Monday Mentionables: Transitional outfits, Refashioning sweaters & Warm Bodies

Welcome to the last day of September; October is now looming on the horizon! Time sure flies when you’re having fun (and doing loads and loads of laundry on the weekend, which is what my recent days “off” consisted of). 😉 
 
As we truly leave summer behind, it’s really time to start thinking about dressing for the cold. But what do you do when it’s only chilly during the mornings and evenings? You start layering! This basically means wearing pieces of your summer wardrobe and adding long-sleeved and thicker pieces on top. I never realized there’s actually a “science” behind getting dressed, but it seems some people put a lot of thought into the process. Thanks to the internet, we now have access to all those style secrets. I thought I’d share a few of those ways we can stay warm in today’s mentionables…
 
1. Transitional outfits. Check out these 5 tips from Jo-Lynne from the blog Musings of a Housewife on how to stretch your summer outfits into the fall. Jo-Lynne also posts regularly about dressing as an over-40 woman, which piqued my interest because 40 is looming on the horizon for me, too (but thankfully not as soon as tomorrow!). 
 
For those of you who like to see things in action, Ann from Life Ann Style has a good YouTube video with before and after versions of outfits.
2. Refashioning sweaters. It’s easy to get bored of the clothes in your closet and oh-so tempting to want to buy new ones. But before you do, consider refashioning them. It’s is a great way to make your old clothes “new” again. I took this old sweater of mine, added some beads and gave it a different look.
Here’s the before…
Here’s the after!

Here are some other refashioning ideas on how to turn a sweater into a skirt, a cardigan (which is a super easy no-sew craft with iron-on adhesive) or a hat

3. Warm Bodies. Here’s a movie that will make you feel warm and fuzzy on a cold night. 🙂 It’s about zombies – yes, that’s right, I said zombies. But before you think I’m out of my mind for recommending this movie, let me say that it’s also a chick flick. And when you have zombies + a romantic story line, you have a movie both guys and girls will appreciate (even hubby likes it). There is really only one scene that may make you cringe; the rest of the time you’ll be laughing, sighing or cheering. Check out the review it got on Rotten Tomatoes here.
Have a warm Monday! 🙂

Game Changers

There’s something I used to do almost every single day that would take a good 30-40 minutes to complete. It was a meaningless, yet necessary, task that had to be done and someone had to do it. It involved water and soap and, you guessed it – lots and lots of dishes.

Image courtesy of koratmember/freedigitalphotos.net

Yep, I’m talking about the chore of dishwashing.

Oh, how I dreaded seeing the dirty plates, bowls and utensils pile up each day! I moaned whenever I passed by a full sink and rejoiced (for a few minutes) when it was empty. I used paper products when guests came over to limit the amount of dishes to wash (I know, it’s so not green!). I went to great lengths to cut out steps in recipes (ie. using one bowl to mix both the wet and dry ingredients instead of two separate ones), so I wouldn’t have to wash an extra item. I even tried making the process more fun by watching videos or listening to music, but I discovered it’s hard to hear anything clearly above the sound of running water.

One of my dear friends kept asking me (after hearing me complain and grumble) why I didn’t just use our dishwasher – she said it saves water and TIME! I said I tried, but the dishes just weren’t coming out clean. I assumed all dishwashers didn’t work well and hand washing was the only way to go. What I didn’t know was that our dishwasher had seen better days and was no longer working the way it should have. It took a while (11 years to be exact which is how long it’s been since we moved into our home) for me to tell hubby, “We need to buy a new dishwasher!” So, off we went to Lowe’s and found a great deal, and to my pleasure and surprise – IT ACTUALLY WORKS. Now when I “do the dishes”, I rinse off any excess food from the dishes, pop them into the handy dandy machine, add detergent and push a button – all of which takes me FIVE minutes to do. And the dishes come out clean. Amazing!

This dishwasher has changed my life. (I’m only half joking when I say this.)  🙂

It has added more time to my day to spend with the kids, to write, to do a million other things that I couldn’t do before. I only wish I had made the change sooner!

