• May 18, 2016

    Top 5 Things to Love About Spring

    Feature-Image

    Spring is such a wonderful time of year, don’t you think?  There is always so much to do, but there is also so much to love!   I’ve managed to narrowe it down to my 5 favorite things about springtime!  I hope you enjoy my photos and feel inspired to get out and see some of your favorite spring things.  *grin*

    1. Everything is new!

    Duckies

     

    Lavender

     

    2. It’s nice enough to go outside!

    Geese

     

    Walking-Ollie

     

    3. Iced coffee!

    Iced-Chai

     

    4. Garden planning!

    Pots

     

    Herbs

     

    5. Breaking out the spring and summer wardrobe!

    Dresses

     

    Scarves

  • April 13, 2016

    Treat Yo’Self!

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    Ugggh… you guys… I am so tired!  The past six weeks or so have really taken the life out of me!  So much so that I am even struggling to write this at all.  Between Dad’s surgery, family obligations, house projects, financial burdens, typical work stressors, and extra special work stressors on top of it all… I’m beat.

    During this stressful time, I’ve been thinking a lot about self care and how I can get better at it.  I brought it up with my mom and was surprised to find that she wasn’t particularly familiar with the term “self care.”  I guess it’s such a talked about concept in the mental health field that I forget not everyone learns what it means to take care of themselves and why it’s essential to successful living!

    Self care is pretty much just what it sounds like: taking care of one’s own mental, physical, and spiritual health and wellbeing.  This includes managing stress and finding balance with the different facets of one’s life.  Most importantly, self care is a continual process, not a onetime thing!  You have continually take time to find your peace and feed your soul.

    “But that sounds so selfish!  Who has time to get away from work?  The kids?  The house?  The husband?  If I don’t pour my heart and soul into everyone and everything around me, I’m a bad mom/wife/woman!”

    Feet

    I hear you, my dears, and I understand where that feeling comes from!  It’s not always easy to remember that you have value all on your own, is it?  It’s easy to martyr yourself and feel that that is what makes you a good person.  The best way I know to explain that this viewpoint is so flawed is to ask you to remember the last time you got on an airplane and the speech they give before takeoff.  If you need to put on an oxygen mask, they tell you to do yours first and then help others.  That’s not selfish!  You are completely useless to help others if you’re passed out!  The same is true of regular life stuff!

    Have you ever noticed getting grumpy with your coworkers when you slept poorly?  Or snapped at your significant other when dinner is late and you’re a little hangry?  Ever yelled at the kids after a long day at work when all you want to do is draw a bath and drink a glass of wine?  That’s why self care matters!  If you don’t do it, not only do you suffer, but so does everyone else around you!

    So, then, what do you do about it?  Consider what you naturally do to reduce stress and feel good.  From there, you can expand your positive self care strategies and incorporate these things more naturally into your life.  Once something becomes a habit, you won’t have to work as hard to do it on a regular basis.  Discuss your thoughts with your family or friends so they can help you stay on track and to help them understand any changes your self care plan will make in  how  you interact with them.

    Here’s a short list of things to help you get started.  Please add to it and mold it to fit your own, personal needs!

    • Be self aware – know your limits and make a plan to help you stick to what you can handle – it’s okay to say “no” once in a while.
    • Develop a support system – talk to family, friends, people online, and seek out professional help if needed
    • Take care of your body: exercise, eat right, sleep enough
    • Take care of your mind: take time off, read, do something relaxing, practice mindfulness
    • Take care of your spirit: laugh, meditate, attend religious services, spend time in nature or visit a spa

    When in doubt, be like a corgi!  Play outside with your favorite person, drink lots of water, and SMILE!

    Happy-Face

  • March 16, 2016

    Easter Eggs

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    Dying eggs is my most favorite Easter tradition and reminds me of quality time I had with my mom and a good friend of ours while I was growing up.  I don’t remember how my mom’s friend got involved, probably because her boys had outgrown the tradition, but she became an integral part of our celebration.  It has now been years since I last dyed an Easter Egg, but it’s such a beautiful tradition, so I decided to learn a little more about the history behind it all and try my had at naturally coloring some eggs!

    My research has shown me that, like Christmas, many Easter traditions were borrowed from pagan celebrations and repurposed into something new.  Eggs symbolize fertility and rebirth, so early Christians adopted them as a symbol for Christ’s resurrection.

    Understanding the coloring part of the tradition is a little less obvious as there are many different theories as to how it all got started.  Some believe eggs were decorated simply to beautify them in celebration of Lent coming to an end – eggs were not allowed during Lent.  Other’s believe Mary had eggs at the crucifixion and Jesus’ blood dripped on them – coloring them red – and so we color eggs red in remembrance of his sacrifice.  Other legends claim that Mary had the eggs with her and they miraculously turned red when she saw the risen Christ or, alternatively, when she told someone he had risen and he replied that Christ had no more risen than her eggs were red, so they turned red.

