Sunday, November 30, 2008

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

One of my favorite new blogs is Work that Wardrobe, written by Jane (all the way over the pond in the UK). Jane never ceases to inspire me -- she has committed to not buying any new clothes for an entire year. I can't fathom how challenging that would be. Yet, everyday, with a critical eye on her wardrobe and a little creativity, she comes up with some of the cutest outfits.

All of which cost her $0.

Well, Jane is having her first Capsule Wardrobe Challenge. The challenge was to take 10 articles of clothing from your wardrobe and up to five accessories, and create a Monday to Friday wardrobe. (As I'm re-reading Jane's rules, I realize I forgot to count my shoes as part of the challenge -- but, I've already taken my pictures. So, given that I'm a SAHM and accessories don't typically feature prominently in my wardrobe, I'm going to omit the light pink pashmina and red bead necklace I included in my accessories grouping and count my two pairs of shoes as part of my five accessories. You'll just have to use your imagination and pretend that the pashmina and the necklace aren't there. :) )

With me? Alright. Here's what I came up with...

Green Boucle Jacket -- Morgan
White Tank Top -- Old Navy
Orange Hooded Tee -- Victoria's Secret
Teal Cardigan -- Gap
Brown Turtleneck -- CW
Khaki Pants -- Ann Taylor Loft
Jeans -- Banana Republic
Pink V-Neck Sweater -- Tommy Hilfiger
Brown Pants -- Gap
Jean Jacket -- French Cuff

Brown pumps -- Naturalizer
Brown flats -- Target

For my accessories (remember, I'm omitting the pink pashmina and the red bead necklace):

Ivory knit scarf -- Target

Floating Bead Necklace -- Macy's

Turquoise Necklace -- Macy's

Here are some of the outfit choices for this week:

Remember, that pink pashmina -- NOT there. :) But, I could totally add that ivory scarf for warmth.

Again, pashmina. Not there. :)

This is what I'll wear to my son's Christmas program on Tuesday night. It will be warm, but dressy enough to work.

Jane's challenge took a little thinking, but in the end it reminded me that I have more than enough in my wardrobe to outfit me for not just one week -- but several. A good lesson as our family tries to cut expenses in a challenging economic environment.

Now, go check out what everyone else chose for their Wardrobe Capsule Challenge.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Posting everywhere but here...

It seems like it's been a while since I've posted something over here. It's not that I've been twiddling my thumbs, though. I've actually been pulling together a couple posts for other blogs.

If you want the full scoop on the Twilight movie I saw last Saturday, check out Books on Screen at 5 Minutes for Books. I just posted a review over there.

And, of course, don't miss the latest review over at Chic Critique. I've elaborated on my love for Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer -- and explained why it's now a staple in my winter makeup bag.

With that, I'm off to grocery shop for tomorrow's feast, and I'm officially signing off until next week.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What's Working for Me...

by lifewiththree

This post was inspired by Sarah's over at whoorl. I call it "My Favorite Things" or "What's Totally Working for Me These Days."

1. Twilight movie -- As of this writing, there are 2 days, 1 hour, 1 minute and 38 seconds to the premiere. Not that I'm counting or anything. But, just so you know, my ticket for Saturday's 7:45 show was bought over a week and a half ago.

2. Twilight CD Soundtrack -- Just about as good as the book. Love. It.

3. Weleda Skin Food -- It's that time of year when my hands get dry and it feels like the tips of my fingers are snagging on everything I touch. Skin Food is the only cream I don't have to reapply 500 times in a day. One or two daily applications of this super thick (and great smelling) moisturizing cream makes my hands happy again.

4. Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer -- They say the average woman ingests about 4 pounds of lipstick over the course of her lifetime. If that's really the case, I'd prefer my lip color to be made of beeswax, vitamins and citrus oils, as opposed to petrochemicals, parabens and questionable minerals. Burt's Bees has made a great cross between a lipstick and a chapstick that provides natural, pretty color for mere pennies.

