Friday, March 30, 2012

Quotes in my home

Here are a few quotes I like and have hanging in my house.
I obviously did not make these up, I just like them. If you want to find out the origin of these fine words; use Google.

1. In a world where you can be anything, be yourself.

I love this. In today’s society it’s really hard to be yourself. I think this is a good message and even though they can’t read yet, I still have it on my daughters’ wall.

2. Do more of what makes you happy.

So true. Why wouldn’t you? This is hung in my head not in my house.

3. We may not have it all together but together we have it all.

This is in my dining room and has been for a while. It makes sense to me and my life

4. Always kiss me goodnight.

Ok, this really isn’t my favorite but I do have it my bedroom which I guess means something. I don’t like going to bed angry at anyone because most things aren’t that serious. Which brings me to…

5. Life goes on.

6. Do not disturb. I am already disturbed enough.

This one is on my calender this month. Maybe I'll hang it on my front door when the month is over.

The other ones are vinyl stickers for walls, which I love. They are fairly simple to put up. I got the ones in the photos through Ebay.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inserting a contact lens in a baby's eye

As I mentioned before, Ava had a congenital cataract in her right eye. After the surgery she started wearing a contact in her right eye and patch on the left to strengthen her "bad eye." This is when the everyday struggle began.
Can you imagine putting a contact lens in a baby's eye? Neither could I. There was no way this was happening to me. The ophthalmologist tech showed me how to put it in. I held my baby down, Ava screamed and was fighting it, the tech pried her eye open and was jabbing her eyeball with her fingers so many times; it was painful to watch. She finally got it in and said, "now it's your turn" Oh, hell no. I managed to do it after a few tries and she sent me on my way. It must've been a fluke because when I got home it was not that simple. I don't know who shed more tears, my 8 month old or me. Everyday my husband held her down. Every day I yelled at him because I couldn't get the contact in. I was angry and frustrated with him, myself, people who had perfect babies and God for not giving me a baby with normal eyes. I felt so alone because everyone would tell me things like "It's no big deal, at least your kid doesn't have cancer, it will get better, etc." I didn't want to hear that but essentially, they were right. We finally were able to insert and remove the contact with little struggle. It was still a two person job and my husband would wake us up at 4:30 a.m. before he left for work so he could pin her down and I could pop the lens in. Eventually I got sick of waking up that early and learned to it on my own. The everyday struggle became as routine as brushing our teeth. This is all a distant memory now. She no longer wears a contact, as she got an IOL implant (this is what old people with cataracts usually get and wasn't recommend for kids her age)but the patch on her eye is still a battle, it's more of an annoyance than anything. I will go more into the contact issues, blackout lens and patch issues later.
If you look closely you can see the contact. It looks kind of like a bubble in the middle.
silisoft, baby, contact, bubble, insert

Monday, March 26, 2012

Project: Painted Paper Shades

I bought some Redi paper shades at Home Depot. They are super cheap and easy. You don't have to measure in advance you just cut them with scissors to size. As always, I just eyeballed mine. I liked the gray ones we put up but the white seemed way too boring. I like color. So we decided to paint them. I had fabulous ideas in my head but am not an artist and had no stencils, so I figured this would be a project the kids can do with me. That way, if it looks awful I can blame them.

We painted three different shades and used blues for each one.

For the first we dipped the brushes in paint and splatted them.
redi paper shade, painted

This was a huge mistake because there was more paint on my floors, wall and our clothing then the shades.

painted, window,shade,kids,crafts

Then we did stripes and circles for the others.

Here are the results.


toyroom,window,painted shades,kids,redi

See what I mean about being artsy? It would look totally cool if they were stenciled or had a neat design.
We had fun doing it and it's a great way to display artwork. These would look especially great in a toy room or kids bedroom. I'm not sure how long paper shades last. I don't recommend using so much paint or being too rough like my kids were because these are only paper.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Project: Enjoy the little things

I recently realized my kids really are growing up. My baby is four and my oldest is five. I really like the ages they're at now. They are fully functional and can do a million things on their own. If we need to go somewhere it's so easy; they can put their shoes and coats on, open the car door, get in and buckle their seat belts all on their own. I know, this really doesn't seem like much but trust me, it's a big deal. It would be even better we lived somewhere where we could eliminate the coat part.
I do not miss them being babies. The baby stage is kind of annoying and boring to me. I do know that I will miss the stage their in now and I want to try to enjoy it as much as possible. Here are a few things to make sure to do before they get too old.

