Christmas Recap

Because I teach, I usually have close to a week off work before Christmas. This year though, we were in school until the 21st. This meant a fast and furious weekend for my little family. The Bug missed school on Friday because she work up around 2:30 with a fever. J stayed home with her, I can't miss the last day of the semester, and took her to the Dr. Having a sick kid is no fun any time of year, and certainly not at Christmas!

I was really looking forward to this year because she actually understood everything. She got Santa. She was worried about being naughty or nice. She asked for everything she saw a commercial for, and I do mean everything! This has not gone away now that Christmas is over either. (I've spoken with other parents including my own, and I guess this is the age where this happens!) She oohed and aahed at all the lights. She sang all the songs (starting back in OCTOBER)! Then, she got sick. My heart broke for her! All that excitement coupled with a fever, and we had a crazy little girl on our hands. Her fever did not officially break until Christmas day.

We did decide to brave a movie on Christmas Eve, a tradition we are hoping will take, but she passed out about 45 minutes into the film. When we returned home, she wanted to watch Santa on the NORAD tracker. Finally, around 9:00 I convinced her to go to sleep. We set out the cookies and the milk, checked the tracker one more time, then headed to our room to sleep.

She slept in our room the entire night. My mom and step-dad drove up that morning, and we did not want A running out on her own looking for Santa. She actually slept until 6:45 which is later than I guessed. We managed to keep her in the room until 7:00, but the minute we gave her the all clear, she came running!

Santa brought her a Barbie jeep, Despicable Me, and some magnet dolls. Her stocking had bubble bath, fake finger nails, and a few other random trinkets. She honestly bypassed everything until I put the fake finger nails on her!
They lasted about 30 minutes!

We divied up the presents, then went to work! She received a Leap Pad 2, a few games to go with it, clothes, shoes, and books. All in all, it was a great day!

Then, things started to turn. Not for us, but for my mother-in-law and mom. They are both down with the flu at the moment. When A was sick, they tested her for the flu, but it came back negative, so now that she is fever free I am worried the flu will hit. I guess it is a good thing I have another week before I return to work!!

It also snowed on Christmas Day! This is a very rare occurrence here, but I wouldn't let her go out in it until today.
We hit all the important notes: icicles, snow angles, snow ball fight, and one near slip on the ice.

I am a little sad it is already over, but I am glad we had a great day.

The Trouble With Pictures

Lately I have been feeling uninspired. I don't want to make necklaces, paint, write, or any other craft projects. Mostly, I just want to read GOMI and waste time. Is that a lack of inspiration or just pure laziness? I suspect it is laziness...I am hoping that the upcoming Winter/Christmas Break will recharge me.

I haven't formally documented my continued journey to a healthy weight in a while either. I busted out the old before/during/after outfit for a set of shots yesterday and added them to my collage.

Obviously there is a huge space between the last time I posted specifically about weight loss and today. The actual pounds dropped isn't as huge though. I am okay with it, trust me, and am currently bouncing between 5 and 7 pounds from my 30 Before 30 goal of 50 pounds. I have been bouncing there for a good month, but because it is the holiday season, I am trying to stay positive.

If I can be honest (and seeing as how this is my blog, I think I will allow it), I got really down on Sunday. My family went to Ice, the amazing ice display in Grapevine. Before you go in they take a family shot, and because I am short, I was in the front of ours. It was truly a horrible picture of me. My sweet Bug is smiling and looking at the camera, J looks cute, my sis-in-law and the others look good too. But there I was, right in front, looking like all my previously lost pounds had found their way back to me. I contrasted that picture with the (very nicely edited and tweaked) pictures my friend Chelcie took. Then I became even more upset. Why couldn't the candid and day to day pictures look like the photos she took? (And in that instance it wasn't just the weight loss. It was everything. The hair, the makeup all of it seemed better.) I have been having a difficult time reconciling the me in person with the me in pictures, for both better and worse. It is a strange thing.

I had gone a very long time either hiding in pictures or avoiding the camera all together. I have had coworkers ask me on multiple occasions why I keep posting pictures of myself now. Obviously their questions are hinting at my narcissism, which I won't flat out deny (I mean I blog about my life so clearly there is a level of that there). I usually just evade the question with a joke, but it does make me feel like a preening peacock. It is not that I think I look amazing, mostly I just think I look different. I never know what the camera is going to show me. Will I look like the girl in this picture?

