Sunday, March 6, 2011

I didn't think 35 was that old until this weekend.

I thought 35 was the new 25 or something equally fabulous.  When I was 25 I was a lot lighter, newly married and the world was my oyster.  Now that I am 35, I am heavier, a DECADE into being married and truth be told, I don't really care for oysters.  So there.  However, I never really felt my age.  Any time anyone asked me how old I was or what year I was born in, I would respond but in this sorta out of body detached kind of way.  In my mind, my mom is 35.  I am still dewy skinned and rosy cheeked.  (Just because it's from exertion doesn't matter!)

So this weekend I did two things that showed me how "not young" I am.

1) I played Kinect with a few family members and a few strangers.  Not only was it exhausting but it was a real kick in the pants too.  Mainly because I was the only one that exposed herself during the game.  Yes, I jumped up with such excitement that my shirt nearly went over my head.  Luckily, it stopped just before the bra.  And while all of this seems like a micro-second faux pas, what I haven't yet told you is that the Kinect TAKES PICTURES OF YOU WHILE PLAYING.  So at the end of the game it flashed the picture on the giant TV screen for everyone to see.  One woman laughed so hard I wanted the floor to swallow me whole.  I guess that really has more to do with my pride than my not being so young anymore but my shoulder did really hurt this morning.

2) I danced with my daughter and nearly ruptured her spleen and almost broke my arm.  Even typing is making my elbow throb.  This was a double whammy of old age.  No balance and no resilience.  I fell over backwards because of the balance issue.  I landed on my poor little daughter.  And because I am no longer a child whose bones haven't even finished fusing, I will probably feel this injury for DAYS to come.  My back hurts, my arm is partially numb and it took me a full minute to get up off the floor.

I feel like I have skipped being my mother and gone straight onto being my grandmother.  This sucks to no end and I am going to do something about it.  What, exactly, remains to be seen.  So wish me luck and send some Ben-Gay my way.  Address it to the nursing home.  Thanks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The next chapter...

Long time no blog Amanda.  Geez what gives?  Well, I have gone back to work.  I cannot say in one blog post how much I love my job.  It is part time, meaning I still take my kids to school and pick them up every afternoon.  I work for an organization that is very dear to my heart.  I work with people that I love and respect.  Plus I have a sunny little office that is a slice of organizational heaven.  That is the upside.

The downside is that I have little time for my bloggin' and craftin'.  I have, however, set up a great new crafting station in my house.  I was severely impeding my family's ability to have dinner because our kitchen table was covered with glitter and paper scraps.  My motivation for getting a desk just for me was this:

This is the YourStory thermal book binder and laminator. Word.  I have laminated everything but the cat since getting this thing.  I have not bound any books yet, mainly because I have been trying to get some pages together that are "book worthy".  What really grabbed my attention about this gadget was a demo I saw on some PBS craft show.  The woman had taken her child's hand written/drawn story and bound it.  It was adorable and a true keepsake.  Avery and Alden have come up with some real beauties in the story department.  I can't wait to start my own library.

Oh and I finally broke down and got a printer.  It was a whopping $39 and I have already used almost all the ink that came with it.  Uh, did I mention we got it two days ago?  I am completely ashamed but I have been saving up printables for 6 months just for this occasion.  And since I don't do anything half assed, I started printing everything the minute my husband finished installing it.  Now I have more note cards than I know what to do with.  I also have a copy of Avery's hand and a pony named Friday.  (She waited until I was taking a shower to sneak those in).

I know you will be waiting on pins and needles for my next post.  I will try for the sake of your bottom end not to wait so long until the next post!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine’s Day Recap

cupcakeSunday we tried to go out to eat as a family to what I thought was going to be a semi-dressy Italian restaurant.  I called ahead of time to see if they took reservations.  They did!  So I made one for all four of us at 6pm.  Since this was turning out to be fancy, we dressed fancy.  Alden was in his new shirt and tie, Avery wore a skort (that’s a big deal), I wore my snazzy new red sweater and Josh wore actual slacks.  And with much anticipation, we were off to our family Valentine’s dinner.

We arrived to find a brightly lit super casual pizza joint.  The woman that greeted us at the door was wearing a disheveled ponytail, untucked polo shirt and jeans.  I told her we had a reservation and she looked at my quizzically and said, “We don’t take reservations.”  Turns out her dad (the owner) just took my reservation.  But they don’t actually TAKE reservations.  At this place, you order your food at the cash register and pay for it before they bring it to the table.  FINE.  WHATEVER.  We were there, dressed up in our Sunday best.  So we decided to make the best of it.  We sat in a booth…by the way did I mention how bright it was in that place?  My retinas are still burning.  Josh took everyone’s order and went back to the cash register.  He promptly returned with our Styrofoam cups and my saran wrapped side salad and we waited for our food.