1. Blow bubbles; in your car, in your house, outside, anywhere. Bubbles are cheap easy and fun. Sometimes it seems messy and like a hassle but it’s really not.

2. Let them blow milk bubbles, but only sometimes because this can get obnoxious.
<3. Build a sand castle with them and bury each other in sand.

4. Let them play on the mud and dirt.

5. Let them paint and don't get mad when they get it everywhere.
6. Let them do play dough and don't get mad if it gets everywhere.

7. Cuddle and hug and kiss them as much as possible, even if they are interrupting what you are doing.

8. Let them sleep in your bed, sometimes.

9. Play pretend with them.

10. Let them have fun and have fun with them.

Notice, I'm not very crafty or original with these ideas, these are simple reminders. It’s sad because there are days I do not want to do anything at all with my kids and they completely annoy me. I know before I know it they will not want to do anything at all with me and I will completely annoy them. I need to stop and enjoy the little things, do the play dough and paint with them and not only set up and then go clean the kitchen or do laundry. It is important to interact with your children and not just bark orders like I find myself doing. As I mentioned before, I am trying to get better at not yelling and getting annoyed all their messes and spills. I love my kids to pieces. I really don’t want them to grow up.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Project: Cataract removal

Ava’s eye does not define who she is as a person and I try my hardest not to even realize that there is anything wrong with it. I tell myself not to be upset or take her vision as a loss when you can’t lose something you never had. Perfect vision is what she never had. She was born with a cataract on her right eye. She also developed a hemangioma on her lip within the first month of birth. I was too worried about the big red ugly birth mark to even notice that her big beautiful eyes were not even functioning properly. I, along with three doctors completely missed this. By the time spring rolled around I was out walking more and the sun was finally shining after a cold winter. This is when I realized she was squinting. I brought it to the pediatricians’ attention and he told me it looked like squinting because the bridge of her nose was too wide; wait it out. I waited a week and brought her back in. He told me pupils come in different shades. I was angry because by this point I knew there was something drastically wrong with my baby’s eye. During this month I finally got the internet and a computer (it was 2007, I should’ve had technology by then but somehow managed without) so I could continue researching eyes. I took her back in few days after the prior appointment and stated she has cataracts, pupils do not come in different shades and we need to see a specialist. He wrote me a referral and I had to wait a month to get in to the ophthalmologist due to the pediatrician not thinking it was an emergency. That specialist diagnosed her with a cataract in her right eye and sent me to another specialist who performed cataract removal surgery on her eye that week. Of course, I had to get another referral. When I picked up the referral I remember the doctor who thought there was nothing wrong with her eye, taking her to the room and checking again. This time he saw it, couldn’t believe and called in all of his associates to take a look at my baby’s freak show eye. He said in his 100 years of practicing he had never seen anything like it. By now it was July and Ava was now about nine months old. Too see her in that tiny hospital gown with IV’s in completely broke my heart. The surgery went well but her vision was completely shot and her brain was never trained to use that eye. I cried; my baby wasn’t perfect and never will be, she might not drive, read, walk or do anything a child with vision can do. So far she proved me wrong and will prove me wrong through out her life. This minor surgery was nothing compared to the challenges ahead with contacts, patching, another surgery and life. Oh, and while all of this was going on, I found out I was pregnant again.
This was right after the surgery. It looks worse than what it was.

Project: Fix the gross chairs

I have the ugliest dining room set ever. Not only is it ugly, it looks filthy, disgusting, completely outdated and partially broken but I am still thankful for it. We got the set from the people who owned the house before us. I actually had the nerve to ask during the closing if we could have it (it was the only thing left in the house so I figured they didn’t want it.) They said no. Oh well, no loss considering we really did more drinking then eating at that point of our lives. To my surprise I got am email saying we can have the table (maybe they realized it’s the least they can do knowing that we bought the house at the high end of the market and is now worth half of what we paid but that’s a whole other story.) So they brought the table back, and it’s been here ever since.