Or the one in this one?
Or worse, the girl in this one?

People talk camera angles, face angles, etc, but it is hard when you are still trying to learn a new body. What is reality and what is in your head? What do I actually look like to those that see me in the real world? What do I see? I know I see the bad way more than the good. I think that is true of most people though. (I hope it isn't just me!) The top picture is the best version of me I can hope to achieve, to the point that I don't think it actually really even looks like me. The middle picture is probably the closest to how I think I look now. Big stomach roll, small squinty eyes, and a too big nose are what stand out there. The last picture is how I saw myself before, and is also the picture that set this post into motion. It was all my worries in one moment of film. Forever frozen and saved.

So why post it again? Well, partly because writing helps me work through things. If all this stays in my head, it makes the rest of my life messy. The other part comes from trying to stay honest with myself and my readers. Losing the weight won't automatically shift you to a new place. That is an emotional work that (in my case) is taking longer than the dieting.

I Can Cook

Today's post is about a week late. I swear this time of year it so busy, I can barely keep up with my normal requirements! Today's post is also not low cal. It is not low fat. It does, however, taste awesome!

Spicy Romano Chicken, or as we call it my house "Minnie-Bows".

Ingredients Needed:
  • Minnie Bows, or as the rest of the world calls them, Farfalle pasta
  • Fresh mushroom
  • Oil-packed Sun dried tomatoes
  • Minced garlic
  • Chicken
  • Hard Romano cheese
  • Heavy cream
  • Cayenne pepper

Boil your water.

Saute your chicken. (I am totally lazy and use the pre-cooked kind that Target sells next to the lunch meat. I like to saute it in the pan though with some Italian seasoning and minced garlic.)

Chop your mushrooms. The whole ones are cheaper than the sliced ones, but it is all up to you.

 Add your mushrooms to the chicken. Let them saute a bit. At this point, hopefully your water is boiling. If it is, put your noodles in the water.

Grate the cheese. It really needs to be the wedge kind, not prepackaged. (You know I am telling the truth since I have no qualms about using "the cheaters chicken".) The packaged cheese will not melt as nicely, and you will have a hard time finding Romano alone. The kind we use for this is up towards the deli section with the other "fancy" cheeses.

Drain the oil from the Sun dried tomatoes. Then add the whole jar (if you love these guys the way I do, less if you don't.) of tomatoes to the same pan where your mushrooms and chicken are.
By this point, your noodles should be ready to drain. Drain them, then add them to the chicken, mushroom, tomatoes. I had to switch to the larger pot rather than just a skillet, which was poor planning on my part.

Pour in the cream. I told you this was not a low calorie meal.

Mix it up!

Add the grated cheese.

Add the cayenne pepper. Cayenne is a slow burn, so you may need to play it safe to start.

Eat! Okay, not really yet, let the sauce thicken a bit, let the flavors meld a bit, then eat. My Bug loves eating Minnie bows! It also makes my family leftovers galore.

New Blog Design and a Few Outfit Posts

I decided to update the background and header on my blog. I used The Cutest Blog on the Block for my background. I designed the header myself using a few of our family shots taken by my awesome friend, Chelcie of I am really happy with how it turned out! 

I wore this look to work the Monday before Thanksgiving break. I felt like the boots dressed the sparkle down a bit. This skirt is so much fun. I wasn't exactly sure how to work it in, but I am very happy with the way this turned out!

Sweater: Target 
Skirt: The Limited 
Tights: TJ Maxx
Necklace: Similar here 
Boots: Stolen from Mom

The temp dropped the next day, so I decided to go warm and comfy!

Sweater:Old Navy
Pants: Old Navy
Boots: These are similar 

I swear, sometimes I think an outfit looks good, I think I look good, and then you see the photo. I am going to chalk this up to just not being a photogenic dress. I think it worked better in person!! (Maybe I should have worn heels and heavy eyeliner?)

Dress: From Macy's this one is similar.
Belt: From Albany
Boots: Mom's again

On the Bug
Dress:  Children's Place
Cardigan: Similar color, Cute option
Boots: Old Navy

This is from today. Same red pants as above, but for some reason, I feel like they look very different. 