5. Relish! Weekly Menu Planner -- (More credit goes to Sarah on this one.) I hate menu planning. But, even more, I hate showing up at the grocery store with three kids in tow at 5 o'clock wondering what I'm going to make for dinner. So, I spend about an hour a week planning our meals, and complain about it the whole time. Know how much time I spent menu planning this week? 10 minutes. I chose my meals from the Relish list, then printed out my ready-made grocery list and recipes. It. Is. The. Bomb. Just this week we've enjoyed Chicken Stir Fry Lettuce Wraps with Ginger Rice, and Basil Jack Meatloaf with Cheddar Mashed Potatoes. For $7 a month, it's worth every stinkin' penny.

6. Word Girl -- Know how hard it is to find a superhero-inspired show that's appropriate for my 4-year-old son? It's nearly impossible. That's why I love PBS's Word Girl. It's cleverly written, sticks with a great superhero theme and teaches my child new words, all within the span of 30 minutes. This show is the reason my son climbed in our sun-baked minivan not too long ago and announced, "Mom, it's sweltering in here."

7. Pashmina Scarf -- My blogging pal Jane is Queen of the Scarf. She's inspired me to wear mine more often -- it adds a stylish flair to my outfits, without breaking the bank. I'd really love one in every color...

8. Shop it to Me -- Hat tip to my friend Heather who emailed me an invite for this clever personal shopping site. Just click on your favorite brands, and each week (or day) Shop it to Me will send you an email with the latest markdowns on those items. It takes the exhausting footwork out of finding a great deal. A couple weeks ago I bought a Juicy Couture bathing suit for next summer at 60 percent off.

9. Iced Green Tea -- Everyone's always espousing the benefits of drinking green tea, but whenever I make it, it ends up tasting bitter. I finally discovered the secret -- steep for only 3 minutes in very hot (not boiling) water. It comes out perfect. Throw in a little honey and serve it over ice -- it's a healthier version of sweet tea, with antioxidants to boot.

So, there you have it -- the things I'm totally loving right now. For more tips and ideas, head over to Shannon's place!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Toothy Dilemma

My oldest, Jillian (6), lost her first tooth a couple months ago. (I wrote about it here.) It was a big moment -- she had been waiting to lose her first tooth for a while. For me, it was a just another reminder that her "babyhood" is fast becoming a distant memory.

That night, when I retrieved the tooth and replaced it with a dollar bill, I couldn't help thinking about that tooth. It happened to be the first tooth she got -- and I vividly remember the teething pain she endured because of it.

For nostalgic reasons, I kept the tooth, tucking it away in my jewelery box, perhaps for use on a future scrapbook page.

Well, last weekend, Jilly lost another tooth. And this time, I was faced with a conundrum. When I picked up this tooth and replaced it with the requisite dollar bill, I walked over to the trash can. I was just about to throw it out, when I stopped. Somehow, I couldn't bring myself to dispose of the tooth.

On the other hand, I had a hard time picturing me 20 years from now pulling Jilly aside at a Thanksgiving or Easter family gathering and telling her, "Sweetie, Mommy thinks you've finally reached the age where I can share this with you. Here are all 20 of your baby teeth."

That seems strange. I mean, would I want a collection featuring all 20 of my baby teeth?

Probably not.

(Although, I recently had a conversation with some good friends who actually kept their child's umbilical cord stump -- you know, the part that falls off? I think it's safe to say, I draw the line there.)

But, I'm curious. What do y'all do with your child's baby teeth? Do you throw them out? Do you save them? If you're a saver, what's your long term plan -- a scrapbook page, jewelery, what?

Be a pal and let me know in the comments.

Because, when it's all said and done, I could be keeping up to 60 baby teeth. And I need to figure out what to do with them.

The Big Reveal

So, remember my little crafty episode where I was fashioning some "window mistreatments" ala The Nester for my kitchen and great room? Well, the kitchen is officially done -- and I've finally managed to get some halfway-decent pictures of what I did (there are so many windows in my kitchen that it was hard to find a good time of day when the lighting would work). Anywho, here's a "before picture" of my kitchen sink area (sorry, the lighting on this one isn't the greatest):

Here are the three windows over the kitchen sink now:

From another angle:

I have a huge bay of windows in the kitchen that, unfortunately, I don't have a before picture for. So, you'll just have to use your imagination to picture the area without the fabric. Here is the area all dressed up:

And a little closer...

