Sunday, February 22, 2009


Well, I'm taking a little break.

I seem to have lost my "blog mojo" over the past couple of weeks. My "real life" priorities feel a little askew. I'm distracted. I'm not focusing on what I need to be focusing on. My soul just hasn't been at peace. And, I can't seem to figure out where this blog should fit in.

I've been thinking a lot about this verse lately:

I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.

If only you followed my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Is. 48:17-18

I need a little peace and direction. So, in order for me to hear God's voice, I'm going to need to unplug for the week. I won't be blogging, and I won't be reading (though I will be checking email every few days.) It's going to be really difficult for me because I love to see what y'all are up to, but I really need to use this time to get back on track.

Have a great week y'all and I can't wait to catch up with you next week!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why Jane Iredale is my new BFF

I’ve been a little slow to jump on the mineral makeup bandwagon. The reason is two-fold:

1. I’m super self-conscious of the hyperpigmentation/sun damage on my face. I prefer a liquid foundation with significant coverage — allowing me to pretty much paint myself a perfect complexion each morning. Despite the claims, loose powder mineral foundations don’t seem to provide the kind of coverage I need.

2. On the few occasions when I have given mineral powder foundation a whirl, it never seems to last very long and — even worse — I see the makeup “settling” into fine lines.

But, I do love the concept of mineral makeup. After all, I apply foundation all over my face and it sits on my skin all day long. I’d much prefer to use a formulation that is free of preservatives and synthetic ingredients.

So, I did a little research and discovered that Jane Iredale made a liquid mineral foundation. Hooray! The best of both worlds! I went to the Jane Iredale website, searched for a local retailer and headed in to get color matched. (read more at Chic Critique)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How to Make Cute Hair Clips *With Giveaway*

***Congratulations to commenter #7 mah-meee from Raising A&C! You're the lucky winner! Be sure and check your email so I can get the hair clips out to you asap. Thanks to everyone for playing along! ***

I'm updating this post to link up to Works for Me Wednesday. After you finish reading it, be sure and check out all the other great tips at Shannon's place!

So, earlier this week I confessed that when it comes to styling my daughters' hair, I'm pretty much all thumbs.

But, after re-reading that post, I realized that I neglected to fill you in on the one secret weapon in my hairstyling arsenal. I mentioned it, but I didn't elaborate.

So, I'd like to introduce you to the flower clippie:

I like to call it the "smoke and mirrors approach" to styling hair. You see, my daughters' fine hair may never boast impressive volume or curl -- but any ol' style can be dramatically improved with a flower clipped on top. I present Exhibit A:

And Exhibit B:

See? You don't notice the hair, only the flower. Sneaky, huh? And here's the best part, you don't even have to spend $10 a clip. I made these for literally pennies. Here's what you need:

faux flowers, ribbon, brads, alligator clips (available at beauty supply stores), and a hot glue gun. I pick my flowers up at the dollar store. They don't have to be silk. They don't have to be expensive. Cheap will work just fine.

The first thing you want to do is pull the flowers off the plastic stems. Then, remove the center portion of the flower. If the flower petals are just one or two "ply," so to speak, remove a few extra flowers. We'll stack them, one on top of the other, to make them look fuller.

Then, go get yourself some brads:

You can pick brads up at a craft store. There are a ton of different styles. Choose whatever you like. I happen to be partial to the silver rhinestone variety.

Next, stack your petals. I used four single-ply flowers below. Then, run your brad through the center and secure.

Now, set that aside and forget about it for a second.

This is an alligator clip. Notice that there is a definite top and a bottom. The bottom is the straight side.

Hold the clip upside down (so the bottom edge is now facing the ceiling) and open the clip. Apply hot glue to the inside of the top of the clip (which is now functioning as the bottom). Then, take some ribbon and set it on top of the glued part like so:

Now, flip the clip back over so the bottom of the clip is back on the bottom. Apply more hot glue to the outside of the top of the clip, and fold the ribbon around the top of the clip to stick.

