Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Recommendations

Skimmers, recommendations are in bold. Aside from me, this month you get recs from Suze at Straight on the Ground and Lori, my Fairy Godmother.  I hope you guys like that I'm sprinkling recommendations of non-bloggers in with bloggers! You'll get to know the people in my neighborhood a little bit better.

April Recs from Suze @ Straight on the Ground
Links under photo, please go check her out!
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1.  Paul Simon's entire catalog.  As you may or may not know, I am a lifelong Paul Simon fan.  I love everything he has produced, and I think there's something for everybody in his music.  As Bob Costas of all people so eloquently put, Paul Simon has written the soundtrack of our lives.  He's just really, really great.  Despite the fact that he and his wife Edie Brickell were arrested recently for disorderly conduct, which makes me sad.  I have travelled all over seeing him in concert, and it's amazing every time.  What's your favorite Paul Simon song?

2.   Julep's Bare Face cleansing oil.  I know, I know.  Oil?!  How does it clean faces?  Well, I don't know how, but it does.  And it's amazing on my skin.  I have sensitive skin that is dry in places and oily in others.  This has helped balance it out and left my face feeling and looking better than ever.  I love this stuff!  I go make up free all the time now.

3.  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is my very favorite book of all time.  Here's the description:  "The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa."  Sound good?  It is.  

4.  Lavender.  Lavender is what I use in all aspects of my cleaning - body and home.  I love the scent and they say it has so many benefits to mind and body.  I think it's relaxing.  I throw a bag of dried lavender in with my clothes in the dryer, I use the essential lavender oil in my detergents and cleaning products, in my bath, on my body, etc.  I even eat lavender-flavored foods!  I think it's delightful.  My next step will be growing some of my own.  I am lucky to know people who do that and dry it themselves.  I'll let you know how that goes- I have a very non-green thumb.

5.  Evening meditation.  Something about meditation just helps me stay centered.  Whether it's religious-centered or not, I think there's something beautiful in taking some moments "away from it all" inside the mind.  I really like to listen to meditation playlists on YouTube.  I'm totally one of those people listening to the sample relaxation CDs at Target.  I love them!

1. Candle Melts: I love candles but not the flame so I use candle melts and I use them daily. Because of this I have searched the world over for the perfect candle melts and stumbled upon Candles by Victoria. The scent shots last me two whole days and fills the house with scent. The number of scents they have is incredible. 

2. Tea: I am a coffee and tea drinker and my favorite tea is Davidson's Sun, Moon and Stars. I found them at a small shop in Owego, NY but since that is a hike for me I do what I do best and shop Amazon.

3. Mascara: I love makeup. I like to try different brands but my go to now and forever more, as long as they discontinue it,  is Loreal Voluminous Mascara the original. 
4. Raymour & Flanigan Cindy Crawford Brynn denim slipcover Sofas, loveseat, chairs. They are comfortable, they are sturdy, they are washable. Yep washable. I don't care if I didn't have the dogs I have, I would have these sofas. They are washable!!! I spill. Enough said. 

5. Pepperidge Farms Sandwich Thins. These are the only bread item I have found that hold my hamburger, ketchup, mayo and lettuce together and do not disappear. They are thin so I taste burger and fixings not just bread. 

1. Books: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, Lost Lake by Sarah Allen Addison, The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

2. Self tanners: Banana Boat Summer Color for body and Jan Marini Bioglycolic Sunless Self Tanner for face. This Jan Marini is fucking magic. I used to use Clarins and Clarins can't hold a candle to this. I mix the body with my regular body lotion and the face with my regular face lotion. No streaks.

3. Hair stuff: I don't blow dry my hair. The only time it gets blow dried is when it gets done at the salon. So you don't want most of your hair recommendations from me. However, I don't wash it daily either, thanks to my friend LLCJam who persuaded me after many years that I, too, could go without washing every day even if I had oily hair. She was right. I've tried a zillion dry shampoos. Then I got Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo. Hold the phone, this is the holy grail of the dry shampoo and I don't need to try any others. As someone who never blow dries their hair, you may suspect I don't use a lot of product and you'd be right. I do use Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray to add texture, especially on my non-washing days. It rules. At 5.99 each, these are power houses.
4.  Sea salt caramels from Whole Foods. Kelly brought these down for us this weekend. Everyone left and I was left with them, full of glee to hoard them all to myself. Since my bridesmaid dress is roomy, I can eat all of these, right? Seriously, they're like crack for mid-30s women who don't actually do crack.
5. Essie Pink a Boo nail polish. It's a neutral but the sparkles give it pop.
6. Place to buy nail polish on the cheap: The prices rock. Check it out especially if you like Essie, OPI and Zoya.

