Thursday, December 31, 2009
Everyone is wishing a Happy New Year to everyone in bloggity blog land. And here it is...let's see...47 minutes to New year's and what is an exhausted mother of a 1 and 3 year old with no cable to do; who had party invites but wondered what to do with the kiddos past the 9 pm breaking point?
Um, go to bed to the soothing sounds of 85 gazillion neighbors setting off fireworks now 46 minutes too early before 2010.
Signing off in the year 2009 as it goes out in my hood with a literal bang.
Happy New Year Sweet Friends!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I have seen this a number of times with different ways to do it. The funniest account was by Angela Cottrell (Travis Cottrell's wife) here. I suppose it all depends upon your microwave but the one thing I love about this is how well it works! I never have to scrub my microwave anymore although I am ashamed to admit how infrequently I clean it.
Just pop a microwave safe bowl in your microwave for about 4-6 minutes. The steam from the boiling water will soften all the icky, hard stuff in there and you can wipe it out. No chemicals from cleaner needed. NO SCRUBBING while contorting yourself into positions not intended for the human form. I have also heard you can add vinegar but the smell from the coffee maker when I clean it with vinegar keeps me at bay. Lemon juice added to the water is also another option.
Tip #2: Cleaning Those Icky Straps on a High Chair or Booster Seat
I am kinda anti-high chair because I have a fear of all the food particles that would get under those cushy seats and into nooks and crannies that I never understood the purpose of. (I so ended that sentence on a preposition but do any of you care as much as I do? It will be growth for me just to leave it.) Instead, I started using booster seats that come with the little tray. Love them, easy to wipe down, and I can see where all the crumbs and food pieces go. But those straps. Ewwwwww!
My mom used the same kind of chair for my nephews and she would soak the straps in a bowl with bleach. I am not someone who should handle bleach around anything. My clothing, carpet, shoes, whatever would get splattered. I am just too klutzy. Plus, one not so bright moment remains in infamy around here. I forgot and left canvas chair covers for some outdoor lounge chairs soaking in bleach once and when I came back it was full of holes. Bleach and me...we ain't tight.
So instead, I use the Oxy clean powder. Smells much better. Just fill a small bowl with super hot water, put about a tablespoon or two in the water and soak the straps to get all the grime off. I use a tooth brush to scrub the straps and they end up so clean. Simple!
Happy Tuesday sweet friends!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Annual Christmas Glee with BFF & Family
BFF and I get together each year with our families and celebrate Christmas with dinner, gifts, and goodies. We did this last Saturday. This year we did a dessert fondue while watching Elf and it was so fun. Any of you who can quote at least 3 lines from that movie will receive a Christmasgram from me next year. :)
Now most of you know I refer to Kelly as BFF. Because she is soooo my BFF that just her name won't do. We have this weird, co-dependent, mutually in-like with each other relationship where we are one another's biggest fan. It looks weird to people on the outside of this glorious union but we don't care. On the 23rd, we met a 6 am to do last minute shopping equipped with coffee and sans the kiddos. It was like heaven on earth. While shopping we stumbled across these fun rings and decided to purchase identical ones to signify our (questionably normal) devotion to one another. Our husbands just stare at us like we are the freaks we are when we tell them the stuff we do. Last year, BFF purchased matching heart tube socks for us at Valentine's Day. We have yet to wear them in public but us gifting this kind of stuff to each other just cracks us up. We are the only ones who think we are funny but that is what makes us special. Really special.
But I am alarmed that this picture gives me the appearance of man hands. Look at my knuckles!
I'll tell you a secret, though. Sometimes, when no one is looking, we join our rings together and cry out, "BFF POWER...ACTIVATE!!!!" Lightening crackles. The power blinks on and off. Dogs howl in the distance. It's exciting.
Sack Lunches for Pinellas Hope
On Christmas Eve, my Lifegroup at church (Small group, Sunday school class) made over 300 sack lunches for the homeless. What a wonderful collaborative effort and something so terrific to involve our kids and teach them about the love of Christ at Christmas.
Family pic after church
The Joy of Christmas Morning
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Annnnnnnd here's the top visual to show you the bag inside the box.
Friday, December 18, 2009
My sweet, talented, creative, marvelous friend with oodles of techy talent (of which I possess zilch) made me a little blog button for my blog. What is so cool about it is that it she was able to use two of my little birds (I actually made those) that are my trademark craft birds for the felt bookmarks I make and any other crafty thing that just calls for me to slap a bird on it.
