Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1.20: Celebration


For my annual birthday post, I could re-iterate what I've already said here because it all still holds true.  I, however, am still celebrating my birthday (you see my little graphic, lol). Well, here goes...

For Christmas, you may recall that I said I didn't want or need anything.  I'd like to withdraw that statement from the record. I meant that I didn't THINK I wanted/needed anything... Funny thing about gifts - sometimes you don't KNOW what you need until it's given to you. Here's the birthday gift I opened on Christmas:


In the purse was an all-expense paid vacation to Montego Bay, JA!  So, I started preparing mentally... Can I just say, IN MY HEAD, I was alllllll ready. IN MY HEAD the house was clean, my bags were packed, Munch's school clothes and schedule were all laid out for Pop-Pop and Grandma to come stay...

I. WAS. READY.

In reality, however, my bags weren't packed (I had no idea where my Summer clothes were), my house wasn't as clean as I would like (my broom broke and I took like a week to buy a new one - DYING), life was moving forward (how the heck can I plan for next week when I'm barely surviving THIS WEEK?!) AND, to top it off, I had drama... and I don't do drama.  So, my drama consumed me. I was thinking about it and talking about it and reading things about it.  I just... found myself expending my time at the Drama store.  THEN, on my birthday eve, it was done. 
Source

 OK. Time to focus and on the day before of course.... OK *claps hands* LET'S GO! *claps again* WHOO! *yawns* Goodness, is it 9PM already? LOL. 

Fast forward through some dramatic record-breaking antics and we made it!  AGAIN, I didn't ask for tangible gifts... 

::Tutu - on:: Birthday sparkles - flying::

FOR MY BIRTHDAY all I wanted was:

Peace


Time



Pampering


Adventure

He squealed like a girl when the cold water hit him!
I hiked... in water... AWESOME!

Love

:)
Relaxation
Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Glass Bottom Boat Tour
Glass Bottom Boat Tour


An excuse to rock my Louboutins - LOL


 

Please believe, I got everything I wanted and then some... The road to paradise was rough at times but this man:
ensured this woman:
 

had an awesome birthday in Jamaica!! Thanks for the birthday wishes and all the love :) 


Keep smiling! O and expect some awesome changes around here... I've got some BIG THANGS comin' :)

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Mama-Made Monday: Featured


Hey there, islanders! Checking in to let you know,

  Munchface's birthday party is featured over at The Birthday Blog!! 

When I look at the pictures, I can't help but recall how much work it required to execute that sweet little party.


 I wanted every detail to be special and to serve as an outward reflection of our love. The features and praise are just an added bonus. 

I've started my countdown to my birthday in Jamaica, I'm enjoying my day off to celebrate MLK Day and then this?! A cute little feature just made my day (and, to think, it's not even LUNCH TIME)! YAY!

Here's hoping your day is fabulous and full of pleasant surprises :)

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Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Home Goals


I finally got around to uploading our NYE party photos...

...WHICH got me to thinking about our resolutions... First, I am keeping my personal resolutions pretty simple (blog more often, eat breakfast everyday, make more time for NO CELL moments, etc.).  My 2 major resolutions are:

To keep my purse clean.

 
I'm sure it's not impossible. I'm just good at putting a  lot of things into that small space (and even my not-so-small spaces).  It's a talent and I really need to do better.  I can't keep having my personals flying out when I reach for my wallet!

To keep my car clean. 

I drive a crumb mobile and, as SOON as I clean my car, something disastrous happens (like the hot chocolate and chip explosions that BOTH occurred the day after I got my car cleaned)!  2012 is my year to actually fit other people inside. 
In addition to my goals, every year Hubbs and I come up with family goals.  This year, we're focusing on our HOME.  We've decided to pay off most of our debt within the next 2 years.  We're also re-financing our home (think about it, less debt and cheaper mortgage payments means we could DOUBLE UP on payments to pay off the townhouse in NO time). Before we can re-finance, we'll have our home appraised.  To increase our home's value HUBBS we're finally getting around to making some major changes in the home. 

ENTER THE NESTER'S ANNUAL HOME GOALS post. {Queue the angels singing!}

LINKY PARTY!

I'm excited to report that our little family is making big strides in the home department this year!  Here's our checklist:

Front Yard

Porch: Replace banisters. Paint steps.
House: Power wash.  Re-paint front door. Paint shutters/trim.
Yard:  Remove the other ever green from bottom of the porch. Replace wooden "dividers" with stacked white stone. Update entry way foliage. Get some grass (lol, seriously).