Thanks to Suze & Lori for their recommendations.

What are you recommending this month?

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Linking up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions.
 Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

She-Ra Power Breakfast Muffins

I typically avoid "good for you" muffins because they tend to taste like cardboard to me. I tried these on a whim because I needed a good freezer muffin with some oomph behind it: one that's good for you, and filling. This fits the bill and I have to say I really like these. Original recipe from Suzanne Shares here.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
A shake or two of cinnamon if you're into that
1/3 cup flax seed
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 bananas
1 cup of apple sauce
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk (I used skim and 2% at different times. I don't know if soy, almond, whatever will work)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with liners.

Mix all ingredients up to vanilla, Mix well and set aside. Add vanilla through milk to a separate bowl, and mix with a hand mixer until well-blended. Mix in dry ingredients with spoon, add chocolate chips (more or less to your liking).

Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way. Bake 15-17 minutes. Recipe makes 24.

Now for the tip portion of this parade:

If you make muffins or cupcakes, life will be easier if you use an Oxo large cookie scoop to fill them. Fill it up, release into tin, boom, done. Onto the next one.
If you are freezing, cool muffins and then flash freeze in the freezer before packing them in a ziploc bag. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that there's no waste. They travel well to work and they're good for you.
Healthy but still good.
Chocolate in my breakfast?
Come hither, muffin.
What's for breakfast?

Tomorrow: Monthly Recommendations.
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Martinis & Bikinis

Monday, April 28, 2014

TWTW - last in April version

Friday night I managed to get to the liquor store, Sam's, and the grocery store before the skies opened up. I prepped fruits (pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe) and veggies (red and yellow peppers, cucumbers, celery, carrots) for the week before picking KVSR and her dog Bucey up at the train station. We had wine and cheese and talk for dinner, then we watched the dogs jackass around. Mae and Geege loved having Bucey to play with. Gus surveyed his kingdom with disregard for dog foolishness.
Saturday KVSR and I picked Kelly up from the airport, met Kim for lunch at Brother's, stopped to see Laura's mom and brother and pick up our bridesmaid dresses, and then headed to Kim's shower hosted by her cousins and aunt. Kelly and I did a twin photo shoot - she was wearing flip flops before so it was even better.
The house was amazing, the decor was beautiful, and the food and company were excellent. I saw some friends I haven't seen in many years and am excited to see them again at the wedding. It was nice to see Kim's mom too, it's been too long since I've seen her as well. The shower ended with a spectacular show.
We were pooped after a long day and wound down with some wine and yoga pants on my couches.
On Sunday, the Boston contingent left early. MFD went out to work at 10 a.m. After dropping KVSR off at her parents' house, I spent the afternoon in a silent house save for the washer and dryer humming, surrounded by sleeping dogs exhausted from playing with a puppy, drinking coffee and reading a book. I didn't turn the TV on once, not even for the Flyers. Bliss.

Other Sunday things:
-Quinoa egg bake for breakfasts this week (bottom photos 1 & 2, quinoa sinks to the bottom to form a crust)
-Mac & cheese with ham for Sunday dinner
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On Mondays I'm doing a picture thing with Kelli at She Crab Soup. If you'd like to participate, here are the prompts through July. This is my photo for the prompt shadow.
No. Just Gus.
How the F is next weekend the first weekend in May already?

Tomorrow: She-Ra power breakfast muffins.
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Linking up with Kelli for

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Five: Songs from the 2000s

Friday! Today my friend Suze of Straight on the Ground is Friday Fiving it. Suze hails from St. Louis and just celebrated her 30th birthday on Easter. She's a daily read of mine because she's real and also she speaks French (and teaches it). Tres cool, no? I hope she'll be a daily read of yours too if she isn't already. All the places you can find Suze and follow her are at the bottom of this post. Check her out!
Hi, everyone!  It's Suze from Straight on the Ground.  It's my pleasure to be featured on Steph's blog today.  I "met" Steph a long time ago, and I think she's great.  I also think Fridays are great.  And you know, this is my first Friday as a thirty year old.  I thought I would feel really old at thirty- I think mostly due to the fact that I hang around 14-018 year olds all day.  Not in a creepy way, but in an it's-my-job way.  I'm a high school teacher, and some days I feel super hip.  Other days, I get serious reality checks that I am not real hip.  But now with my thirtieth birthday nearly a week behind me, I'm feeling good and excited about this new decade. They say it's the best!

