Monday, November 30, 2009

Ten minute sweep

In the category of "this is how I do it," here's another tip to maximize time AND sanity.

I try to do a ten minute sweep of the first floor every night before I go to bed. It looks something like this:
  • let dogs out
  • pick up Ben Ben's toys and store in bins and behind couch
  • put dirty dishes in dishwasher (run it)
  • recycle errant cans, paper, etc.
  • let dogs in and remove their invisible fence collars
  • shove bills and other items to do at work in my work tote
  • throw dirty towels, place mats, etc. in washing machine
  • clear counter tops of anything else and start an "upstairs pile" and a "downstairs pile"
  • lock doors
  • turn off lights
  • take upstairs pile up and get ready for bed

I PROMISE you this will save you time and sanity in the morning... you won't be ticked when you walk downstairs to an untidy kitchen, you'll actually know where stuff it and you'll be less likely to leave important stuff at home.

In fact, I timed it tonight and it took only eight minutes. If I'm willing to invest 15 mins, I have time to wipe down the counter tops and prep my lunch.

It's one of those little things that makes a huge difference, and every time I DON'T do it, I'm totally annoyed at myself the next morning b/c a chaotic house leads to a chaotic morning complete with forgotten diapers for the sitter, coffee left on the counter, kids with mismatch sock and a mommy without her coat because she was running late and once she got out of the house she wasn't willing to go back in. (this happens. trust me. you can ask my work spouse.)

What are your nightly routines?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Craft at your own risk...

These twine balls have been on my to do list for a while. I love their simplicity and shabby chicness... but I do NOT like their ridiculous price tag in stores. And my recent case of "I-could-make-that-itis" meant I was determined to figure it out...

In steps another inspiration: V and Co. This lady is super creative. I'm not so creative, but I can follow step-by-step tutorials. So I did.

Stuff I used:

  • Foam balls
  • Twine (called "jute somethingorother" at Jo Ann's... it's with the jewelry stuff for some reason. I mean who wants a necklace with this scratchy stuff? But I digress...)

Hot glue and hot glue gun

  • Broom and dust pan (more on that later)

  • Gather your stuff.
  • Occupy your kid.

  • Plug in your glue gun.
  • Anticipate burning your fingers.


  • Make a little twisty with the end of the twine. Put a dab of hot glue on the foam ball and stick the twisty end on it. Hold it there and take a deep breaths so you don't swear with your child is in ear shot.

Please ignore chipped nails... I can only do one project per night and nails count as one.

  • Once it cools, put a little bead of glue along the side opposite of your finger. Wrap the twine around, hold it for a second and repeat.

  • Keep gluing and wrapping until you hear a crash.

  • Repeatedly say "danger" and "owie" and "sit" (that last one was for the dogs) trying to keep your loved ones away from the shattered Pyrex dish.
  • Sweep it up with a broom and dust pan.
  • Resume gluing, wrapping and not swearing until the ball is almost completely covered.

  • To end, fill the remaining little circle with hot glue, trim the twine and twist it into the glue dot. Hold it place with something other than your finger.

  • Voila! Fill a centerpiece with your lovely, shabby chic, inexpensive twine balls. (OK, I'm not done with all of them, but you get it. )

What I would do differently:

  • Use bigger balls (he he... bigger balls...ah hem...)
  • Not use foam balls... you could use ANY balls really. So I will be checking the dollar store for a less expensive option. (Not that the foam balls broke the bank.)
  • Make sure there was no glass in the cupboard where Ben Ben was playing... rookie mom mistake, I guess. But honestly, wouldn't you think Pyrex would hold up better? I would. Oh well...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Busy busy

I've been testing my crafting skills on a new project: a busy book for Ben Ben...

It's very time consuming, basically because I'm learning as I go. But each time I do a page, I'm learning about how to do it better, faster, etc.

So I promise I'll share pics and explanations with you soon.

Untill then check out these inspirations:
@ Homemade by Jill
@ The quiet book blog
@ The craft patch

... and wish me luck on the next few pages I have up my sleeve.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Easy peasy placemats

We've been in our new home just a few months, and I'm sticking to my "no decorating 'til the room is painted" rule pretty well... of course that means I've got to exercise restraint with the rooms that are painted.

