Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hello Goodbye

Well would you look at that?  I haven't posted since February and the year is almost over.  The reason for my MIA status?

New baby.

Hmm.. I suppose he's not actually "new" anymore.  It has been ten months after all.  Bah.  I don't need to explain.  Any parent out there understands that when a new bugaboo is added to the mix there is less and less and less time for mommy (and daddy).  Thus, the blog (and many other interests) gets pushed to the waaaay back corner of the broom closet.

I ain't complaining though.  My little guy's smile is the best hobby I've ever had.  The blog will always be there.  But that angel face will one day turn sour with middle school attitude and hoard itself in a bedroom listening to gangster rap.


Despite having practically zero time to myself I managed to hold on tight to my two favorite escapes: music and books.  That's all I need to keep rolling.

So without further ado ... my BEST OF 2014!

An interesting playlist.  I noticed a few things: 
  • There are almost no women on my list (minus the vintage crooning of Kate Davis).  This kind of irks me but whatever.  I like what I like. 
  • Mostly new artists.
  • Some heavy hitting back-to-basics rock songs (the world needs more of these).
  • A lot of these tracks were released within the latter part of the year so they're still very fresh.
  • Any song that has the lyric, "Gonna take you to the sugar shack" has me SOLD.  Come on.  You know that's so dang good. (*listen to Electric Man above*)
Okay.  Now books.

I need to preface this portion by sharing that I had lofty reading ambitions back in January.  I declared through Goodreads that I would read 25 books this year.  I guess I forgot to factor in the reality of having two kids and that lounging with a book in the middle of the afternoon was simply a thing of the past.  Regardless, I refuse to give up on books.  I just can't.  But my pace is considerably s-l-o-w-e-r.  

I only read 11 books.  But damn.  That's pretty good considering my reading window is from 10:45 p.m. to whenever-my-lids-droop-and-I jerk-awake-sending-my-book-flying-onto-the-floor.  I swear that happens every night.  It's quite sad.

Here's what I loved: (oh and by the way, this is not a Best of 2014 list because most of these books are older)

A haunting (I still think about it) memoir of Coleman's unorthodox upbringing on a homestead during the 1970's.  Compelling, poetic, sad, beautiful.

Love her blog.  Love her book.  Love her voice.

Stupid, dry humor but deliciously funny and naughty.

The sci-fi book for NON sci-fi people (like me).  I'm so glad I branched out of my comfort zone for this one.  It was superb.  I smell movie rights...

This is my non-fiction pick.  I'm actually still reading it and if I finish it before the year ends then that makes my total 12 books, not 11 - YEAH!  I'm turning into a history geek as I get older and I find this time in America fascinating.  Bill Bryson could write about galvanized steel pipe and I would read it.  He's that good.

Okay.  I think that's enough nerd talk for one post.  I don't want to overdo it or anything.

P.S. What made YOUR lists this year?  Share.  I'll talk to ya.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Delivery Room Tunes

I'm not a big regrets person.  I try not to go there.  I think it's a bit useless to dwell on all the ways you could have changed your past.  It's much more empowering to focus on ways you can change your future.  

Getting too deep?  Must be the maternal hormones talking.

Anyhoo, the reason I bring this up is that I do have a tiny regret regarding the birth of our first baby.  It's not so much a regret but an "Oops!  We totally forgot about that!" moment.  Why we did not think to incorporate music into the birth of our baby girl is so very strange.  Strange because anyone who knows us knows that music is a big part of our lives.  No, a huge part of our lives.  Music is a daily pulse that runs through our house, our souls, and yes, our babies.  I won't even begin to discuss the lyrics my 3-year-old knows by heart that are older than me.  We dig retro.

(photo courtesy of Google Images)

So here I sit, awaiting the imminent arrival of our second child, our little boy, and I immediately think, "This kid is SO gonna have a life soundtrack."  I'm not "missing a beat" ... this time.

The past week or so I have been painstakingly adding and removing and adding again to this playlist.  I have to remind myself that it's really more for me than lil' babe.  And I'm being 100% selfish with the selections. If I invited my husband to add his preferences I would be grunting my way through a string of jazz fusion diddies lasting at least nine minutes apiece.  No thanks.

(Did I forget to mention that our "music pulses" vary greatly across the musical spectrum?)

Bottom line:  The pusher gets to be the picker.

I heeded two simple rules when creating my playlist:

  1. I must genuinely love the track and feel something when listening to it.
  2. Each track should have some sort of relevance to the occasion.  For instance, I love Stanglehold by Ted Nugent but something tells me that wouldn't be exactly appropriate for this event.  Wait ... on second thought...     

The one track that sums it all up and I have deemed as my favorite?  Mr. Sam Cooke, Bring It On Home To Me.  I think I will forever think of my son when I hear that beautiful, soulful tune.  


PS:  What was on your delivery playlist(s)?  Favorites?  Any special songs that remind you of your lil' bean(s)?  Please share!!

Friday, January 17, 2014

DIY Gift That Brings Smiles

I mentioned in my last post that it was a very DIY-ish Christmas.  Not only did my hubby create the mother of all Barbie houses for our daughter but I got on the bandwagon too and decided to go all homemade for the grandparents' gifts.

I found a fast and easy little project on Pinterest that seemed to be gaining popularity as I had seen a gazillion posts on it.  Decorating cheap ceramic ware with Sharpies and baking the pieces to set the ink.  The possibilities are endless!  I knew that I wanted to try this project with my 3-year-old and create some special keepsakes for the grandparents.

