Frugal Fashionista Friday

For most of my life I’ve known my mom to be a t-shirt and jeans kind of gal.  It was one of the things my dad loved about her…her no-fuss, simple beauty.  But as I look back at old photos, I realize that wasn’t always her.  From one decade to the next, her wardrobe took drastic turns and the hairstyles…oh the hairstyles!  I discovered where I get my impulse for a new do! =)  I also got glimpses of who my mom has been at different points in her life…her tastes, her personality, her fashion.

Recently, I’ve started wondering what it will be like for my girls to one day look at old photos of me.  Will they giggle at the numerous hairstyles? Will they say, “Oh, Mom, how could you!”  Or will they, like me, find photos that capture their mother’s beauty in a way they had never seen?  I hope it will be all three!  And I hope looking at my past will bring them great joy and, of course, entertainment.  So with the desire to supply my girls with little snapshots of me through the ages, I’m beginning Frugal Fashionista Friday.

I may have inherited an addiction to changing my hair, but I’ve also got my mom’s frugality written right into my genes.  Beginning today, on the first Friday of each month, my plan is to share a fabulously fashionable, yet frugal find with my readers…and my daughters.

Let’s get to it, shall we?  Drum roll, please…..

Our very first find for Frugal Fashionista Friday is???….

TADA!!!

This super cute black and white polka-dot dress by She’s Cool!  A flattering v-neck line and a hem just above the knee make this little number perfect for date night.  Pair it with some flats and it’s comfy cotton feel make it a fabulous daytime dress as well.  And coming in at just $6.99 at Ross, made it impossible for me to leave this cutie on the rack!

Well, ladies, I hope this has inspired you to keep an eye out for a look that won’t send you into cardiac arrest or in need of a second mortgage!  Happy Shopping!  But before you go, two things…First, leave a comment sharing where you find your best frugal fashions and second, I’m considering making next month’s Frugal Fashionista Friday a link up.  What do you think?

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10 Rainy Day Activities for Kids

What is it about a little rain that makes us feel blah?! I don’t know, but I do know that when I was a kid, my mom had a way of breaking that gloomy day boredom. Her ability to turn those yucky days into magical memories has inspired me…I want to do the same for my girls.

So here are ten ideas (some hers, some mine) that just might make us moms and our kids look forward to the next rainy day!

  1. Drape a sheet or blanket over the dining room table to create a fort and grab some toys to take in for fun.
  2. Create an indoor obstacle course. Use random household items like chairs, laundry baskets, and cardboard boxes. Add dress up clothes to make things all the more interesting.
  3. Sacrifice a roll of toilet paper and let them decorate the house, their room, or themselves!
  4. Create a band! Grab some pots and pans, some wooden spoons, and some ear plugs for yourself and let the kids go to town making some noise. You can even put some uncooked rice or small pasta in an empty water bottle for a simple, homemade maraca. Just make sure the top is super tight and then duct taped! =)
  5. Make sugar cookies and colored icing to decorate with.  And since none of us want to drag the kids to the store on a rainy day, here are some recipes with ingredients found in many of our pantries and refrigerators…
    1. The Best Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe at AllRecipes.com
    2. Confectioner’s Sugar Glaze Icing by Wilton
  6. Let the kids have bubble conversations. This may sound like a crazy one, but if you have more than one kiddo in the house trying to shake the rainy day blues, this is good for some laughs. Have the kids sit around the kitchen table and give them each a cup of water (filled only half-way) with a straw. Let them blow bubbles in their cup as if they are talking to each other. One begins, then the other responds, and so forth. It’s a great way to be silly and creative! Not to mention, an awesome excuse for blowing bubbles with your straw! And Moms, don’t be afraid to join in too. =)
  7. Grab some plastic cups and a light ball and enjoy some indoor bowling. You could set the cups up in the typical bowling formation or stack them pyramid-style. (My kiddos prefer the pyramid so they can watch the cups fall!)
  8. During snack time, make some hot chocolate or pop some popcorn.  Pull up the blinds, sit, and watch the rain together. And don’t forget a place to prop your feet!
  9. If you have little girls like me, rainy days are a great time for mini pedicures. Break out the polish and let your little miss enjoy a little pampering!
  10. If there’s no lightning, go play in the rain! Jump in puddles, sing, dance, and feel the drops fall on your face. Don’t worry, it’s just rain…nothing a towel and change of clothes can’t fix!

