The Salvation Rush

The other day I had 20 minutes to spare between finishing swim practice and picking up Caroline from school. The Salvation Army store is a couple of blocks from both locations so I decided to go in. I usually like to visit these types of stores any chance I get when I don’t have kids once every couple of months. Some of my favorites are the Habitat for Humanity Store, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army.

I like to search and find “diamonds in the rough.” My husband thinks I just find “rough.” I know he hates getting the call at work, “Hey, what are you doing for lunch? I’d love for you to meet me at the Habitat store and see a bookcase.” I know what he hears is, “Hey, what are you doing for lunch? I need you to come and transport this rickety piece of junk home, sand it, paint it, and haul it up a flight of stairs for me.”

I have never been a big garage sale shopper. It makes me uncomfortable to actually know who I’m buying from. I hate the whole bargaining procedure at garage sales. How about five dollars? Can you do three fifty? what about four dollars? Drives me crazy so I just avoid it all together.

I have just started venturing into estate sales. On Friday morning Caroline and I went riffling through someone’s house. I came out with a $4 mirror that’s destined for our guest room. Somehow knowing the previous owner is dead is a lot more comforting to me than actually having an encounter with the current living owner.

So there I was browsing my local Salvation Army store, minding my own business, when an announcement was made, “Shoppers, for the next hour, everything in the store is half off.”

“Yes, books are included.”

“Yes, children’s clothing is included.”

“Yes, furniture is included.”

Apparently the term everything is a little unclear to some people.

People started dashing around like crazy – grabbing shopping carts, flinging clothes into their baskets, yanking clothes on and off their children. It was pretty unbelievable. I admit I was almost on my way out the door when the announcement was made. But since everything was half off it necessitated me taking a second trip around the store. I ended up taking home 3 books. I mean, I had to, they were on sale.

3 books: $2.79

No Sanding, no painting, no hauling for hubby : pricelesss.a symbol

Your Mom

For the last three weeks I have been tutoring some kids in math to get ready for our state test. The school didn’t need me this week for various reasons so I decided to see if I could volunteer at Alex’s school. Caroline was already going to be at her school so I thought I’d use the free time to help out. I emailed Alex’s 3rd grade teacher a week before and asked if she had anything she would like me to work on; stapling packets, cutting out laminating, or making something for the room. She asked if I would be willing to take a small group of kids in math. I said, “Sure, I would love to.”

I showed up at 9:30 like she requested and found out which fraction concepts she wanted me to review with them. She showed us the place in hall where we would be working (a luxurious carpet area next to the water fountains and apparently the main thoroughfare for 2nd graders.)

At my tutoring job I have groups every 30 minutes so I figured I was in store for something similar. I asked what time they needed to be back and she said 11:00. Using my amazing calculation skills, I quickly ascertained that I would have these 3 students for an hour and a half. Wow, she must: 1)have some confidence in my teaching ability 2) have no confidence in my teaching ability and thinks it will take forever to review or 3) is ready to have a break from these kiddos.

What ever the reason, I was happy to take them. We drew pictures of fractions, put fractions on a number line, compared fractions, and played a fraction game.

At the end of the lesson, Burke turned to Shelly and said,”Alex has a really nice mom.”

Then turning to me, Burke said, “You are really nice.”

I said, “You should tell Alex that.”

We packed up our things and went back into the classroom.

I watched Burke go up to Alex and say, “Your mom is really nice.”

Alex stared at Burke.

The left side of his mouth turned up in a snarl.

And he rolled his eyes.

Yes, he did.

Oh boy, buddy. If you think I’m embarrassing at 3rd grade, just wait to see what I have planned for your 5th grade year.

A Wintery 1st Birthday

My adorable nephew Corey just celebrated his 1st birthday. While we weren’t able to be in Canada and celebrate with them, his mom Deanna sent along some photos. I knew I had to share them with you so you could see a 1st birthday through the eyes of a  new mommy. Enjoy!

This past December we celebrated our son’s first birthday! I was pretty darn excited to plan for this event; I think I started designing the invitations in October!

corey invite Seeing that our Champ wasn’t really into anything in particular, I had thought a winter themed party would be appropriate and fun. We had decided to only invite family members to keep it somewhat intimate and hopefully not too overwhelming for Corey.