Now if a little thing like an appliance could be a game changer for me, imagine what other things could be major game changers!

I’m talking about the big things like…
~ breaking unhealthy patterns/cycles
~ setting healthy boundaries in relationships
~ choosing to do things differently for better outcomes
~ letting go of things from the past

Okay, let’s take a moment to breathe and let that all sink in.

Making changes is not easy. It can even be an uphill battle to get to the point where you realize you need to make changes. But no pain, no gain.

When I studied counseling, I learned an important truth: People only change when it hurts badly enough (not to change).

Take my analogy for example. After years of slaving away at the sink, I decided enough was enough. I was tired of washing dishes and having it take up my time and dictate my mood each day. I decided it was worth the money to buy a new dishwasher. And the outcome has been glorious!

Of course my story is a simple and lighthearted example of what making a change looks like. I know there are much deeper struggles that we face – such as depression, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, resentment and hurt – that are way more complex and challenging. Living with these conditions is like running with fifty pound weights strapped to your shoulders. It’s a struggle just to lift your foot to take a step. You have a hard time seeing through the sweat running down your face. Your heart is void of hope. There is no joy, no pleasure. You just do what you have to do to get by.

But what if you saw a sign that read, “Turn right at the next street to trade in your weights for a bike”? You’d be more than willing to put in a bit of work so you could be free from those weights. You’d be moving your legs and pumping your arms to get up the road as fast as you could! Just the thought of coasting on a bike with the wind blowing through your hair would lift your spirits and get you moving!

I know however that it’s easy to get stuck in what we’re used to and miss the “road signs” that point us to something better. We’re so used to carrying around our weights that we don’t believe we have a choice not to. Dysfunctional patterns become the norm, especially when we don’t know what healthy looks like. But don’t be fooled into thinking “this is it”. We can make the choice to drop those weights and be free. We can be free from the things that weigh us down emotionally, mentally and physically.

Don’t wait until it hurts too much not to change. Start today and take a few minutes to think about what is weighing you down. Confide in a good friend about your struggles. For deeper issues, make an appointment with a counselor to gain insight on how to move forward.

Life is too short and precious to keep dragging your feet.

Listen to Mandisa’s song, “Overcomer” to remind you that there’s so much more in store for you.

What choices have you made that have been major game changers in your life? 

Monday Mentionables: Nifty Little Tips, Face Mapping & Family Rules

Welcome to fall (as of yesterday)! Now that the weather is starting to cool down and temps are only in the mid 70’s (yes, this is California), it doesn’t seem so strange that Costco already has Christmas decorations on display. LOL 🙂
 
I wasn’t sure what to blog about today, but then I remembered there are a few nifty little tips I discovered recently that I’d love to share with you. So without further delay, here are today’s mentionables:
 
1. Nifty Little Tips. The web is full of tips on how to make your life a little easier. For example, you can google “household tips pinterest” and find info on how to use toothpaste to fix scratched DVD’s or to clean car headlights (the latter of which I’ve tried with success, but it requires a bit of elbow grease). Here are a couple of other tips I found…
Add a clip to hold your kitchen towel together
to keep it from falling off the oven handle.
Then pull the front side of the towel down to hide the clip, which is now behind the towel.
Add a keychain ring to the zipper on a pair of pants to keep your fly closed. 
Just pull the ring up, loop it around the button and button it as usual. 
It works great and saves you from any embarrassing moments!
Tea treat oil has antibacterial properties and is a great zit zapper! 
Just dab it on with a Q-tip (you may want to dilute it with water) a 
few times a day and watch the pimple shrink and dry up. 
It may take a couple of days to fully disappear, so be patient.

2. Face Mapping. Speaking of pimples, the Chinese word for zits is loosely translated as “youthful spots”. Whoever made this up obviously didn’t realize people past their teens are still prone to break outs (yes, I speak from experience). 😉 I was happy to find this post on Lindsay’s (of Delighted Momma’s) blog about face mapping. Lindsay is an esthetician and recommends using this chart, which is based on traditional Chinese medicine, to figure out what your skin is trying to tell you. Take a look – you just might find out the causes of those dark circles under your eyes or pimples on your jaw.