As you can see the chairs are awful. I’m sure I could’ve cleaned them better and more often but in my head I thought we were going to be buying a brand new dining room set, soon. Six years later, I’ve finally had it and decided to reupholster. This project didn’t cost me a dime because I used an old table cloth that I had in a bag for Goodwill.

For this project I used:
An old table cloth (or fabric)
Screw driver
Powerful staple gun (if you don’t have one, use hot glue)
Hot glue gun (if you don’t have one, use staple gun)

To take off the seat you will just flip the chair upside down and unscrew. Once the seat is off, set it on the table cloth or whatever fabric you plan on using and cut around it, with about 2-3inches of extra fabric for pull.
Tip 1: If you’re careless, lazy and not good at lining things up, do not use stripes or any pattern that will be obvious if it’s not perfect. Tip 2: Wash and iron the fabric or it will be a wrinkly mess like mine.

I then thought I was going to whiz right into this by stapling away but unfortunately someone in my household bought the wrong staples for the gun, so I used my trusty hot glue gun and glued away. I folded the corners in way that I would with gift wrap. Some turned out better than the others, some had too much fabric (I’m lazy and did no form of measuring what so ever.) Just make sure you are pulling the fabric tightly around the seat so there is no slack.

Screw the screws back in, make sure the chair pads are aligned or they will be crooked, like my first attempt. Repeat with all chairs. You will probably need to vacuum after if there were a lot of crumbs and crud going on during the removal process. You might as well scrub the chairs while the seats are off. I regret not doing that with mine but I didn’t have the time.

So simple and while not the best and most professional jobs, for using an old table cloth, I think it looks a million times better. Can someone please tell me why I didn’t do these six years ago?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Should I get a career?

As my 30th Birthday approaches, I am starting to wonder what I should be doing with life. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and am way more happy then I ever thought was possible. The only thing possibly missing is a career. I don’t necessarily want one right now but in the future I’d like to have one that I enjoy and am good at. For now my less than part time job suits me and my family perfectly fine.
Every day there is a new career I think about having. Nursing is one of them, then I think of the disgusting things that come along with it and the fact that people’s lives would rely on me. I often think about being an ultrasound tech but then I realize that has downfalls too, like doing an ultrasound of someone’s testicles. Teaching is another option I thought I would love until I realized my only love was having the summers off. Then I think maybe something in social work, since I did go to school for that. Then I see the Chicago ghetto neighborhoods and realize I don’t stand a chance. Also, most things require going back to school. The list goes on about my day to day career prospects. I’ve decided to put together a list of my previous jobs, besides babysitting, to see if that will help lead me in the right direction. I tried listing them in order but lost track.
1. Shady Lawn (grill/cart girl/dishwasher)
2. Princess Café (busser)
3. Subway (professional sandwich artist)
4. Village Woods (wait staff)
5. College Dorm (housekeeping)
6. Kmart (layaway attendant)
7. Pizza Hut (phone and counter service)
8. County Line Towing (personal assistant/dispatcher)
9. Ihop (server)
10. Briar Nursing (server and activity aide)
11. YWCA (before and after school and camp teacher)
12. Parklawn Home (residential facilitator)
13. Will County Clerk (clerk/scanner)
14. Mooseheart (family teacher)
15. Tiny Tots (daycare teacher)
16. Thrivent Financial (assistant receptionist)
17. Bill Kay Ford (internet sales/telemarketing)
18. Ridgeland Animal Hospital (receptionist)
19. Bakers Square (hostess)
20. Jewel (deli girl)
21. Ingalls (registration/customer service)
22. Playskool (teacher)
As you notice these are a lot of jobs and I’m probably missing a few. None of them were amazing and I only use three on my resume. What is amazing are the amount of great and horrible people I’ve met and the skills I’ve acquired throughout the years. I’ve also learned never to judge someone by their job title. I am not unintelligent because I work at a front desk or cleaned dorms and you are ignorant if you think so. I chose to work as little as possible because thankfully that works for now and is what makes me happy. Isn’t happiness the key to life anyway? Maybe in time I will have a 9 to 5 suit job that pays the big bucks but I highly doubt it. The corporate world doesn’t even sound appealing to me anymore but congrats if that makes you happy. I can see my daughter will be a CEO in no time.

