Monday, November 30, 2009
My Christmas Club check came from work - and while most of it is going to bills and household "staples" (which included a trip to Costco for TP, paper plates, napkins, abundance of fruits and veggies, cereal, pepperoni . . . gotta have pepperoni . . . and cleaning supplies), I am able to actually put some of it towards Christmas gift purchases. The problem is - I'm having a hard time shopping this year. I mean - a really hard time shopping.
The thing is, I think PG and I have been so focused on NOT spending money the past 6 months, that spending money right now is REALLY REALLY hard. I did not brave the "Black Friday" crowds and opted to stay home in bed (which was totally a better place to be, in my opinion). But Saturday afternoon I decided to venture out and do a little of that Holiday shopping. I purchased - Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Me - with a couple hundred in the pocket book, and nothing purchased for christmas gift giving. Yes, something is off in the universe. Hmmmm . . .
But, should I feel bad about that? I mean - we ALL say that it's not about the gifts - right? The spirit of Christmas is so much more than that. I SO hate to say this - and I swear I have never said it before (and hope to never say it again), but I think I am having a hard time finding the spirit right now. Hmmmm . . . this worries me . . . .
I am a pretty lucky Mommy - because my children are NOT big on the toy front. Don't get me wrong - they have tons of toys. They play just like any other child out there. However, when it comes to actually "wanting" things - they really . . . . don't. Katie still can't come up with a list for gifts that she'd like Santa to bring her. And while I know that Ella is still very young - I can't seem to even come up with anything that she would be super excited to have (that is - other than a package of Crayola markers and a role of tape - she'd be pretty thrilled with either of those two things). I think that we've been so focused on "Needs" vs. "Wants" in our house lately, that my own children can't come up with any "Wants" this year. That makes me kind of sad, though. I mean, I know I should be so proud of them that they don't want all this "stuff", but don't most kids want Santa to bring them, at least, something?
So I guess I am looking to all of you - my blog friends - to help me out. How can I find the spirit, in the midst of sales adds and neighbors gabbing about their multiple purchases and "You haven't even started shopping yet? You're not going to find anything for your kids." comments? I don't want it to be about that. I want it to be about the Spirit of the Season. Tomorrow I am starting my Daily December album, and I'm hoping to not have too many "blah" days in the album. So, how do you find the spirit? Please share - your story might help. . . . (and Thanks for listening to my latest "blah" moment.)
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Here are a few shots of the album so far: I'm really happy with the cover. I've decided to use an 8x8 chipboard album, and have added additional 6x6 plastic sheets, 8x8 plastic sheets, and 8x8 transparencies in between. My goal was to step out of the comfort zone (which would have been a standard album with same size pages inside). But I really wanted to do something different here.
I also wanted to do everything with supplies I had IN MY OWN store! I didn't want to go out and spend any money (or - only wanted to spend very little), and I'm proud that I really followed that idea. Like most scrapbookers, I have a huge amount of supplies that I've collected through the years, so I went shopping in my own bins and containers - and those of my sister ; ) - and used what I had on hand. The only thing I bought for the project was the 8x8 chipboard binder (on sale for $8.99 at a local store), the 1-25 numbers stickers ($3.99), and 2 packs of matching transparency embellishments ($5.00 total). Not that bad. All of the paper I used and the other embellishments are things I had on hand.
I found a red lunch bad in my supplies and decided to do something fun with it. LOVE it! I might have Katie write a note on the little sheet that pulls out. What a sweet remembrance that would be.
I am really happy with the wide variety of textures, colors and shapes that became the final album, and I can't wait for December 1 - to start collecting my thoughts. This is definitely going to be an album for my family to enjoy for years to come.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The girls and I just finished these little Thanksgiving bookmarks that we will be giving out as favors for our Thanksgiving festivities this year. We so look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving at my sisters this year - it's going to be a wonderful time!
My Grandma Josephine used to always make favors for everyone each holiday celebration. From crocheted Turkeys and Easter Bunnies, to the Angel ornament I showed you earlier this week. Those favors are some of the warmest memories I have of my childhood and the holidays, and I decided that my girls and I will continue that tradition and make little favors for everyone in our family from now on. We had lots of fun making these for Thanksgiving (and the glue is almost off of Ella's fingers!) So Cute!
I do wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share a bit of my life and thoughts with you in the form of this blog. I began this in July simply as a way to release creative energy I was storing up, and it has become so much more to me. I have discovered my inner writer, and now have dreams of some day publishing my work in a tangible book form (thanks to all of you!) I have met new friends who stop by and leave me such wonderful messages and comments -you have no idea how much you warm my heart with each word you type! And I have discovered a way to laugh more at life - the good and rough parts of it. Thank you so much for taking the time to be a part of this blog story. I send you warm Thanksgiving Wishes and look forward to more time spent with you this holiday season!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
We have had a rough financial year in our house. Don’t worry – we are completely fine and still able to enjoy our Starbucks coffee here and there! But we have to really budget our life right now, as late incentive checks and cut in salaries have caused a big strain on our pocket book. The economy has hit so many people – and we have fallen right in line with that. I always tell PG, though, that God always takes care of us, and it is so very true. While we may have struggles week to week with our cash flow, we always have a roof over our head and a warm dinner on our stove. We have our jobs, and we are so very grateful for them (especially since I can look around me and see a number of loved ones and friends who have lost theirs.) We truly have everything we need to live a very comfortable life. And most important of all - we have each other – which is truly all that really matters. Even in the midst of the struggles in the world . . . somehow (when we have been down to our last pennies and counting the hours to pay day) an Angel manages to stop by our house – offering and providing something to make it a little easier for us. Truly – a blessing.