That, along with my new, stricter budget means getting creative and spending a little time to achieve the look I want without weekly shopping sprees.

Lucky for me, the Internet is lousy with women like me but with waaaaay more creative.

Fellow bloggers have inspired nearly every aspect of my life from clothing to decor to toys for Ben Ben. Enter Shanty2Chic, a fun, crafty blog run by two inspirational ladies. That, added to our mutual love of burlap and monograms resulted in these fab new place mats.

You can check out the tutorial on Shanty2Chic, but it's really as simple as this:
  • Put your kid down for a nap.
  • Take a place mat that you already have and go to Joann's. (If you forget, you can just find a place mat in Joann's... you're just going to use it to figure out how much burlap you need.)
  • Find the burlap in the home decorating fabrics and pick the shade you like.
  • Gasp at how cheap it is. (I think it's like $2.99/yard.)
  • Take the burlap and your place mat to the cutting counter and sweetly ask the Joann's cutter lady to help you figure out how much fabric you need. I think I needed only one yard for six place mats.
  • If you need it, buy black ribbon (two $1 bin spools) and black fabric paint.
  • Get home as quick as you can, because the nap clock is ticking.
  • Cut six place mats out of the burlap (they are only one layer thick). They do NOT need to be exact. In fact my place mats were kinda' wonky, but it's OK. Promise.
  • Use a hot glue gun to attach the ribbon to the edge of each mat.
  • Cut a monogram out of paper. (I printed a really big "L" on regular computer paper and cut it out.)
  • THIS IS IMPORTANT: lay something under the burlap before you paint it. It has holes in it, people.
  • Put the monogram on the place mat and dabble the fabric paint on it.
  • Let it dry.
  • Admire until your kid wakes up from his nap.

Here's the finished product one more time:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reasons to NOT read the Twilight series…

1) Déjà vu.
Remember your first love? Heart pulsing, palm sweating, tongue tied first love?
You know who I’m talking about. That guy. You’ll go from current, stable self to a tittering teen in 0-60 pages flat.

2) You need to sleep.
I finished all four (not thin) books in eight day. EIGHT, people. And I have a toddler. I swear the books themselves turned me into a vampire. Ok, I just googled it and it’s 3,092 pages. Seriously. That’s a problem.

3) You are a grown up.
These main characters are teenagers. Not even legal adults for the entire first book. (Well OK, Edward’s immortal and, like 108, but he looks 17.) You are a grown person. With a 401k and a mortgage and a child and… well the need for an escape…

4) You will not find yourself in a packed theater from 7:45 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. watching back to back movies with hundreds of other squealing girls…. Yeah. We weren’t women last night. We were girls. Bouncing, blushing, squealing girls.


Stephanie Meyer, thank you.
And friends who sucked me in, thank you even more for a fun, frivolous night.

...Can't wait 'til June for the next one!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wine or ice cream?

That was the decision I was just faced with... after a disastrous trip to Whole Foods with my work spouse.

Wait. What?

Ok. Here's the deal. My work spouse, who is also my office mate, and I take semi-regular trips to Whole Foods together because (a) it's about 25 mins away and (b) we go to other stores that are unique to that area and (c) we are total WF geeks and could spend HOURS there. Literally, hours. It's kinda gross. But in a super fun way.

Anyway, we we deliberated on when to go... we're both super busy, but it's so fun... so we just HAD to squeeze it in...Today was the day. And, for some reason, I actually OFFERED to bring Ben. What was I thinking?

I was not thinking that...
  • Ben would cry the entire way there
  • Refuse to sit down during dinner
  • Scream for cookies and gum drops for what seems like hours
  • Declare himself "all done" before we even began shopping
  • Be fed a grand total of 3 organic fruit bars, 1/4 cup of mac and cheese, two organic chocolate chip cookies and one banana for dinner...
  • Squirm uncontrollably no matter whether he was seated, being held or walking

So, my escape to Whole Foods -- usually full of laughter, banter and general running commentary on everything -- turned into an exhausting battle. And for some reason when Ben gets worked up, I get all hot and panicky. And everyone was looking at me (ok, not everyone, but it felt that way) and not because Ben was being charming and smart saying things like "doggy" and "mommy" and "peeeeeese."