Actually, after writing this I decided I want to travel and eat for living, maybe the Travel Channel is hiring.
If you have any career ideas for me, please let me know.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Maybe I'll lose a few

I do not think I’m fat. I am average; 5 feet 5 inches and 136 pounds (give or take). I want to lose ten pounds. I have wanted to lose ten for as long as I can remember. I’ve come to think I might have a 7-10 pound tumor. The truth is, I don’t diet and exercise regularly and strictly enough to lose it. I do great for a while and feel like I am about to see results, and then there was a party, and at the party there was cake, and dips and booze and carbs and sugar, and then I was back to square one. I tell myself, starting tomorrow I will do great; and I start off great. By the end of the night I realize I’ve deprived myself and I overeat. This is not so great and I'm back to square one, again. This time I want to make it to square two, or three or four. I want to look good in clothes and a bathing suit and naked. No one ever sees me naked but just in case; I want to be ready. I know this won’t happen because I have stretch marks. Some days I care about my fat and stretch marks, other days I don’t give a shit at all and will go out in public in a two piece. I know I don’t look good but neither do half of the other people on the Midwest beaches.
Here is a photo of me on the beach in January. I must've been in an "I don't give a shit" mode. Nobody looks good in January is the excuse I will use. This is my before and motivational picute.

I would be more motivated to lose weight/shape up if it was for health concerns but I feel fine. I used to feel fatigued and tired all the time but since I’ve slightly cleaned up my diet, started taking B vitamins and stopped drugs and alcohol, I’ve been totally fine to the point where I don’t even need caffeine.
The point of this story is; I will be motivated tomorrow. I will let you know my progress and if I have any tips or tricks besides working out and eating better. Actually, here’s a tip: if you have a treadmill or cardio equipment, only play your smartphone games, Facebook or other nonsense while on the treadmill. However, I wrote this while sitting on the couch, watching TV, playing Draw Something and eating chips so please never take advice from me.
We all know what it takes to lose weight and tone up but only a few have the motivation. Maybe I will be part of that few tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Actual Birthday Day

This is Kayla. You will love her.
birthday tutu

Today is Kayla's actual Birthday, not the birthday party day. The kids seem to get this confused. The party day is obviously more fun but I do want them to enjoy their actual day. I especially want to Kayla to enjoy and want to enjoy it with her. I've been feeling a little guilty lately on how horribly I've parented her. In fact, there have been days where I can't stand her. She cries every day for no reason at all. She doesn’t listen first-time; she’s whiney, irritating and needy. She's three. That's how three year olds act. I guess I was too busy adjusting to life with kids and comparing her with Ava and other older kids that I never really appreciated her. I really wish I would've enjoyed her more at ages two and three. I failed to realize how unique, smart and great she really is until now and fully regret that. I can't take back all the times I scolded her for have tantrums or yelled at her because she was taking too long when all she was doing was trying. What I can do is try to be a better, patient and more accepting parent. By no means am I the worst parent but there were days I could’ve used some improvement. Of course, there are also days like today. Days you wish I was your mom because I'm just that awesome. I wish I could live everyday like it was my birthday (or my kid's birthday).

balloons in bedroom

We started her birthday morning by filling her room with balloons.
She loved it. I recommend you do this for your child or for me. We bought one of those Balloon Time tanks and snuck them in her room before she woke up. It's such a cool idea. My parents claimed they did this for my sister and me one year but I do not remember it. Chances are, Kayla won't remember it either but I will and I will remember that it made her happy.

birthday cake pancakes, sugar syrup

Then we had birthday cake pancakes and sang happy birthday. They were ok. I wish I would've looked up a recipe but instead I used a mixture of extra cupcake batter (from the cupcakes mentioned below) and pancake mix. I made sugar syrup with powdered sugar, milk and sprinkles. I probably should've followed a recipe on that too but it turned out fine.

