Monday Mentionables: Lifetime Movie, One Word 365 & My Facebook Page!

Hi there, it’s Monday again! I know I said I was taking a break from blogging, but I happened to find time in the wee hours of the night to squeeze this in. 🙂 I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas (and if you don’t celebrate this holiday, hopefully you enjoyed your day off). 

Here are today’s mentionables…

1. Lifetime Movie. I know it’s past Christmas, but this movie, “Love at the Christmas Table” will still get you into the holiday spirit. Although it’s a Lifetime movie, several of the actors/actresses are well-known and the acting is very believable. It stars Danica McKellar (of The Wonder Years) and Dustin Milligan (of 90210 – the new one, not the one I grew up with), Lea Thompson (of Caroline in the City) and Scott Gordon-Patterson (of Gilmore Girls). The film follows the characters of Kat and Sam as they grow up together from preschoolers to adults in their early 30’s. It’s a sweet story and there is really good chemistry between the leading man and woman who happen to be 10 years apart in age in real life. I really enjoyed it, especially the extended dance scene in the middle of the movie. If you love chick flicks, you’ll want to check this one out. 🙂

2. One Word 365. As we approach the start of 2014, you might be thinking about making new year’s resolutions. But how about instead of making specific goals for yourself, you could just focus on one thing? This site promotes the idea of choosing one word to sum up how you want to be or live for one year. It’s a different, more encompassing view to take and perhaps something more attainable. What word would you choose for 2014?  

3. My Facebook Page. I am excited to announce my newly created Facebook page, 2square2behip! I hope to be able to communicate more with you lovely people there because it can get kind of lonely at times typing by myself on this side of the laptop screen. 🙂 If you so desire, please hop on over and converse with me there. I plan to use the space to share about makeovers of all kinds – home, fashion, hair, etc., but especially of the heart and mind. It would be great to hear suggestions and ideas from you, too!

C literally kissed my phone when she saw this picture!

Also, here’s an update about C’s beloved Chicky: It’s back! Well, actually this is not the original toy C lost, but a replacement we found on eBay (thank God for eBay!). It cost 3x more than the first one and took 1.5 weeks to arrive, but was totally worth the money and wait. C was ecstatic to receive it and finally stopped crying at bedtime every night! Now, if we can also get the original Chicky back, all will be right in C’s world again. 🙂

Alrighty, have a great week and happy new year!

Monday Mentionables: Chicken Wings, Holiday Shopping & Christmas Songs

Oh my, I think this post qualifies as an “Almost-Tuesday-Monday Mentionables”. Haha. I am realizing that blogging while my munchkins are home on Christmas break is going to be challenging (cue the broken record of whiny voices asking, “Mo-om, what can I do?”). So in the spirit of trying not to be perfect, as well as, making my best effort to be present with my kids, I’m giving myself a “blogging pass” for the rest of the year. I hope to recharge and come back with a bang in 2014, so stay tuned. 🙂

In the meantime, here are today’s mentionables…

1. Sweet & Spicy Rubbed Wings. Thanks to hubby, I have fallen in love with chicken wings from Wing Stop. But since I am also frugal (aka. cheap!), I decided it would be more cost efficient to make them myself. I found this recipe online and it was pretty easy to follow. I did make some changes though: I left out the spicy ingredients and the coffee for the kids’ sake… and the paprika for my wallet’s sake ($8 for a small bottle!)… and the cinnamon for hubby’s sake (he dislikes it). So, I guess I just made sweet rubbed wings. 😉 But everyone liked it! Let me know if you try the recipe as is and how it tastes. 

Sorry for the poor lighting – gotta change out the lightbulbs over the dining table!

2. Holiday Shopping. In light of all the retail therapy that is being done this week, let’s not forget the poor men who get dragged to the malls by their wife/girlfriend/sister/daughter. Check out this link for photos of miserable men and the dark side of holiday shopping. 🙂

3. Christmas Songs. Just wanted to share four of my favorite Christmas songs.

#1: Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys

#2: All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (performed here with Jimmy Fallon & The Roots)
 
#3: Underneath the Tree by Kelly Clarkson
 
#4: O Holy Night (sung here by Jackie Evancho)
Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! 