Sidebar: I dig birds yet I am not so keen on real ones. Is that weird? I am not a bird watcher or even know names of birds. Oh, I appreciate a bird on a tree branch or resting on a bird house but I loooooove fake, crafty birds with fabric wings, stitched legs, and bead eyes.
Um, Jessica...get off point much?
Why yes. Yes I do.
So Alaina made me this button to put on the side of my blog (look to your right) in case anyone would want to give me a shout out. And I thank all 3 of you who do. I tried making one and was unhappy with it. I think unhappy was unhappy with it. So I did a do over by making the wise choice in not doing it myself.
Second Sidebar: Can I just tell you that as I type this post my daughters are watching Blues Clues and my precious, sweet, brilliant Cati actually thinks Steve is talking to her from the flashy, blinky box perched on the armoire. Now should I be concerned that she talks back to him and seems utterly non plussed that a reciprocating dialogue does not occur when she responds? Or should my concern lie in that she suffers from acute narcissism to think even people in TV land are talking only to her? And yes, it is Classic Clues before brother Joe came in the picture.
OK. I will chalk it up to her being 3. Point taken.
Seriously, I am trying to tell you a little about my friend Alaina here (who happened to just start a blog called Soda in a Sippy Cup...wink, wink) and I am doing a shameful job because I just let you know what I am thinking as I think it. I truly believe there needs to be a filter from my brain to my mouth but the fact it happens when I actually type out what I am thinking is a quandary. Guess I can't change what is inherently me...and OH. MY. WORD. I did it again.
Alaina. Blog button. Her new blog. Check it all out.
Wait! Do any of you know how to get rid of that little jpg. thingy on the bottom of the button. I am so techy challenged it is ridiculous. Any tips would be truly helpful. Please.
UPDATE: Thank you so much Catrisha for helping me with my bloggy button dilemma. You were so helpful and sweet to do all the work for me. You rock, girl!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
And I am totally reneging on it because I am just plain weary.
I have been sick since Thanksgiving, my brain is fried and I am trying to have some joy here. So in order to do that I am unable to do my tips on pretty tablescapes and other festive stuff. Maybe next year. Will you forgive me?
- Icing your cupcakes or cookies
- Cutting fruits and veggies and popping them in the bag really quick
- Pouring marinades, breadcrumb mixtures, or dough recipes (like friendship bread)
See this toy monstrosity? Which costs 80 buckaroonies in the store? Well, my kiddos thought this thing was a blast when at Aunt Kelly's house (BFF) and so we swapped. Her boys loved the toy I gave her (drawing a total blank on what it was) and my girls love this. Best part? When I am sick of looking at, hearing, tripping over, and moving this thing and I can give it back.
So this Christmas when the kids have played out all their goodies...get some mommy friends together and start swapping.
Happy Tuesday Friends!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever.Great stories. But two things made me take it down...
First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by.
Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard."
Best Christmas decoration of the year!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
You probably don't know this about me but I love anything having to do with tea. I collect teapots though they went in boxes when children came on the scene. I was hooked when I learned all the elements that make up a tea. What hit me the most is that having tea makes you stop the busyness of life. So I am going to encourage you to try this during the Christmas season. It may not be your thing but humor me. It takes little effort and all I ask is you try it...
- Invite a special friend or two to tea. Send an invitation to make it fun.
- Dress up your table with a tablecloth. You don't need "tea" things to give attention to a table. But put a tablecloth on it, set it with cups, sugar bowl, creamer, and a little plate for goodies. Use cloth napkins if you have them and set out a teapot or carafe.
- Have flowers or some other Christmas centerpiece.
- Now here is the super cool thing...if you don't like tea, no worries! Have coffee, hot chocolate, spiced cider, etc. It is the EXPERIENCE that matters. Take your coffee pot straight from the coffeemaker and pour it into cups if you have to.
- Make or buy fresh fruit, muffins, scones, little pastries, etc. A few treats is all you need.
- Make or buy a thoughtfuil gift (like an ornament).
- Now chit chat for an hour or two. I promise you it will refresh you and make you feel truly connected with the friends or family sitting beside you.
- You can even try this alone and curl up with a good book. There is something so special about making a cup of tea or coffee an event rather than a morning ritual and when you share it with friends, it is such a lovely time.
Tip #2: Showing some Christmas Spirit
I love that this season is another opportunity to think beyond ourselves to bless someone else. Here are some ideas...
- Bake cookies and give them to neighbors you don't know very well.
- Adopt a grandparent at a local retirement home and visit them during the season and after.
- Volunteer at a shelter on Christmas day for an hour or two.
- Bring home a friend who is alone this Christmas and include them in all your festivities.