Do you see why it would have cost me a fortune to have fancy drapery treatments made? There is no end to the windows.

All I did was folded the fabric, which I bought for a mere $7 a yard, and then used upholstery tacks to secure it the wall. (For full instructions, check out the Nester's site here.) Then, I happened to find these little flower clips:

Guess how much I paid for them?!? 50 cents each! It was the steal of the century, because just look at how it finishes off the mistreatment:

All told, I think I spent a total of $86 dollars to dress 13 windows in my kitchen. That comes out to about $6.50 a window. That is about as cheap as you can get, my friends.

The mistreatments did take a little getting used to -- after all there's now a lot more color than I had before. But, really, the fabric makes the whole kitchen so much warmer and inviting.

Great room is up next. That mistreatment is a little more involved, so it's going to take some time. But, I'll post the end result when it's finished.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blog Party!

Last weekend, I ventured into the Big City for my very first blogger get-together. Whittaker Woman helped spearhead an effort to organize a "get-to-know-you" dinner for 40-some bloggers. And, while I thought most would be from the Atlanta area, turns out people came from all over -- South Carolina, Florida, even as far as California.

It felt a little weird going to an event where I was going to meet people "in person" who I had first "met" on the Internet. Very surreal. And a little scary. But within minutes of walking through the door, I fell into conversation with the most wonderful people.

To start, I finally got to meet fellow Georgia blogging pal Soliloquy. Love. Her. She's as down to earth in real life as she is on her blog.

I chatted about Twitter with Natalie, shared a few laughs with Erika and Vanessa, and found a kindred spirit in Cookie. Michelle and I commiserated over the trials and tribulations of raising picky eaters. I also met Jacinda -- who makes the most adorable flower hair clips (I happened to win one!) -- and Liege, who made the trip from Califorinia with her 7-week-old baby girl (absolutely precious, she was).

I've added so many new blogs to my reader and can't wait to read about the lives of these amazing women.

Hopefully, we'll all get a chance to meet up again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nail Strengthening: A Greener Option

Back in the halcyon days of my youth -- when I was footloose and fancy free, and my biggest concern was an upcoming algebra test -- I sported perfectly manicured nails.


Each week, I would sit down and soak, file, massage, polish and dry my tips to a state of enameled perfection.

But several years, a husband and three kids later, my nails hardly receive the attention they once did. (I'm lucky if I pull out a nail file once a month, let alone once a week.)

And while, these days, I tend to skip polish all together (housework has a tendency to severely shorten the lifespan of your manicure), I have learned a little trick that manages to keep my tips in check. (read more at Chic Critique)

A Tale of Two Ta-Tas

This past weekend I finally did something I've been promising myself I would do for a long time.

I had a professional br@ fitting.

See, I've nursed three babies, for over a year each. The "girls" have been working pretty much non-stop since 2002. And now, well -- they're a little worse for the wear.

I figured a professional br@ fitting might be just the thing to help me gain a few more cup sizes sans surgery make the most of what I've got. I scheduled an appointment at Intimacy -- home of the renowned Br@ Whisperer.

I had the highest of hopes.

Turns out, I was wearing the wrong size -- and my lovely Whisperer Stacy spent quite a bit of time enlightening me on the finer points of a well-fitting undergarment.

Yet, while my fitting was "complimentary," I can assure you that the supportive undergarments were not.

Br@ Whispering does not come without a price, my friends.

The price tag -- oh, I'm ashamed to share this with you -- was $65 and up. Per br@. One br@ I bought was over $100.

Let me type that again.

I bought one br@ for $104.

And no, it was not the one encrusted with diamonds that they show on the cover of that famous catalog of underpinnings.

(But it does convert into three different styles, so I kind of felt like I was getting a deal.)