Monday Mentionables: Pumpkin Chai Latte, Sing-Off & Carved Leaves

‘Tis the season for sneezing, coughing, aching and wallowing… 🙁 I love all the Christmas cheer in the air, but I hate the germs that accompany it. It seems I could only hold off the bugs for so long because I finally got sick over the weekend. Thankfully the rest of the family is holding up okay (probably cause they gave all their germs to me). 😉 Anyhow, my brain is a bit fuzzy so I’ll keep this short and sweet. 

Here are today’s mentionables… 
 
1. Pumpkin Chai Latte. I love Peet’s chai latte (sorry Starbucks’ lovers). The only thing that can match my love for that drink is their pumpkin chai latte. This is a seasonal offering though, so don’t wait to try it. 
Ahhh…I’m nursing my cold with a large one today. 🙂
2. Sing-Off. If you love good singing, you’ll love this show. It’s all acapella, which means no instruments at all. But the best part is that they use their voices to be the instruments. Last season’s winners, Pentatonix, are amazing. One of the members, Kevin, is a beatboxer who speaks Chinese better than me. 😉
 
3. Carved Leaves. I saw this link recently that shows just how creative and amazing artists can be. Check out these photos of art carved into leaves.

Happy Monday! Stay healthy everyone. 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Holiday Nail Art, Argan Oil & DIY Felt Ornaments

Hi there! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. We actually started turning on our heater last week, which is a big move for my cheapy self. 😉 But now that we can see our breath in the mornings when we step outside the door and we actually have ice on the ground today(!), I think winter is officially here in California. Haha. 

I know this is nothing compared to what you Easterners face! LOL

Here are today’s mentionables… the winter edition. 🙂

1. Holiday Nail Art. I saw these nail polish ideas that are totally cute and in season. We’re talking about fingernails adorned with candy canes, snowflakes and Christmas trees! I don’t know if I have steady enough hands to attempt some of the designs, but #2 looks doable. Which ones do you like?

2. Argan Oil. The name of this oil reminds me of the Lord of the Rings for some reason, but it’s actually derived from the Argan tree in Southwestern Morocco. I first bought it for our dear son’s eczema, but it didn’t work as well as we had hoped it would, so I started using it myself after hearing about its amazing effects on your skin. It’s also a bit pricey so I definitely didn’t want to let it go to waste! Well, let me tell you, it is the best thing for winter skin! It is considered a dry oil because it absorbs quickly (within a minute or two). I use it at bedtime after washing my face. I’ll apply a few drops all over my face and neck and after a minute it literally feels softer and almost plumper, like a 4 year old’s skin (I have a 4 year old so I did the comparison). 🙂 I bought mine from here and am still on the first bottle. It’s definitely worth the money because a little goes a long way. Here’s also a site with 10 beauty uses for Argan Oil – it can be used for your hair and nails, too.

3. DIY Felt Ornaments. Over the weekend hubby and I went to his company’s Christmas party. My dear sister and bro-in-law graciously watched the munchkins for us and it turned out really well. The drive to and from the city (SF) took 3 hours(!!!!) due to traffic, so they had to entertain our kids for over 5 hours and almost till midnight! Everyone looked exhausted when we finally got home (think red eyes and droopy eyelids), but they had a blast. One of the things they did was make felt ornaments, which I had prepared ahead of time for them. I got some ideas online (one place to look is here) and cut out the pieces, then they glued them together. It was fun for me and them and much cheaper than buying pre-packaged ones from the store. Here’s what they made…

‘Tis the season for penguins, reindeers and Christmas trees!