    Whatever the historical reason, I enjoy the tradition because it reminds me of home, of simple joys, and of familial closeness.

    Now, on the “show” part of this little show and tell!  *grin*  Because we try to eat cleanly and don’t buy dyes or foods containing dyes, we were determined to try and color some eggs naturally this year!  I didn’t have the time or desire to test lots of different recipes – frankly, I don’t even really like hard boiled eggs all that much – so we’re going to try good old Martha Stewarts recipes out and see what happens!  *grin*

    We decided to try to achieve pale yellow, light blue and chartreuse for our eggs.  There are a lot of other colors that require different ingredients and techniques listed on the website, so I would encourage you to check it out!

    Following the instructions given, we simplified them a bit and came up with the following:

    Pale Yellow: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 3 tablespoons turmeric to a boil.  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Turmeric

     

    Light Blue: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 4 cups chopped cabbage to a boil (add more water and vinegar in their correct proportions if needed to cover the cabbage).  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Cabbage

     

    Chartreuse: Use the dyes already used for pale yellow and light blue.  Soak eggs in the turmeric dye for 30 minutes and remove.  Then, place in the cabbage dye briefly – about 5 minutes.

    Coloring-Eggs

     

    Eggs

    Pro Tip: When removing the eggs from the color, pat them dry with a paper towel – don’t rub!  If you rub too much, the color will come off!

    Expect a bit of variation with your eggs.  I don’t know what makes the color stick or not stick, but some defiantly turned out better than others and they were all done the same.

    Cabbage, turmeric, eggs, and vinegar all stink, so try to plan your egg dying time for when you can have an open window!  Otherwise your house will stink and everyone will wonder what kind of mess you’re making for dinner!

    I hope ya’ll give this little project a try!  I was very pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy of the colors and how easy it all actually was.  Way more interesting and fun (as an adult at least… though, you could totally turn this into a mini science lesson for your kids) than the little kits you can buy!

    Easter-Eggs

  • March 2, 2016

    Bicycle Race

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    Ooooooh boy, I can’t imagine those ladies are comfortable riding their bikes.  But, hey, I’ve never tried nekkid bike riding before, so who knows.  *grin*

    Anyway…. I finally got my bike, ya’ll!  It’s so shiny!  I don’t remember if I ever actually brought up my bicycle dreams here or not, but it’s something I’ve been working towards since we decided to move.  You see, there is a beautiful park near our home as well as some fabulous restaurants and shopping all within walking/biking distance.  So… I’ve been dreaming and scheming for quite some time now!

    By-the-Water

    With the weather getting nicer every day, I decided it was time to take out my savings and bite the bullet.  Lucky for me, the bike I wanted went on sale at the same time I was ready to go and I got a screaming deal on it!  *patience is a virtue for a reason*  Also lucky for me, I have a coworker-friend who is super into bikes and her husband graciously offered to put mine together for me so I could save some money on the shipping.

    In-the-Park

    So, now it’s all put together and looking beautiful – I’m almost afraid to take it anywhere, lest it get scuffed or marred.  Of course, that doesn’t really stop me… but I do think about it every time I take it out.  I realized while we were putting it all together that I haven’t ever had a brand new bike… and I haven’t really ridden one since high school.  High school, ya’ll.  So I’m a little rusty.

    All this talk about my excitement, I’m sure you’d like to know more about this bike that has me so enamored.  First, she’s a Public bike.  I decided to go with a Public brand bike over others for several reasons: 1. style 2. quality 3. affordability 4. they had exactly what I wanted.  I did a year’s worth of searching and reading and pouring over reviews before landing on this one.

    Public

    The bike I got is the Dutch Step Thru C1 which means that it only has one gear.  I went back and forth a lot about one gear vs. 3 or more and ended up deciding on the one gear because of the terrain I’ll mostly be riding on – park and neighborhood only.  I don’t have any plans to take her on main roads or try to commute to work and there aren’t any major hills in my nearby area.  Once I get better at riding again, I might look for another bike with more gears and that can travel faster on main roads, but that’s probably quite a ways off!

    Bike

    And, one of the best things is, because I got the bike on such a great sale, I was able to also get some really amazing accessories too!  There’s nothing like customizing stuff so it genuinely reflects you as a person.  I have some other customization goals in mind… but I’m totally broke now… so it’ll have to wait.

    What was that about patience being a virtue, again?  ha!