And let’s just say that things went downhill from there.  The food was pricey.  The service was awful.  Our server brought our appetizers, salads and entrees within minutes of one another.  Then made us wait for 15 minutes to deliver our desserts.  AND I had to saw through my veal parm with a knife.  Oh well…

When we got home that night, I had the kids get everything together for the next day.  Backpacks…check.  School clothes…check.  Valentine’s for the parties….  This is when my son decided to announce that he had ALREADY taken his Valentine’s to school last week and handed them out.  WHAT?!?!  So there I am at 9 pm trying to wrangle some goodies for the party out of thin air.  I will say this.  I am a magician.  I managed to throw together 18 prizes complete with name tags.  Proved to my husband that my box of flotsam IS actually useful.  All of this drama and it’s not even Valentine’s day yet.

Monday I awoke to not presents or notes or anything.  If you know my husband, you know this is par for the course.  He is the most caring, loving, genuine person I have ever known but his gift giving prowess is, well, not his forte.  But when I got home that evening, he had gotten me a pot of tulips.  And not just any tulips, but some that were the most lovely shade of violet.  I have never seen any that color before.  Plus he bought me a bag of Dove chocolate.  Not wrapped, just the bag.  He totally cracks me up.  I can never tell anyone what he got me for this past birthday without laughing hysterically.  Want to know what it was?  A universal remote.  A massaging pillow that felt like it was really, really mad at me.  Some headphones (which I did need).  And a yoga DVD (it’s been around 5 years since I last did yoga).

All that being said about his gift giving, I love him dearly.  I don’t need any special day to remind me of that.  And after 10 years of being with him, I will take him the way he is, especially since he takes me the way I am!

Oh and just as a PS to this whole Valentine’s drama, I asked Alden if his friends liked the goody bags I made.  He said that he had the best ones in his class.  Then told me that he shouted at the top of his voice in class, “ALDEN BURKE STRIKES AGAIN!”

Monday, January 17, 2011

Uninspired winter blah’s

I am feeling so uninspired these days.  I sat down last night to whip up some Valentine cards and most of them are still sitting on my table unfinished.  I just couldn’t seem to get the juices flowing.  So I’ve resorted to stealing other people’s ideas and doing them myself.  Here are a few I’ve stolen:

1) Scrapbook paper covered manila folders.  I made some of these and they are GORGEOUS.  I cannot, however, show the pictures because they are gifts for people that may very well read this post.  So I will show you the ones from the Spotted Canary (ahem, the place I stole the idea from).


2) On the same episode that showed the file folders, they also made some paper covered binder clips.   But the twist was they used them as photo holders!  She took a huge binder clip, covered it in coordinating paper, made a little photo mat with coordinating paper and voila…unique handmade photo “frame”.


3)  This has nothing to do with awesome office supplies.  This has to do with Valentine’s day.  I need to make some great Valentine’s for my kids to give to their friends.  I wanted it to be easy, kid friendly (they are free labor after all) and cheap.  So I found cupcake liner/lollipop flowers.  This is from Skip to My Lou


4)  I also found an idea for candy cane heart lollipops from Cindy at Skip to My Lou.  But they involved melting in the oven and that sounded complicated for my poor brain.  I seriously envisioned candy cane goo running all over my oven.  So I found candy cane hearts from Pleasant Home that only involved melting white chocolate.  Possibly as challenging but hopefully I’ve learned my lessons about melting chocolate.  And since I bought some fruity, colorful mini candy canes on clearance the week after Christmas, this will be a great way to use them.

melting candy canes…candy-cane-heart

or melting chocolate…v day suckers and stickers your choice.









I hope that you find inspiration in these ideas.  I hope to post pictures of my versions of these soon.  And I also hope to have some great ideas of my own soon.  The internet is such a dangerous crafting crutch. LOL!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The most adorable printable playsets

I found the cutest playsets that you can print out for your budding baker, pizza maker or breakfast in bed chef!  They are from the illustrator Tricia-Rennea and could not be more adorable.  You can head on over to her blog, Trillistrations and see all her amazing work.  You will need to email her for the pdf files and I am sure she is getting tons of emails for these, so be patient! 

Since my daughter is young enough to enjoy a playset I think I will be using them for just that purpose.  I saw a suggestion though to use them as gift cards.  Wouldn't that be great?  Give a neighbor or new parents a make-your-own pizza basket with that pizza as the card!  You would be such a hit.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Birthday Business

Ok, so I just posted about not spending money and here I am posting about my son’s birthday party.  Which will surely involve spending scads of money on supplies, decor and cake.  Right?  Well, I think I have this one beat.  I am after all very thrifty and I can make fondant from scratch.  Here is the proof:

cake7Well, I didn’t make the colored fondant but I did make the white from scratch.  That was a mess.  Have you ever done that before?  If so, why didn’t you tell me that kneading molten lava melted marshmallows and 18 tons of powdered sugar together “until smooth” would be such a farkin’ mess?  Anyway, that was soooo last year. 