Foyer

Replace flooring with tile (closet, entryway and powder room). Change artwork in entry way.  DIY home organization (wainscoting with hooks?).

Powder Room

Touch-up trim work. Change mirror(?).

Living Room

Re-paint (entire room v. just touch-ups and over red stripe).  Remove TV from inside wall/frame to create a sitting room (maybe). New rug (neutral/tan [zebra] print). Replace curtains (maybe no curtains and purchase new blinds?).

Dining Room

Re-paint. Hang photo collage. Treatment on wall that faces balcony. Replace curtains

Kitchen

Replace floor. Granite (finally-eeeeek!). Paint/update cabinets (DIY?). Repaint.  Replace Refrigerator. Replace stove hood. Replace fluorescent light.  Install under-cabinet lighting. Purchase mop/broom organizer.

Balcony

Clean! Remove grill. Purchase a bistro table set(for 2).

Stairs

Remove carpet. Paint stairs. Replace light fixture.

Guest Room

Repaint (with nursery in mind).  Purchase headboard.  Purchase/DIY Curtains.

Munchface's Room

Purchase big girl bed.  Repaint. Update curtains/bedding.  Design closet.

Hall Bathroom

Touch-up paints.  Fix towel wall.  Replace flooring. Add hardware to cabinet.  Frame mirror (maybe).

Master Bedroom

Repaint.  Purchase Queen Size bed (sell king bed).  Purchase new bedding. Purchase bedside tables.  Re-organize closet.  Purchase unique armoire.  Update artwork.  Make new curtains.  Print/hang Wedding pictures in entry. Remove closet door (we never close it and it blocks the space behind it; Hubbs doesn't agree but WHATEVER).

Master Bath

Replace standing shower.  Replace flooring.  Update cabinet (DIY?)

Basement

Replace carpet.  Repaint ceiling. Repaint walls (MAYBE - light gray color?).

Backyard

 Replace damaged patio bricks. Get some grass(lol). Purchase new cover for hot tub.

>end<
So, YEP! We'll be busy this year which will mean more posts, tips, tricks and trip-ups along the way! I hope you'll stay tuned because we're DEFINITELY beautify-ing our little bungalow here on the island :)

What are YOUR plans for the year? Do you have any home resolutions?

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Momedies

Today I'm serving up some of my tried-and-true tips... Some are home remedies, some are baby/kid remedies, ALL are mom-tested and approved!




LEMONS

 They have so many uses and a bag usually costs $2-$3!

On Sundays, after I separate our bulk chicken packs into meal portions, I use 1/2 of a lemon to clean my garbage disposal. Here's how:

Clean your sink (with dish washing liquid and your disinfecting cleaner of choice).  When all of the cleaning suds have rinsed away, cut 1/2 of a lemon into fourths.  Turn on the hot water and, with a strong flow, let the water run directly into the drain for 30 seconds.  Drop in your lemon pieces.  Move the faucet so it is no longer running into the drain and turn it down to a pencil-sized trickle.  Run the disposal for 15 - 25 seconds or until the lemons are no longer rattling around. VOILA! Bend down and smell the freshness!  I do this every Sunday and whenever a bad smell creeps up!  Set the other lemon half aside for the following week OR use it to repel summer insects!  Wet a rag with warm water and simply wipe down window sills and under doors to keep annoying bugs away; they HATE the scent!

Lemons are also great for cleaning the microwave!  Combine 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and a cup of water in a bowl.  Microwave for 5 minutes. Like a miracle, it softens any dried food stains (from when your husband refuses to use the plate cover) and you (or aforementioned trifling husband) can EASILY wipe them all away!

Lemons cure hiccups!  As a first time mom, I took Zion to one her first check-ups and HAD to report I felt her hiccups were hurting her.  Her doctor advised the sure way to stop hiccups is 2-3 drops of lemon juice! Simply take a spoon, add the drops and give them to baby... You might get some unhappy facials but the hiccups will go away instantly.  To date, when Zion has a bad case of hiccups, I give her a teaspoon of lemon juice and it still works!

I love the scent of lemons and since my friend, Sheena, told me about the NEW Lemon Pine Sol... I have been in smell good heaven.  I follow her recommendation and dab a wet rag with the Pine Sol and wipe EVERYTHING down (after I bleach) for a fresh scent.  It is AWESOME!