I woke up early to make these super awesome cupcake ice-cream cones. These were a few before they dumped over.

colored icecream cones cupcake

I've made them before but these were my best. The trick is; do not overfill them. I think the colored cones gave it a good effect too. I used funfetti cake mix and vanilla frosting. Kayla helped me add some sprinkles. They were so cute. The transport to the school didn't go as good as I wanted; half of them were upside down before I left the house. Wrapping them in tin foil is a good way to stabilize them in the cupcake tin if you don't have time to cut holes in a box. Either way, they were hit.

Luckily, it was an unseasonably warm day and we got to spend all day outside. We went to the park, cleaned the yard, rode bikes, scooters and just had some fun. My wonderful husband feels the need to call off work for the kids’ birthdays so really he was the one participating in these activities. The girls would rather have that anyway because it's rare that he's home and actually has free time. This made the day extra special and was the icing on the cake.

We ended the day by going out to dinner. I wanted to go to a nice outdoor patio and grab a big salad and a cold beer. My husband reminded me it wasn't about me. Like it hell it isn't, I'm the one that gave birth so it is about me. Anyway, we let Kayla pick and she chose Chinese food. There isn't too many good sit down places so we went with a Hibachi place. My kids love that and so do I. A big surprise was an aunt and cousin met us there!
Overall, it was a great day.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Project: Toilet removal

I need to admit that it's my fault I'm in this situation to begin with. I accidently flushed the toilet paper roll holder down the toilet. Don't ask. I wish I could blame it on the kids but no, it was me. Hubby and a friend tried to use a snake to get it out with no success. I called a plumbing service that was apparently a scam; $483 to auger it out and $856 to remove the toilet and the object. No thanks, you’re out of your freaking mind to think I would pay that much. Of course my husband can do this job but he's been working a lot of hours so I decided to give him a break. After talking to a few people and watching a you-tube video, I figured I would attempt to completely remove the toilet. It really wasn't as gross as I imagined. Oddly enough, it was more empowering then anything.
Here is a basic step by step on removing a toilet,
First step is to turn off the water. Easy, there's a knob that's connected to the tank. Get as much water out of the tank and bowl as possible. I used a wet/dry vac and it worked great. Then you remove the water hook up thing that you just turned off. Then take off the tank by removing the bolts.

Notice I have towels on standby. I really thought it was going to be a disaster.

Then pop of the bowl by removing those nuts and bolts, giving a wiggle and putting a little muscle into it.

You now have to reach your hand in to try to find the object. In case you do not have common sense I will tell you: use gloves. I have a small hand and could feel it but it was stuck, which is why I have come this far already. I bent a coat hanger and tried to get out that way. Nothing. By then I was frustrated and had enough energy to man handle the toilet and turn it upside down and try to get it out from the way it came in. This was the biggest struggle of the project but I was determined to get this damn thing out. Finally, here it is.

Now to scrape out this old wax ring and replace it with a new one that cost about $3. Put the ring on the toilet not the hole in the floor.

toilet removal, wax ring

Put everything back on the way you took it off and caulk it. I used a steak knife to get the old caulk out. If happen to do the same, please make sure you throw it away after using or wash it really good if you’re frugal. Good as new for only $3 and a little over an hour of my time. Sure beats the price they quoted me. If I can do it, so can you, or if you can't I will come do it for a reasonable fee.

Products of the week

These are my three favorite products this week.

1. Aveeno tinted moisterizer

aveeno moisturizer

My sister told me about this lotion and I absolutely love it. I feel pretty when I wear it. It's lighter then foundation but seems more like make-up than moisterizer. It has spf, which is an extra bonus. I have really bad skin in the winter but I'm not a make up person at all. I don't want to be one of theose people who has to wear makeup all the time or people won't reconize me or think I'm a freak without it. I'd rather look like a freak naturally. Try it if you need to even up your skin a little.

