Things You Should Eat, Read, and Do

 4.08.2014

I'm obviously feeling a bit lofty to be handing out advice, but I assure you this is tried and true Life Bettering Stuff. It's just buzzing all inside me and cannot be contained, these little bits of pleasure I've found and I JUST HAVE TO SHARE. Because a) I was taught nothing if not to share and b) what else is a blog for?!


Eat

We've been in the deepest of mealtime ruts and I've been determined to dig our way out of it. And then I found a cookie recipe that changed our lives and I made THAT for three days straight.

- Make the Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies right now- I demand it. Even if coconut is not your favorite, I tried these on a friend who claimed such silliness and she liked them quite a lot. I am expecting to gain 10 lbs due to this recipe alone.

- For Dinner! I just had two helpings of these Sweet & Sour Meatballs. I used frozen meatballs and basically just whipped up the sauce and tossed it on top. Worked like a dream. It also works well in tandem with this recipe to Bake Brown Rice, which I appreciate as The Husband has dubbed me Queen of Crunchy Rice. The meatballs and the rice both require an oven set to 350 and take about an hour, so it's perfection! This is a culinary miracle that is rarely seen in my kitchen- so use all the impressed-face it is due.

Read

- Swistle changed my brain with this post on Curating Interests. As someone who has RECENTLY had a walls-are-shrinking moment as I realized that maybe, just maybe, I don't have any earth shatteringly passionate hobbies or interests, this was a refreshing read. I desperately needed to hear this. And it got me out of some really dark and scary corners of my mind, I'm rejuvenated in delving into the shallower whispers of pursuits. I may just make a post detailing areas of my minor interests, FUN TIMES.

- I've just started reading Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. Which I KNOW sounds like one of those How To For Dummies books. But it's been so interesting! And has given me an entirely new perspective on how I deal with some of the less savory aspects of my personality. (Hello, Anxiety!) It is a vast improvement over my last non-fiction read; The Psychopath Inside, which while quite interesting & enthralling, concurrently convinced me that I was also indeed a psychopath. Which is probably not true, and I could certainly do without that, thankyouverymuch.

Do

- Are you aware that Call The Midwife is back on? IT IS! Watch it! It's just as lovely and wonderful, and I so deeply enjoy every minute of it, I wish I lived in 1950's England... just a little bit.

- Should we be nervous that two of the "do" suggestions are about to be television programs? OH WELL. Watch Game of Stones. I have never heard of some of these gemstones, but I do enjoy getting to know the beauties, and then putting them on my Life Goal List. I may need more fingers to adorn with huge stones at the end of my life- if all goes as planned.

- Because I feel very guilty about recommending lots of sedentary activities. GO OUT IN NATURE. Take a hike. I just recently stumbled upon a local site that recommends hiking trails, and I have even THOUGHT ABOUT using it.
I've been on a few of the trails that I imagine are on there and I've found a most peculiar thing- I love going on walks and hikes when the weather is nice. (when it's even slightly warm/hot I want to burn everything to the ground) I really enjoy being outdoors! Weird!



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Weekend of Fun

 4.07.2014


After having a super busy weekend last week, I made more of an effort to be a fun parent. At the end of the day, some activities were more "successful" than others, but the shift in the air was certainly noticed by the kids they were quick to comment "boy, we ARE having a fun day today!" Which was really all the currency I needed to continue.

First up was the conservatory at the Bellagio. How ridiculous is it that this remarkable little five/ten minute drive is somewhere we rarely visit? The gardens are lavishly redecorated every few months in a new theme, and it's very kid friendly, and right off the parking garage so it isn't even a lot of traipsing through smoky casinos. (which is my usual complaint on strip activities with kids) It's downright STUPID how little we take the kids here. This was the first time we did it on a saturday, I was a bit worried about crowds, but in the morning, it was almost the best I've ever seen. Downside is they don't have the outside fountains going, but whatever. We'll be hitting this up much more in the summer.

To the pictures!



There were tons of live butterflies in this greenhouse, all kinds of beautiful butterflies, it held some attention spans.


