Monday, September 30, 2013

30 day dress challenge.....The END and A Giveaway!

30 days. 30 dresses. It is over. My pasty whites can now be hidden again!

Some thoughts and confessions:

- I have already mentioned that putting on a dress calls out for a little more in the hair and makeup department but it is also worth mentioning that it influences the way you act and present yourself also. For example, even while wearing a dress here at home, I still found myself crossing my legs at the table and just feeling a little more poised and proper. 

-There are just somethings that call for pants and I need to confess that in all actuality, I failed this challenge. While I wore a dress every day of the 30 days, I did not always wear it the full 16 or so hours. Volunteering at Pre-k or even apple picking can pose a real challenge while in a dress so I hung my head in shame and put on jeans for those events. And if I am being all out honest here, there were days where I put my pajamas on at 6:00 because I was tired of being "dressed" up. So, I forfeit my prize. I was getting a prize, right? Surely one of you was going to give me something??  :)

Day 28 - Super casual

Day 29

Day 30

One great thing about wearing 30 different dresses was figuring out what I still loved and what didn't work for me so well. A few of the dresses were uber-short for a 36 year old lady and some of them had sat in my closet for quite a while unworn. So, I have decided to do a little giveaway. All of the dresses below are in fantastic condition. I have noted the brand name and the size below each dress. I am giving away all of them so if you love one of them or three of them, leave me a comment telling me which ones you would like to have. I will leave this open until Friday, October 4th and notify the winners then.

Spiegel Size Small
Will fit size 6-8 

Imaginary Voyage, Size Large
Will fit size 8/10

American Eagle Size 8 

Francesca's Size Med

XXI size Small
Will fit size 4/6

The Limited Size 6
Will fit larger

Saturday, September 28, 2013

30 Day Dress Challenge.....Week 4

I have three days of the challenge left and that makes me happy. I still love dresses but I am sick of wearing them. It is so much easier to throw on a pair of pants and top. A dress seems to demand (at the minimum) a swipe of lip gloss and presentable hair. I don't wear pajama bottoms and slipper boots to the store (nor will I ever) but there is something to be said about a casual go-to outfit for our busy lives. That being said, I feel 500 times better when I am put together. I do not find the same confidence in pants as I do in a dress. I will save the rest of my comments for the final post in a couple of days. And then we can turn our attention to the wonderful month of October. I have a ton of cool crafts, ideas, and recipes lined up for next month!

Day 22 - Wearing this dress around the house made it a super weird day.

Day 23 

Day 24 - I wore a blazer over this for work.

Day 25

Day 26 - One of my faves!

Day 27 
Stay tuned for the last three days!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Garden Journaling

I have kept a garden journal since 2008. I usually start in the dead of winter (when I am dreaming of being outside) by writing down what I hope to plant in the coming Spring. I always start out overly ambitious with a full page or two of fruits and veggies and end up planting about a fourth of that winter-induced insanity. We all know how much surplus a garden can make and after this past year of slipping tomatoes and zucchini in people’s parked cars, I am doubly thankful I cut back.

I revisit my journal during planting time and write down everything that I have chosen to go in the garden. I usually include specifics, like when I planted, where I planted, and anything I have tried differently than the year before. For example, in 2009, I tried mulching between rows and realized I had made a very rookie mistake in 2008 when I had not. There are tips like, “Harvest beets when they are as big as golf balls for maximum flavor” and “Keep mulch 2 inches from plant stems” that I have found online or in magazines and written in my journal, hoping that the act of writing them down would help me remember to follow them. I also include stories, like the year when Jake and I were tilling up the plot and unearthed a rolling mass of black snakes that were hibernating. He didn’t help me much after that and from that day forward I catch myself wondering what is lying directly below wherever I am standing.

Sometimes, I make notes during the growing season, but for the most part I write in the journal at the beginning and end. I make note of what worked fabulously and what didn't. That maybe I should not plant three cherry tomato plants next year and that I should look into a few more herbs. One note this year states NOT to plant the cucumber plant directly in front of the gate door……you would of thought…..but no.

My journal is just a spiral bound, chipboard cover notebook. You could use anything. Dress a plain journal up fancy or buy a journal geared toward gardeners.  You can find dozens on Etsy or Amazon. Write all willy nilly like I do or divide your journal into sections. Maybe you want to list the top 3 garden goals for the year or garden tools you want and need. Maybe you want to plot out the garden or write inspiring quotes throughout. Include pictures or don’t. It doesn't matter because the essence of the journal is to give you a reason to sit back and remember, admire, and dream about that lovely time spent tinkering in  your little green paradise. 