Anyhoo, while we're on the subject of fruit, here's what I do with old fruit:

Stove top Air Freshener


Bad oranges and mealy apples *bleh* NOTHING WORSE!!  It's so funny how FRUIT snacks can't last a minute in our house because Hubbs eats them more than Munchface but most FRUIT can't seem to be finished. So, when my fruit starts to go bad, I simmer them in a pot (on low) and add a cinnamon stick (or 2) for a homemade air freshener. The next time your fruit gets too old to eat, cut it up, simmer it with some cinnamon (or vanilla) and enjoy!

Apples + Cinnamon = Apple Pie scent
Apples + Cinnamon + Oranges = Apple Cider scent

Quick and Easy Febreze

I heart Febreze! Have I told you how often my husband goes to the gym? UGH. Let's just say, he has shoes that stay outside because they are just THAT bad.  When I spray the man cave carpets, gym shoes and our closets, I use my homemade Febreze recipe:

Ingredients
Empty Febreze (or any spray) bottle
3 tablespoons of laundry detergent (Shh! I eyeball it)

Pour detergent into spray bottle and fill 3/4 of the way with warm water.  Shake for 30-45 seconds. Ensure the detergent has blended (sometimes it settles at the bottom and requires additional shaking) and spray!

Hair Staple


I have fallen in love with 100% Aloe Vera gel.  It offers amazing frizz control that really lasts and it doesn't flake or leave my hair crunchy and dry. It is sold in the sunscreen/skin care section, costs MUCH less than most natural hair products and have I mentioned I love it?! This site offers some amazing ideas for aloe hair use.




Well, that's all for now... Although, I might have to make this a series because I feel like random momedies might pop in my head.  Give these a try and be sure to let me know how it goes!


What are your Momedies?

Feel free to share, I LOVE COMMENTS :)



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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas: Unwrapped.

Say it ain't so! Christmas is over? For real?! 

You may recall my post from last year, Christmas Rewind, where we got to extend our holidays because the Hubbs' mom came into town AFTER Christmas. This year, however,  she arrived a few days before Christmas and stayed until January 2. 


I survived!! 


Now, don't get me wrong I heart my in-laws but I also heart my use-or-lose leave and I was off for 2 weeks (count 'em, 2 WHOLE GLORIOUS WEEKS).  I spent much of my holiday hosting, driving, shopping and indulging in mall food as I chased an impossible-to-sit-still little lady around. I had big plans to wrap, shop, plan, clean, BLOG, bake, paint, donate, donate and clean out my basement so I could... DONATE!


OK, with that off of my chest, I have a confession... I've been so down this week and I think it's the combination of my return to work and my task to pack up Christmas :( 


I could use a little holiday CHEER so excuse me while I enjoy our Christmas in pictures:

The house was set...


Welcome! Check out my doormat from walmart.com. $17!



During my $40 trip to the Target Christmas clearance aisle last year, I purchased a bulb garland. I just wrapped it around one of my old topiaries, added some Christmas lights and BOOM! Fab.  Can you also see Zion's adorable photo with Santa? I've decided to add our Christmas-themed photos to frames during the season. Maybe I'll do the same for other holidays?



Munchface helped with the powder room decor. Not that Hubbs' caulking, painting and electrical work was NOT helping... but we're not talking DIY, just Christmas.


I placed one of my bulb crafts on a Dollar Store candle stick for a cute picture frame.

Across from the powder room is our living room. I purchased most of the decor items in this room either on clearance or from thrift stores.
I took a queue from The Nester when I couldn't find the perfect tree skirt for my Mom tree. I wanted something that would make a statement and nothing worked... so, BASKET IT WAS:

One of my favorite finds of the season was a set of candy dishes(Crate&Barrel thrift store find -$1.99). Guests loved the snacks on the coffee table.


The $15 Craigslist victim was all pretty with its holiday decor. Aren't those ice skates (post-Christmas sale at Michael's - $2) and that plate (Hallmark thrift store find - $1) perfect additions? Not to mention that bell (antique shop splurge - $17) - LOVE!

My Christmas decor is for me Munchface so I wanted it to be fun... Little things like this Snowman candle just made us smile. I wanted to use white pillar candles for a DIY version but didn't have the time. Maybe next year?


If you're blessed with a mantle, lucky YOU! I make our half-wall that divides the kitchen and dining room work as our "mantle." I piled 3 garlands (1 from Big Lots, 1 from Walmart and 1 from the Dollar Tree) to get the green fluffiness I wanted. Then, I just stuck in berries and ornaments to fill it out. I got the sparkly PEACE stocking holders from the Dollar Tree.