By the end, Little Man had enough of "looking at flowers." 

Next we headed out to the quaint little town of Boulder City for a Ren Fair. It was the first Renaissance Faire I'd ever been to, and I was a bit underwhelmed, but the kids had fun. As soon as the kids rode the impossible-for-their-age inflatable dragon, we could have some real fun. 

I've learned from this weekend that having fun myself is not the main goal for a good family weekend, so sitting beholding my kids watch with rapt anticipation a cleverly done children's one-woman-theatre show is just as good as... I don't know what I would have rather been doing. Not feeling like a slacker mom for once WAS ENOUGH. 


There was also amazing face painting. 

My child! So grown up! And beautiful! Let me go weep in a corner for a while. 


Rainbow fairy. 


Funny story, the artist called us over when she was done so we could snap a reaction picture when she held up a mirror for Little Man to see his awesome and much anticipated Spider Man face. This is pretty much the face he gave her. MY SON, EVERYBODY! He does not perform for any person, and how dare you for expecting him to. As soon as we left her tent he was all smiles and would point to his face so strangers could bask in the coolness of the spiderman face. 


And we found Humphrey the Bunny in front of a local antiques store. I'm going to level with you here. Without the Ren Fair, I think we could have hobbled along on the bunny encounter alone. They loved that darned bunny. That huge bunny that seemed to, at the very least, put up with the persistent children. 



As we tucked the kids in bed Sunday night, each of them sighed a bit and remarked at what a wonderful weekend they had. I'm going to keep that in my back pocket for a good long while. I was a bit sad to see it slip by so quickly. Now we're firmly into Monday and I still wish we could steal away for some fun. 

I'm sure I'll be referring back to this post myself to be reassured that I am not, in fact, doing EVERYTHING wrong.

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The Sick Child Checklist

 4.03.2014

(as written by a hands-off-Mom)

Some days a kid will come down with the perfect illness. Like a pretty bad headcold. No barfing. Just a gnarly cough, terrible congestion, and a general feeling of malaise. These kids just want to sit on the couch watching movies all day and need minimal parenting. Some drink runs, offering of various snacks, and temperature takings. Other than that, it's parental freedom... within the confines of the house. No one is leaving the house. You have errands to run that day? TOO BAD. They are all shelved for another day. You're only function is to bring sippie cups of apple juice and hitting the restart button on Frozen. So what is a gal to do with all this time? I'll tell you.

- Prepare to do All The Laundry. Every stitch of cloth will be washed, dried, and folded today.

- Since you're still in your pajamas, go ahead and clean the bathrooms, all three, top to bottom. Because WHY NOT.

- Mop the floors!

- Remember that laundry we talked about earlier? Some of it is ready to be folded, (let's be honest, some of it has been sitting, clean, in your room for days now) whip out some podcasts and get on it.

- You're sweaty, so time to think about taking a shower in your freshly scrubbed bathroom. But you really want to finish up the podcast you're in the middle of. Re-juice the kid and make sure you've got a good Frozen time-buffer, then sit in your room trimming your split ends finishing up that podcast for say 45 mins.

- Take the longest shower known to man. Wash your hair. Shave your legs, even! You're going to look AMAZING... sitting at home... where no one will see you. Consider taking a selfie for Twitter just to document the occasion.

- Check in with the sickster, he demands lunch and needs to get out of those infernal boots. (BOOTS ON THE COUCH!) Slap together a lunch that he probably won't touch because he feels like dirt, then go dry/style your hair. Throw on makeup because WHY THE HECK NOT? Get a little fancy with the eyeliner and use red lipstick. Top the look off with a fresh set of uber comfy pajamas.

- Blog about the nonsense you've been up to, and it's only 11:39.

- Wish the kid wasn't hogging the good TV.

- Remember there is always "quiet time"at 1:00 and pray that maybe medicated, the boy will take a real nap, and let you catch up on sleazy television.

- Suddenly start scrolling through a list of all the household maintenance you could be doing the rest of the afternoon, but you already took a shower... a possibly wasted-shower.