Have a good week! Stay warm! 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Baked Veggies, Stray Cats & Sound of Music

Welcome to the Monday after Thanksgiving, also known more recently as Cyber Monday, but I prefer to call it detox Monday. 😉 I hope you all had a restful and heart warming weekend with family and friends. My family and I had a good time eating, talking, eating and more eating these past few days. I certainly had my fill of turkey for a while, so I thought I’d focus today’s mentionables on VEGGIES. 🙂
 
1. Baked Veggies. Thankfully, I didn’t have to cook much for Thanksgiving, except for a veggie dish. I choose to bake them because they tend to turn out crispier and more appealing to a kid’s taste buds (think pseudo french fries). I did a random assortment of them for a dinner we went to at our cousins’ home (where a friend treated us to a Heritage turkey that was smoked and seriously the best turkey I’ve ever had!). Unfortunately, we were running late that night (what’s new?!) so I didn’t get a picture of the baked zucchini, mushrooms and carrots I made, but I did take a picture of some baked carrots I made another night this week.
These almost taste like yam fries, but are less heavy. I got the recipe here.

You can essentially bake any kind of veggies. The one that the kids love the most though (even our dear picky son!) is cauliflower

2. Stray Cats. Continuing on our theme of veggies, here’s a story I wanted to share about how vegetarians are likely made…
 
C is starting to pick up on words and being able to spell/read them. One of the first words she wanted to know how to spell was chick. Then came chicky and chicken. If you can’t tell, she loves chicks of all kinds. 😉 But with her newfound reading skills under her belt, she made a somewhat traumatic discovery yesterday. She came up to me and pulled me down to her level. With her warm breath tickling my ear, she asked, “Why does Meow Meow’s food say chicken on it?!”
 
Doh. You see, Meow Meow is this stray cat we inherited that has been living outside our house for the past year. We originally had been feeding these two other cats (which we named Bob and I forgot the other one’s name) that our neighbor had asked us to feed when he moved away. Long story short, those cats disappeared and this new one showed up. 
 
So, back to C’s discovery… she was appalled at the thought of a cat eating a poor chicken. I told her with a regretful look, “Yeah, sorry, some animals eat chickens.” Her little face fell at the thought. Then she exclaimed, “Some people eat chicken, too!”
 
Double doh. One of these days, we’ll need to explain to her that the Chinese word “ji” we’ve been using to refer to the meat we eat is the same word we use for her beloved chickens. We might have a vegetarian on our hands in a few years!

Here’s Meow Meow (sometimes referred to as Kitty – yes, we’re not very original when it comes to names, haha) venturing into our house.
Here’s Meow Meow eating her chicken (gasp!) breakfast.

3. Sound of Music. Okay, what does the Sound of Music have to do with veggies? Well, if you remember the opening musical number to the movie, it’s called “The Hills Are Alive“. Hills equal verdant vegetation. 🙂 Anyway, for those who loved the original Julie Andrews movie, you may be interested to know there’s a remake of the Broadway musical coming up this Thursday on NBC. The best part is that it will be a LIVE broadcast. I watched the “making of” video and was very impressed with the cast and the set. Oh, did I mention, Carrie Underwood is playing Maria? I definitely think this will be worth watching. 

Have a happy Monday, everyone! 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Family Time, Fall Foliage & Gratitude in Action

Aloha! Hehe, just felt like saying that cause I need a bit of Hawaiian sunshine to warm me on this cold fall day. It’s Monday again and hopefully many of you have a short week of school/work ahead of you. Here are today’s mentionables…
 
1. Family Time. We just got home from a beach getaway with my side of the family. When I say beach, I mean cold and windy cause it’s Nor Cal (not Hawaii), but it was good nonetheless. Here are a few highlights of our trip.
This is the home we rented. Love the sign, except for the last part cause there were two moms (me and my mom) living there for the weekend. Haha.