But I guess that's life as a parent, right? Sometimes thing just don't go as planned. You live. You learn.

Want to know what I learned? You can't mix toddlers and mommy's night out. Period.

Oh, and I picked ice cream. Yummy sugar-free Klondike. They're practically a vegetable. Right?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nattily dressed and no where to go...

Yeah for my first tutorial! How adorable is this?

This project is all over craft blogs, so I'm sorry I can't give credit to the brilliant crafter/blogger who first posted this... and because I didn't follow any ONE blog to figure this out... here's my version. Both my initial, miserable fail and my second, more successful attempt.


  • Shirt (in my case a onesie)
  • Fabric (in my case, old boxers)
  • paper and pencil
  • iron on interfacing
  • iron
  • sewing supplies (machine, thread, the usual suspects)

I selected a plain white onesie and a fabric that I thought had a nice "tie like" print. Then I drew a tie on a piece of paper and folded in in half lengthwise so that it would be symetrical. (I love this trick -- otherwise everything I do would look totally off.)

(You can see here that I cut the "knot" off because, at first, I thought I'd applique it separate from the "tail" of the tie. My plan was to rotate the knot slightly so the pattern would go in a different direction, making it look more like a real tie. But the patten was so small and regular, it wouldn't have made a difference.)

Then I folded the fabric and the paper and lined up the folded edges. I traced the tie with disappearing ink. This picture shows it after I cut it out (hey, I'm new at this), but I think you'll get the idea.

Next everything was wrinkly, so I ironed it all...

And pinned the tie on in key spots to prevent it sliding every which way while I sewed. Now, this is where I went wrong: I sewed all the way around and it came out like this... puffy because the shirt fabric stretched when the tie fabric didn't....

So... I started over. Folding, tracing, cutting, ironing... then (and here's the most important part) I used this interfacing:

I laid my tie on the interfacing and ironed... BIG mistake... I shouldn't have cut the tie out BEFORE ironing it to the interfacing (um, yeah. The directions on the interfacing bag are pretty clear about that. Have I mentioned I'm bad at directions?) Anyway, no major harm done. Just interfacing glue on my iron.. oh, and melted interfacing bag plastic on my iron because I mini-panicked and put my iron on the bag... But I digress...

Sewing this time was sooo much easier because the fabric stayed in place and there's no need to pin. I used a zig zig stich and white thread because I thought I'd like the look of it. (If I do it again -- that would be a THIRD time for those of you counting --I would try a color that's closer to the tie.)

I'm proud of my finished product and will try to get a few pics of Ben Ben modeling it in the a.m.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Little man, big issues...

Friday, I dragged my sniffly, runny-nosed, ear-draining (gross, I know) boy to the doctor's office. Glad that I did, Ben Ben was diagnosed with a myriad of problems that I could have bet money on even before he was born: asthma, allergies, ear infections... ick...

So what's a mommy to do? What the doctor ordered:

  • Ear drops (a.m. and p.m.) --- Crap! I just realized I forgot them before he went to bed... crap, crap, crap... so, ok, that one's out tonight.
  • Singular (daily)
  • Inhaler (a.m. and p.m.) -- but this is waaaaay better than the breathing treatments and he actually likes taking the inhaler. Dodged a bullet here.
  • Anti-biotic (a.m. and p.m.)
  • Florastor -- needed to avoid the terrible yeast infections that follow the antibiotic

So, yeah, as you can imagine it's a process... and one I clearly haven't mastered (see first bullet above). But the good news: he's getting better... in fact, he's sleeping soundly right now -- no wheezing... keeping my fingers crossed he stays that way all night...

Side note: ever need an immediate doctor's appointment? Say "wheeze" ... just promise me you'll use this tip for good and not evil... remember someone else's little man (or woman) may really be wheezing....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This is how I do it...

So a friend of mine who was preparing to return to work after a year off to have her first baby asked me how I "do it." "It" meaning working (out of the house), mom-ing, wife-ing, friend-ing, entertaining, etc.