Who are my Angels?
My Mom: Remember when I told you last week that I was dealing with that cold and my Mom made me call the doctor? Well, not only did she insist I call the Dr, but she went and picked up my medicine for me, and she paid for both of my prescriptions. She knew that we were 2 days away from pay day (which usually means we are down to those last pennies) and she wouldn’t take money from me. Mom – THANK YOU so much for buying my medicine, and for being my Angel.
My Sister: Who is always there to back me up and offer help (in so many ways). She can hear the tone in my voice and know immediately when I am in distress. She is my rock. THANK YOU for being my Angel, K.
The nice lady at Cold Stone Creamery: So last night I went to Katie’s parent teacher conference. Katie has had a wonderful year in school so far . . . and I am SO proud of her. When I returned home after meeting w/her teacher, I told PG that I wanted to take her out for Ice Cream, as a special treat for all of her hard word. Since something like this is a “non-necessity”, we looked online for coupons, but couldn’t find any. We decided to take the girls anyway. While in line waiting to order our treats, we noticed a number of people had coupons in their hands. (“Bummer”, we thought.) Then all of a sudden, the lady behind us handed us an extra one that she had. We saved 50% on our treat! 50%!!! SERIOUSLY! THANK YOU, Cold Stone Angel (that’s what I call her now.)
It seems like the holidays always bring out the Angel in all of us, and this year is no exception. I am surrounded by Angels. But my plan, now, is to be an Angel to someone else. To do something to try and make someone else’s life a little easier this holiday season. Perhaps I can help a friend by watching their child while they Christmas shop, or bake some extra cookies for an elder neighbor. One thing I’ve decided to do for sure, is take my daughters shopping and have each of them pick out one toy that we can donate to our local “Toys for Tots” drop box. I think that this year it is important that we focus on how blessed we are (even though we don’t always feel that way), and I want them to learn how important it is to give to others.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Speaking of turkey (and since it IS Thanksgiving week) I ask you . . .
This photo was taken by Phil a few years ago, during a visit to a local pumpkin patch and farm. We stood watching this turkey for a quite a while when Phil braved getting up close and snatched this shot just in time. The second the camera "clicked", this turkey pecked Phil . . . and we laughed and laughed (then laughed some more after seeing this awesome shot.) This has been our posterchild for Thanksgiving ever since, and I just had to share it with you this week.
So, go out there today and hug your turkey, ok? ; )
Sunday, November 22, 2009
So today, I am thankful for LIFE.
I am thankful for waking up, for Starbucks coffee and laughing little girls, for a husband who makes me laugh many many times every single day, for a loving home, for a mother who still tries to take care of me, for Christmas music and decorations, for art and being able to express myself in so many forms and ways, for a great sister who understands my craziness and still loves me, for a mother-in-law/co-worker who I can call my friend, for another mother-in-law who helps me at every turn, for lavender lotion, for Costco, for Mucinex and for going to sleep at 9:00pm, for days off with the family, for new internet friends (Hi Kiki! and Scrapwordsmom!) and great longtime old friends (Kath, Karen, Cindi and Pam), for baby dolls and fuzzy blankies, for twinkle lights and magic moments, for snuggle time and hearing "I love you", for grilled cheese sandwiches and hummus . . . these are just a few of the things that have been making up my life this weekend . . . and these are a few of the things I am most thankful for. And yes, what a great life it is!
Oh, and yes, since the Christmas tree is going up this weekend - I felt it was appropriate to update the blog to a Christmas theme. To me - it really is the most wonderful time of the year, and I just couldn't wait to get it started.
And one more thing . . . . if you read my "Men need rest and yadda yadda yadda" post from Thursday night (click here to get to it), I'll ask to you to please read the "ADDED NOTE" that I put in there. I felt the need to update that post, since my PG really came through the next day!!! Just another thing to be grateful for! ; )
So, what are some things of your day to day life that you are grateful for? I'd love to know.
Friday, November 20, 2009
She's a beauty, isn't she? And I can't even believe she is mine. You see, I am NOT a "Coach" kind of girl. Not that I don't LOVE my Coach, (this Coach is my most cherished purse), but I have never in my life owned a coach purse, until this one. I take that back - I do believe my sister gave me one of her's probably 20 years ago. But that is about it. So, now to my story of My Coach and Me . . .