By the way, be very careful when you do this. You can get a pretty decent burn from getting hot glue on your fingers. (That's the voice of experience speaking.) Now, apply some hot glue to the bottom of the clip (the solid silver part only):

And wrap the ribbon around like so:

Trim off any extra ribbon. Now you're home free. All that's left to do is hot glue the flower onto the top of the clip. Viola!

You can do the same thing with larger flowers, by the way. Remove the center and stack a few layers of petals. The only difference here is you're going to hot glue the layers together, instead of using a brad:

Then, cut the "peg" end off the the flower center (so it will lay flat) and hot glue that puppy right onto the center of the petals.

Then, just hot glue the flower to your ribbon-covered alligator clip. Piece of cake.

Hey, how 'bout a giveaway? I'll make two sets of small flower clips and three larger gerber daisy clips for one lucky winner. Let's keep it nice and simple. Just leave a comment below. I'll close comments a week from today (Friday, February 20th at 11:59 p.m.) and use the random number generator to select a winner.

Good luck and happy clip making!

Monday, February 9, 2009

What I Learned This Week: The Anatomy of a Blizzard

"Cleaning up after children is like shoveling in a blizzard."

-- Anonymous

Ever feel that way? That's where I've been lately. Toys are strewn everywhere. Laundry is piled up to the ceiling. There seems to be no end to the dishes. No matter how much I manage to clean up, there's always another mess waiting for me.

Last Saturday, hubs took the kids out to play, and I spent two hours cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom. It was sparkling-beautiful by the time I was finished.

And then, the family returned for lunch.

In 10 minutes, I watched as a whirlwind tore through my beautiful kitchen. Coats were shed, food taken out, dishes piled up. When it was all said and done, I felt like crying.

Sometimes it's hard to shake the feeling that I'm losing the battle and the war.

So, I've been giving a lot of thought to blizzards this week. And, I've come to a few realizations that have made coping with these small "life blizzards" a little easier.

1. Blizzards last only for a season. Unless you live in Antarctica, blizzards happen in winter. Then, they disappear for the rest of the year. In much the same way, the blizzards of chaos overtaking my home these days are also temporary. With three kids age 6 and under, I happen to be receiving a lot of snowfall right now. But, it helps to remember it won't last forever.

2. When the weather is extreme, accept the fact that life won't be perfect. Blizzards bring sub-zero temps, wicked wind, messy roads and slow travel time. That's the nature of a blizzard. When I'm facing a "life blizzard," there are going to be uncomfortable moments. There are going to be moments of inconvenience. I'm not going to be able to accomplish all I want/need to do. It's the nature of the beast. I need to stop fighting it and temporarily lower my standards. Then, go back and review #1.

3. Before you roll up your sleeves, wait for a break in the storm. This might be obvious but, overwhelmed with the chaos, I find myself breaking this rule. I wouldn't try to clear the driveway at the exact moment snow is falling the hardest. That would be counter-productive. In the same way, when chaos is the order of the day at my house, that is not the time to be tackling a big organizational project (unless I want a one-way trip to insanity.) It's best to have my husband take the kids for the day, hire a babysitter, or schedule a play date at someone else's house. Then, use that quiet time to get things cleared away.

4. Sometimes, you just have to set aside your shovel and jump in. We don't get a lot of snow in Georgia. So, on the odd occasion when a storm does come our way, the last thing we think about is clearing the driveway. Instead, we head out to play. Remember #1? Blizzards don't last forever. There are times when, really, it just pays to embrace the chaos. My kids won't always be this young. They won't always want to play with me. When I scan my family room and see 500 toys strewn across the floor, I can bemoan the mess, or I can take the opportunity to temporarily "give up," jump in and play with my kids. I can't let my need to "fix the chaos" overwhelm me to the point where I can't occasionally cut loose and have fun.

So, that's what I've learned this week. Interested in what other folks learned? Head over to Musings of a Housewife for the What I Learned This Week Carnival.

Tales of the Folicly Challenged

When God was giving out fantastic hair genes, I somehow ended up at the end of the line.