2. Disolvable B12 vitamins from Target

I think I'm addicted to B12. I feel way better since I've started taking them. It's probably all in my head. I've tried many brands but I like the taste of these. They are disosvable and easy to swollow if you try them that way. Most vitamins make me feel dizzy and like I'm going to vomit, however, these do not.

3 SoBe Life Water Pacific Coconut
sobe coconut water

For the record, I love most of the SoBe lifewaters. This one is sweet, refreshing and reminds me of summer. It's only 10% cocnut water it's really coconut flavored water. I couldn't drink it one sitting because it's too sweet but still good.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Try to Simplify

Ways I try to simplify my life:

1. Get rid of stuff.
When it comes to material items, I’ve always been fairly simple. I feel like I could be one of these people who only have 52 items and lives out of a backpack. When you’re doing all the cleaning and organizing it makes sense to just get rid of and do without. You don't have to worry about ever cleaning out your drawers if there's nothing in them. Chances are I will probably never use all 5 spatulas at once, anyway. I want to try to live so simply that just in case someone calls me and tells me I need to relocate to a beautiful tropical paradise, I'll be ready. The problem is that I have a family. My children have at least 52 dolls alone. I've been trying to have them downsize and they’ve taken it surprisingly well. In fact, they packed up well over half of their toys and junk. They even got rid of toys that I thought were keepers. Truthfully, they mainly play with paper and crayons anyway. It helped to tell them that we would try to sell all of their stuff and we would use the money to save for a trip to Disney (which we are really trying to do.)

2. Make to do lists.

I started on this handy dandy notebook where everyday I fill out to do lists, dinner plans, appointments and general thoughts or reminders. This little notebook has really helped me. I really like the consistency of it. I try to write this list the night before while I'm walking on my treadmill. If I feel like my day is going to be really busy I add thing like; take a shower, get dressed, straighten my hair. Sometimes I write a do to list of things I've done just so I can cross them off and feel like I accomplished something. I know, that right there proves I have major issues.

3. Make weekly menus.

I used to have partial or daily menus but now that I'm doing weekly it really helps to save money and simplify. It does cause a minute of stress on the day I plan it. I make the menu list based off of what we have in stock (usually nothing) and the grocery list based off that. Then I hit the store on Thursdays because that’s when I have time and that’s when the sales ad comes out. I also no longer use coupons. I always wanted to be a big couponer but it really took more time then it was worth, plus the stuff I like never had a coupon and generic is cheaper anyway. Ok, back to the meals. Sunday I try to do a big dinner consisting of some sort roast or big piece of meat. We eat half, save some for leftovers and I freeze the rest in plastic baggies. This will help you tremendously in the weeks ahead. Monday is usually some sort of pasta, and a salad. We usually have salad every night with dinner. Maybe one day my salads will be as good as my mom's but that is doubtful. Tuesday, use the leftovers to create a new meal, example; leftover beef roast can be used for beef enchilada casserole or beef stroke me off, I mean stroganoff. Wednesdays I work late so it's usually a crock-pot or casserole meal, with instructions for my husband. Thursday, I usually work late again and am running behind, plus I'm usually pissed that half of the food I've made isn't eaten, so screw you, you’re on you own. What's that family? Oh, you don't like eggplant and couscous, well I'm trying to be healthy, so you will eat food that tastes like grass. Fridays, I always hope to go out or get delivery but this doesn’t happen because hubby works late. We're hungry and want to eat now but it's too cold out for me to get in the car and get food and have no cash to tip the delivery guy so I make whatever else I had on the list. Honestly, I find it hard to stick to a menu list because what I thought sounded good when I made the list, no longer appeals to me, in terms of taste or time or effort.

4. Kids morning routine.

Try to start every morning on the right track and with a positive attitude. I start Sunday night by picking out at least five outfits for each child and putting them on a hanging organizational rack we have in the closet. This saves me so much time in the morning. It also lets them feel like they're picking out their own by giving them a choice of all outfits I already picked.
I have a daily task chart for my preschoolers using pictures. They are: make bed, put dishes away, get dressed, brush teeth and pick up toys. Every time they complete the task they put an X on the chart. When I feel like we are moving slowly in the morning or I see something is not done, I say "How many X's do you have on your chart?" They like to please me and if one has more X's, the other will do the tasks as quick as possible just to compete. This chart is in a plastic sleeve and we wipe it off and start fresh everyday.
Find a morning plan that works for you and your family.