Last summer I visited a Coach Outlet with my dear sister-in-law, Maria, and her dear husband, my brother-in-law Angelo. We had just completed an awesome week visiting them in New York and ended our vacation with a visit to a Coach Outlet store in Pennsylvania. I found a particular purse that I just loved for about $180 dollars (that is with the outlet store discount). I contemplated buying that purse for a good 15 or 20 minutes. I would pick it up, walk around with it, try it on my shoulder, then return it to it's display with no purchase being made. I must have gone through this 5 or 6 times. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law kept encouraging me to buy it, but I knew that the price tag was WAY OVER what I would EVER spend on a purse. WAY WAY OVER. My sister-in-law tried telling me that I deserved to treat myself to it. I refused. And finally, we left the store. No Coach purse in hand.
And I was completely o.k. with that.
Fast forward 1 year later . . . and another trip to New York. This time I was there for the christening of my Godson (Maria and Angelo's son, Carlo). It was an absolutely amazing trip, and I am so blessed and fortunate to have been asked to be Godmother to this darling baby boy. My brother-in-law comes from a very traditional Italian family (an amazingly wonderful group of people who I absolutely adore). The christening was such a joyous and special day, and we followed many of the traditions of the family, including having the Godparents dress the baby in his baptismal outfit (with the whole family looking on). Could you imagine how nervous I was having 15 Italians watching me dress this first born baby boy? My hands were shaking!
Anyway, after Baby Carlo was dressed, the Godparents were presented with gifts from Maria, Angelo and Carlo. I thought perhaps a lovely picture frame with a photo of Carlo or a pin or something. But, no . . . . my sister-in-law and brother-in-law went all out and gave me TWO Coach purses. One for Summer . . .
. . . and one for Winter (which is the one my friend commented on tonight). I still can't believe it. I opened the beautifully wrapped packages, and saw my eyes looking at two Coach purses. My eyes welled up with tears, and I hugged my sister-in-law. I still can't believe they did that for me. She looked at me and said, "We know that you would never go and buy yourself one, so we had to go and buy you two. Now you have one for Summer and Winter." Seriously. Isn't that the absolute kindest thing? I still can't believe it. TWO Coach purses . . . . for me. Seriously.
A few months after that, Maria, Angelo and Carlo came to Chicago for a visit. It was the end of July, right in the middle of Summer. And you know what? I was NOT using my Coach purse. Why not? you ask? Well . . . because . . . . it was too nice. Too expensive. Too perfect to use. Seriously.
Don't worry . . . one look from my Italian Brother-in-law as he questioned why I wasn't using the purse and I knew that I had better use in NOW . . . OR ELSE! ; ) And I have used it, and now the Winter Coach, ever since. I've said it before - I am so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by the best people on this earth. Not because they give me Coach purses. But because they love me so much that they want to treat me to things I would never treat myself to. Because they take care of me. I am blessed because they are my family. So, there's the story of My Coach and Me. And Maria and Ang - I love you guys! Thank you so much for being so very good to me.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I'm going to try to write this post without begin too catty. . . honestly, I am. But sometimes when I get on a roll - you know what happens. But seriously, ladies. . . . WHAT IS IT WITH THE MEN IN OUR LIVES?
Ok, let me explain.
I am wondering how women, in general, can: take care of the kids, feed the dogs, wash, fold and put away the laundry, work a gazillion of hours a week, shop for groceries, plan for holidays, mail birthday & anniversary cards, pay the bills, do the homework with the kids, buy the birthday presents, drive the kids from here to there, take the garbage out, run to religious ed, drive to hair cuts, cook the meals, wash the dishes, read the mail, flush the toilets, get multiple family members up, fed, teeth brushed and clothes changes daily, AND do all of this while fighting a knock-down drag-out COLD . . . .yet when the male species is feeling a bit "under the weather", it's as if they completely and totally shut down. The "DO NOT DISTURB" sign goes up, and they are down for the count. Seriously. I mean . . . . do the kids "shut down" because I have a cold? No. Do the holidays pause until I'm feeling ready to catch up? No. Do the kids all stay quietly in bed until Mommy is feeling up to starting the day? Heck, No (although. . . . for a brief moment, lets imagine a quite morning at home with no children yelling for juice or for Tom & Jerry on the TV. Ah, how lovely that would be.)
I've been fighting a cold the past few days. Those of you in touch with me back in June know that I had a bit of pneumonia this past summer (I know - pneumonia. I felt like I was 80 years old, though. It was a crazy thing!) Anyway, since that little bought, everytime I get sick it goes straight to the lungs - not fun at all. Yesterday I called the Doc (no DrWebMD this time) and he started me on medication. I am already feeling improved, which is great. Last evening, PG (Phil Guy) had a late work function and as he was driving home he called me and said he wasn't feeling good. I truly felt awful for him, as I feared I may have shared my cold with him. He arrived home and went straight to bed to get some much needed rest. He has been working tons lately and I know this was his body's way of getting back.
This morning, he was down for the count. Truly. The kids were up, dressed, fed, out the door, and I was at work, before PG even knew we were gone. He rested all day. . . .and somewhere, deep inside, I think I was a bit jealous that he was able to do that. Rarely (if ever) does a day come when the kids are gone and I have a whole day to rest - even when I am sick. So I found myself feeling a bit resentful at my dear sweet PG this evening.