- CRAP.

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It's Such a Chore

 3.28.2014

Confession Time: I have been holding out on you guys big time. I had these super fancy chore charts made, and I sat on the pictures and never posted about them for almost a year. A YEAR, FOLKS. Because at a certain point it becomes too long to even bring it up because then it would be AWKWARD. Well Maggie was asking around about chore charts and I absentmindedly snapped a photo of our wall and was kind of floored by the reception. (Twitter, you guys are so nice and make me feel all warm and fuzzy on my dark and spikey insides)


So I'm dredging up the pictures I took. (And kept hanging around in the cloud for all this time) And we'll try and make a proper go of it. Oh look! I only took three pictures of them brand new, and they're BLURRY. So you get current pictures as they appear today. Ooops.


First of all, I should say I deserve practically zero credit in the execution of this project. I literally found this on Pinterest and sent it to my Mother, the Crafting Queen of my world, asking if she thought it was even remotely feasible. She got excited and very graciously offered to help. (aka: letting me use her enormous and well stocked Crafting Mecca as well as spoon feed directions to me for whatever she was not doing herself. (shameless plug) For this, I will be eternally in her debt because they are the prettiest things in my entire house, I'm tempted to get some gallery lighting to properly display the... children's magnetic chore charts. So beautifully and lovingly crafted to perfection.



Of course over time, the little charts have taken quite the beating from my children and have had to be Mod-Podged back together again, and some of the glory has been diminished. (Little Man, for example has broken several of his magnets and sent the other survivors through the washing machine. 



The girls' charts are only the necessary duties they need to perform each morning to be presentable for the day. To school, but including weekends too- the basics, brushing teeth, getting dressing, combing hair. The things that have all become second nature to us civilized people must first become drilled into these wild animals we call children. I swear they still ask me every morning if today they "still have to brush their teeth." AS IF THAT REQUIREMENT WILL SUDDENLY CHANGE. 

Hence the chore chart.

We found it extremely effective the first few weeks. They would complete a task and move the corresponding magnet over from "to do" to "done." Little Man's is a lot more freestyle. He didn't have set chores at the time (still doesn't really!) so his pieces are just stock bits of balsam nonsense I picked up at a craft store with adhered magnets to the back. (they don't even really match, and the color clashing pains me) I told him he can move a piece to the other side if he goes potty. It was the least effective potty training incentive of all time, but as he gets older I fully intend to swap out the magnets for chores. 

The base is really just a cookie sheet I found at the dollar store. I bought three. My Mom drilled holes in the top for hanging. We lined it with pretty patterned paper and let her Cricut cutter thing do the rest. (I know it seems like if this were a normal craft blog I'd have a Cricut sponsorship and a giveaway here, but I'm simply just not that clever, and this craft was completely out of the ordinary for me) In fact the making of the three charts took like 6 hours. (of mother-daughter chatting & smoothies) Do I need to further emphasize how not-a-crafter I am? 

I walk past the little chore wall, right outside the kids' bathroom every day and it brings me silly amounts of pride. I wish every visitor in our house could see it. (Except the way the girls prefer to stack the chips in the done column; they it looks like a rocket, I think it looks more like balls and a *ahem* catch my drift, which is very UNFORTUNATE) That wall almost looks out of character for the rest of my house, it's so darned PUT TOGETHER and PROPER. 

They're a great tool to help teach scatterbrained children to focus learn the morning grooming routine, as well. (beyond just looking so pretty!) The girls initially needed to do a lot of checking back with the chart to make sure they were on task. Eventually they got the hang of it, and need it less and less. (Now if there was just a way to keep them from distracting each other with little games, it would greatly reduce our morning routine!) Like I hinted to earlier, the chore charts have taken a beating. The early elementary age is not the most careful with things. We had initially just used a Tombo adhesive for all the papers, and would I do it again, I would probably suggest Mod Podging everything down tight before handing it over to little hands. Seal that beautiful paper like you are locking down Fort Knox, or else there will be casualties.

