November 30, 2012

Snowman Door Decor

Have you seen this snowman floating around Pinterest? I found him about 6 months ago and pinned it, intending to create him this year - - and I did! See?

I used 3 plain wreaths I found at the dollar store.  Then sprayed them white glossy spray paint. Using some jute, I tied the 3 wreaths together and then added a festive green scarf (also purchased at the dollar store.)  His hat was cut out of glitter cardboard-like sheets I found at the craft store. Do you like the technical term I used there? Then I glued 4 jingle bells to his hat because his hat needed a little something and hung him on my front door!

Really really really easy ... and cute too. I was bored of my normal holiday wreath I had been using on my front door for quite a few years. This is a nice change.

This is the second little project I've completed in the past week. I'm on a roll! I will show you the other project next week.

November 29, 2012

Christmas Shopping

Just over a week ago I didn't have any shopping done at all. I didn't even have any ideas what to buy anyone on our list. As Thanksgiving got closer and closer, I started to panic. What am I going to buy my children!  They don't have everything, at least I don't think so ... but they are getting to that age where toys don't interest them. They got ipods for Christmas last year. We don't need a tablet computer. Laptops aren't happening until they are in high school. If I see one more Nerf gun or Lego set enter my house, I may go insane.

I asked them what they wanted for Christmas. Video games and itunes giftcards. That's about all that was on the list. There is more to life than gaming, right? Please tell me there is!

It's safe to say they will be getting a few things they didn't ask for ... like the Under Armour hoodies I found at Burlington Coat Factory for $20 each, a pogo stick, and a sling shot toy that I will likely live to regret buying.  And yes, I'm feeding into the gaming by purchasing a new game and two gaming chairs. At least they will be comfortable while they rot their brains.

I did purchase myself a gift this week ... I'm now a Birchbox subscriber!  I am so excited to be receiving FUN mail once a month for the next year. I will definitely be sharing what arrives in the box each month so be sure to look for a post about that soon.  If you are looking for a different gift to give someone this year, this might be the way to go. You can buy a 6 month gift subscription for just $60. So each month, for 6 months, the recipient will receive a box of beauty samples in the mail ... fun, right? I think so!

If you are unfamiliar with Birchbox, please click here:

Happy Shopping!

November 28, 2012

Hey Gunner!

... if you stop putting your head in the trash can, this won't happen!

Yes, we're still trying to get that freaking ear to stand up and stay up!  We've resorted to a modified toilet paper roll tube and medical tape. Let's hope it works for good this time.

November 27, 2012

Best Long Weekend Ever

Did you eat too much turkey and pumpkin pie? I certainly hope so. I loved this weekend. My house is ready for Christmas. I helped my mother organize her apartment. I even managed a dinner out with my sister one night - without kids - which is a rare event! Then we stopped at AC Moore which was bad, bad, bad ... And yesterday, I got a lot of shopping done. That's the best part about Cyber Monday - no crowds in the stores!

My most favorite purchase so far of the holiday season has to be the pet stockings I found on Etsy. This woman has some mad sewing skills and ships crazy fast. I ordered them on Wednesday afternoon (11/21) and they arrived on my doorstep yesterday!

I'm planning on personalizing the fish stocking for my two cats but haven't decided how just yet. They have to share. I only have 4 stocking holders on my mantle. I'm fairly certain they don't care.

I have lots more to share ... stay tuned!

November 23, 2012

Black Friday Do's and Don'ts

Just don't.

It's such a waste of time.  I hate this day and all the subsequent news reports that will be on TV by the end of the day tellling us all about the latest stampede in a store to grab 1 of 5 low priced TV's/computers/etc.

I went shopping on Black Friday once. I didn't even go until 11am but I was still able to get the item I wanted - 2 prelit potted trees for my front porch - at the price that was listed in the store's ad.

So people, stay in your nice warm beds. Bake cookies with your kids. Christmastize your house. Watch a movie. Watch the news and laugh at all the idiots on TV freezing their asses off at 3 am to be the first in line. Stay home and save the gas.  Maybe then the stores will stop cramming Christmas down our throats in September!