On my way to pick Ella up from my Mom's (yes, my Mom watched Ellie for me, so PG didn't have to watch her today . . . while resting), I had to call my sister on the phone to vent. My sister is so good, because I can simply start my conversation by saying, "You know we love him and he is a great guy and a great dad and yadda yadda yadda, but . . . . " and she knows to not take any offense to what I am going to say about my beloved PG. She lets me go on and get it off my chest. Then she always concludes with a, "But he's a great guy, and we're going to keep him!" and she is always right. The truth is - he is a GREAT GUY! (I wrote about my thankfulness for him just this Sunday, and that is SO VERY TRUE!)
It's interesting to me now that I am sitting back and writing this - to really take it all in. The truth is, is it right to be jealous when I am the one NOT taking care of MYSELF and listening to my body? Truthfully . . . why is it that so often women neglect themselves? We feel responsible to put everyone else in front of us, and fail to listen to and take care of ourselves. Does that make us the winner in life? I don't think so. To be honest, we have GOT to start listening to ourselves. At least I have to. You know - I mentioned above that I called the Doctor to get medicine. The truth is really that my Mom INSISTED I call. She phoned me Wednesday morning and told me, "Listen, your job is to take care of your daughters. My job is to take care of you. If I don't take care of you, then you won't be around to take care of your daughters. SO - call the doctor and get some medicine." And she was completely right. There goes that Mom, again. Just when I think I've got it all together - she's there - taking care of me. Hmmmmm. . . .
So, here we are. Another really good life lesson learned. And it all started from my dearest PG, needing a little rest, and from my Mom taking care of me. Feel better, honey! and Thanks, Mom! (Artwork credit: Campbell's Soup I: Chicken Noodle c. 1968 by Andy Warhol )
ADDED POST 11/21/2009: Ok, so I am following up with a brief update on this post. I have to tell you, Friday PG totally turned it around and was Mr. Mom! I had a vendor fair for Cuteybaby that I had to attended Friday afternoon/evening, and PG pulled out all the stops! He took the girls bowling, spent an hour in the arcade playing games, took them out to dinner, and was just an all around amazing guy! My sister called me Friday morning and said, "Wow . . . .you were really rough" in this above blog, but I guess I just needed to get it off my chest. I've always said that this blog is somewhat a therapy session to me. I try to always end it on a positive note, because I am always learning in life and always trying to focus on the good. Some days its just easier to do that than others. Ah, well. SO I had to let you know that Thursday he "yadda yadda yadda'd" and Friday he was there for me - being the amazing father that he is!!!!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
This week, I have to say, hands down, that I am so very very Thankful for my absolutely amazing, supportive, and wonderful husband, Phil.
My Phil Guy is truly 1 in a million, and I am so blessed that he asked me to walk through this life together, hand in hand, with him. He has been working so hard the past few weeks (years is more like it - but especially hard the past few weeks) and putting so much into his job. I have probably seen him a total of 10 hours in 2 weeks. While this is not good (and I worry constantly about him), I am so incredibly proud of him, all that he has accomplished, and all that he continues to do. He is an absolutely amazing father - truly - probably the best father I've ever seen. And our daughters adore him with all of their heart. And he truly makes me laugh like no one else on this earth.
I don't think I've ever told you how my husband became Phil Guy. It's a cute story to share. And believe it or not, we have my Mom to thank for it.
When I was in high school and college, my Mom was generally a bit concerned about my friends when she would first meet them. (Back then I didn't quite appreciate or understand why she was that way. Now that I am a Mom, I completely understand. . . funny how that happens, isn't it?) Anyway, Mom would always refer to any new friend of mine with a "that" in front of their name. That Sheila. That Pam. That John. To Mom, it didn't matter who they were - they could have been the son or daughter to the President of the United States, and I think Mom would still have referred to them with a that. If Mom really didn't like them, my friend would also be recognized not only with a that. . . but with their gender following their name. For example, Mom would say, "That Sheila Girl", "That John Guy". NOT a good thing. It would take a friend of mine a fairly long time to have the that dropped from their name (if they were lucky).
When Mom first met Phil, it was no exception . . . he was immediately "That Phil Guy" (uh-oh!) He was That Phil Guy for a while . . . but not forever (which IS a good thing!) One day, the that dropped. I don't remember exactly when, but all of a sudden . . . there was no "that".
But the Phil Guy stayed.
With ALL of us. And that is why we call him Phil Guy.
And I am so very thankful, and blessed, to have him.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Today I am visiting the Scrapbook Cellar to work on my December Daily Book. SO excited to be spending time with some ladies who totally fill me up with "GOOD" . . . and SO excited to be getting this book completed and ready to use for December 1. (Read about this project here, if you didn't catch it before.)
Tonight Phil and I will be acting like grown-ups (note: acting . . .) as we have been invited to a friend/coworker of Phil's for a lovely dinner at their home in Hyde Park. Hyde Park is a GREAT part of the city (Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House is there). Wonderful architecture, culture, and SPIRIT . . . I can't wait to take it all in!
Tomorrow, a restful day at home with my family. Nothing better than that.
I hope this weekend allows you some time to fill up with "GOOD" and do something you enjoy.