Actually, this year we are forgoing the traditional party.  Instead we are taking a friend or two to the McWane center.  I think that will involve a lunch out and a hot fudge sundae.  And since we have a McWane membership this year, the cost will be low.  AND…omg…AND this membership lets us get into other museums around the country for free so we are also going to the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.  I think Alden about died when I told him that.  He is already saving money for space camp (though he has a few years until he can go).  He hasn’t even seen the rockin’ 80’s movie, Space Camp.  I cannot wait until he’s old enough for that.  It will be a bonding moment for us, I just know.  So that is TWO adventures for the price of none.  Besides gas.  And food.  Well, whatever, it’ll be really, really cheap.

But since I am a bargain hunter and I always want to get something for nothing, I found a few places that will give me just that, all in the name of Birthdays.

* Kmart has a birthday club.  The closest Kmart to me is not very close but for a $5 gift card, I can drive the extra miles.  Yes, that is right.  Sign your kid up for the Kmart Birthday Club and your child gets a $5 gift card plus some kind of fun pack.  I have no idea how good any of this is but I signed my kids up anyway.

* Firehouse Subs will give you a free sub on your birthday.  You don’t even have to sign up for anything.  Just show up on the day with your ID.  Obviously, this will be a pain for kids but Mom’s and Dad’s need some love too.  I wish I would have known on my birthday :(

* Jason’s Deli will give you a $5 gift card on your birthday.  Just subscribe to their newsletter.  That means you could get a Mediterranean wrap for $0.99.  Or their salad bar for $1.99. And since they have free ice cream and bread and stuff like that, you could really make that $5 into a meal.  I love that place.

* Burger King has Club BK for online play and they will send you a coupon for a free kids meal when a parent creates an account.  They classified my soon to be 8 year old as a tween and this upsets me.  He is still a child Burger King, let’s just get that straight.  Anyway, a free kids meal is a free kids meal.

If you need a little inspiration for your kid’s birthday party, I really have to suggest the blog from Hostess with the Mostess.  She is beyond amazing.  She does celebrity parties, for Pete's sake.  But a lot of the things she does are not very costly.  Honestly, if you took her ideas to the dollar store, you could probably pull off a lot of it.  AND she has tons of free printables.  Same with The TomKat Studio.  Or for the low, low price of $10 you could get an entire printable birthday party collection from Parties by Hardie.  She will even customize it for an extra charge.  You just need some cardstock, a printer and scissors.  How cute is this?

party1 or this?











As far as cake goes, this is a very personal choice to me.  If it’s my birthday cake, it needs to be good great.  So that means spending $30 or so.  For my kids, this means baking a cake in the color they have chosen and decorating it in the theme.  That cake up there that I made for Alden was lemon cake on the top and chocolate on the bottom.  Seriously.  This cake (below) that I made for Avery was pink on the inside.  She didn’t even request strawberry, it just had to be pink inside.  With blue frosting and yellow polka dots.  I think the cost for each of the cakes I made was $10.  Granted I could have bought a dozen cupcakes from Wal-Mart for that but then I would not have gotten all the glory!  averycake

Now that I am looking back over all this fun stuff, I am kind of sad Alden has chosen a non traditional celebration.  Oh well.  Avery’s birthday is in May and she has already decided what kind of party she would like.  Strawberry Shortcake.  Honestly, the 7 year old inside me is ecstatic!

Penny wise, pound foolish?

THE PLAN.  The plan not to spend any money this month is really showing me how good I am at getting around rules.  And not really doing much in the way of teaching me self control.  I didn’t realize this whole idea was going to REVEAL things about ME.  Lord have mercy on me.  Please.

So I did spend money this last week.  And just in an effort to be accountable and learn something from this whole process, I’ll break it down for you. 

1)  I bought a $5 Starbuck’s card for $1.  I have not printed it out yet and since it was only a buck AND for food type things, I won’t be too hard on myself.  I mean, I do have to drink delicious whipped cream topped coffee beverages.  I’m not a savage.

2)  I also ate breakfast out.  This was in the $5 range.  I convinced myself that since I was going to a job interview and was terribly nervous, I had to eat.  And since I had forgotten to eat at home in my rush to get the kids to school, I had to stop somewhere.  They also had free WiFi and I got to ease my nerves by Facebooking.  I swear, I can really talk myself into some nonsense.  BTW, I got the job.  So could I call it a pre-emptive celebratory breakfast?  Sure, why not.