Before diving right in I decided to do more research on the effectiveness of using just plain ol' Sharpies.  I'm so glad I delved further into the topic because I read quite a bit of disappointed responses that included, "This didn't work for me!" or "I followed your directions exactly and when I washed my plates, the ink came right off."  I decided right then that I would not be using regular Sharpies.  The only way to ensure a stay-put image is to use the more expensive oil-based Sharpie or the equivalent.  Works great!

First we made plates.  I colored my daughter's thumb and pointer finger with the black marker and pressed onto the plates to make the bellies.  I added arms and legs and let her take over with the heads.  A polka dot border kept things simple.

Next, we made matching bowls.  Again, my daughter was in full control of making the faces (it's her specialty) and I covered the rest.

Materials Used:
matching plates and bowls from the Dollar Tree
Sharpie Oil Based Paint markers in black, light blue, and red
(Warningthe red ink turns magenta after baking but still looks pretty)
rubbing alcohol and Q-tips (for erasing mistakes)

How We Did It:
  1. First I removed all stickers from the plates and bowls and rinsed any dust/dirt off.
  2. Colored my daughter's thumb and pointer finger and pressed onto plates to create the "bellies."  She added the heads and I finished the rest. (Warning - the marker dried VERY fast on my daughter's skin so I had to work quickly in order to get a decent print onto the plate.  Some turned out better than others but I'm one who prefers slight imperfections on homemade items.  Endearing.)
  3. Made the matching bowls but with no thumbprints.
  4. Placed dishes on baking sheets and put into a cold oven (not turned on).
  5. Set oven to 350 degrees.  When heated, bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn oven off and let cool without removing dishes.  Remove dishes after oven has cooled.
  7. I let our dishes sit overnight before hand washing them.
These would make great candy dishes if you didn't feel comfortable eating off of them.  Although my mom called me the next day to proudly announce that she and my dad had already enjoyed their breakfast on the dishes and loved every minute.  


Saturday, January 4, 2014

A DIY Christmas Surprise

For some reason, Christmas 2013 had a major DIY flavor.  This is not at all a bad thing.  In fact, in my little humble opinion, it's better.  Much better.  Unless you have a problem with managing your time.  Then a DIY Christmas becomes one hairy stress ball.

Let me back up a bit...

My 3-year-old daughter has recently hit her Barbie Alcoholic Phase.  She drowns herself in all things Barbie for hours on end.  I would be lying if I said I didn't play any part in introducing her to the blonde-headed bombshell or that I don't partake in Barbie binges that occur in our house on a daily basis.  In other words, you could call me the enabler.  And I'm okay with that.

The one item that was missing from my daughter's pinked out fantasy world was a Barbie house.  I think we can all agree that you can't really play Barbie without a tricked out pad.  It's just not right.  I remember how important the Barbie Dream House was when I was a wee one.  My heart still aches for that awkward three section plastic contraption.
God, I loved this thing.
(photo courtesy of Google Images)

Thus began the Doll House Project of 2013.  It was going to be the "big gift" for Christmas.  You know, the Red Rider BB Gun hiding in the corner type of gift.  I'm going to be totally honest here and admit that my part in all of this was actually pretty easy.  I simply logged onto Pinterest, found my inspiration, and then coerced my husband to build it.  Oh yeah, and I picked out the paint colors.  Whoop-de-doo.  Therefore that big hairy stress ball landed right in my husband's lap.  I really felt for the poor guy.

Plans and construction began shortly after Thanksgiving.  TOTALLY enough time, right?  Negative.  We should have started the monster back in August.  But what are ya gonna do?  As mentioned before, the inspiration came from this Pinterest link.  It's pretty apparent that this smart couple indeed had started construction in August because their doll house has stairs.  Stairs!  My hubby and I thought, "To hell with a staircase.  Barbie can levitate to the upper levels for all we care." But really, we knew we just didn't have time for things like stairs. Sheesh.

So, for the next 23 days our nightly conversation went something like this (on repeat):

Me: Soooo... how's the project going?
Hubs: (Sigh) I'm getting really nervous about this.
Me: (Playing dumb) Really?  Why?
Hubs: I'm afraid I won't finish in time.
Me: (Lying) Oh I'm sure if you work on it a little every night you'll finish in time.

Fast forward to December 23.  Whilst complaining about all the imperfections (paint, roof, sanding) my husband declares that the hairy stress ball is complete or as complete as it's going to be.  And I'm relieved because things were getting a little scary there for a while.

What started off as a hairy stress ball turned out to be one of the most adorable things my husband has made for our daughter (homemade gifts began a year ago with a vintage kitchenette but that's another story).  My heart swelled when I saw the finished house for the first time all stuffed with hideous plastic furniture.  It was perfect.  I knew our daughter would be rendered speechless and I couldn't wait for Christmas morning.

Project complete

Materials Used:
Behr paint
scrapbook paper


All the other gifts were left in the dust ... for about 20 minutes.

My mom had a small stove that was made for her when she was a little girl and she's kept it all these years. My older sister played with it.  I played with it.  My daughter has played with it.  And if the stars continue to align, her daughter or son will play with it.  It was important to me that my husband take his beautiful handiwork and put it to use toward things that can be handed down just like mom's stove.  I have no doubt that this Barbie house will become one of those cherished family treasures.

My husband may have developed a few ulcers along the way and he is so not the type to boast about his creations but I know deep down he's proud and glad he took the time to make this beloved toy for his little girl.

Hairy stress ball .... so worth it.