So next time your kiddos are feeling the rainy day blues, try a few of these ideas! I’d love to know if they help or if you have an idea to suggest.  Thanks for stopping by! =)
Linked to Fun Stuff Fridays

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Love at First Sight?

starbucks valentine cupFor once, we arrived early.  We sat a few minutes in the car while you finished your banana and I sipped on my tall, whole milk, vanilla latte with an extra shot of espresso and an extra pump of vanilla! It was total indulgence!

Then, in your usual observant way, you noticed that my coffee had a heart with all sorts of arrows and writing firing at it, “What are all of those words?” you inquired.

One by one I read them aloud.  With great maturity you acted as though you understood each, until the last one, “Love at first sight!”  You crinkled your nose, furrowed your brow, and asked, “What’s that?”

I stalled for a moment, checking my watch.  Darn!  There was just the wrong amount of time, too little to come up with a smart answer and too much to postpone until later.  So with no prep, my hopes for genius went out the car window and I began to speak, “Well…(pause)…well, Layla…(another pause)…”

You might be wondering why I was finding this so difficult, but the truth is I didn’t believe in love at first sight.  Please understand, I love your father dearly and thought he was a total hottie when I met him, but I didn’t love him from that moment.  It took a few conversations, a few frustrating, debate-induced headaches, and a few Boyz to Men songs before I realized I didn’t hate him, but adored him!  So although I was/am a total romantic sap, it was not love at first sight.  Frankly, I have had a hard time believing that “love at first sight” is really anything more than just “the hots”!   I couldn’t start with that though so I went the direction of our friend Webster for a more technical definition…

“Love at first sight is when someone loves someone or something the moment they see it/him/her!”

Poignant, right?  You looked at me, not completely convinced.  I thought,  “I know…I know.  What a bunch of bologna!”  But before saying that, I was hit with another thought.  Suddenly, I realized I did believe in love at first sight.  It wasn’t a reluctant belief, but an all-consuming, top of my head to the tips of my toes kind of belief!  I looked in those stormy-colored eyes of yours and I said with great conviction, “You, Layla Christine, are love at first sight.”

A sheepish grin appeared across your face and I continued, “The doctor placed you in my arms…all wrinkly and covered in goop…and I loved you.”  It’s true.  It was the most sudden rush of emotion in the shortest span of time your father and I had ever experienced.  We didn’t need to get to know you– your personality, your strengths, your weaknesses, whether or not you were compatible with us, or that you would refrain from those teenage years of despising us as your parents.  None of it mattered.  All we knew was we loved you!

In all other scenarios and love relationships in my life, the love came second.  It was a result of something else.  With you, the love came first.  The knowledge about who you are, what you’re like, and what floats your boat and what doesn’t continue to be revealed, but one thing remains and always will, our love for you comes first!

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Mommon Sense for Valentine’s Day

Okay, I admit it…I have this horrible tendency to OVER-plan things.  And unfortunately, my over-planning has an adverse affect on not only myself, but my little ones…especially the three year old.

I wanted Valentine’s Day to be EXTRA special this year.  I wanted to plan little events for the day and build traditions for my family.  All good things with good intentions, but there’s one little problem with that…no time to breath.  No time to just be.  And with little ones…that’s a must!

The day started out beautifully with a surprise breakfast…heart-shaped cinnamon rolls, heart-shaped bacon (Thank you, Paper Mama!), and Valentine red strawberries!  We had heart-shaped plates, heart-adorned cups, and ruby red sequenced hearts scattered all over.  I know…it looked like Cupid exploded all over my dining room table!  And of course, little gifts to top it off at each place setting. I was so pleased.  And when the girls came down with Sean, their sleepy eyes glistened and their smiles extended cheek to cheek. Ahhh…the reaction I had hoped for!

Then it was off to preschool with our carefully prepared cupcakes and homemade Valentines.  I was totally giddy…and I wasn’t even the one going to the party!

Fast forward a bit…pick up from preschool and I receive a recap of the Valentine celebration.  Cards from friends…Yay! Candy…games…and more candy! Yay!  I receive a bouquet of paper flowers and a proud grin on my face mirrors the one in front of me.