I stopped by CP Meat Market yesterday- that always lifts my spirit. Then when I got home, in the afternoon, Ellie decided she would rather flush the chicken tender she was eating down the toilet, instead of finishing it. Oh, and the socks she was wearing, too. (Yes, Seriously!) Lucky for me, I have a plumber as a neighbor, who just finished getting everything out. The toilet is now working again (Yea!) I'll tell you the whole story next week!
Until then - have a great weekend!!!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
It's really no big deal. What caused my sudden shift in mood doesn't even matter . . . what matters is that I feel the change, and I want to get out of it as soon as possible. Because I don't feel good this way. No one is hurt, sick or dying . . . I am blessed with so many parts of my life that I've lost count. What is most important for me to remember, is that all things really do happen for a reason. Yes, they do.
But how do you keep yourself reminded of that?
I went through photos on my computer tonight, because that always seems to help. When my spirit needs lifting, I find I need to focus on what is GOOD.
And this drawing is good, too.
This man is good.
And this is a really really good life.
No matter what tomorrow may bring, today . . . . still . . . . was good.
- Pay the bills . . . I think, "I can do better budgeting so that I'm not broke 1 week before our next pay period"
- Run out of eggs . . . I think, "I can do better planning ahead and avoid having to go to the store 4 times a week because I fail to write things down as I run out of them"
- Am short on socks and have a pile of laundry stacked up . . . I think, "Oh, Boy, I really can do a better job keeping up with things around the house - I should have done laundry last night and NOT played Facebook games"
- Look at the stack of books on my nightstand . . . I think, "I can do better structuring my day so that I spend some time ready each night"
- Look at my freezer 5 minutes before dinner time . . . I think, "I can do better planning meals so that I can take the food out to thaw before we are to eat"
So, forgive me for being so BLUNT, Facebook games . . . but I play for ENJOYMENT and not to be reminded that I CAN DO BETTER! Augh!
Ok. I'm done.
I feel better. Well, a little, anyway.
I'm going to do something else right now - maybe read one of those books I was just thinking about. THERE! See. . . I CAN do better, darn Christmas Crunch game! I CAN! (Thank you, for letting me get that off my chest. It was really bothering me - can't you tell?)
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
who have given so much of their lives -
Happy Veterans Day and Thank You.
PHOTO CREDITS: V-J Day in Times Square, a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, published in Life in 1945.
Monday, November 9, 2009
A few weeks ago I started a new parenting technique with Ella - who was in the midst of a crazy toddler tantrum. She was having quite the fit going on and on over something that she wanted (and that I wasn't giving to her), and she was MAD. I knelt down right in front of her and said, "Ella. . . I love you." Well, it didn't calm her right away . . . but after repeating that a couple more times - she stopped and looked at me and said, "I love you too, Mommy." And her fighting stopped. It was at that time that I realized we ALL need to know that we are loved. We need to feel it. We need to give it. . . . . the whole world needs LOVE.
Today, I want the world to be a better place, so I am choosing to put a little love in my heart. I sat down at the computer last night and drew the above cartoon of me, loving the world. I can see that printed on a t-shirt - can't you? Let's spread love today. Won't you join me? Tell someone you love them - and not someone you usually tell. Let's spread it out a little bit further. Someone who might not quite expect it. And share this story with them. Perhaps they will pass it on. Hopefully, as the song goes . . . the world will be a better place, for you and me. Put a little love in your heart.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Sherri is my Scary Movie friend, my Coupon Queen hero, my super Mom idol, my WW buddy, my Room Mom partner, and someone who always makes me laugh. She is my hard headed Italian friend, who would give the shirt off her back to anyone if they needed it. And she'll give you a 1/2 gallon of ice cream from her freezer, too, if you really really need it (which is kind of funny - since she is my WW buddy!)
This week, Sherri and I were to join the dreaded WW (Weight Watchers) together. Being the totally awesome Mom that she is, Sherri forgot that she signed up for a school event with her youngest son on the very night our first meeting was to take place. She felt awful that she could not join me, but made sure I knew she was IN and next week would be at the meeting with me.
She just called me last night, to ask how I was doing with my first two days on the program. And I said, quite honestly, awful. I told her how frustrated and disgusted I was. I vented and vented. I spoke truthfully and honestly, and she listened, as a good friend would. When I finished, she simply said, "We're gonna get there. We will. We'll do it together." And that was it. She can pick me up at any time.
When Phil is out of town, Sherri checks on me and offers help. And she is so sweet to my girls . . . always calling them "the prettiest girls on the block", which causes my Katie to just beam! I'm so grateful that 8 years ago we moved into this neighborhood and ended up right next door to each other.
Love Ya Sher! And Thank You, for being a part of my life. Let's go get a coffee tonight!
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. - John F Kennedy
Saturday, November 7, 2009
So, Thursday morning, I kind of . . . . tapped . . . . a Starbucks.
I like to think of it as a "LOVE TAP". Because, you know, I LOVE my Starbucks.