 

A belated birthday gift my sister gave me! She is the best sister ever – she gives the most thoughtful gifts (notice the mug is in my favorite color), plus I think she reads my blog. 🙂
We played “Just Dance 2” on the Wii. All 3 generations (including the grandparents!) got into it throughout the night. Here’s my sis and bro-in-law with C observing. 
This is what C said I looked like when I danced. LOL

 

We toasted marshmallows in the fire pit in the backyard. Gotta get us one of these! 😉

2. Fall Foliage. Don’t you just love fall? The weather is not too cold yet and there are so many beautiful colors to look at. Here’s what we get to see just in our neighborhood.

God is so creative. 🙂

 

Walking around our neighborhood brings back so many fond memories: having our dog Sparkle drag us as he chased cats; carrying our son on his first walk; pushing C in a stroller on her first walk as big brother rode a tricycle in front of us; big brother biking and pulling C behind him in a wagon. Nowadays, they both bike by themselves and leave us in the dust!

 

Dandelion!

 

A cool leaf bug hubby found.

3. Gratitude in Action. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share about how we can help others in need. I was at Burlington Coat Factory the other day and saw they have a Coat Drive where you can donate a gently used coat to help keep someone warm. Also, at Sprouts, they had bags of food ready to be bought and given to families in need for Thanksgiving. I’m sure there are plenty of more organizations out there that are doing the same. Let’s remember how much we have to be thankful for and put our gratitude in action this week and throughout the year. 🙂

Happy a happy Monday, everyone! 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Meaningful Jewelry, Thanksgiving Crafts & Serenity Prayer

Hi everyone, is it me or is this month passing by a little faster than usual? Anyhow, Monday has arrived again so here are today’s mentionables…

1. Meaningful Jewelry. I picked up these bracelets from Kohl’s for free last week. That’s right, free. Thanks to Kohl’s and their sneaky ways, I got a $10 off anything over $10 coupon from them, which got me in the door just as they hoped it would and out the door with my “freebies”…and a skirt for C… and a work shirt for hubby. Haha. That coupon gets me every time. But you have to admit these bracelets are super cute and meaningful. 🙂

They also had other colors with the words Peace, Faith and Mom on them. I was so tempted to buy them all… maybe if Kohl’s sends me another coupon. 😉

2. Thanksgiving Crafts. So, have you ever wondered just how many ways there are to make a turkey craft? Well, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I’d help answer that question for you. I found this website with tutorials on how to make a turkey from a toilet paper roll and coffee filters, a handprint with candy corn, a juice box and a painted pumpkin. Now that’s a lot of turkeys! But if you’re looking for something a little more meaningful than a bird that goes “gobble gobble”, check out this thankful scroll and thankful mobile

3. Serenity Prayer. Since we’re on a roll with meaningful things, I’d like to share with you something I repeat to myself on days when I really need a reminder of what I can and cannot do and how to get through those “bumps” in the road. 

God, give me the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

So on that note, I’m going to try to tackle this Monday with serenity and hope you do, too! 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Pumpkin Cranberry Scones, Stage of Life & Veteran’s Makeover

Happy Veteran’s Day! 

This post is going to be super quick cause I have two munchkins vying for my attention on their day off from school! 😉

Today’s mentionables are…

1. Pumpkin Cranberry Scones. I tried this boxed “recipe” from Trader Joe’s and got good results. I substituted the one stick of butter with coconut oil and it still worked. The kids liked it (although briefly, haha), but I thought it tasted more moist than the other boxed scones I tried before. 

Watching them bake!
The finished product!

2. Stage of Life. I got an email today saying I won my first writing contest hosted by Stage of Life! Whoo-weeeeeeeeeeee!  😉 The topic of the essay was “I am scared of…”. You can read my entry here. My winnings include a $50 spa certificate and a pen! 😀

3. Veteran’s Makeover. I love makeovers of all kinds – hair, clothes, homes, etc. – but my most favorite kind of makeover is that of the heart and mind. This video I saw online totally reflects both. I have started to appreciate how much veterans have sacrificed for our nation and wish life wasn’t so hard for many of them. I’m thankful there are great organizations out there that try to help them get back on their feet. 