On the Bug: 
Sweater: Gymboree, bought second hand
Pants: Hers are from Carter's, I bought them for Christmas last year. These are from Old Navy and similar. (The link will take you to girl's, but they carry them for toddlers too.)
Boots: Old Navy 

On me:
Sweater: Old Navy at the start of the season. These are close. 
Pants: Same as post above
Boots: Macy's in stores now

Thumbgate 2012

A and I at Target buying ingredients to make cookies.
I have fully admitted that I am not Martha Stewart. It is not for a lack of trying, I just seem to lack the gene that makes a person a competent baker. I am envious of MS. I do not have a media empire. I do not have a linen line at K-Mart or Macy's. And that is okay. (I do wish I had a massive farm house...) The thing I envy Martha the most? Her ability to do it all. She can sew. She can craft. She can paint. She can cook. And she can bake. 

I have this dream of being a super mom. The mom who always looks nice, always has a clean house, and always makes the best treats for the bake sale. Unfortunately real life has shown me to not really be any of those things. I generally look alright, but my house is usually a wreck. (My knack for starting projects then moving on certainly does not help.) And as my third baking incident has shown me, I will never be "fun baking m
Incident #1
Fall of 2005. J and I were not married yet, but we were engaged. He was turning 23 and I had the brilliant idea to bake his birthday cake. Right off the bat I managed to drop a few eggshells into the batter. I was able to scoop most of the out, but a few small shards were lost forever. Then when I poured the cake, I did not pour it evenly. One side was very very thick, the other very very thin. I baked the cake until the thin side was burnt, assuming that meant the thick side was done as well. To conceal the ugliness of my monster cake, I iced it really thick, making it all appear to be level. J being the nice guy that he is, feigned joy at my having made him a cake and took a large slice. He chose from the the thick side. About two hours after eating the cake, he got sick. It hasn't ever been proven that my cake made him sick, but most signs point that way.

Incident #2
Sometime last year. I tried my hand at another cake. Long story short, at some point in my mixing, a piece of the spatula fell off into the batter without me noticing. J chose the one piece that had the spatula piece baked into it. 

Incident #3
Last Monday. I decided to make cookies for A's Thanksgiving feast at her school. I wanted to make roll-out (or shape) cookies, so the dough had to be made. I knew I was taking a risk, but I want to be a good mom. (I wish I had been a smart mom and just bought the damn things at the store.) I was using the hand mixer to blend the dough. This hand mixer is very old, I don't know where it came from or how long we have had it. At one point the egg beater fell out of the end and the mixer stopped. So I turned it off and tried to put the beater back into place. I tried pushing it in from the top, but I couldn't get it to click. So I noticed there was a small flat disk inside the beater, a perfect place to put a thumb and push. I was still holding the mixer (which was still plugged in) against my chest. Some how (seriously, these things only happen to me and Lucy) after my thumb was literally inside the egg beater, I managed to push it into place and turn it on. The mixer sprang to life, my poor thumb was twisted and twerked. I dropped the mixer and probably said a few choice words. 
A and I after the mixer attack.

Today as I write this (very slowly might I add) my hand is still swollen and it still hurts. I know this is 100% my own fault. I have not been to the doctor. I keep using my hand. I put my thumb into the mixer in the first place...but all I have really learned is that my dream of being a master mom is probably never going to happen. 

Outfits and a Pinterest to Reality

First up, a twist on the normal Pinterest to Reality.

Inspiration via this link. 
My hair isn't as dark as the original, but I am really happy with how it turned out!It is not really that orange in person either, the camera on my phone is not top quality.

Now onto outfit posts.
First up is my take on "blogger" for red ribbon week at my school.
Jacket: JC Penney circa 2005
Sweater: Target (in stores now)
Scarf: Gift from J 
Jeans: Macys (junior department)
Boots: DSW (old)

This dress. I have been in love with this dress for more than a year! I first saw it on Ali at Wardrobe Oxygen. She wore it beautifully, and I coveted it! Finally after much watching and waiting, it dropped into a price range I could justify. I ordered a 12P (in August), but wasn't able to wear it comfortably until the last month or so. This dress is fabulous. It is fully lined. Has an exposed zipper, and is so colorful. Plus it has pockets!!
Dress: Maggy London. I stalked this dress like a crazy person. But this is in the same color family, and this one is also an abstract print and a sheath.
Cardigan: Target
Shoes: Resale shop
Belt: Some no-name store in the mall
Necklace: Etsy

I've done the dets on this outfit before, so I will skip that here.