Monday, September 23, 2013


My garden is looking a bit sad. There are still plenty of tomatoes on the vine and the basil looks pretty robust but you can tell it is also nearing the end. I decided to do one last harvest of tomatoes before getting the garden ready for winter. Anytime I have a basket full of tomatoes and basil, I think of two things: Margherita pizza or bruschetta. I was feeling a bit lazy and nothing is easier than bruschetta, so that is what I made. I am always trying different variations of this recipe but it almost seems the simpler you make, the better it is. The only thing I would change in the following adaptation is the amount of balsamic vinegar I put in….it was a bit too vinegary for my taste. 

    Compile all of the ingredients beforehand. You will need:
- salt and pepper
- pint of cherry tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp of Balsamic vinegar
- butter
- olive oil
- Garlic, 4 cloves
- Basil (preferably fresh) about 15 leaves.
- Bread (I usually use a French loaf but I had this sesame seed bread on hand)

 Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to a small pan

      Add 4 cloves of minced garlic to the oil and sauté for approximately one minute, until golden brown. Once brown, place the oil and garlic in a bowl to cool.

       Slice all of the cherry tomatoes in half. Instead of cutting them one by one, I found a tip online that instructs you to grab two lids (as shown in picture above), place a handful of cherry tomatoes on one lid and set the second lid on top of the cherry tomatoes. Using gentle pressure on the top lid, slice through the cherry tomatoes (See picture below). Continue with this until you are finished slicing tomatoes.

      Place all the tomatoes in a large bowl. Add up to 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar. 

      Chiffonade the basil leaves and add to the bowl.   Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Add cooled olive oil and garlic to bowl. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the bread.

      Heat a skillet or griddle up on the stove.   Butter both sides of a piece of bread. Place bread on heated pan and flip when browned.

      When the bread is finished, place it on a plate and top with generous helping of tomato/basil mixture.

     Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Re-claimed, Re-loved, Re-used Sundays

Toys are probably one of my biggest yard sale purchases. I find it hard spending 30.00 for a toy when there are so many cheaper alternatives. Not only that, those "vintage" toys seem to ask for a bit more imagination from the child. It is really cool to see my daughter play with toys that I played with as a child.

1. I picked up this cash register at the same yard sale where I purchased these other Fisher Price toys.
2. I bought this keychain for one of my older girls. It is a lunchbox, complete with an apple and thermos inside. Emerson nabbed it and then Kerrigan found it and nabbed it from her. Right now, Emerson has it again.
3. Cooking Utensils!

Yard sale season is winding down. There is a final burst of sales and flea markets during the color drives in October but after that it is a long season of digging through second-hand stores. I don't mind this entirely but by February I am desperate for TRUE bargains and outside shopping.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

30 day dress challenge - Week 3

Day 15 - Love this dress. Felt casual but put together.

Day 16 - I didn't like this dress as much as the first time I wore it. Few pounds gained, perhaps?

Day 17 - Favorite outfit of the week! Black is my comfort color. I debated on wearing the boots because I had a board meeting that evening but I decided to go for it. 

Day 18 - I DID NOT want to wear a dress today. So, I threw it on and did nothing else with myself. 

Day 19 - I actually had tights on with this dress but I forgot to take a picture early in the day. Cute, but a bit short for my taste. 

Day 20 - I had to break the iron out on this one. 

Day 21- I am running out of dresses. This is one of Kerrigan's and not my style but hey, I am trying to do a challenge here!

One more week to go. I may have to sew some towels together or wear a really fancy one-shoulder rhinestone number to work. Guess I could use this as an excuse to hit Goodwill? As if I haven't already.......

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Silhouette Project

I have had this little project in my to-do file for some time. I thought I would save it for a quickie craft, a way to waste a small amount of time. Boy, was I wrong. This thing proved frustrating in a variety of ways, namely a four year old who would not look straight ahead for longer than 2 seconds. I almost grabbed Kerrigan out of her sickbed to sit in for Emerson but I figured I would not be able to stand her flu-breath for long. So, I persevered and all in all the end result was passable. Is there a striking resemblance? Does she look a bit like the love child of Will Smith and a Klingon? Maybe. I am tellin you, it was a wee bit hard to do. However, do not let that spoil all the glorious fun you will have doing this project!!

1. Grab a large sheet of white paper. I used two scrapbook size pieces of paper taped together to begin with but after my fourth failed attempt, I grabbed regular notebook paper and taped two pieces of it together.

2. Find a place in your home that is dimly lit where you can either place a lamp to project a nice shadow or use the bit of natural light that may come through. I did the latter.

3. Sit wiggly child on a chair and position her just so. Repeat 100 times. Try to trace the outline of her head and face onto paper.

4. Take humorous picture of one of your failed silhouettes.

5. Cut the silhouette out of the white paper.

6. Place cut out silhouette on a black piece of paper and trace very lightly around the shape. Cut silhouette out of the black piece of paper.