- Get a group together to go caroling. Its fun. Yes, you may feel stupid but you laugh a lot.
- Offer to wrap presents for a single mom who works full time or even get together with a group to give gift cards or monetary gifts to several single moms.
- Have your child's class at school or Sunday school make cards for soldiers overseas to send during Christmas.
- Sponsor a foster child (near and dear to my heart) with gifts this Christmas.
- Pay for the car behind you in a drive thru.
- Give blood.
- Let someone go before you in line or give someone else the closer parking spot.
- Reconnect with a friend you lost touch with over the last few years.
Happy Tuesday Sweet Friends!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The funny thing is, clinging to vanity reveals insecurity. Yet the reality is that I am incredibly arrogant to think all eyes are on me at all times and everyone will notice me and my kickin' shoes that day. Or all of my apparent flaws.
Ah, the joy of being the personification of an oxyMORON.
So I am rather ashamed to say that I was totally not going to go to this conference at my church this weekend because I did not have anything cute to wear. Shallow, right? But can you relate?
So I was late buying a ticket. Never scheduled childcare for the kiddos since I was volunteering and needed to be early. Worried about the cost of a ticket at a whopping $34 during the holidays. Disregarded the fact that it was my church hosting Fresh Grounded Faith with Jennifer Rothschild, a well known author, bible study author, and speaker. Our church aligned with 10 other churches in the area for this event. But at the last minute I decided to go because the Hound of heaven would not let me stay home. Even BFF said I should go. Hubster said go. So I decided to go.
And the night before I deem it QUITE necessary to go shopping. As much as Neiman Marcus could be my permanent residence since their bathrooms are nicer than my own, I must settle for discount shopping. TJ Maxx kind of shopping. Not that TJM is a disappointment. No, no. And with holiday hours, I can get my shopping on even longer.
As I got in my consumer glow, I found myself in the dressing room when I got a text from a friend who I had beckoned to come over to the dark side with me to gleefully shop for the weekend festivities. She texted me back letting me know she was exhausted and on her way home from church but hit TJ's sister store, Marshalls, already. (she and I will go down together like Thelma & Louise). Anyway, I was in there until they announced they were closing. I am convinced they were noting my license plate number and taking secret photos with security cameras because I visited the dressing room like 5 times and went over my limited quantity each time. The lady who worked the dressing room would sigh loudly upon my approach. Obviously, my perky greeting each time did nothing to pacify her or persuade her I am merely just addicted to retail therapy.
So I find some cute stuff and go home. It's the next day when I realize that sweet, kindred spirit friend of mine was coming home from church because there was a meeting for ALL VOLUNTEERS FOR THE CONFERENCE. I WAS MIA! And what was I doing? Shopping!! Oh my word, I felt so bad. I had to call all the appropriate people because I sooooooo dropped the ball. Had to make sure kids could be in childcare, get a ticket at the last second, blah, blah, blah. And here is the kicker. I am not one of those people who can make excuses all that well. I just have to own it. Whenever I got a speeding ticket, I would try to muster up some tears for the nice officer but I just ended up looking constipated. I'd hand over my license with a sheepish look and say, "Yeeeeaaaah. I was speeding. I am so sorry."
So I had to face the fact that I was seriously lacking in diligence. All for an idol of vanity. And really, did anyone care? Nope. And God's sense of humor with a dash of divine justice was thrown in because it was pouring rain that night like I had never seen! I had to carry the girls, me, an umbrella the size of a small nation, my bag, and a diaper bag into the building. With each step I knew my hair was getting wet, the jeans were in puddles, and all my effort was for naught!
But amen and amen. I am so happy when I get put in my place. God is so mindful of those dark places no one knows about in the recesses of my mind. He knows the superficial things I get caught up in. Is it wrong to like to shop? NOOOOO! But I can become wrapped up in what I wear on my person rather than the person God is teaching me to be. Especially within the context of a women's conference where a contrite heart and a teachable spirit is needed for God to do His work in me. Whether I think I need it or not.
So I am thankful I learned this little lesson. (And secretly, I felt like I looked kinda cute learning it.)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I'm just saying.
So once again I will be honest. So join me as I lay myself bare, birthday suit style. I shall put it all out there in its hideous glory. See, Christmas tends to make me lose sight of what the season is all about and focus on what the season has BECOME all about...for me. Liiiiiiike...