Our dining room table is our family workspace so I decided to keep the decor simple with my crafty yarn wreaths on chairs and a simple candle/ornament centerpiece. 


Munchface took the lead to decorate the family tree (in the sun room).  She decided, because I have my own tree, that this was hers.



I put my Charlie Brown tree and Snoopy figure on the upstairs hall table and everyone enjoyed it. 

 
Munchface started the Christmas decorating on Black Friday in her bedroom... It is always a big deal :)



Speaking of Munchface, each year we hang her artwork. Here's a wreath she made in 2008 (at 2 years old). It's always the ONLY thing allowed on the fridge during the holidays. I try to keep 1 piece each year for future decor.

And here's this year's class project(a bulb with hand print snowmen):





OK! Now for the timeline.


Christmas Eve


Mom-in-law and I ran errands (which included purchasing my pjs to ensure I was presentable this year... for once).  


Munchface spent the day with daddy and I don't know what happened but, by the time we were getting ready for church, she REFUSED to put on the red, poofy dress for church and instead kept her "skinny pants," sparkly flats and CoolGirl outfit:





We made it to service and had an AWESOME time. Sidebar: I had a random spur of the moment Silent Night solo. You think you know the words until it's time for the second verse - LOL. 


ANYWAYS, back home for our Christmas Eve traditions:


Keys



I mentioned that we don't have a mantle (or chimney).  Well, when you have a kid like mine, you get questions like, "how will Santa get in the house?"


Then you buy MAGIC keys for the door (Ross - $3.99).  Keys on the door? CHECK.




Reindeer Treats 



"Santa will get a tummy ache if EVERYBODY gives him cookies and what about the reindeer?" - Munchface, 3 years old


So, we started making Reindeer Chow.  This year, however, I was on Pinterest and I found a recipe for something different.

Munchface and I made them, let them cool... Showed daddy (like 5 times) and FINALLY put them in our treat bag which hangs on the front door.



Hubbs read a bedtime story (or 4) and OUT like a light she went.  FINALLY, I could wrap those last minute gifts in peace...
I love pretty packages!





3AM: We were finally ALL DONE!





Another pinterest inspiration... Santa requested cookies during her visit with him so we had to make them!



Our Walmart stockings were worth the $17 (free personalization). I highly recommend them!


CHRISTMAS DAY
Hubbs is our Santa and BOY does he get into it (he eats cookies, writes notes, moves stuff around).  It's cute because he waits until I fall asleep so it's a surprise for me too (IDK why but ok, Santa baby)!
CHRISTMAS DAY
It came. It conquered. It completely rocked our worlds! Everyone got gifts they loved! Here are a few(no, I'm NOT in any pics, I looked a mess... SMH. I tried this year. I really did!):










The best gift was the time we shared with family... The second best gift is the look of sheer magic and happiness on her face.  She was SO happy when she opened the MUCH anticipated baby doll:





I probably looked the same way when I opened one of my gifts from my parents... A fabulous purse with a note that read, "the perfect traveling purse to take you where ever the wind blows."  Inside the purse was a receipt/confirmation for a one week ALL expense-paid vacation to Montego Bay, Jamaica the week of my birthday!


That was one of many fabulous gifts.  Hubbs got me a little somethin' that will help with my blogging so expect more posts!

Mama's feelin' FANCY ;)



After gifts, we enjoyed Peach wine and a brunch made by Pops. None of us really needed/wanted anything so rather than spend/waste money, we made it a game and, let me tell you, we had a blast.  Dirty Santa, a game where you can steal other people's gifts, was a hit!
The victim held the gifts so well!
We played a few rounds of TABOO before the ladies got in the kitchen and started prepping the food for dinner.  While we cooked, Dad rested at the Nail Shop, lol.



Once the food was in the oven, the ladies (except my mom-in-law who wanted a GREEN tree) decorated our annual Christmas tree cones.  I put them on candlesticks and used them as our centerpiece during dinner.





Everyone took a nap and woke in time for dinner, raspberry cheesecake dessert and Phase10. Such a great time... Then again, family time is always a great time!


  Maybe THAT's what I need to remember to lift my spirits :)
I leave you with a pic of my mom's annual Christmas rum cake - YUM.


How was your Christmas? How do you keep your cheer all year?
 
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