  • May 6, 2015

    Essential Oil Bath Bombs

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    My friend Joanna over at youtube.com gave me this fantastic recipe for bath bombs using essential oils and I am so excited to share it with you!  These bath bombs have made my skin so soft and I really love how easy they are to do!  With Mother’s Day coming up, why not whip up a batch and share some rest and relaxation with your Mama?  *grin*

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup baking soda
    • 1/4 cup citric acid
    • 1/4 cup starch (corn, tapioca, or arrowroot)
    • 1 tablespoon epsom salts
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 3 tsp water
    • 10 drops of essential oils
    • Small candy molds

     

    Instructions:

    1. In a large glass, ceramic, or metal bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients.
    2. With a fork, work in the coconut oil, leaving some chunks of the oil.
    3. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine water and essential oils .  Add the mixture to the dry ingredients a little at a time – stir quickly as the mixture might start to foam a little.
    4. Once all ingredients are combined, press it firmly into each mold and allow to dry overnight.  Store in an air-tight container, preferably made of glass.

     

    Pro-tips:

    Make sure you press it in the mold really good and tight, this will help the bath bombs stay together better and for longer amount of time.

    Use whatever oils you prefer – I liked the calmer fragrances  like lavender  because I tend to take baths to relax, but if you want to toss one in your shower in the morning, go for something uplifting like wild orange.  Or, if you’re struggling with a cold or allergies, try eucalyptus to open up your nose during a hot bath.

    These bath bombs won’t hold their shape forever, so don’t make too many in one go unless you take a lot of baths.  *grin*

     

    Bath-Bomb

  • April 15, 2015

    Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition – Organize!

    Pretty

    Hello again, dear readers!  I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath to find out how to get all your Keep pile back in to your closet without spending a ton of money while still increasing the organization of it all.

    I’ll tell you right now, there are tons of gimmicky things out there designed to organize closets and storage areas and if you’re not careful, it can become very costly very quickly.  Look at the space and organizational items you already have on hand and get creative with it.  Consider different ways to store items like purses and accessories.  Once you have an idea of what you really need, go shopping.  I started with cheap stores like Marshalls and Ross where I had great success!  Then, I hit up the Target clearance isles  and for the storage boxes (pro tip: Measure where your storage boxes are going to go!  I really needed a bigger size than most boxes are made for it to look right in my built in storage spaces).

    Middle-New

    Now that you have your organizational stuff, put it in place and fill ‘er up!  When hanging clothes back up, sort at least by season or type of clothes.  I separated sweaters and long sleeve tops from short sleeve tops and sorted the short sleeve tops between work appropriate and t-shirt.  Then I sorted those types by color.

    Her-Side-Now

    His-Side-New

    Once it’s all hung up, find all those pieces from your original “Maybe Keep” pile – you know, the pile of stuff you needed to try on and think about whether or not you’d actually use it again – and turn the hangers backwards on the hanging rod.  Then, when you use the item, you can turn the hanger around to indicate you made the right choice in keeping it.  Next year when you clean again, you’ll instantly have your donate pile because you know you won’t actually use the things that are still hung backwards!  Smart, eh?

    Turn-The-Hangers

    Another fun tip I love is to use rolled up catalogs inside your fall and winter boots to keep them standing tall!  There are all kinds of boot holders and expensive tips, tricks, and ideas for boots, but catalogs come to you in the mail for free and work perfectly!

    Boot

    You’re almost there now!  Pull together everything that is left over – accessories, purses, and so on – and find logical places for it all.  The best part of this step is that, if you have room, you can arrange beautiful bags and items on shelves to create a lovely backdrop of color.  This also helps you see what you have so you’re more likely to actually use it all!

    Now, take a step back and enjoy the progress you made!  Enjoy the beauty of a clean and organized space and do whatever you can to maintain this level of awesomeness throughout the year!

  • April 8, 2015

    Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition

    Messy-Closet

    As we established last week, it is spring!  And spring is busy!  If you’re anything like me, the improving weather makes you want to run outside and never come in again.  Being outside in the fresh air makes brings into sharp relief just how stale and dark the air inside is after being shut up all winter.  And if you’re anything like me, that creates an insatiable need to clean, sort, and renew every part of everything in your life.

    This spring, I decided to start with my messy, disgusting closet.  We’re about to get pretty personal here, so I want you to check any judgment you might have at the door.  If it helps, go look in all of your messy closets and remember that you’re not such a great housekeeper either.  And when you’ve done that, think about using the following tips to clean up your act too!

    *grin*

    First things first, assess your mess.  Take a good long look and soak it all in.

    Her-Side

    Her Side

     

    His Side

    His Side

     

    Pile of Shoes

    Pile of Shoes

    Ok, stop soaking it in and move on to the real step #1:  Pull everything out of your closet so you have a blank slate to work with in putting things back.

    Step #2:  Before putting things back, sort into 4 piles.