3. Family Rules. Just wanted to share this neat wall hanging I picked up at Walmart for $11! Since I’m a recovering perfectionist, I don’t particularly like the idea of rules, but I do love the ones listed here:
Yes, I wish that alarm box wasn’t on the wall, but things can’t always be perfect. 😉

And on that note, may we all have a happy, thankful, compassionate and funny Monday! 

Let the Young’uns Inspire You

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/freedigitalphotos.net

I ran my first 5k this past January. I’m not exactly a sporty girl (because being active = perspiring = getting messy), but I signed up for this run willingly and without regret. What in the world inspired me to do so? Two words: my sister.

About a year ago my family and I stood at the finish line of the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon waiting for my sister to cross over. Around us stood hundreds of people cheering loudly and waving their banners as the runners passed by. It was definitely one of those “you can feel the excitement in the air” moments. Perhaps it was the adrenaline rush I felt that day or the pride I had in seeing my sister accomplish something so great, but something made me want to experience it, too.

Which is why I decided to wake up before the sun on a cold winter morning to run 3.10686 miles. (I would later find out that waking up early would be the easy part.) Thankfully my sister agreed to run with me because I would not have made it without her! She kept me distracted with good conversation from start to finish, especially during the final mile as I huffed and puffed up and down a couple of hills (good thing I hadn’t known about the hills when I signed up!). When we crossed the finish line, I wore a smile of relief on my lips and sweat plastered hair across my forehead. I’m sure my cheeks were bright red, too. My sister, on the other hand, looked like she had just taken a stroll in the park. She breathed normally and had a nice rosy glow about her. Our parents who had come to meet us after the race congratulated us and our mom took in both of our appearances. She then turned to me and said in a matter of fact tone, “Ten years do make a difference.”

Thanks, Mom! LOL 😉

Let me bring up an important fact – my sister is ten years younger than me. One whole decade. She has ten years less of wear and tear on her body. She has a lot more energy and stamina than I have had in a long time (especially since kids entered the picture). She was able to run a half marathon without passing out and just ran a 10k the other week, so a 5k was no big deal for her. Her knees are likely a lot stronger than mine.

What ten years has done for me is given me more life experience and maybe a little bit of wisdom, but it’s added some weariness and disillusionment as well. For some reason, as we age, things tend to become more complicated. I can’t just get up and go anywhere, anytime that I want to. I have a lot more responsibilities and have to narrow down my goals. There is a limit to how I can spend my time, energy and resources. And my joints have started to make a lot of cracking noises.

Which is why I needed my baby sister to inspire me to run.

I’ve discovered that it’s good to hang out with young people. People in their teens and even twenties view life with more hope, fervor and possibilities. They tend to be more optimistic, more carefree and more adventurous. They (the proverbial they again) say we should learn from our elders (which we should), but I say there is a lot to be learned from the youthful, too. May we oldies be inspired to consider dreaming again. May we throw caution to the wind and take chances, at least once in a while. May we get our bottoms off the couch and start moving, even at the risk of throwing out our backs.

And may the young’uns out there take this to heart:
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Here is FUN’s song, “We are Young“, which talks about being young and setting the world on fire.

What have the young people in your life inspired you to do?

Monday Mentionables: Organizing, Meegenius & Brown-Eyed Girl

Welcome to Monday again! 

I think one of these days we should have a backwards week where the weekdays are the weekend and vice versa. Then we would actually look forward to Mondays. What do you think? Anyone want to start a petition, just let me know! 😉 
 
Here are today’s mentionables…
1. Organizing. I have been bit by the organizing bug! You would think a square gal like me would have her whole house (and life – LOL) organized, but I never really had any down time or the brain power during grad school/full-time work to do it. Then after the kids arrived, I just went into survival mode. 😛 But now I do (at least I’m starting to)! There are tons of Pinterest pages and sites with ideas if you don’t know where to start. Organizing your home can be quite a daunting task, but the key is to start with one room, or even one drawer, at a time. Take a look at these improvements I’ve made so far.
This is a before pic of my bathroom drawer where I keep my makeup and hair accessories. I hesitated taking this because it looked quite hopeless and it’s embarrassing to think I was so messy before! But wait till you see the after pic!
Ahh… now I can breathe again! Look at the difference some containers
(in this case some old jewelry boxes) can make! 🙂