Wonderful day, right?  Well, why not make it all the more wonderful by adding a tea party with beloved family members hosted at my house, followed by a steak dinner for my hubby and girls (cooked by me, of course), and then a romantic dessert for two after the girls go down.  I’m super woman!

Or not.  And while the tea party was a joy with gracious family and the steaks were a perfect medium…somewhere along the way…my three year old melted!  The poor thing was exhausted by so much activity.  Exhausted from finishing one planned event and moving immediately to the next.  And, of course, Mommy had no time to just be.  I had no time to cuddle up on the couch for stories…play Mr. Potato Head…or color pretty little pictures covered in heart stickers.  My plan was to make the day special, but my plans became too many!

In the end, we did make some wonderful memories and have new traditions, but we also had a bit more meltdowns and tears than necessary.  And after taking an assessment of the day, I have to admit…the culprit was me.  It was too much!  Plain and simple…too much!  For me and especially for my girls.

I know cliches are a no-no in writing, but there’s a reason they become cliches…because there’s truth in them.  And to be totally cliche…Sometimes less is more.  And I have to be more than just okay with that.

So next Valentine’s Day…a little Mommon Sense…do NOT over-plan, Elizabeth!  Less…is more. =)

Hope your Valentine’s Day was wonderful!

P.S.  Today was a breather.  I left the housework, the to-do list, the plans, to just be with my girls…and it was fabulous! Hope you find the time to just be. =)

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Signs You Are a Mom #20

I’m flattered…really I am!  It’s kind of nice that someone thinks I have the power to make things appear or disappear at will.  But unfortunately, my dear, I’m not like Tabitha’s mommy, Samantha…or Jeannie…or that “perfect in every way” nanny, Mary Poppins!  I can’t really twitch my nose without looking like I have some sort of nervous tick…the quick bob of my head has never brought about much but neck pain…and I’ve never been all that talented at snapping my fingers!  But thank you for the compliment!

Thank you for thinking that just because there are currently no oranges in the fruit bowl doesn’t mean I can’t conquer space and time and the laws of physics to change that!  Thank you for thinking that I can turn bedtime to morning.  And that even though the vitamin bottle sitting in our cabinet does not have blue vitamins…I can make them blue!

I know there will come a day, when the magic will fade and you’ll no longer think I hide rainbows in my pocket.  After all, you’ve already told me, “Kisses don’t really make it feel better!” But I’ll enjoy your remaining superhero-like image of me for as long as I can and maybe…I’ll work on my snap! =)

And this brings us to…

Signs You are a Mom # 20

20) Even though you claim you don’t have them, a little someone is convinced you have super powers! =)

 

For the ongoing list, go to Signs You Are a Mom!

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The Wonder of the Trash Truck!

You hear the rumbling make its way down the street and you waddle your best waddle to the kitchen window.  The blinds are in your way, but you can fix that.  Just pry those pesky blinds far enough apart to wedge your little nose and eyes thru the opening.  Your face lights up with pure excitement as you yell, “Tuck! Tuck!” I turn from the dishes to see it’s trash time…one of the highlights of your week.  Something about that big truck hoisting our trash up into the air and dumping it out of sight brings you such joy! And as it drives off, you say your farewells until Friday, “Bye, Tuck!”

I’m not sure if it’s the truck’s size, the thunderous sound, or its Inspector Gadget-like arms that reach out and grab the canister that you adore so much…maybe it’s all that and more.  But for whatever reason you love it!  And I love that you love it, Kenley Joy!  I love that you are able to find excitement and pleasure in something as simple and mundane as the trash being picked up every Tuesday and Friday.  And I love that it’s a reminder for me to look for the awe and wonder in the simple things!

 

Your turn…What kinds of everyday activities or objects do your kiddos love?

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Comfort Food: Spinach and Tortellini Soup

spinach and tortellini soup, tortellini soupIt was a day where you reach to the back of your drawer and pull out those old worn-thin jeans that are either totally faded or have holes…or both. You know, the ones you should have thrown away two years ago, but convinced yourself you’d only use to paint in or scrub the tub? Uh huh… And then you grab that old sweatshirt that’s been washed so many times it’s hard to tell if that’s the remnants of an old logo or, more likely, a stain. It’s far from flattering, but boy does it feel soft and cozy against your skin.