5. Figure out what you love to do and do it.

Everyday I have something new that I think I love and want to do with my life. Anywhere warm, sunny and has a beach and pool is truly what I love. I think I would be perfectly happy being a beach bum. I'm sure I'll move to the ocean when I retire. If I can figure out how to relocate now that would be even better. Obviously, doing what makes you happy will make your quality of life better, so if you can swing it, do it.

6. Socialize in a real fashion

I find my quality of friendships to be better now that I've deleted my social networking sites. In the half hour I spent stalking your page (which lead me to your cousin's boyfriend’s, ex-wife’s friend's page) I could've actually drove to your house or met and had a real face to face conversation over some coffee or beer. Fortunately, I have my husband's password so if I ever get the urge to stalk people I haven't seen in 10 years, I still can. Not having access to everyone's information can lead you to become less of a gossiper, which is always a good. Make a phone call to reconnect with people. A text or personalized email is better then a generalized mass message or not reaching out at all.

7. Say no more often.

Think things through before agreeing. If it isn't going to make you happy then don't do it. If saying no will hurt your relations with people then get new friends because clearly, these people do not have your best interest anyway.

These are just a few of the things I am trying to do to help make life easier and simpler and happier. It's still a work in progress and it seems like a simple life is a whole lifestyle change that will take a lot of time.
What do you do to make your live easy, simple and happy?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Project: Just say NO

As youth many of us took DARE class and learned to say no to drugs and peer pressure. Unfortunately, DARE didn’t make a lasting impression on me, I said yes a few times too many as a teen and young adult. By no means was I ever a drug addict but in some situations; yes, ok sure, and pass it here just seemed like a better choice. This has carried on in my adult life. Can you work an extra hour? Can you work this weekend? Can you watch my kids today? Can you watch my kids tomorrow? Can you do this? Can you do that? Yes, Okay, sure, no problem, sounds good, what time do you need me? This happens to me and I’m sure most women all the time. We are people pleasers so we say, yes; then we stress. I feel like if I can’t think of an excuse fast enough then there’s no reason I shouldn’t do the task being asked. Sadly, when my kids ask me to help them with simple things, I can’t say no fast enough. They are only people whom I really say no to on a regular basis and they are the ones that need me the most. If I said no to others more often I would have more time to say yes to them.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to do people favors but don’t let them take advantage of you. Also, don’t say no all the time because then nobody will ever say yes when you need them. I am lucky enough to have a few friends with kids and we trade off babysitting. Trading off is usually a win-win situation. Learn to prioritize. Try to do things on your own time. For example, call your friend and tell her you can watch the kids or do a task on Thursday from 9:00am until 1:00pm. As for work, try compromising. Tell your boss you can only stay late today if you can leave early or come in late tomorrow. Of course, this won’t work in every workplace and depending on how you're paid you may need that extra hour of work. If that is the case, this doesn’t apply to you. I’ve actually learned to say no in the workplace, enough to the point where my boss doesn’t even consider calling me to pick up shifts. I’m perfectly fine with this, any more then 2 to 3 days a week and would be suicidal.

Do you really need to think of an excuse? Actually, no you do not. Keep it simple. Let’s practice: Friend- “Hey do you think you can watch my kids tomorrow?” You-“Sorry, tomorrow actually doesn’t work for me. Boss- “I need someone to work tomorrow from 3pm-11pm?” You-“I’d love to but unfortunately I can’t.” In these situations a straight up “no” is almost too simple and straight forward so these lines can work. It also helps if you can change the subject right after saying this. Never give too much information and be careful with lying; you might get yourself caught up. Your best friend and sister will know if you’re lying and coworkers andaecquaintance will know you really weren't sick when they see a picture of you at a party on Facebook later that night. Trust me, this has happened to me before.
This is way harder than it sounds. While writing this, I just volunteered to watch a neighbor’s kid tomorrow, an acquaintance’s kids on Tuesday and picked up an extra shift on Thursday. I need to realize that saying YES will create stress and NO will let me rest. Please let me know if you have any great tips on saying no.