And now onto the kitchen…

We have this magnetic board from IKEA (here’s a similar version) hung behind the stove to prevent the wall from getting greasy. I had a brief moment of thinking “outside the box” and decided to give it a dual purpose. I bought these magnetic hooks from Harbor Freight (4 for $2.79!) and hung all our cooking utensils on it. Not only did doing this free up a whole kitchen drawer, it makes cooking and baking so much more efficient now!

2. Meegenius.com. If you have kids and haven’t heard of this app, it’s time you checked it out! This is basically an online store of picture books that are read aloud to you. All you do is listen and follow the words as they are highlighted on the screen. It’s great for families on the go, especially on long drives when the book reader (usually me) loses her voice after reading about six books. With Meegenius, the parent gets a break and the kids still get something educational to do. It’s a great resource for teachers and schools, too. If you’re a teacher you can get a complimentary (FREE!) subscription that gives you access to over 70 books. 

Now comes my shameless plug! 🙂 If you are so inclined, you can also buy my very first picture book, A Rainbow of Nine Colors that is available on Meegenius.com for $2.99. It is a book about a brown beetle named Beanie and his quest for significance among his more colorful bug friends. Included are lessons on mixing colors, rainbows and finding beauty in diversity. The illustrations are pretty cute, too. I am hoping to someday get paid for my writing efforts and am 1/5th of the way there already (I get paid after every $50 earned). If you could help spread the word about my book, I’d really appreciate it!

3. Brown-Eyed Girl. This song by Van Morrison is one of my all-time favorites (maybe cause I’m a brown-eyed girl?). It’s an oldie, but goodie. Hopefully it gets you movin’ today!
 

What to Tell My Kids About 9/11

There are plenty of things my kids will not have the chance to experience, such as…

~ Cars with manual windows
~ Going to a music store to browse through CD’s (I could almost say the same thing about books except for the fact there is still a Half Price Books in our city)
~ Life without the internet or smart phones and apps 
~ A time when the numbers 9 and 11 didn’t have any historical significance

Twelve years ago today however, 9/11 became etched in our minds and hearts permanently. I remember the quiet Tuesday morning that became horribly crazy when the radio alarm turned on to reports of airplanes and tall buildings. A friend of hubby’s called a few minutes later and told us to turn on the TV. We stood in silence and disbelief at the things we were seeing. Huge clouds of smoke, people covered head to toe in dust, the World Trade Towers gone, the Pentagon in pieces, a plane down in Pennsylvania.

I went to work that day as normal, but nothing about September 11, 2001 was anything close to normal. A coworker pulled a small TV into the office and our whole department watched the news broadcasts; we didn’t have the heart to do any work. Our faces reflected our shock, sadness and fear as we listened to pieces of the story come together. The brief moments when I tried to get work done were interrupted by glances at news sites for updates. When CNN began putting up the names of the victims, I couldn’t stop reading their stories. These men, women and even young children, who were just going about their business suddenly had their lives cut short. 

So many lives lost for no good reason.

There will come a day when my kids will wonder about the significance of 9/11, why flags are lowered on this day, why this day is in the history books. What will I tell them? 

I’ll tell them how some very misguided and heartless people made some horrific decisions.

But I’ll also tell them how so many brave and amazing men and women made sacrificial choices to help someone else. That the worst circumstances brought out the best parts of people that day.

Image courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Just as Mister Rogers once said…

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”

I’ll tell my kids to continue to keep the helping spirit alive today.

This is Black Eyed Peas’s song, “Where Is The Love?“, a reminder of all the reasons why it’s more important than ever to love our neighbors as ourselves.

What do you remember about 9/11? How did that day change your life?