Yeah it was one of those days! Sore throat…headache…and rain…lots of rain! And I just wanted to be comfy! I wanted comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes (or no shoes) and you better believe I wanted comfort food. And my comfort food of choice for that day? Spinach and Tortellini Soup!

It is some serious coziness in a bowl! I have loved this soup for years. Even as a child, long before developing a taste for spinach, I would eat this stuff up! And now as an adult, it’s one of my go-to recipes because of its deliciousness and ease!

I love the smell of the garlic sautéing in butter and the aroma of the tomatoes and spinach and other goodies melding together as they simmer away. Oh, it’s heavenly! And the Parmesan cheese! Oh, the Parmesan cheese…it is what makes.this.soup! And the leftovers?…ah, even better! So go ahead, Friend…reach to the back of that drawer! Grab those old tattered duds you hate to admit you love and make yourself a bowl of comfort goodness! Buon appetito! =)

Ingredients:

3 tbs. Unsalted butter

1 ½ tbs. Minced garlic

10 oz. Frozen chopped spinach (thawed)

2- 14.5 oz. Cans of stewed tomatoes

¼ tsp. Black pepper

¼ tsp. Onion powder

32 fl. oz. chicken broth (GOOD chicken broth =))

9 oz. Package tortellini (I use Buitoni’s Three Cheese Tortellini. I prefer refrigerated over dried pasta.)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Melt butter in a large pot. Add minced garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add thawed chopped spinach and simmer on medium for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally.

garlic butter spinachThrow stewed tomatoes in chopper or food processor for a few seconds until your desired chunkiness is achieved! I make mine rather small to accommodate my kiddos who are leery of large tomatoes. Plus, I think the flavors blend a little better with smaller pieces! But to each his own!

stewed tomatoesStir tomatoes, onion powder, and black pepper into your spinach.

spinach and tomatoes Add your broth and bring to a boil. At this point, you can either add your tortellini if you wish to eat immediately, or if you are prepping ahead of time, reduce heat and allow to simmer on low until you are ready to proceed. Cook tortellini for the amount of time suggested on the package. Last, stir in your Parmesan cheese!

spinach soupAaaah…enjoy the aroma…and the taste!

Have a comfort-filled weekend and please share with me some of your favorite comfort foods! Ice cream is another of mine! Yum…=)

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Just One Month Old

one month old, 1 month old babyYou were only a month old…It was a dark, cool spring night and we were returning home after a wonderful visit with Grandma and Grandpa Bryant. They thought you were the most precious little thing!  Just a short drive and we could go to bed…something all new parents look forward to.

Your father and I had traveled this way hundreds of times before. And as the red turned to green, your father diligently looked from side to side, then preceded into the intersection. All was clear on the road. As we drove forward a sudden bright light from the left broke the darkness. I turned to see it rushing towards us. From the height and size of the two beams I knew that what hid behind the light was something large…definitely larger than our little Mazda. Your father shouted my name! Instinctively, his right hand reached across me as he swerved with his left, but nothing could prevent the impact. It was too late! Your father’s turning could only lessen the blow. I don’t remember the actual moment of impact, just the before and immediate after. Our car hit the median and stopped. Quickly, your dad turned to the side and back to make sure you and I were okay. I was fine and you amazingly appeared to be resting, completely at peace. Suddenly, we realized we were not in a safe place and had to move from the vehicle as soon as possible because of on-coming traffic. Your father and I got out and he grabbed your carrier from the backseat. I then saw what hit us…a large Ford Explorer. A teenager girl got out with her friend. Her hands shot up in horror to cover her mouth when she saw you…a baby just one month old. There was no time to talk or ask what the heck she was doing…just time to see that the girl and her friend were unharmed.

Your dad got us out of the road and walked us up to a 7-11, checking you every step of the way. From what we could tell, you appeared to be okay. He left me with you to make the phone call, while he went back out to the accident scene. I had held it together and then suddenly I looked down and there before me was my baby…my beautiful baby…one month old…and I lost it. I dropped to my knees and just cried. I was so thankful that you appeared okay, but simultaneously terrified at the thought of what could have happened. I wanted to pick you up and hold you close to me and kiss you all over, but I was told to leave you in your seat until the paramedics arrived. It seemed like an eternity. After they came and checked you out, they too thought everything was okay, but wanted you to be seen by a physician before removed from your seat. You were just so young and they wanted to be safe. Of course, that meant I still couldn’t hold you! We went by ambulance and I grabbed tight to your little finger. We waited in the E.R….and waited…and waited. A nurse…another nurse…”Please, somebody let me hold my baby!” By this point, you were restless, crying, and hungry. Finally, the doctor came…and finally I could hold you! He told us you were just fine and we could take you home. Your dad and I were so relieved!