Can I get an AMEN?

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Even when life gives you lemons, there is always something to be thankful for. We shouldn't just be thankful on this day but every single day of the year.  It's okay to lose sight of that sometimes though. We're only human.

This year I'm especially thankful for:

~ Electricity

~ No storm damage

~ My blossoming, smart, and healthy boys

~ My other child, err, my husband ... he's the sugar in my tea

~ My crazy family, both sides.

Today I will sit down, take a deep breath, look around, smile ... and just be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 20, 2012

Just "Off"

Every have a day when everything seems to go wrong?  That describes what Sunday was for me. I started off the day by falling down the steps with a big basket of dirty laundry. Had there been a camera on me, it was probably really funny to see me fall admist a cloud of laundry falling all around me. I'm okay but bruised my elbow pretty good and got a rug burn on my leg.

After that I went to the grocery store.  You cannot pay me to go back there until after Thanksgiving.

Then I attempted to bake cookies using a new spritz cookie recipe a friend recommended and use my Pampered Chef cookie press to make cute pumpkin cookies. This cookie press and I have been fighting the past few years. I can't seem to find the right recipe that will actually press through  the dumb thing! I consider myself a decent baker too, which  is why this is so frustrating to me. Another fail. And the cookies tasted  bad so I threw them away.

I really should have just thrown in the towel and went to bed or sat on the couch the rest of the day ... but no, it's the weekend, I must be productive so I decided to take down and wash the curtains that hang above our sliding glass door.

THEY SHRUNK. But worse than that? The curtain shrank but the white liner DID NOT SHRINK. So now the liner is hanging a good 4 inches below the tan curtain. These were not cheap curtains!! I was f.u.m.i.n.g!! I still am.

I did manage to get a decent shot of the boys and the dog for our Christmas card and saved $51 on my order from Shutterfly ... so hey, something positive to focus on!

November 19, 2012

Chipotle Love

I love Chipotle. I really love Chipotle. The rice. The black beans. The chicken. The salsa. The corn. Topped off with a little sour cream ..... mmmmm, so, so good. I think I could eat there for lunch and dinner every single day.

Imagine for one moment how insanely happy I was when I discovered there was one located about three blocks from where I work?

I'm the only one in my house who will eat Mexican food. Some days I cannot believe I'm related to them. How can they not like Mexican food?  So I consider it a real treat when I can eat at Chipotle (I officially lead a boring life!)

November 16, 2012

The Grades Are In

The first marking period ended about two weeks ago but our district waits until the week of parent-teacher conferences before handing out the report cards. Remember the grades contract we all signed at the beginning of the school year? Well, I'm now poor.

Son #1 (5th grade) received 2 A's and 3 B's ... so I owe him $35.

Son #2 (3rd grade) received all A's ... so I owe him $50.

A small price to pay for rewarding good work!

Both teachers had nothing but nice things to say about my boys, which is always a nice thing for a parent to hear. I guess we're doing something right, huh?

My older son has some conflicting standardized testing scores that we are all trying to figure out, teachers included. One test is putting him on the reading cmprehension level of a 7th/8th grader while another scored him in the "below average" bracket, thus making him eligible for extra help. Meanwhile, he's getting A's and B's on his schoolwork and not showing any signs of trouble with his schoolwork. It makes no sense! 

We collectively decided that he must have had a bad day when the test was administered last Spring. Seems fair to me, given all the other evidence.  For now, he's been placed on a watch & see list.

This school year I've tried to have more of a hands off approach to their homework to make them be more independent. Afterall, I'm not with them in school to help throughout the day.  My younger son still needs some help with certain assignments, but overall both are completing their homework without my help. For me, it's hard to find that balance between helping too much and letting them do things on their own.  I like to be involved.  But I'm working it. I fully realize I'm not doing the world any favors by hand-holding them through life. I can deny it all I want but soon they won't even want me around!

November 15, 2012

Soup Time!