Monday Mentionables: Food Art, Healthy Sweets & DIY Face Scrubs

Now that the first week of school is over, I officially feel like a chauffeur. Since the kids are on different schedules (son is full day, daughter is half), I rack up plenty of miles cruising around our little city. I’m not complaining though; I’m enjoying my free mornings and my alone time (did I mention I’m an introvert? haha). 
 
Now onto today’s mentionables…
 
1. Food Art. One thing I’m not totally enjoying though is having to pack lunch for my son every day. He is a bit picky and anti-all things green – I even tried bribing him with oreos if he would eat some cucumbers, but he didn’t fall for it. Sigh, where did he get his stubbornness from, I wonder? 😉 Anyways, my daughter is the opposite, thank God. It’s much easier to convince her to eat her veggies. Here’s what I did the other day to make lunch more fun. 
 
We had fun saying things like, “Hey, you ate his eye!”
or “Where did his nose go?” as we munched.

Now there are some really creative (and patient!) moms out there who put lots of time and thought into making their kids’ meals more scrumptious. I however am not one of them. But I just might be able to get some ideas from them. This mom’s handiwork here is very inspirational.

2. Healthy Sweets. One food I that I don’t have a problem with getting my kids to eat is fruit. It is sweet, healthy and a great alternative to desserts. Since the weather warmed up quite a bit this past weekend, I thought of freezing fruit for us to enjoy. Bananas on a stick (or spoon) are like mini ice cream popsicles – cold and creamy! 
Since I didn’t have popsicle sticks on hand,
I used some take out chopsticks (and a spoon) instead! 

And I thought of dipping the bananas in some DIY magic shell to make them even tastier. 🙂 (I blogged before about making magic shell so you can guess how much I love it.)

Yes, that is ice cream. Hey, at least I was kinda healthy. 🙂

Here’s a recipe for the chocolate covered bananas if you want to try it yourself (it’s a fancier version of mine). I’m thinking frozen strawberries could work, too.

3. DIY Face Scrubs. Speaking of food, did you know you can make your own face scrubs with 3 simple ingredients? I’m talking about sugar/salt + oil + fruit/veggie. You can find some great recipes here – there are several combinations to try depending on the treatment you want for your skin (ie. moisturizing, soothing, exfoliating). They almost look good enough to eat.
 
Here’s hoping you have a delicious Monday!

Being Our Kids’ Paparrazzi

My kids have banned me from taking pictures of them.

Actually, to clarify, my son is the one who banned me and my daughter, being the adores-her-older-brother-and-always-copies-him-much-to-his-dismay younger sibling, has followed suit. Even on our recent vacation, every time I pulled out my pink (thanks to hubby!) camera, one of them would yell out, “No taking pictures! You have to ask me first!” to which I would reply in a hopeful tone, “Can I take a picture?” The answer as you suspect was always “No!”

So what’s a mom to do??

I have loved taking photos of my munchkins from the moment they were born. I have pictures of them sleeping, eating, sitting, crying, laughing, scooting, running and even pooping on the potty (gotta capture all the firsts!) and just plain breathing. And now that they’re older, I love looking back at these photos and oohing and ahhing over every single one of them.

One of my favorite pics of big brother reading to little sister

So, why am I not allowed to take pictures anymore?? Simply because my son (who also has banned me from using his name in my “stories”) doesn’t like me showing them to our friends. You could say he isn’t a fan of social media. 😉 Truth be told, if I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t want my mom taking pictures of me all the time and posting them on her Facebook either. 

This got me thinking though about why many parents have become their own children’s paparazzi? Why do we love capturing every moment of our kids’ lives on film? Why do we love sharing our kids’ pictures (and sometimes videos) with everyone we know? 

I think it’s because of these three reasons:

1. We are amazed at the journey. Posting pictures of our kids starts when they are still in the womb. Anyone who has seen an ultrasound before can attest to how incredible the whole journey from conception to birth is – somehow a baby who was smaller than the size of a kidney bean grows into a 6 or 7 pound (or sometimes more) screaming little person! And to watch them grow day by day, year by year can be surreal. I look at my kids now and wonder how in the world they ever fit inside me at one time. We know people like to share pictures of the amazing things they find, such as the 7 Wonders of the world; for parents, the biggest wonder of all is seeing their kids grow.