The planning went pretty well. We had established the menu and cake in advance so no need to stress, right? Wrong! Stress is a funny little beast. Having never really decorated a cake before I would highly recommend not piping a cake the day of the party!! Lesson learned for next year.

cake and surrounding objectsThe finished product! This occasion was my first attempt at making a cake and ‘piping’ a cake…how hard could it be, really? Ace of Cakes makes it look easy….yah, well I’m no Duff Goldman and my first cake looked a bit rookie..practice makes perfect I guess. I made a banana cake in the shape of the #1 with cream cheese icing. It was pretty delicious actually ( I’m hoping the taste made up for the presentation).

birthday vinylWe were debating on putting up a ‘Happy Birthday’ sign and decided that this one would be perfect. Everyone would see it and it would be subtle at the same time.

buffet of foodThe Smörgåsbord. Seeing as we had decided on a winter themed party, we thought it would be fitting if we served up food that somewhat complimented our theme. Candies, chocolates and finger foods were high on our menu list.

crackers and dipI’d have to say the most fun (and maybe the most delicious) treat on our table was the pine-cone-shaped-roasted-almond-cream-cheese-bacon-dill-pickle dip. You may think that food combination is a bit crazy, but all I’d say to that is don’t knock it until you try it. I think this presentation made up for the cake.

rice krispie treat snowflakesA fun spin put on your run of the mill regular rice krispie square. The only downfall would be the base product is not like cookie dough so you can’t re-use the treat base once you’ve cut your shape out. I tried and the rice krispie pieces cracked and crumbled.

hot cocoa barOur winter themed party sported a hot chocolate and apple cider bar. I had read about this idea on a website and thought it was a fantastic one. I mean who doesn’t like chocolate and when you can add marshmallows, whipped cream and more chocolate to it, it’s like heaven in a mug!

corey looking at cakeUltimate cake test. After singing Happy Birthday, we divvied up the cake and gave Corey his first piece ever! He studied it for about 2 seconds and then devoured it … with both hands! He didn’t stop plowing the cake into his mouth until he was finished.

eating cake

One hand would not suffice.

corey stuffing face with cake

He likes it, he really likes it!

opening presentsPresent time. Corey really wasn’t into opening gifts this year so I did the honors.

party gangThe party gang!

Doug and CoreyI’m pooped Dad! Playing with presents and eating cake is tiring.

Thanks for sharing Deanna! Can’t wait to see what you have planned for Corey’s 2nd birthday!

Close Your Eyes Kiddos

Last week I was walking through Toys R Us looking for the cheapest perfect birthday gift for Andrew’s classmate. Cherishing the alone time I was having, I decided to walk around and get some ideas for Caroline’s birthday. She will be two next month and loves Elmo. I’ve been thinking about doing an Elmo party for her so I went in search of all things Elmo.

I came to the party aisle and stopped dead in my tracks. Something was immediately disturbing to me. How can they make this? What cruel people think this is appropriate?

Elmo PinataYes, folks, an Elmo pinata.

Just think about it for a moment.

Elmo, the adorable, cuddly, lovable friend of your child’s getting his body bashed with a bat.

Imagine the terror that will strike in the minds of little kids when they witness this.

Shouldn’t this product come with a label? In the event that you use incredibly poor judgement and decide to have this at your child’s birthday party, you will be required to pay for 3 years of therapy.

I’m pretty sure we will pass on this and just opt for the Elmo napkins and plates.

The Gift of Words

I’m sure you have all seen the subway art that has been floating around. I have wanted to attempt this for the past year but never did. I decided that my dream present for Christmas would be a Silhouette machine which would help me make the subway art. My wonderful husband took my ever so subtle hint of leaving the website up and mentioning there was a sale going on and surprised me with one for Christmas. I was thrilled but a little nervous at the same time. I have the habit of really wanting something but once I get it I wait and wait to open it. I thought about it, studied it, pondered it some more, and eventually was ready to try the machine last week.

I decided my first project would be a birthday present for my sister Kelly, who’s birthday is today. Not sure if subway art correlates with Kelly’s taste or not but I’m pretty sure I’ll never know since she lives 800 miles away.