Decorations. Gifts. Busyness. Stress. Crowds. Cookies. Eating the cookies. Baking more cookies. Mean people who suck. Having tendencies of being mean and people saying I suck. Shopping (which I love). Shopping for other people (don't love as much). Struggling to understand wreaths and bows on the grille of a car. Higher electric bill. Hearing bells at every store I enter and wanting to stop and explain how I emptied my change at the last store, all my paper money is gone, and it really does not make sense for me to drop my plastic in the red bucket full of jingly coins yet I don't say anything because then it looks like I am making excuses. (Breathe) Muttering about the middle row of lights that went out on the tree and not being able to find the faulty bulb to replace it. 78 degree weather in December. Buying a Christmas outfit that is not too Christmas-y because I will want to wear it again without someone saying, "Didn't you wear that at Christmas?" Planning to lose weight after it's all over yet indulging in a last hoorah and gaining 8 extra pounds. I am sick and I am sick and tired of being sick. We have no family nearby and it makes me sad. I can not find the Christmas stockings I envision anywhere and the telepathic messages I am sending to every Etsy shop is getting scrambled in the transmission. Waking at 5 am on Black Friday. Other sales I miss out on. Coveting the things I want but can't have...
So is it any wonder that I have a bit of an attitude? But really, let's be honest. I bring it on myself as I dwell on all things that truly do not matter. And as I sit and meditate on all that God has done to fill my life up to overflowing, the fog begins to clear and the peace descends upon me like a sweet, Christmas promise...
I have a husband who has made me feel loved every waking moment of our marriage.
I have two daughters who delight me and who are such blatant miracles that they prove undeniably a God who is intimately mindful of me.
When I look at people all around me and see other people with intricate lives filled with love, pain, joy, hope, mistakes, forgiveness, fear...I realize the foolishness of my daily irritations and inconveniences these people may cause.
I cherish the friendships that enrich my life with encouragement, laughter, and incredible loyalty.
I see that I live in a place that can be enjoyed all year long outdoors.
I discover that giving is soooo much better than receiving.
I realize that I am more fortunate than most and my financial complaints are born of pettiness and discontent.
Decorations, stockings, shopping, and gifts pale in comparison to sitting on the floor with my girls having a dress up tea party and giggling about the fake pasta Cati just made me to go with my tea.
Wreaths and bows on car grilles are attempts at being festive and I really should just go buy a Christmas sweater...um, no.
And most importantly of all...Christmas is about the birth of my Savior Jesus Christ. A Savior who saved me from a self-made pit that one day I will share with you. I love how God has changed my life, is continually transforming me, and each day I want to thank Him with this life He gave me. At times, my offering of self is rather paltry but God is merciful, full of grace, abounding in love.
I have a God who loves me, enough to die for me, and if I focus on a season where I love the people around me, I clearly can see fathomless beauty in the midst of my Christmas woes.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Tip #1: UNIQUE, CREATIVE, & THOUGHTFUL GIFT WRAPPING:
Tea Stained Sheet Music Wrapping Paper: Now understand I usually stage Two Tips each week. And I, Jessica, actually tea stained sheet music for this post. Because that is how much I love you. And I am chic cheap. I just downloaded free sheet music, tea stained it and dried it in the oven for an old look. Wrapped it with a little bell to match the theme. I actually did this a few years ago as a centerpiece and I used glitter on the paper to make it sparkle. It was pretty.
Fabric & Measuring Tape Wrap: OK. If anyone gave me a gift like this I would heart them forever. I love, love, love anything fabric and this is one of those gifts you give when you know something about that person. Like me, I love fabric so this would be a gift within a gift because I would use the fabric too! Oh how fun. Plus, it is reusable. (That's for my green peeps). And isn't the measuring tape perfect?
OK, I am weary from all that fake gift wrapping. So no more pictures. I am just too tired. But brilliance I have. Okay, no. Just ideas.
Lifetime Set of Ornaments: Obviously, a gazillion people out there do ornaments each each year for their kids. It was done for me and probably for a zillion of you. But I grew into this anal retentive woman who needs everything with a theme. It is ridiculous but it is the essence of me. So. I decided that my girls can do whatever they want with their tree but we are going to give them a silver ornament each year. It may be different but the unifying factor will be silver. There are so many other way you can do this. Some people do a hallmark ornament each year. Maybe a repetitive theme like a tree full of santas, snowmen, angels, etc. How about an annual photo ornament? I like the idea of collecting vintage numbers, cookie cutters, spelling family members names...really, the list is endless.
Ornament Set for a family: Why not buy a pretty set of ornaments and attach them to a set of gifts you are giving to a particular family or group of friends? You can use them in lieu of gift tags and in the end that family has a new set of ornaments for the tree.
Whew. This post took it out of me. I am off to bed but I promise to be a better planner next week and not wait until the last minute.