My hair is fine and stick straight. Any "bend" or body I might have in my hair is the direct result of sleeping on it wrong.

It's taken me 30 years to come to terms with my hair. I've finally managed to find a cut that works pretty well, and I've accepted that I'm never going to have a mane like Julianne Moore's (as depressing as that fact may be).

But, this post isn't about my hair woes. It's about my children's.

You see, my husband's hair is the exact same texture as mine. That means, genetically speaking, our kids never stood a chance. Great hair just wasn't going to be in their future.

For Josh, this isn't really a big deal. A little gel, a small tousle, and he's good to go.

But, my poor daughters.

They're stuck with straight, fine hair and a mother who doesn't know what to do with it. To top it off, Jilly's hair has so many cowlicks, it's impossible to find a straight part.

Thus, my hairstyle repertoire consists of the following:

* Ponytail
* Pigtails
* Headband
* Braids

That's not too shabby, but here's the problem -- we live in the South. And Southern mothers take little girl hair very seriously. Glance around any holiday gathering or school function and you'll spot a sea of adorable curls, loops and bows.

How do I cope with the hair pressure?

Well, I pretty much resigned myself to defeat.

My hairstyle apathy reached its lowest point last year, when Hubs and Jilly were attending the annual Sweetheart Ball.

None of the styles in my repertoire exactly scream "special occasion." I didn't know what to do. So, I did nothing. Nada. I ran a comb through her hair and sent her out the door with nary a bow, headband or curl.

I'm still not sure what I was thinking.

So, this year I committed to do better. I did a little online research on hairstyles for little girls. Do you know there are blogs dedicated solely to showcasing new hairstyles for your little princess?

Styles like this, this, and -- oh my stars -- this.

I must have spent 2 hours reading those blogs in awestruck amazement. Who knew there were so many style options? Who knew there were so many little girls who would sit still that long?

So, I set my sights high. I began a full hour and half before Saturday's party. We washed, combed, added product, heated up the curling iron, and by 45 minutes into it, I was in a full-fledged panic. My "woven heart design" didn't turn out (despite a practice run the day before). My Plan B -- a head full of curls -- wasn't even an option. Jilly's hair stubbornly refused all but the slightest bend.

So, I had to do some quick thinking. Thankfully, I had made 2 sets of flower clippies (to "dress up" my tried and true pigtails) the day before. Here's what we did:

It's a little "flower girl-ish," but it's light years better than last year.

And, for the record, I'm not giving up. I even took my standard braids to new levels for church yesterday:

With a good deal of practice, I just might be able to come to terms with that girl's mane.

And, with a little luck, it won't take anywhere close to 30 years.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

iPosture: Your Personal Posture Coach

Hey, I'm over at Chic Critique today offering help to the slouchers of the world!

Chic Critique is coming up on it's one-year blogoversasry, btw, and we want to know if we're on the right track. If you've been a regular reader of Chic Critique, or pop over there on occassion, would you be willing to help some sisters out? We've set up a super-brief survey. Your answers will help us figure out where we take Chic Critique next. And it will only take a few minutes. Muchos gracias!

Today, I’m going to share a simple beauty tip that will make you instantly look five pounds thinner, while also helping you to appear more confident and self-assured.

Are you ready?

Here it is: Stand up straight.

Good posture can cover a multitude of sins. It’s one of the first things people notice about you. When we slouch, we not only reduce our height, but our chest appears smaller, our belly “pooches,” and we can even experience lower back pain.

Standing up straight should be simple. But, it’s not.

I should know. I am, like many women, a habitual sloucher.