This outfit was another I've had for a while, but losing just a few more pounds has changed the way it hangs. It has a cut out back, but obviously that is not okay for school. So, because I am a cardigan queen, I had two beige ones to choose from. I am trying to convince A to take outfit pictures with me, but so far this is all I've gotten from her.

Cardigan: Target
Dress: Macy's (junior department)
Boots: Stolen from my mom
Necklace: Etsy

On the bug:
Coat: c/o Nana from Nordstroms
Tunic: Gap
Jeggings: Old Navy
Shoes: c/o Coach from who knows where

So life wise I've been keeping busy. I keep meaning to post a write up on the projects I've been undertaking, but have been slacking in that area. I really wish I had taken a few before shots of our old photo wall because I have completely repainted all of our picture frames! I also did a mantle set of fabric covered shoe box lids. Maybe I will post that tutorial next week!

Also, if you have a minute, check out my 30 before 30. I need help finishing my list before May 16th!!!
30 Before 30 

Not So Scary Movies

If there is one thing that is 100% true about me, it is this--I hate being scared. I hate scary movies. I hate haunted houses. I hate that panicky feeling I get. BUT, I love Halloween! (What can I say, I am a contradiction.) I have friends (and a mom) who love scary things, but not me. I am a chicken at heart. I think I have been to two haunted houses ever (I worked in one my senior year for Senior Club, but I knew it was us doing the scaring.) I have seen one Jason/Freddy movie, that one where they fight each other, and I did not see that until I was 20 years old. 
Bunny M. I wasn't ever a chicken, this is the only animal costume picture I could find!

With that, here are my top ten favorite (Not scary at all) Halloween movies! 

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer--I love the series too, but it is actually a little scary. The Kristie Swanson/Luke Perry movie version is pure fluff and fun, which makes it perfect in my book!

9. Practical Magic--Love this movie! I hate the part at the start, you know which part, but love the ending. 

8. Death Becomes Her--This was one of my favorite movies when I was 10. I don't know what that says about me. 

7.  Young Frankenstein--"I am not a Frankenstein. I'm a Fronkensteen." 

6. The Rocky Horror Picture Show--So strange. So off. So awesome.

5. Any Harry Potter film--They just have that Halloween vibe to them.

4. It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown--The best part about this is watching it with A. Plus it is only a half hour long!

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas--One of the most beautiful and original movies I've seen. 

2. Shaun of the Dead--This one is actually a little scary, so there. But I still love it. 

1. Hocus Pocus--I can't wait until A is a bit older, so she and I can bunker down on Halloween night to watch this one together!
Bunny A. Halloween 2011--Age 2.

Honorable Mention: Army of Darkness--I didn't know about the greatness of Bruce Campbell until college (thanks Ang!!) but once I learned about him, I quickly fell in love. I even own his autobiography. It seems inappropriate to leave him off my list.

Halloween With a Side of Christmas

On the 19th we went to a local fall festival, and A got to try out this year's Halloween costume.

A bumble bee! This one was very fun to make! I am still working on the straps, playing with the placement and width. The top is a 5 inch black tube-top with two 1.5 inch headbands on top. I used fabric glue to fold the headbands in half, it gave the stripes a bit more dimension. I used black and yellow tulle and gold organza to make the tutu. We lucked into the tights at JoAnn's of all places. The headband and stinger came from Target, the wings from a shop in Frisco, and the bow for a shop in Albany. I can't decide if I am happy with the length or the fullness, but overall I'm pretty happy with this costume. This is my 2nd year to make A's costume (she was Bunny Tutu last year) I am hoping to get a few better quality shots of A as a bee this weekend, but who knows!

For the last few weeks A has been asking to listen to Christmas music. Her favorite Christmas song is currently "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"! I find that to be hilarious, but listening to it three or four times before 7:00 am has made it less so. We have been talking to her about Christmas too. She has cried and refused to take Santa pics the last two years, so we have been trying to help her understand that Santa Claus is a nice man. Tonight at dinner we explained the way Santa gets in the house (she asked). Yes, we are perpetrating the "Santa myth" to our daughter. I firmly believe in the magic and wonder of Santa Claus. My parents had a rule, if you didn't believe in Santa, you didn't get presents. I think the idea of someone who loves others enough to reward their good behavior is a message worth sharing. (I'm not looking for a mommy/religious/holiday war so please do not email me about why I am a bad person.) This quote sums up pretty much my entire family's view on Christmas and St. Nick.
Found via Pinterest linked from Lynn Warner's blog.