But, yes. Tapped. Let me explain what actually happened. I was going through the drive-thru on my way to work, and sort of got distracted as I pulled up to the window. Do you know how cars have those "things" sticking out on the side? You know . . . those, um . . . side mirrors? Yes, those things. Well, mine just kind of "kissed" the ledge of my Starbucks drive-up.
You see. . . the funniest thing caught my eye. That is, it was funny to ME. And then, funny to the Starbucks Barista.
Ok. Let me explain. Better yet. Let me show you a picture. This is the view from the Starbucks drive-thru. (Yes, I actually went back and took a picture to show you.)
I was turning around the bend at the drive-thru, looked up and saw this person standing across the street, in front of a Monument Store. They looked as if they were all dressed in white with white make-up covering every part of their body, standing right there on Route 30. I couldn't believe it. I was staring at this person and was just so amused that here, in little New Lenox, Illinois, there was a person standing outside of a Monument place, all dressed up like a greek goddess. Just posing like a statue. I thought, "Wow . . . business must be REALLY slow for them to do that." Then I thought, "Wow . . . that poor person must be out of work and REALLY needs some cash." Then I thought, "Hmmmm. . . I wonder if they have any openings?" Then I thought, "No, Leanne, you would make a terrible statue. You'd never be able to stay THAT still. Look at that person. . . .they are holding there arm up so still . . . I'm completely impressed with that. . . wow . . ." Then I thought, "I can't believe they are out here - they must be freezing. It's November all ready. How many of those things do they think they are going to sell in November. But look at them . . .they are so still. . . .they look like . . . . . "
Holy Cow. . . that was ME. Uh, oh!
My driver side mirror ever so gently "tapped" the ledge of the drive-thru, where the Barista hands you your coffee. "Oh No! I HIT A STARBUCKS!!!" I thought. I recovered quickly and turned my wheel to the right and managed to save my car (and the ledge) from any damage. But the Barista was right there and witnessed the whole scene. "Are you ok?" she asked me. "Yes, oh my goodness. I'm so sorry. I was distracted watching that person over there." I told her. "Where?" she asked. "Oh, over by the monument place. Over there," I said, pointing across the street to where the person was standing. I could tell immediately that this Barista thought I was nuts. I glanced back and forth . . . between the barista and the person across the street . . . barista . . . person . . . barista . . . STATUE. Oh, man. . . I thought that was a PERSON. A real live PERSON. . .
"Wait . . . that's NOT a person, is it?" I asked the Barista. "No, Ma'am. . . it's . . . a statue," she replied.
Silence. A closer look . . .
Then . . . uncontrollable laughter. . . from me . . . then the Barista. "Well," I said, "you can tell I haven't had my coffee yet. Better start drinking this fast, before I mistake the lightpost for something!" And off I drove.
So, Starbucks, I really am so very very sorry for tapping you on Thursday! I promise (with fingers crossed) it will NEVER happen again!
Friday, November 6, 2009
We also have a really amazing collection of Stabuck City mugs (I think we have 10 or 12 of them right now) from pretty much all over the country. These cups are AWESOME (big in size with a really nice handle). Most of them have been given to us by my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. Our collection of these city mugs has gotten so large, that we have had to move them to the sippy cup shelf . . . ah, well. You do what you gotta do with what you have, right? I hope to someday have a kitchen large enough to have a number of cabinets just for our coffee cups alone. Perhaps we will have glass doors on the front of it, and lighted from within. Ah, I can see it already. How cool will that be?
While every single cup I have tells a special story, here are my absolute very favorite cups. Left to right, they are:
Cup #1: Amore, which was given to me (by Phil, of course) for Valentine's Day many years ago. The handle is a heart and I just love this cup, as much as the sentiment that comes with it. I find that I grab this cup most of the time when Phil is out of town for work. Helps me to feel closer to him. (I'm using it today, as a matter of fact. Sigh.)
Cup #2: Yes . . . a RED STARBUCKS CUP, reflecting that the Holiday Season is upon us. I use this cup throughout the Christmas Season, and it just warms my heart. TRIPLE LOVE IT!
Cup #3: The next cup, with its cool green color and J. Kasper Company advertisement, is part of a set of 4 mugs that I picked up in Saugatuck, Michigan some 13 years ago. It was right before I was about to move out of my parents house, and these 4 mugs were going to be my "I'm an adult, not living in my parents home any longer, come on over to MY place and drink a cup of coffee with me" coffee cups. Shortly after moving out, I remember sitting down in my "own place" on a Thursday night, sipping coffee out of this cup, and watching Friends on TV. When, low and behold, MONICA from FRIENDS was sipping coffee OUT OF THE SAME EXACT COFFEE CUP!!!! SERIOUSLY!! (I SO love these cups!)
Cup #4: The Magic Bean Coffee Shop cup. This is the place that probably started it all. It was a coffee shop in Tinley Park, Illinois, where Phil and I went often . . . long before we were Mr. & Mrs. The owner was this young guy named Tim. He was so smart and had such passion for this business. Phil and I would sit there and listen to Tim talk about coffee, coffee beans, roasting beans to various levels, the secrets of what made a great cup of coffee, and all the other things Tim liked to talk about (he was the kind of guy who liked to talk, you know? Perfect for owning a coffee shop.) We brought our family there. We brought our friends there. We just loved it. But at some point, we kind of got away from going there (life just happened, I guess). After a few months we decided to drive by, when we discovered it had closed. That was a sad day. We often wonder what ever happened to Tim. I'm sure he's talking about something else with that same amount of passion that he had for coffee.