For the sake of illustrating a point, I managed to dig out a couple of candid shots of myself taken at my daughter’s birthday party. (read more at Chic Critique)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What I Learned This Week -- A Random Sampling

Once again, Musings of a Housewife is hosting the What I Learned This Week carnival. No big revelation for me this week -- randomness is the order of the day:

1. It's a lot harder to be a Kindergartner nowadays. Jilly (6) came home from school the other day, a proud member of the "100 Club." That means she can write to 100, can count to 100 by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s, and can read 100 site words. Add that to the fact that they were studying sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks last week. Huh? My education feels so inadequate. I'm pretty sure I was just working on telling left from right when I was in Kindergarten (something I still manage to mix up, btw). I can't wait to see the type of work she'll be bringing home in 3rd grade. I'm sure the math alone will make me break out in hives.

2. Gun laws just don't make sense. Did you know that if you want to apply for a Concealed Weapons Permit in Georgia all you have to do is fill out the paperwork and undergo a background check? No firearms safety class required. Put another way: You don't have to have fired a gun before to carry one on your person. If you're hunting deer, however, you are required to take a firearms safety course. Does anyone else find this deeply disturbing?

3. I'm an Internet addict. The computer is a huge distraction for me. Somehow, even when I'm just "checking my email" I manage to waste 30 minutes. :) I've discovered that I can accomplish quite a bit when I turn the computer off. So, I've made a decision to join Meredith in unplugging at least once a week.

4. And I've got another addiction. Despite all my efforts to start "going green," I can't give up the paper towels. I'm killing trees right and left around here. I'm not proud. I. Just. Can't. Stop.

5. Conquering kid boredom is as easy as making a list. A lot of times, when the kids are looking for something to do, I find myself suggesting the same things over and over. (Kind of like I seem to make the same recipes over and over.) But, while cleaning out the craft/activity closet the other day, I realized we have a ton of different activity options. I made a list of every single one. Now, when the kids are bored, I reference the list for something new and exciting to entertain them. Hmmm. Maybe I need to do that with the recipes, too.

That's pretty much it. Now, go find out what everyone else learned this week over at Musings of a Housewife.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Breakfast Battles Begone

My kids have never been big breakfast eaters.

Really, they're not big eaters in general.

While my oldest has come a long way from where she was, the other two still tend to be picky. They eschew meat, they turn their noses up at vegetables. And then, I start to worry. Because really, what kind of nutrition are they getting?

So, I've been known to resort to drastic measures.

That's right. I'm one of those mothers who has hidden spinach in her Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies and sweet potatoes in her Spaghetti Bolognaise.

What can I say?

A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.

The cookbook that taught me everything I know about increasing the nutritional value of everyday recipes is The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine. It came out several months before that "other" hide-the-vegetables-in-the-food book -- and really, I think Lapine's is far superior. I've made dozens of her recipes and nearly all of them have been hits.

Which brings me back to breakfast.

Any nutritionist will tell you that a high-protein breakfast is the best bet for your little one. But, the day my kids eat eggs for breakfast will be the day pigs begin to fly.

So, I give them cookies and milk instead.

These Breakfast Cookies are my kids' all-time favorite. I make a double batch and they're gone within two days (partly because I can't stop eating them either). They're whole grain, high protein (thanks to ricotta cheese) and contain half the sugar of kids' breakfast cereals.

They're easy to make, a hit with the kids and don't have one trace of spinach. Promise.

Breakfast Cookies
Recipe courtesy of The Sneaky Chef by Missy Lapine

2 cups whole grain cereal flakes (such as Wheaties or Total)
3/4 c. Flour Blend (1/4 c. each of white flour, whole wheat flour and wheat germ)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 large egg
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. canola oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 c. low-fat ricotta cheese
Cinnamon sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with oil).

Using a rolling pin, gently crush the cereal (in a sealed plastic bag) into coarsely crushed flakes. Alternatively, you can quickly pulse the cereal in a food processor.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together Flour Blend, crushed cereal, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, oil, vanilla and ricotta cheese. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Drop single tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch between cookies. Flatten cookies with the back of a fork and then sprinkle tops generously with cinnamon sugar (or just sugar if your kids don't like cinnamon flavor). Bake about 18 to 20 minutes, or until nicely browned and crispy around the edges.

Serve with milk or hot cocoa.
Makes 16 to 18 large cookies.