I love soup, especially homemade soup.  This soup is delicious. I made it on Sunday for our little football game gathering and have eaten it for dinner the past two nights. I finished it last night but I'm already itching to make more!

Creamy Chicken Crockpot Soup

5 cans of chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can of corn
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups of shredded cooked chicken - I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store
1 1/2 cups of your choice of uncooked pasta

Mix the broth and cream soup well then add remaining ingredients (except the pasta) into your 5 quart slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  About 30 minutes before you plan to eat it, add the uncooked pasta. Stir well. At this point, I set my slow cooker to the "warm" setting - the pasta will cook just fine.

Eat and enjoy! Share with others if you choose.

November 14, 2012

New Furniture!

Our old couches were about 12 years old and were bought to fit our old house. I've spent the last four years trying to make the old furniture fit in our new house. I wasn't winning. It was awkward and just didn't work.

Enter new furniture and a new rug! A large sectional with chaise and dual reclining loveseat.

Ignore the little ripple in the rug ... it has flattened out. I was just so excited to take a picture!

November 13, 2012

Alive & Well

I defer to No School November to explain my absence. It was a nice mini vacation even if I didn't go anywhere!  I did watch a movie - in the middle of the day! - while sipping hot tea and wrapped in a fuzzy warm fleece blanket. It was almost like heaven.

On Friday we had new furniture family room furniture delivered.

On Friday night the boys both had separate parties to attend.

On Saturday we took the boys to a Villanova College football game. They won!

On Saturday night I took my 15 year old sister-in-law shopping for a homecoming dress. That took HOURS.

On Sunday I celebrated the return of warm weather with a long bike ride and then we watched the Cowboys spank the Eagles. It was like Christmas on my TV!  Thank you, Tony Romo. This season has pretty much sucked so far but as long as you beat the Eagles, I can live with that.

November 6, 2012

No School November

This week marks the beginning of No School November in the state of NJ. I really despise the month of November for this reason.  And since the NJ Teacher Convention was canceled this year due to effects of Sandy, I think the kids should have school this Thursday and Friday since they will need to make up the two days they missed last week. Our school district decided not to alter the school calendar because it would "be disruptive to the academic process."  Their words, not mine. Seriously? Hurricane Sandy wasn't disruptive enough?

So this week - no school Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.

Next week - half days ALL week to accomodate teacher conferences. Keep in mind, there are only 18 kids in my son's class. It does not take a week of half days to accomodate 18 parent-teacher conferences when you have evening appointments available as well.

And then the following week is Thanksgiving.

I'm so not ready for Christmas.

November 5, 2012

Every Little Bit Helps

Saturday morning I dropped off two big bags of winter clothing to a local group that was gathering items to be taken to people along the Jersey Shore who lost everything during Hurricane Sandy. Since I'm a little bit OCD, one bag was labeled "boys clothing" and when the woman saw it, she immediately hugged me and thanked me over and over, commenting that boys clothing was one of the items they really needed. I'm just glad I could help in this small way.

It's still a bit surreal to see pictures of our coastline so devastated when I look around and see no reminders of the storm around where I live.

November 2, 2012

NJ Now

I'm finding it diificult to think about blogging while so much sadness is happening in my home state.  I've lived here my entire life and nothing like this has ever happened during my lifetime.  The pictures, the stories .... it's all so heartbreaking.  I can't even turn on the TV without seeing and hearing about it 24/7.  I'm lucky to not be actually living it.

I know our beach towns will recover but it will take a very long time.  New Orleans,  seven years later, still isn't the same.  My good friend lost her home and everything in it during Katrina. I still can't watch anything about that tragedy without crying because I am reminded of every thing my friend lost that day and what she dealt with for years afterwards.  The pictures she has of the contents of her home just utterly destroyed and covered in mold are unbelievable.

And now many people along the eastern seaboard are facing the same reality. Now there's word of another storm headed our way. Seriously? Please God, make it turn right and head out into the middle of the ocean. We've had enough.