So there you have it, our Coffee Lovin' Home . . . in photos and words. Thanks for listening. . . now go pour yourself a "Cup o'Joe" and enjoy it!
SIDE NOTE: Just looked up the meaning of "Cup o'Joe", as I was interested in knowing the history of that saying. Take a look here if you are interested in finding out, too.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Just a couple "shout outs" and blog updates for you and yours . . . in case you were wondering:
- Yep, today is Thursday. You know what that means. . . bum bum bum bumm . . . WW night. Starting my new way of thinking . . . and new healthy life . . . How Fun . . . (Click right HERE to review what I am doing tonight.) Just imagine. . . in about 48 hours I should be really REALLY CRABBY. (Lucky You, as I should have some really great posts from that!)
- Congratulations to PK . . . .who made it through Halloween! (Click right HERE to review PK's post about Halloween.) PK - I'm glad you made it! I'm thinking next year you and your PG are coming to my house. I'll make a believer out of you yet!
- Major Congrats to an old High School friend, Lynn, who started a blog! Yea!!! (Click right HERE to get to her blog.) Lynn sent me an email a couple months back, telling me she was a closet writer. Well . . . WAY TO GO, LYNN! for stepping out and sharing your thoughts with us all. I'm so very proud of you and I look forward to reading what you have to say!
- Remember my Million Dollar Plan? (Click right HERE to review how I came up with that great idea.) Well . . . I started. Turns out, it's not easy to write a book. But I've begun my thought process and have begun developing a outline. Very cool. Very fun. Very exciting.
- My Phil Guy is out of town, and it seems like I jump into SUPER MOM mode when that happens, so I'm getting LOTS accomplished this week. He's home on Sunday - and that will be the day that I collapse (always do when he returns home from a trip.) The girls have been really good so far (knock on wood with me, won't you?) So all is good!
- I'll be at "The Farm and Nature Discover Preschool Center" in Palos Heights, IL (12700 Southwest Highway) on Friday, November 20th from 4:00pm to 9:00pm, participating in a fundraiser for their outside play area. I will be at the CuteyBaby booth. Have I told you about CuteyBaby? Remember that Million Dollar Plan post I wrote? CuteyBaby is the company that I have done some design work for. They specialize in Wall Decals for baby and children rooms, and also cloth diapers. A friend/relative of ours started this awesome company and I have assisted her by designing some of the wall decals. Anyway, I'll be at this Vendor Fair on November 20th. They will have a number of other vendors present - so if you live in the area, consider taking a quick drive by. Sure to include some great stuff for Christmas presents!
Thanks so much for allowing me to post some of this "business". I'm all for communicating. . . and these were some things I just wanted to say before I forgot (which I'm sure to do!) Have a fantastic night and I'll be back with another inspiring blog post soon!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I LOVE CHRISTMAS and EVERYTHING NICE about it!
I LOVE that it is the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus - and our nativity set, with twinkle lights glowing by its side, brings me to that special night so many, many years before.
I LOVE that it is a time to unpack charming, magical decorations and turn the house into the VERY BEST place in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.
I LOVE that it is the one time of year when I can walk through stores singing aloud to the BEST SONGS EVER WRITTEN, and not have too many people look at me like I'm crazy.
I LOVE that we can bake thousands of cookies that are the most delicious delicacies and yummiest of goodies, and put them all out on a tray to feast our eyes (and taste buds) upon.
I LOVE that no matter how cold it gets outside - our house is always cozy cozy warm and overflowing with spirit.
I LOVE that my children love this time of year as much as I do and that no matter what day it is, or what time of year it is, we can put on Polar Express and be lost in the magic of that story.
I LOVE that my husband understands my wish to make this the most wonderful time of the year and always goes along with it without any questions or concerns. Just by taking the time to hang this little scent of CHRISTMAS in my car is proof that he totally gets me! I LOVE THAT!
And I LOVE that just by getting into my car today, I was reminded of all of the above.
Yes, I love Christmas.
This year I am going to be taking part in a scrapbook project developed by scrapbooking guru, Ali Edwards (read more about the project from Ali's website here.) The project is a December Daily 2009 Book, for collecting and recording all those special moments during the month of December. Ali motivates and inspires me so much - and since this year I am feeling the Christmas spirit SO MUCH - this project seems a "must do" for me.
I'll be sharing bits and pieces of my album with you as I go along. So far, I have collected my supplies and am beginning to prepare my album. The goal is to have the album and pages within it all ready before December 1 arrives, so that once the month is here - the only time I will spend on it is the daily journaling itself (brilliant!)
Here are some of the Christmas supplies I hope to somehow incorporate into this album. My scrapbook style has historically been relatively safe, with a bit of "fun" thrown into it. This December Daily Book is going to be an eclectic grouping of various papers, patterns and textures, and I'm totally excited about it! I'm thinking outside of the box on this one . . . and it feels WONDERFUL . . . just like Christmas!
