. I have a small, cheap-o hot glue gun, some scissors, and some small alligator clips (I purchase mine at a local beauty supply store). The yellow flowers, like Ashley's, I bought at Michael's (or insert your own craft store name here) with a 40% off coupon. The little felt flowers were actually pins, and they were 50 cents at JoAnn Fabric.

L's tip is to line the inside of the alligator clips first with velvet ribbon. This comes in handy for a toddler's fine hair and makes it stay much better! I just dabbed some hot glue in there, and ta-da, it's lined!
After that, I ripped the metal pin off the back of the felt flower, hot glued it to the clip....drum roll, please....

Voila! CHEAP hair bow!!! I already had the glue, clip, and velvet ribbon. So-- a cutie-pie hair doodad for 50 cents...not bad. Please excuse her ghetto-frizzy's been a long morning.

Here's the other one in orange. A certain three year old was not a cooperative model. It's so hard to find good help these days.
I plan on doing the same thing with the yellow scrapbooking flowers. I could even wear one of those! I saw a bunch of similar hair accessories in Ulta last weekend...for lots more money!
Be creative, and have fun!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just Dance

It's Wednesday, and that means it's time for another exciting video from my favorite summer show, So You Think You Can Dance?, which will be premiering NEXT Thursday. Can you stand the excitement?! I hope you can, because today's video was one of my favorites from that season.

Neil and Sabra dance a jazz routine choreographed by Mandy Moore to the tune "Sweet Dreams." They play a ruthless pair of 80s executives, battling it out in the board room. Kind of Trump-style, huh? I like to pretend it's a Republican and Democrat Senator reviewing the stimulus bill. I love the prop they use, and Mandy Moore adds some sneaky little moves in there, like the under-the-table hand shake, and the part where Neil kind of karate chops Sabra backwards. It's pretty cool, is all I'm sayin.'

If I haven't at least piqued your interest after weeks One,Two, and this little teaser (at the bottom of that post), then I am just baffled. Maybe you just don't like dancing. What's wrong with you???! Kidding, kidding. Sort of.

You can fast-forward right to the dance at 0:47 seconds or something like that. Enjoy!

Wasn't that fabulous?!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

Last night, Natalie (my three year old) looked up from her dinner plate to exclaim, "This is the greatest dinner I've ever tasted."

I was so proud. Until I remembered that dinner last night was a Stouffer's "Grandma's Chicken & Vegetable Rice Bake." Stouffer's did not send any Grandma over to make it...Michaela Byrd and I picked it up in the frozen food aisle at Super-Target while Natalie was at preschool. The most effort I put into baking it was finding a knife to slit the plastic wrap around the frozen block of a casserole.

That's when I knew that maybe, just maybe it might be a good idea to pop over to Jen's at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for an edition of Tasty Tuesday. T works late several nights a week, so the girls and I often eat together. This is a perfect opportunity for us to try some new recipes (possibly with cheese!), away from Sir Picky.

Today's recipe is a great side dish. I love asparagus when it's cooked to have some flavor, but I had never tried my hand at it before I found this recipe. I assumed that there would be some detailed process to creating an asparagus dish, but nope...this one is pretty straight-forward.

Broiled Asparagus
from Real Simple magazine: May, 2008

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

Heat broiler. On a baking sheet, toss the asparagus with oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to coat. Then arrange the asparagus in a single layer and broil, shaking the baking sheet occassionally, until tender and slightly charred. (About 6 to 8 minutes). Transfer to platter.

The most my teething sixteen month old has eaten in one sitting in a week has been half a green bean, some yogurt, and her milk, so I doubt this recipe would go over well with her. But the three year old could be bribed to try the asparagus, and then tricked into liking it. We're on our way to some healthy eating, huh?

{Bon Appetit!}

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