But I have been reflecting on my youth a little, between my birthday and the Back in the Day link up.  So I thought for this week's Friday Five, I would share five formative songs of my youth.

First of all, when I was a teenager, I was way into pop punk.  I lived a straight edge life style, but I could rock with the best of them.  Only if I was home by midnight, of course.  Ole Nancy and Mike had something to say if I wasn't home by then!  But I wore chucks and jeans and band tshirts and went to shows.  In fact, as an adult, I got my favorite pop punk lyric tattooed on my foot.  It comes from this song- as does my blog title!- by New Found Glory.  Enjoy.
Even though I was a super hardcore straight edge punk kid, I was secretly way into pop.  I loved NSync- I even had their poster in my closet!  I knew every word to every song- still do.  But this was my fave.  
Yes, I chose the TRL video of it for extra nostalgia factor.

When my oh so serious boyfriend and I broke up in high school, I drove around listening to this song (from my taped off the radio cassette!) in my mini van.
I also had some serious rhythm- I was a dancing queen.  You couldn't control me out on the dance floor. My favorite song to dance to was this one.  Still kind of is.  If it comes on when we're out somewhere, watch out.  
And of course, I was a huge Nelly fan.  Not just because I'm from the Lou and I'm proud, but because he was great.  

And that's me!  What were your favorite songs circa 2000?  

Linking up with  Meet @ the Barre

Linking up with Joy as always

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday Thoughts - your weekly dose of random

1. This week in hijinks:
  • Best time to find out your sweater has a hole? After you get to work. I told my coworker lady friends that of course it was on the back since this sweater had no elbows, which is where unsightly holes usually manifest for me at work. 
  • I thought I forgot my lunch bag on the shuttle bus Monday. I looked everywhere for it, no dice. It appeared inside the front door on Tuesday morning. doo doo doo doo
  • Purple Heart did not pick up my donations that were left out for them on Monday. Purple Heart's loss is Goodwill's gain.  
  • I fell twice during the dog walk on Monday night due to tangled dog leashes. It was like a fucking Benny Hill skit out there. 
  • I walked around Center City Philadelphia with my zipper down on Tuesday while running a Groupon related errand for MFD. Oh, the irony. 
2. Another gem from Entertainment Weekly's The Bullseye. This page is consistently my single favorite page in any magazine. I get crazy when MFD tries to mention something from The Bullseye to me before I've read it. 

3. Are you a picture whore? Check out She Crab Soup's Picture Practice link up every Monday to see everyone's take on that week's prompt, and to share your own.  Here's the post that contains the prompts through July.
4. Out of like 45 tulip bulbs that were planted by my fabulous garden guru Lori a few years ago, these six remain in bloom. Back to the drawing board next year. I'll be planting bulbs this fall. Or begging/paying someone else to plant bulbs this fall... 
Goddamn pine cones every goddamn where
5. Yesterday I talked about weird guilt I got from deciding to bring in a once a month cleaning person. Something I had zero guilt about? Getting Hugo and his crew who did our retaining wall to do our initial yard clean up. I would've sold my soul to ensure I didn't have to do that. It took them a few hours on Tuesday what it would take us a few days to do. I did the whole kit & kaboodle by myself last year because MFD was on crutches. I fucking hate yard work, especially the big initial clean up after winter. I could cry I am so happy. Now we can hose off furniture, clean cushions, reorganize the shed, put out lanterns,  plant shit and spruce things up - you know, the fun things - instead of wrestling sticks and ivy and hauling it all away. F U yard work! Maintenance only for me this year! Suck it!