Yes, "Cinnamon Spice" and Everything Nice.
That's what THIS girl is dreaming of . . . .
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
We made this AWESOME non-alcoholic punch that really was so yummy, I wanted to share the recipe with you. I don't know about you - but I LOVE a good punch bowl recipe. It's so classic to me, as I remember a punch bowl was a must at every big family gathering in my house growing up. I found this recipe for "Witches' Brew Punch" and we made it for our Halloween gathering, and it was a BIG HIT! The only thing that made it "halloweenie" was that I took 3 packages of fruit snacks and put them in 2 plastic gloves, then poured cold water over the fruit snacks and placed them in the freezer. Once frozen, I peeled the gloves off and placed the "hands" in the bowl (although, all the "fingers" fell off during this step, but everyone still enjoyed the effort!) But this step could totally be omitted, if you wanted to make this punch for something non-halloween related.
Witches' Brew Punch
The recipe for the punch is as follows:
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 box (4 oz serving size) orange flavored gelatin
- 1 can (46 oz) pinapple juice, chilled
- 1 quart (4 cups) apple cider, chilled
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 bottle (33.8 oz) ginger ale, chilled
in 3-quart pitcher or bowl, pour boiling water on gelatin; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in pineapple juice, apple cider and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, pour punch into punch bowl and gently stir in ginger ale.
* * BONUS IDEA: I was just thinking that this would be DELICIOUS for Thanksgiving! Instead of the frozen hands. . . .simply freeze slices of oranges, lemons, and apples in a jello ring and place that in the bowl. How lovely would that be???
(SIDE NOTE: A couple adults in our group were looking for a little additional "flavoring" and added a bit of vodka, which worked quite well with everything else in this punch.)Now, back to a few other photos from the day . . . .Ella as our Pink Pirate was just too cute for words!
Katie as our Glamorous Witch was just so perfect!
As with any party in our house. . . .the desserts out did themselves!!! Pumpkin cheescake, little ghost cookies and our family favorite Chocolate Krazy Cake, all decorated in true Halloween fashion. Such a great day!
Monday, November 2, 2009
You may recall my "6 Mistakes in Hair Coloring" post I wrote back in August (click on the title of the post to be reminded), and how it didn't quite turn out like I planned. Well . . . I'm no dummy . . . . but in this case - I just might be. Because, I did it again.
I don't know what happened.
That's not entirely true. I know exactly what happened.
And this time, grocery shopping with a toddler is not even part of the story. This time . . . it was a sale on hair coloring at Jewel. Yes, Jewel. $2.99 for Revlon Colorsilk Coloring (IT'S A STEAL!!!!) So, I bought the $2.99 coloring, and hoped for the best. I went with #47 - Rich Medium Brown this time. I mean, it's Fall, right? Why not go a little darker.
Well, I'll tell you "WHY NOT" Because. . . . Rich Medium Brown is actually REALLY REALLY DARK BROWN ALMOST BLACK! Oh, gees. Let me just show you. . .
Saturday (on Halloween) my hair looked like this:
Today, my hair looks like this (which is actually MORE HALLOWEENIE than the Saturday hair): Ah, well. What can I do? I guess wanting to have $100 hair color on a $2.99 budget is a bit far off, huh? Phil Guy says he loves it, Katie said it looks really cool, and Ella still knew it was me, so I guess I'm not that different. Oh, and the grays are totally covered, so that is always a plus! If I only I would have done this LAST week . . . .I could have said it was part of my Halloween costume! Ah, well. . .
Who knows. Maybe one of these days I will be a blonde (totally kidding . . . if that ever happens, we'll know that I must have gotten the coloring for free!)
Sunday, November 1, 2009
This month, I am taking lead from my blog buddy Kiki and am going to do my very best to remember those for whom I am most thankful. I hope to share my Thankful Moments with you each Sunday in November . . . for I feel there is no better way to start the week than remembering those I am thankful for.
Today, I am feeling a great amount of gratitude for my Family - for those who have become my family and who fit my definition of family. I had each of those people in my home yesterday, and after spending a great afternoon and evening with them I am feeling such thankfulness for having this group in my life. We, together, are dysfunctional, quirky, fun and totally honest. We are what we are. And each of the people here yesterday are so important to me.
I took a moment yesterday and watched this group who gathered in my home as they conversed with each other. I thought about all the people in the world who don't have their family near them, and how much I would be missing if these people were not in my life - enjoying my children, laughing with me, supporting all of us. I would be at a loss without them. And I am so grateful for each of them.
I recently wrote this post about writing a Gratitude List of 100 Things I am Grateful For (my friend Cindi recommended). I haven't done as good a job on my list as I would like, but the feeling of gratitude in my heart is still so prevalant that I decided to write about it here (in the meantime). I still hope to get my 100 list together. Until then - my Sunday Thankful Moments will do. And each moment will conclude with a quote by someone far wiser than I, to remind us all how important it is to recognize each other. Thank you, for allowing me this Thankful Moment. Until next time . . .
Feeling Gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. - William Arthur Ward