7. Glue silhouette to a pretty piece of patterned paper. Voila!

Em says "This isn't me." And I said "Um, it's not supposed to be." Don't tell her otherwise, k?
The last picture is the silhouette Em did of her lovely mother. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Goodbye Summer....

While Fall is my favorite time of year, I always go through a little bout of depression at the end of summer.   It happens gradually, as my days get busier and life goes from slow and lazy to fast and crazy. And then one day I wake up in a funk and feel like I haven't had a second to breathe, let alone soak in all those little moments that make it worthwhile. I get grouchy. I walk around in a fog. I move from task to task to task and fall into bed each night tired but unsatisfied. Inevitably, after a couple of weeks of this ho-hum attitude, a familiar (yet often absent) part of my psyche knocks on my brain and says
"You do this every year, you know. Get off your self-pitying ass and go outside and breathe in the air for 20 minutes. Don't think. Don't do. Just breathe. And then walk down your porch steps and onto the paved country road and walk. Don't think. Don't do. Just walk. Once you feel the tension ease from your shoulders and your gait is fluid rather than tight, say goodbye to summer. Give it the farewell it deserves. Think fondly of summer vacations and long days filled with nothing but time. Remember bare toes and ponytails, summer dresses and sticky nights. And then let it go."
Fall is here and with it comes the absolute loveliness of crisp nights and pumpkins, bonfires and apples, sweaters and cider. But it also heralds in a time of homework and school functions, volunteering and getting prepared for winter, shorter days and busier schedules. The realization that life is forever about change and balance always shocks me momentarily. There are positives and negatives inherent in every last thing and without one, you cannot have the other. Autumn reminds me of this and by the time our neighbor starts to harvest the corn in front of my house, I am once again in balance.

Life is good.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

30 Day Dress Challenge: Week 2

Pretty good week, all in all. I started to feel a little under the weather on Friday and by Saturday you can clearly see that I am no mood to be in a dress, let alone take a picture. 

Day 8 - My anniversary dinner. One of my fancier dresses is called for.

Day 9- One of my favorite Calvin Klein dresses. Super comfy!

Day 10 - I feel like I am going to a picnic. And I would match the tablecloth.

Day 11 - Long day at work. 

Day 12 - Thankfully I took this dress off before volunteering at Emerson's Pre-k. Not only was I rolling around on the floor with lots of little folk, I was also the designated playground jungle gym. My dress would not have survived.

Day 13 - Started the day feeling great. My cheery green floral print could not hold the icky feel at bay for long though.

Day 14- This is my "Hurry up and take the damn picture" face. Did I mention I get grouchy when I start to feel sick?

There you have it. Week 2 finished. On one hand, I don't feel like it has been much of a stretch for me wearing dresses every day but toward the end of the week, I started to really, really want to put on a pair of pants. I think it was the turn of weather. BUT I settled for tights instead.
Forge ahead, I say. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Link Love

World's Biggest Food Fight!!

Woodland Creatures adopt deserted cabins - the amount of time the photographer spent on getting these shots is insane!

Swimming Cities - Click here for more information on this amazingly built structure.

Great Baked Oatmeal recipe with topping ideas from one of my favorite blogs!

Too much to teach our children good grammar? Some think it's not worth it.

Love These!
Kate Spade's Spring 2014 Collection is Divine! I will take one of everything please.
Pumpkin flavor is EVERYWHERE! I just tasted some pumpkin spice M&M's the other day. Anyone else had them??
Mark Bittman's Vegan before 6 diet. Interesting read.
How to make an Instagram Cake.
That is all I have for you this lovely day. I am going to go outside and enjoy this amazing weather. Until later......


Monday, September 9, 2013

Facebook for Children

Ha! Not what you think! I am talking about a much cooler Face book :)

1. Find an old notebook with at least 10 sheets or more still inside.

2. Cut the paper into three identical strips, leaving it attached to the spiral. My paper had lines so I counted all of them and then divided by three.

3. Cut the remaining paper in the notebook.

4. Grab some old magazines.

5. Skim through the magazines and find pictures of faces. I found that the larger the face the better. Some of those Covergirl and Skin Care ads have huge faces that are perfect. Get wacky and cut out animal noses or Googly eyes, whatever catches your fancy.

6. Start cutting away and when you are finished put the eyes, nose, and mouths into separate piles for easy grabbing.

7 -8-9 Grab a glue stick or some tape and place eyes in the first box, noses in the second, and mouths in the last. Or get weird and do it how you want :)

Now you have a book of face parts and you can make all these different combinations of wacky people. Emerson played with this book for quite a long time today and now wants to make one with different animal parts. 

AND this Facebook is drama-free!!