I asked Kelly to email me her top places, foods, holidays she thinks about when she thinks of New Orleans. It’s our hometown so I knew she would have some special places she associates with it.

Here’s her list: Commander’s Palace, street car, beignets, Jazz Fest, City Park, Mardi Gras, & 5 Happiness. I took Kelly’s ideas and added to them.

I first started by painting an 11 x 14 canvas gray.

Next I chose some of the words I wanted to use. I typed them into the Silhouette program for sizing and then printed them out on vinyl. After a few more steps I carefully peeled away the paper and attached the vinyl words to the canvas. Here’s the I don’t think I’ll ever finish shot halfway point.

partially completed subway artThe work in the beginning was tedious but I eventually got the hang of it and moved at a quicker pace. Once I finished putting on all the words I modged podged it so it would have a protective covering.

Here’s the final product:

final subway art product

Kelly, this is going into the mail today for you. Hope you enjoy it. Happy Birthday!

I think this would be so much fun to do with other cities, places you’ve visited, holiday themes, etc. I would like to do one which lists every street my husband and I have ever lived on since we were kids.

If you could have a piece of subway art, what would be on yours?


Anyone who knows me knows that I am totally hip and fashion forward.

I am on top of all the latest trends and can forecast the next big thing, like parachute pants and acid wash jeans.

No, I am not hip, fashion forward, or on top of any of the trends.

Some days I go to the mall in fear that Stacy and Clinton will jump out at me and stage a fashion intervention in the middle of The Gap.

Well folks…I’m hear to say I have made a step in the right direction.

It all started in Nordstrom’s when I started stalking the shoe department. I am not one of those people who receives a gift card and spends it immediately. I need to visit the item I’m considering on at least 5 separate occasions before I will commit to buying them.

It only took me a month and 3 visits this time.

I bought them last week.

shoeThey are very comfortable and…completely on trend. So says Elle Magazine, Teen Vogue, and Seventeen Magazine. I’m sure InStyle and the adult Vogue will be publishing about them any day now. But until then I’m holding onto Teen Vogue’s praise of my beloved.

I don’t think high heeled loving Stacy would be shouting, “Shut the front door!” when I walk out in my TOMS but I think it’s an improvement from flip flops (at least in the winter).

Of course the other reason I bought them is their policy of giving away one pair of shoes for every pair that’s purchased. Let’s face it. I’m a humanitarian changing the world.

Plus, I won’t lie. I feel a bit hip walking around in these shoes.

Safety is a Bummer

As we were driving home from school the other day, Andrew suddenly announced,

“I like fire drills better than tornado drills.”

Why’s that?

“Fire drills, you get to go outside.”

What do you do for tornado drills?

“We all have to go into the bathroom and put our bums towards the door. It’s so boring.”

Safety in the eyes of a 5 year old.

Muffin Love

Many of us at my house are snackers. We love to have a little something between meals. One of the most tasty snacks we enjoy are Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. Now notice I said tasty and not healthy. Just reading a list of the ingredients could give you a heart attack. They have the tiniest bit of pumpkin in them so they qualify as an okay snack in my book.

I first saw this recipe at Money Saving Mom. I made them last fall and the boys loved them. I tried to make them in the spring but couldn’t find pumpkin in a can anywhere. So this fall I got smart. I stockpiled probably 10 cans of pumpkin. Each time a new can came home my husband would look at the can and shake his head in disbelief. But believe you me, he enjoys these just as much as the boys. Plus, he’s the biggest snacker of all of us. I have trouble keeping snack foods around because of him.

Here’s the recipe (I’ll tell you how I have modified it a bit):

Made this recipe yesterday and it made 70 mini muffins

4 eggs

2 cups of sugar (yes, I said tasty, not healthy)

1 (16 ounce) can of pumpkin (I can only always find 15 oz.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4cups vegetable oil (original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups) – it’s a ton of oil, maybe could substitute some of it for applesauce

3 cups flour (I use half white, half whole wheat)

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I put in a half bag of the mini chips)

1. In large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, and oil until smooth.

2. Mix dry ingredients together and mix into pumpkin mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 16-20 minutes (9-11 minutes for the mini muffins)

I would love a new recipe for a different type of muffin. Let me know if you have a recipe and would like to share it.