2. We are proud of what we’ve done. People in general want to talk about their accomplishments. We like to share about where we’ve gone, what we’ve done, even what we’ve eaten – that’s why there are so many food pictures on Instagram. 😉 Parents are doubly proud of their kids because they are cuter, smaller versions of themselves and fairly entertaining to watch. And raising kids requires a lot of blood, sweat and tears (I’m sure this phrase originated from a parent), which is why we have no qualms about showing off the fruits of our labor! 

3. We are thankful to be part of something bigger than ourselves. They say everything changes after having kids and they are right. Becoming a parent has changed my whole perspective on life. I am more grateful as a person and cherish the little things, such as holding my kids’ dimpled hands or being able to take a shower uninterrupted (haha). I think differently about love and about purpose. I am just thankful for the opportunity to make a positive difference in my son and daughter’s lives. My kids are at the top of my list of priorities and my photos reflect that. 🙂

So I’m hoping this ban on pictures is just a phase. This paparazzi needs her job back! 

What other song could I include for this post besides Lady Gaga’s “Paparrazzi“? 🙂

Why do you love taking and sharing pictures and videos of your kids?

Monday Mentionables: Upcycling Ideas & Wall Decals

I cannot believe summer is practically over and fall is around the corner. However that does mean the munchkins and I survived many days that were hot, long and boring (according to some little people)! Although I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with them and the lessons I learned about patience (grr! haha), I think we are all ready for the structure and busyness that school brings. 🙂

Today, I’d like to share with you all some things I’ve been doing to make our house more of a home. I realized this summer has been the first time in a long time that I’ve had the desire or energy to make improvements to our abode. Some projects are still in progress, but here’s what I’ve done so far.

1. Upcycled T-shirt Wall Art. I took an old shirt of hubby’s (one that was definitely well loved because it had many holes in it), cut out the back and glued it on a piece of styrofoam. Voila!

This little reminder of Hawaii is now hanging in our master bathroom. 
I love the quotes on it – so funny and true!
 
Kimo’s Kauai Rules
Never judge a day by the weather.
The best things in life aren’t things.
Tell the truth – there’s less to remember.
Speak softly and wear a loud shirt.
Goals are deceptive – the unaimed arrow never misses.
He who dies with the most toys still dies.
Age is relative – when you’re over the hill you pick up speed.
There are 2 ways to be rich – make more or desire less.
Beauty is internal – looks mean nothing.
No rain – no rainbows.
2. Upcycled Art Supply Rack. I got the idea from this website to turn an old wine rack into a holder for the kids’ markers and crayons. We used to keep all the supplies in an old baby wipe box, but it soon became a very disorganized mess.
Yes, that’s Chloe and her beloved chicky trying to hide from the camera.

With some paper cups and a glue gun, we now have an organized collection of random art supplies! 🙂 Don’t you love how each color has its own spot? It’s amazing how happy this little project made me (yes, I am still a bit square when it comes to organizing).

Each cup that is glued on the rack has another cup in it
so the kids can remove the whole cup for the color they need. Brilliant, huh? 😉
Isn’t upcycling cool?! 🙂 Check out this site for many more ideas, such as turning glass jars into snow globes or tennis balls into towel holders.

3. Wall Decals. I had originally wanted to paint this wall of our family room a cheery yellow color, but I kind of lost my “will to paint” a few weeks ago (which explains why our upstairs bathroom is only half done). So I turned to a much simpler way of upgrading the walls – decals! They are just like stickers, but are also repositionable so they make decorating so much easier and fun! They did however take more time to apply cause I wanted to get them “just right”. It was a great lesson in patience for the kiddos who were helping me, though they did get a little antsy after I redid the bottom right branch three times. 😉

The kitchen cabinet door that is leaning against the wall is a preview of our next DIY remodeling project. 🙂
If you’d like to try decals, you can find them at Walmart (where I got these for $10!), Target or Amazon.com.
 
Hope you have a wonderful Labor (or non-laboring) Day today!