6. The Man of Steel. Have you seen this? Why is Amy Adams so unlikable in this? Climbing into a goddamn glacier. Yes, I know she's rabid reporter Lois Lane. And Superman! Supe, as Richard Pryor calls him - I couldn't help but compare him to the Superman in Christopher Reeves movies. This Superman makes a mess of Manhattan - sorry, Metropolis - and then never cleans it up! Supe always went back and resealed water towers,  lasered shit back together with his eyes, etc. This Superman doesn't give a good crap about mass destruction from his Zod fight. Rigoddamndiculous. And what's up with a movie in which Diane Lane is old!
7. Since it sometimes seems like a long time between Shit MFD Said posts...I got this text yesterday:
8. This jem. I wanted to include it in my Back in My Day post but I forgot. This is Laura and MFD at the Sophomore Dance. I freaking love this picture. Laura, can I have it in a frame? You know all frames in my house are black.
9. The mother effing Wallet Watch is mere days from being done and I had three slip ups this week. This is MY GAME and I'm crapping all over it. I blame MFD for at least two, so expect blame shifting in my link up post on May 6 when I expose my sins. How are you doing? 
10. Ecard of the week. Ladies, you know who you are:

Do you guys read Straight on the Ground? Suze is a french teacher from St. Louis, wife, mom, and the inventor of the Back in My Day link up everyone enjoyed so much on Tuesday. If you're not familiar with her, go check her out on her blog or follow her on Facebook!
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Linking up with Kristin for Stuff & Things

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Humpday Confessions: Every once in a while, you have to say screw it

You can link up your Humpday Confessions with Vodka & Soda  below. Typepad is down. Kathy's Humpday Confessions will return to her blog when the internet gets its head out of its own ass. 
I'm a do it yourselfer. Not in the crafty sense, but in other ways. Recently my schedule has been packed, work has been busy, MFD is working seven days a week so he's not around a lot to take care of the stuff he usually does, and I feel behind. You know this drill. You've all felt the pinch, regardless of what the factors are that led you to it. 

When I feel behind, I get bitchy. MFD offers suggestions and I yell at him because I'm mean when I feel cornered.  He's been on my ass for over four years to have someone come in and clean once a month to lighten the load, and I always reply in a Zuul voice, "No, I have to do it myself. Who do you think I am? I can't have someone else clean my house." Plus I figured he was saying it just to get out of doing his chores. No one gets out of here alive!
This time when he said it, a voice in the back of my head said why not? That's a week off of cleaning, a week of freedom! Then the voice immediately followed with Oh no bitch. Who do you think you are? Clean your own house. I expect  to clean my own house, I have a schedule for it, I blog about cleaning my own house, for crap's sake. 

What's wrong with this picture? There's a problem and a solution that we're lucky enough to have the money for once I stop buying makeup I don't wear. Yet I resist this solution. All the real problems in the world and I'm making this one?

I'm making something that isn't a thing a thing. That's what assholes do! Now I'm the asshole, and you're thinking this snotty asshole is complaining about getting cleaning help? She is an idiot. Get off of your high horse kemosabe, because I'm telling you there's something you complain about that comes with a simple solution, and since it's such a focus for you, you don't realize you're being an idiot about it.

We all have an internal struggle about something that is totally unimportant in the grand scheme of life, but it becomes a thing because of our own expectations - our own, not anyone else's. Maybe your thing that you over think and that induces guilt is buying cupcakes to bring to school instead of making them. Or missing a soccer game because of work. Or feeling too rushed to do a nice braid for a recital. Or being too tired to do something you always do. Or ordering dinner because you're just not in the mood to cook. Maybe this thing changes from week to week. Whatever it is, we all have something we feel we should do but don't have time for or don't want to, and when we don't do it we feel guilty about it. 

Consider all the roles we play - wife/husband/partner, mother/father, worker, friend, family member, coach, volunteer, maid, cook, etc. - and how our feelings of guilt or failure when we're not doing it all start and end with ourselves. Don't crucify yourself over something you're not doing, whether it's because there's not enough hours in the day or because you simply choose not to. 

You can't do everything. I can't do everything. I definitely can't tell other people that they can't do everything and then think that I can. So I'm saying screw it. I'm going to find a monthly cleaning person (any local ladies have referrals?) and I'm not going to feel guilty about it. I'm letting myself off the hook and giving myself the gift of time instead of shoes or makeup. And MFD gets the gift of being right this one time. Enjoy MFD! Hashtag YOLO. 
Tell me - what's your thing that you need to give yourself a break on?

Humpday Confessions Link Up - I'm not sure WTF is going on with the triple links, but I only see one set in the HTML. Sorry ladies!

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Linking up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions.
 Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday
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