I think this year the holidays will be amazing. She is at this wonderful age where she is just starting to understand what the traditions, myths, and meanings are. Today I taught her "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!" She thought this was hilarious, and that I was a genius. I am going to cherish these moments while they last.

And in what has been a dropped ball (imagine that!) I have a few outfit posts.

Top: Old Navy last year, but I really want this one from The Limited. 
Pants: New York and Co, this link goes to the blue ones.
Necklace: Made by me
Shoes: Macy's on clearance

I wore this outfit to work last week, and it was very colorful. The print is pink,coral, red, and yellow birds. If you look at my outfit you can see red, coral, and yellow. I didn't have anywhere to sport pink, but overall I liked the effect. I'm not crazy about the actual button up shirt, but I really like the print.

Cardigan: Target
Tunic: Macy's, this is the closest I could find for less than $50.00.
Leggings: Mine were from Old Navy, these are close.
Boots: Stolen from my mom.

Truth? I swore. SWORE. I would never wear tights/leggings as pants, yet here I am in the year 2012 doing exactly that. I bought this tunic last year, and wore it over jeans. However, my weight loss has made it long enough that it is almost dress length. I felt brave enough to wear it out this weekend with a pair of gray leggings that I bought last year from Old Navy to work out in. Crazy how things change! Also, isn't it crazy how an angle changes the way you look in a picture? These were literally taken two days apart, but I think I look very different.

Small Town, Big Memories

This weekend I went home. It is a funny thing, to call a place I have not lived in 11 years "home", but Albany will always be just that. It is even stranger when I think about the fact that I only lived in Albany for 7 years. It always feels like I was raised there. I don't know if that is because I spent my summers there before we moved, or if it is because the 7 years I lived there (on a day to day basis) were my teenage ones. (Technically I lived in Archer City longer, but I would never say that was home.)

On Saturday I left the house early and alone. I had a few places I wanted to visit by myself. The first place on my list was my Pepaw. I have to say, maybe I am biased, but his plot in the cemetery is really lovely. It may be the best spot in the whole place. It is at the top of a hill, has a tree for shade, and is perfectly angled to watch the sun rise.

After that, I went by my old house. (Yes, I stopped and took a picture, but it is okay...I know the people that live there now.)
My house was small, ugly, and perfect. It only had two bedrooms when we moved in, so we had to add a wall to create a room for mom. It still has only one bathroom, which was a pain! The bathroom had a marbled floor that was yellow and green. It also had a pocket door that separated the counter and sink from the toilet and shower area. The wall paper in both rooms was black and white trees, which when the lights were off and the gas stove lit, gave it a very creepy vibe! My bedroom had purplish-navyish carpet and one wall of blue velvet wall paper. Brother's room was red, blood red. Every other room had green carpet. It was truly hideous, but I can not imagine growing up anywhere else. (I feel the same way about my Memaw's house. It has a pink room and a blue room.) You can't see the car port or the giant shed that is on the other side. It also has a curved drive, I can remember crashing into the basketball goal at least once (maybe twice....).

After my house I headed back downtown, and to the most iconic of Albany images, the courthouse.

This was taken later that night, after dinner.

I was married on the courthouse lawn in the gazebo.

Because it was homecoming, I also took a quick trip up high school hill.
I remember painting the streets my senior year.

It is crazy how a trip home can stir up memories that have been dormant for years. I thought about Senior Club and the haunted house we put on to raise money, One Act Play my junior year (we did The Diviners), learning how to ski out on the lake, and roller-blading around the courthouse and down high school hill. I thought about my teachers, my classmates, and the 100's of other people who showed up to support us as we grew. I remembered selling donuts at the stop light at 5:00 in the morning, and people actually stopping and buying them from us. I thought about Fandangle, and the chill I still feel the last two weekends in June knowing that Prairie Land is being sung. 

I harbor the dream that someday, somehow, I will get to go back home for good. Until that day, I have my memories to sustain me.