The car was totaled. The car seat no longer usable. Both very new, but both easily replaced. You…just a month old…but not so replaceable were just fine, and I could hold you and hug you and kiss you all I wanted…and I did, Layla Christine! You better believe I did! =)

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Making Life Easier #6: Kid’s Laundry Corner

So taming the chaos within our home has been an ongoing project for some time, but recently I’ve become slightly obsessed with it. Nothing has been a major undertaking, but just little changes/additions here and there to make life a little easier on Mommy and thereby contributing to a happier, hopefully less chaotic home.  Plus, I’m all about trying to give the girls a little more responsibility as they grow.  HENCE, their new laundry corner…

If there’s one thing I’m starting to learn it’s that kids actually like to do a lot of things on their own, but it HAS to be accessible and it has to be presented in an appealing way (which is not always easy).  So a couple weeks ago I gave Layla and Kenley a simpler way to deal with the laundry in their room.  Their previous laundry basket was in their closet, making it out of sight for guests, but also out of mind for the girls…not to mention difficult for Kenley to access!  So I told the girls my plan for a solution and we headed to the store!  We picked out some colorful Command hooks (I promise I don’t work for them…I just love their products!) and happened to find a cute little flexible laundry bin with handles that matched (Target, of course…don’t work for them either)!  Layla was very into the whole thing since she got to pick what color.  Kenley being kind of young just nodded in agreement, probably not sure what she was agreeing to.  But at least she felt included! =)

When we got home, we simply attached the Command hooks to the side of the changing table/dresser at an appropriate height and placed their new little laundry bin directly beside it.  Everything fit perfectly in a back corner of the room, allowing the laundry to be concealed from the doorway and the majority of the rest of their room.  The bin I chose is a great size…big enough to hold a decent amount of laundry, but low enough to the ground so they can put their clothes in with ease.  In the mornings, the girls hang their p.j.’s on the hooks if they’re good for another use or toss them in the bin! And at night…dirty clothes…laundry bin!  Layla’s really taken to the idea of hanging her p.j.’s and Kenley loves throwing her stuff in the basket!  Kenley (18 mos.) still struggles a bit with the mechanics of hanging her pajamas, but it’s a great opportunity for Layla to practice her big sister skills and help!  And best part…Mommy’s not picking up everybody’s clothes…as much! (Baby steps! =))  For now its one more step in the right direction and maybe ONE day I’ll have the organized home I dream of! =)

kid's laundry cornerSo please, tell me…what are some things you do to tame your chaos? Or do you not have any?! The answer better not be yes! =)

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From Mundane to Memorable

So one day last week my hubby was home sick, and it was one of those cold, yucky “I want to stay in and cozy up by the fire” kind of days.  However with kids that daydream lasts about ten seconds!  So as I was prepping lunch…a frozen pizza (I know…my husband got the royal treatment!), I thought, “Hmmm…let’s make this a fun lunch!” So I grabbed these nifty pizza plates (given to us as a wedding gift years ago) along with some red and white checked napkins.  Then, I remembered some checked placemats I had from Kenley’s picnic-themed birthday last year! A-ha! Added those, a lit candle, and cranked up our Tuscan Kitchen tunes and ta-da!… Suddenly, a frozen pizza was something more. It was a chance to pause from the daily routine, the yucky weather, and take a little Italian escape right within our home.

It was simple, but fun! And as I sat sipping my coffee and watching the smiles on my girls’ faces, it occurred to me that sometimes it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort (or time) to take the ordinary and make it something special for my family.  I hope that throughout the days to come I’ll look for more opportunities to change the mundane to memorable…for them, yes, but for this mommy too! =)

 

Okay, now your turn!  How do you make ordinary things special for your family? I’d love to snatch your ideas! =)

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