    Keep, Maybe Keep, Toss or Recycle, and Donate.  This probably goes without saying, but the Keep pile is for things you use and wear on a regular basis.  I also include things  you may not use often, but has sentimental value (e.g.: your wedding gown) and cannot be replaced.

    The Maybe Keep pile is for things you haven’t used or worn in a long time, but you think you might.  It’s also for things you need to try on and need to make sure you can even use it.

    The Toss or Recycle pile is for things that have holes, are broken, or actual trash that made its way into the deep, dark corners of your closet.  As you create this pile, keep in mind all the Pinterest DIY’s you have been saving up – you might not be able to wear your holy t-shirt, but maybe you can make a rug or grocery bag out of it.

    The Donate pile is for things that are still useable and in good condition, but you no longer want them.  These things will be given to charity, friends, or thrift stores.

    Keep

    Keep Pile

    Step # 3:  Execute your plans for each pile.

    Throw everything in the Toss pile away, keeping back things you have a project in mind for.  Be careful not to use the recycle ideas as an excuse to keep crap you’ll never use: be realistic about your plans and don’t hoard junk.  For the things you can Recycle, wash and put away in your craft storage place.

    Try on everything from the Maybe Keep pile and make a judgment call.  If you think you’ll use or wear it and it fits, put it with the Keep pile.  If there’s no way you’ll ever be a size 2 again, put it with the Donate pile.

    Bag or box up everything for Donation.  If you think friend might want some of it, let them sort through it before dropping it off at your favorite charity or thrift store.  This is a great time to donate the plastic grocery bags you’ve been hanging on to too – thrift stores often reuse grocery bags for their own shoppers.

    For what to do with the Keep pile, tune in next week!

     

    Happy Spring Cleaning!

  • April 1, 2015

    Spring Fever

    Egads, I’ve been busy!  How busy have I been, you ask?  So busy I missed a post for the first time in 6 months last week.

    *sigh*

    This hurts my OCD and delusions of perfection.

    A lot.

    But rather than focusing on a small gap in an otherwise very good (consistent!) thing, I am choosing to look forward!  After all, so much of life and one’s perspective has to do with choosing how you’ll allow things to affect you.  Right?

    *steps off soapbox*

     

    Anyway, I have what I consider to be some pretty big plans for the next 6 months or so that I think you’ll find exciting.  At least I hope you will.  In the meantime, bear with me and forgive me if I’m a little spotty with posts.  I’ll be as diligent as possible, I promise!

  • March 18, 2015

    Top 5: Things for Spring

    In the last couple of months, I have become completely obsessed with bright colors.  I don’t know if it’s just the dreary winter getting to me or if I’m turning into someone who just loves color, but whatever the reason, I am having a lot of fun with it!  *grin*  For this Top Five, I have chosen a few beauties that I am in love with this spring.  I don’t actually own any of these things, so I can’t give a review or tell you about fit or function.  Think of it more like a wish list.  *wink*wink*

     

    Fossil-Bag

    Fossil

    ModCloth-Dress

    Modcloth

     

    Boma-Lotus-Necklace

    Boma Jewelry

    Shoes

    DSW

    Dr-Horrible-Print

    adriantoddzilla

  • May 10, 2014

    Planting Day

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    Oh man, I am running a little late this week.  What day is it?  Saturday?

    *sigh*

    What can I say, I’ve been busy this week crying my eyes out over The Fault in Our Stars.

    So there.

    Seriously, though, if you haven’t read it yet, stop everything you’re doing and read it.  Maybe buy a new box of tissues first.

    But, real quick before you do that, let me tell you about the other thing I am SO excited about this week!  Today was planting day!  Last weekend, my hubby and I went out to the local gardens to buy some veggie plants so we can get our garden going.

    Usually, we try to get things planted as soon as we get them, but the weather has not been ideal for planting.  So, today when we woke up to sunshine and blue skies, we jumped at the opportunity to get some tomatoes in the ground!

    We’ve been planting tomatoes in our raised garden bed for 3 summers now and have always had pretty good success.  Last year, we tried a black heirloom tomato in a planter, but failed miserably.  So, this year, we decided to forget the fancy tomatoes and branch out and try for some eggplant.  I am so excited!!!  We are also trying out jalapenos this year, so watch for some salsa recipes this summer!

    Pepper

    I’m also happy to report that our strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are coming back stronger than last summer.  And, the plum and pear trees are starting to look promising too.  Hopefully we’ll get some good fruit this time around!

    Strawberries

    Blueberries  Raspberries

    I find so much joy each spring when we start everything new and fresh.  We got rained out towards the end, but our garden is planted and it’s going to be amazing!  It’s a great feeling to bring something to life and make your own food.  I know it probably sounds a little hokey, but gardening is something my husband and I really love, and take pride in.  Also, I just really love to eat.

    Now, if I can just find a tree that will make chocolate bars and ice cream….