Happy Monday to you all! 

Monday Mentionables: Pomegranates, Monterey, Parenting Express & Beautiful Day

Hi everyone! Just happy to be alive this day and thanking God for everything He has brought me through. Hope you are getting a good start to this week, too. 
 
Here are today’s mentionables…
 
1. Pomegranates. In case you like pomegranates, but have no clue as to how to get those seeds out, here’s a super easy way to do it (I listened to my mom on this one and it works!). 
 
Yes, this is one fruit where you actually eat the seeds! There’s lots of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants in them!
The secret is in the spoon! You first cut the pomegranate in half and place one half face down in a cup that is about the same circumference (thank you high school math!) as the fruit. Then, using a metal spoon, start hitting the pomegranate! Turn the cup around as you hit so you get all the sides of the fruit. Keep hitting (and getting your stress out) until most of the seeds fall out and then use your fingers to pry the final few out. Oh, and be sure to wear an apron while you’re doing this so you don’t get pomegranate juice on your clothes.
Here are two pomegranates’ worth of health and deliciousness!
2. Monterey. We took an overnight trip to Monterey this past weekend for hubby’s 30th (plus or minus a decade) birthday. We almost didn’t make it cause he had a work emergency that had kept him working almost non-stop for 3 days. But thankfully, we were able to go at the last minute.
We had a great view at lunch of these sea lions (who are no longer on the endangered species list!). I commented to hubby that they reminded me of us in our family bed. 😛
This poor seagull was sitting outside the window for over ten minutes just waiting for Chloe to drop her corn dog!

3. Parenting Express. Just wanted to share a story of mine that got published on Parenting Express’ website for this month. You can read about my adventure going down a very tall, tubular slide with my kids and how that experience relates to my journey as a mom!

4. Beautiful Day. This song by Jamie Grace is cute and catchy, just what I need for a Monday! Enjoy!

Have a wonderful week!

Monday Mentionables: Braided Necklaces, Faces of America, No-Carve Pumpkins & The Beatles

Welcome to the last week of October! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and are ready to tackle today.

Here are today’s mentionables…

1. Braided T-shirt Necklace. After being inspired to make a T-shirt scarf last week, I decided to try my hands (plural because both are necessary for the task!) at making braided necklaces from old T-shirts. This four strand braid was my first attempt; I used the directions found here for a T-shirt belt. 

The two colors work well together, don’t they?
The outfit I wore it with this weekend.

Here are two other tutorials I’d like to try: this one uses regular three strand braids and this one incorporates a sailors knot with four strand braids. If you want to get even more complicated, you can try a five strand braid (I never knew they existed before)! The cool thing about upcycling T-shirts this way is that you can easily make a necklace, bracelet, belt or headband, depending on the length of fabric you have – and how long you want to keep on braiding! 

2. Faces of America. I happened upon this article on National Geographic’s website about the changing faces of America. The accompanying pictures are beautiful and speak of the melting pot that this nation is becoming. I am fortunate to live in a very diverse area of California where I am exposed to people (and food!) of all backgrounds every day. It just makes me appreciate the beauty that diversity brings and how creative God is!    

3. No-Carve Pumpkins. Halloween’s around the corner! For those of you who don’t want to deal with cleaning out a pumpkin’s innards, check out these 18 no-carve pumpkin ideas. My favorites are #4 (Thumbtack Pumpkins) and #7 (Candy Corn Pumpkins). Which do you like?

4. The Beatles. Who doesn’t like The Beatles? I love boy bands and they were pretty much the original one, way before ‘N Sync or One Direction were born (literally). They had so many great hits, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think “Here Comes the Sun” is the perfect one to start us off on this Monday. I found this acoustic cover of it by The Moon Loungers (funny that they should be singing about the sun). Enjoy the beautiful guitar strumming! 🙂

Have a lovely week everyone!