3)  I bought my daughter some long johns.  This was a $5 purchase at the good ole Wal-Mart.  And it actually was a necessity.  Those of you who live in the southeast US know we were expecting THUNDERSNOW 2011.  She had no long johns or anything that would suffice and I knew there would be lots of playing outside if the snow came.  So I got them but I was supremely proud of myself for not going down the clearance aisle.  I started that way but told myself not to cave.  And I didn’t.  Score 1 for me. 

4)  I took my son to a painting class.  Now technically this was free because we had a gift certificate.  The lunch at Burger King afterward was not.  This was $9 and some change.  Can you believe that?  Highway robbery.  He was hungry, I had not packed a lunch.  I caved to the pressure of a 7 year old.  Granted, again, it was food stuff.  But handing over the dough really made me flinch. 

This also made me realize that I was cheating and had been all week.  Because I could basically justify any purchase I made.  It also made me aware of the fact that I do this kind of thing in a lot of areas.  Just a dollar or two here.  Just another bite.  Just another minute of ignoring my kids.  Whew!  I didn’t intend for any of this to be deep and soulful.  I really just thought it would be fun to try. 

So with a new week at hand, I am looking ahead with high hopes for myself.  My new job starts tomorrow and I feel a surge of self discipline coming on.  Plus I have some coupons for free stuff like coffee and movie rentals in my purse for any retail therapy related emergencies.  I think I’ll make it!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What have I done?!!!!!?

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this whole new year attitude of mine.  For those of you that don’t know, at the strike of midnight of the last day of 2010, I became violently ill.  We’re talking Alien type of illness here.  Actually, that might have been welcome to what I was going through.  It was horrendous and God awful and I never, ever want to be that sick again.  And just in case you’re wondering, it wasn’t alcohol induced.  I was legitimately sick.  A bacterial infection.  I don’t know what kind of bacteria would want to do that to me or why it thought it needed to make it’s presence known, but it sure as hell is off my Christmas list for this year.

Anyway, once I was able to form coherent thoughts and hold my head up unassisted again, I set off on taking charge of my life, resolution style.  I already had a considerable head start on my weight loss for the year and 5 days into this new year am still verging on the queasy side of things.  So I just let that resolution lie. 

My next task was to clean and de-clutter.  I had literally walked in my house Christmas day after time with family and promptly removed the tree and most of the decorations.  The fact that I wanted to stomp them down into the box has nothing to do with Christmas, so moving on.  A lot of de-cluttering was already done.  We assigned new household chores, made up a fresh batch of weekly rewards and everyone set out on their cleaning without a complaint.  Except me, my head was beginning to spin again.  But I forged ahead with a smile and we all accomplished our goals for that day.  I thought about hoisting my kids on my shoulders and running around the living room for a victory lap, but again, my head.

So on to the next idea.  This one was a moment of absolute inspiration from my cousin.  She and her children will go a month at a time without buying anything.  WHAT?  That’s right.  They buy gas, food, TP…we’re talking necessity only type stuff and NOTHING else.  They won’t even cheat and eat out (it is food and you do need it, right?).  Unless someone has invited them, they eat at home.  Unheard of.  I know.  I decided our family should give this a try.  Don’t get me wrong.  We don’t spend all of our disposable income on crap.  We live without cable and internet.  We have a Netflix account, one cheap cell phone and that’s it.  Nothing superfluous.  But we do go out to eat more than we should, we do buy meaningless junk at the dollar store and I, yes I, buy stuff I don’t even need.  I will drive to a store just for the sole purpose of buying something I don’t need.  WHO DOES THAT?  IT’S CRAZY! 

So my husband and I agreed.  No buying anything this month.  We laid the ground rules.  Netflix and the McWane Center are in, because we already have a membership.  No extraneous Wal-Mart trips, no cruising the clearance aisle at Target and absolutely no driving to Michael’s just because.  We would also not be ordering out any pizza or catching a Happy Meal while we are out.  I thought this was going to be a cinch and really more of a lesson to the kids about what is a need and what is a want.  (I’m sure you can see my patting myself on the back and fixing my hair just about now…can’t you?)

Well, guess what?  I was wrong.

First thing this morning while buying gas, I think to myself, “I’m so thirsty.  I should just grab a soda.”  Then I reminded myself of ‘the plan’.  Fine.  No soda.  And no quick bite on the way to my mom’s.  Instead, my stepdad fixed me a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.  Hey, less calories than the biscuit I would have eaten…two resolutions for one!  And it didn’t cost me anything.

But I failed shortly thereafter.  If you are friends with me on Facebook, you saw me post that Starbuck’s deal.  I am here to admit, I bought it.  I did not even give it a second thought.  It wasn’t until I went to print it that I realized I had broken ‘the plan’.  ALREADY!!!! 

This is going to be soooo much harder than I thought.  I would really like to give my cousin a big “Atta girl!” for having done this so many times before.  You are a giant among women.  Even though you are tiny.  And so pretty.


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