I'm actually thinking about redoing them this way because the adhesive below made the Mod Podge I put on after the fact pucker the paper up all over and it is somewhat of a hot mess now. (I hope I was able to hide that fact in the pictures mostly, but let's face it, I'm not a magician)

This is becoming The Post That Never Ends. So I'll wrap it up. I love how the project turned out, and it has been quite useful! I like that the chore tiles are magnetic and they can move them from "to do" to "done" without my assistance, and they have proven to be quite sturdy in that regard.

I would like to be able to add more chores- perhaps create a secondary board for the general child population, of chores that need to be done sporadically? This would entail creating an entire household SYSTEM from scratch, and I'm simply not up for that at the present moment. Stop typing, Ashley! Sheesh! 

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Old School Blogging

 3.23.2014

This sounded fun and oh so nostalgic. Since I have nothing else, this it shall be! (Here is the link up)

What is the last thing you watched on TV? Flipping Vegas. I'm still reeling from that reptile house. I'm pretty sure that python laid eggs in that backyard and those new homeowners have inherited a yard full of snakes. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, but I love the color of your laminate floors!

When did you last step outside? What were you doing? I think the last time was picking up the girls from a birthday party. Saw a lot of friends, chatted for a while, and when I got back The Husband was incredulous as to why it took so long. Um. I'm A TALKER sometimes.

What is on the walls of the room where you are? Nothing exciting- cabinets? I blog from the kitchen island.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? A one story home close to the mountains. The arthritis is CREEPING IN. (If I were to get carried away, I'd move somewhere cold and rainy) And fill the garage full of expensive cars, of course. One of which would have to be a vintage Volkswagen bus. And some jewelry, I'm getting to that age that wants shiny sparkly rare stones on my wee fingers. Big stones.

Tell me something about you that most people don't know. What haven't I told you guys?! I'm pretty sure you know all the trivia by now. I cannot stand to touch cotton. I hate the taste of mushrooms and all seafood, yes even shrimp. I bluff and say I'm allergic sometimes in large groups, but really I just dislike fishy ocean taste. The ocean freaks me out in general. There is so much unexplored area, so many species we don't know about! GIANT SQUIDS, PEOPLE.

Who made the last incoming call on your phone? The Husband. He calls each night on his way home and we chat as he drives. It's a little ritual, our first chance to hash out the start to answer "how was your day today?"

If you could change something about your home without worry of expense or mess, what would you do? First, fix the ridiculous mess that is the wood floor on the stairs. Somebody did it WRONG WRONG WRONG. I'd also like to completely reconfigure the master bath, get rid of the tub, expand the shower, and create way more counter space. I have it all planned out in my head... and have been watching too much HGTV, obvs.

What was the last thing you bought? A new carbon monoxide detector and a couple water filters for our fridge. JAZZ HANDS.

Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? Can I sign up for both, please?

If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be? This is where some clarification would help- alive or dead? Alive would be Pete Holmes, I'd love to have a Fleegan lunch and talk about crazy theories about the universe. (I also have a huge celeb-crush on him) Dead would be... well, I'd have to think about that, there are a lot of people I'd like to have a little chat with.

Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Etsy. Or HomeGoods. This is only barely a hypothetical question.

Is the glass half empty or half full? Depends on the time of day; Are the children awake or asleep?

What's the farthest-away place you've been? Hawaii. In high school. With my family. Like a dork. As an adult, I have not been bitten by the traveling bug. It's a lot of work. And I REALLY like my very own, most assuredly not bed bug infested mattress.

What's under your bed? A bunch of stray dryer sheets. Man those things run loose, like tumbleweeds on the prairie.

What is your favorite time of day? Bedtime. The minute I slide between the sheets and snuggle into a good book before sleep; It's the best.

What inspires you? Good art. A fantastic painting, sculpture, work of theatre, music, etc. And lately the landscape around me. For years I have actively hated this desert with every fibre in my being. I'm coming around to seeing the beauty in the rocks, the mountains, the sweeping vistas. Quiet is also inspiring; I get so little of that.

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