Project: 30 second side dish

Opening the cans is going to be the most difficult part. Ready, set go. Drain the chickpeas and olives, cut the olives if you want to, pour them in a bowl, add the tomatoes, throw in some cilantro and that’s it. These tomatoes have a little kick and enough spice not to have to add anything else. If you use the Italian seasoned tomatoes, some fresh basil would be a good choice. Obviously, using fresh ingredients would be your better choice but as usual, I use what I have because I’m too lazy to run to the store.

I know, this isn’t much of a recipe. It works for me for now and I think it’s pretty healthy.
I served this with easy beef enchilada casserole.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Haloween Party Barbie Brains

I love dressing up and candy; therefore, I am a big fan of Halloween. This year I decided to have a Halloween party for my daughter's Birthday. Here I will show you some simple themed food projects.
The Barbie head seemed to be a big hit. This is one of my original ideas. A really simple project if you happen to have one of these hairstyle/make-up heads lying around. Fortunately, my kids were willing to give her up. If not, you can buy one at big chain store for around $10.
You start by slicing off the top of her head. I used a steak knife and some scissors because that's all I had. It would be easier with a better knife. Make sure all of her hair is off; no one likes hair in their food. Wash it out really thoroughly and she's ready for use.

As you can see, I put her on a tray and filled her dome with guacamole, splashed a little salsa on her face and dumped the rest on the tray. Simple Barbie brains and blood.
If you want, you can save her for next year or use her all year if your family is strange like mine.


I know that you've seen these oranges as jack-o-lanterns used for individual fruit cups around. Mine are not nearly as pretty as others but it was way less time consuming to merely add a few oranges to the fruit tray instead of as individual. I'm lazy and do not have time or energy to be that cute. Oh well, these are simple and kind cute for fruit.


The rest of the Halloween themed snacks were also pretty decent. My mom made some super cute and delicious mice out of Oreo balls and Twizzler tails. I would share the recipe and pictures but I don't have them. Google it. My cauliflower brain was just ok but not as brainy as I wanted it to be. I also made fingers out of string cheese with pumpkin seed nails. They were cool but not worth the effort.


Overall, the party was a success and the snacks and decor were a hit. In the long run, when you’re having a party with good friends and family, it's all about the company and the smile on my children's faces more than anything. So, keep it simple people because nobody really cares or remembers the party decor or food in the long run.

halloween,birthday,party,cake,ideas,barbie head

Project: Organize Closet

This is a project that just about anyone can and should do; clean out one closet. If that's too much, start with a drawer, a purse, anything really. Doing this can really feel like a big accomplishment. I have been reading many blogs and articles about organizing and simplifying my life in the past few months and must say, it's addicting! I've gotten rid of so much stuff that it seriously amazed me. Of course, I still probably have more stuff then the average American. The one closet that I have not touched yet was my dining room/linen closet. It's a clutter of towels, beauty products, crafts and junk and frustrates me every morning when I'm looking for a comb or brush. After using a doll's brush on my kids and my own hair on a regular basis, I decided; that's it, I’m cleaning out this closet and finding all my brushes and combs. There was no way I was going to buy another one, knowing they all had to be around somewhere.
This is the before picture.
I am fortunate enough to have a shelving unit in my closet already. So I started shelf by shelf. It took forever, I got frustrated and annoyed. I couldn't figure out where to put anything so I threw out everything (besides hair ties and bows). I think I accidently threw out my kids’ school pictures that I was so excited to finally find again. But in the end, It was worth it.
I now know exactly where my combs and brushes are and try to put them in the exact spot after every use.
The best part about this project was that inspired me to get new towels. I don't know how I managed to live 30 years without ever buying towels but I was finally sick of the old thinning hand me downs with rips and holes. I bought the kids one towel each and my husband and me two each and got rid of all the rest. The ones in the picture aren't new by the way.