I was so taken aback by the question -- shocked that anyone would ask me for advice on the topic -- I don't ever remember what I muttered as a reply...

Since that conversation (or lack of conversation, really), I've thought about how I do it... and while I don't have an answer, I do have a few guiding priniples and a few tricks. I'll share one here and add more later...

But before I go there, please understand that by no means am I saying that this is an expert approach... I wouldn't even consider some of this a recommended approach... It's just how I do it.

Guiding principle: Accept that some things will not get done.

The way I figure it, I'm only at home and awake on a typical workday for about eight hours... and in that time I have to do A LOT -- most non-negotiable. Like cooking, feeding and cleaning up after breakfast and dinner; bathing self and baby; changing baby (and, let's admit it, self); tending to dogs and high maintenance hubby; you get the point

So stuff that used to be non-negotiable suddenly becomes negotiable. I'm often faced with the choice: play with your son or fold laundry. So the laundry waits another day (or two)... it's not ideal, but it's not the end of world. I'm a happier mommy (at least until my OCD self remembers that I skipped it the next day) and I have a happier baby, who feels loved and has 99.9% of my attention (I can't totally block out the image of heaping laundry... I AM human.)

I've accepted it. My house will seldom be in perfect order. I have a son. I have a career. I have two dogs. And I have a husband. I wouldn't trade them for a perfectly tidy house (most days). So I don't. So laundry waits. So the sink fills with dishes. All while we giggle and tumble and tickle with our son.

Someday our house will be in perfect order. Someday I won't come home to sippy cups strewn about. But you know what? I bet that on that day, I'd happily trade that house for one full of the sounds of little feet...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Quarterly resolutions

So, I have this thing... when everybody is doing something, I instantly want to NOT do that thing.

As a result, I've never seen Napoleon Dynamite, only joined Facebook a few months ago and took forever to begin the Twilight series (more on that later). New Year's resolutions also fall into that category.

I prefer quarterly resolutions -- small things that I think will make me a better person. This actually began in college... and some have stuck (listening to NPR, doing crossword puzzles). And some have not (reading the headlines of the sports page daily).

This year so far I have resolved to:
  • send my grandparents more pictures of Ben Ben (I have done this three times, but am getting better)
  • touch up my makeup mid-day at work (I'm about 60 percent successful at this)
  • and, most recently, to just do what I want to do regardless of Bri's opinion

This last one, kinda' makes me sad and kinda' makes me feel empowered. On the empowered hand:

  • I'm not disappointed that we miss something (like not going to the pumpkin patch last year)
  • I have zero expectations, so if he does show an interest, I'm thrilled
  • I make quality memories with Ben Ben (like his haircut yesterday)
  • I actually like my hair (see my pic below)

But on the sad hand...

  • It can be lonely... even when I'm with Ben
  • I want Bri to want to do these things...
  • I end up feeling ticked/hurt/overwhelmed/sad that I'm doing sooooooooo much by myself
  • Is it really OK to have zero expectations of your hubby? I don't think that's what I signed up for...

Ug, but I guess that's life right now... here's hoping something will change, like, for example, these stupid sci fi TV shows get cancelled (I mean you, V and Flash Forward) and all sports teams go on strike. Until then, look for me shopping and playing with Ben at the mall on the weekends...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The first cut...

Went surprisingly well... He was completely distracted by this car...

And this granola bar...

And he ended up looking like this little man..

(OK, so he's mid-bite here, but I didn't want to push the stylist's patience any more than I all ready had... I was a virtual paparazo and I think she was done with me by this point.)

Can you believe it? He did great -- only a minor freakout when the stylist wanted to put the cape on. Apparently, that's completely normal, so we risked itchy hair. It was worth the gamble.

And just in case you're wondering. Yes, I went alone. Bri said he didn't care about this milestone... so I quit asking him to go with me every weekend and just did it. He missed a good one. I couldn't be prouder of my little guy. :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I admit it...

... I've been blogging for while now... well thinking about it... like, all the time. Seriously. It's distracting. So after plenty of reading, trying to keep the swirling ideas from distracting me and just feeling bad that I won't be able to keep all of these memories in my ever-shrinking mommy brain, I'm jumping in.

Join me.