All told, I spent WAY TOO MUCH in that store. Even my mother -- who is all about spending money on "important wardrobe staples" -- had to pick her jaw up off the floor when I told her what I spent.

I'm not proud.

And, it should come as no surprise that Intimacy doesn't offer refunds.

Store credits? Yes.

Refunds? No.

Obviously, I'm not the only woman who stumbled out of the store, teensy shopping bag in hand, and stood in horror as the lingerie-induced haze lifted from her brain and she came to grips with the reality of what she had just done.

For the rest of the day, not only did I find myself staring at people's chests wondering how much they paid for their underpinnings, but I also began viewing every potential purchase in terms of a br@.

For example, a supa-cute jacket in Nordstrom would cost me about one br@.

A sweater I loved in Ann Taylor -- just under one br@.

Some makeup I was considering in Sephora -- about half a br@.

Lunch? About a strap's worth.

But, perhaps most frustrating was the fact that I left my fitting a little depressed. My new purchases were eons better than what I had been wearing, but after such a significant investment, I was kind of hoping I'd have a little more to show for it.

Literally. As in an extra cup size or two.

Now, I know that's ridiculous, but part of me hoped that maybe there was some super-secret trick the Br@ Whisperer would share for making me look more endowed than I really am.

Well, I suppose there is a trick. It's called an implant and they just don't do those at Intimacy.

So, while I wrestled with what I spent, I also had to wrestle with the fact that a girl's gotta work with what she's got.

And for me, the fact of the matter is that in the ta-ta department, that's not much.

But, then I stop and realize that "what I have" is really a matter of perspective. I look at my three beautiful kids. I consider the fact that I'm healthy and have the energy I need to do what I do each day. I look at my husband who loves me no matter how much money I manage to spend on undergarments what happens.

While my physical cups might be a little on the sparse side, my metaphorical cups truly runneth over.

And in the end, I'll take that over a great rack any day of the week.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Are those sleigh bells I hear, or are we just a tad early?

Our Christmas tree is up. Lights on. Ornaments hung.

And, I've got to say, it feels a little weird.

I mean, it's November 10th.

My husband needed a project to keep the kids busy this weekend while I was in Atlanta. Jilly (5) was dead-set on putting up the Christmas tree (she's been asking to do it since October).

So, put up the tree they did.

I thought we were the only crazy family -- but turns out, we're not.

When do y'all put your trees up?

Are we the only early birds out there?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

And the winner is...

Commenter #91 -- Nina! Congratulations, Nina. Your copy of Twilight is on its way to you!

For the rest of you who haven't read the book -- what are you waiting for? Get yourselves to the store and snag a copy! I'm telling you, it's well worth the read. And, thanks to everyone for playing along!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What's for Dinner plus Homemade Tomato Soup!

My Menu Plan Monday posts have been few and far between because, for a while there, I felt like I was making the same things over and over again. And who wants to read the same menu each week? Well this week, I'm trying a few new recipes. Hopefully, I'll find a few keepers to throw into the mix.

I'm keeping my promise and sharing another soup recipe. This week's recipe is not nearly as heavy and filling as last week's. This Cream of Tomato Soup is a snap to make and the ingredients are simple and straightforward. It's almost as easy as opening a can. If you want to spare a few calories, you don't have to add the half and half.

Tuesday night's meal will be breakfast, as that was what won in our family's Election Day Dinner poll.

I did find a great new side dish item on the grocery shelf the other day -- Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf. It's absolutely delicious and cooks in the microwave in just 90 seconds. 8g of protein, 7g of fiber, and reasonably priced to boot!

Monday: Italian Meatloaf, Egg Noodles, Peas

Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner

Wednesday: Asian Pork Tenderloin, Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf, Edamame

Thursday: Parmesean Chicken, Cream of Tomato Soup (recipe follows), Greek Salad, Fruit

Friday: Pizza Night! (Thai Chicken Pizza for adults; cheese pizza for kids)

Saturday: Ranchero Mexi-Chicken Crostada, Salad, Fruit

Cream of Tomato Soup

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (2 medium) or onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

3 cups chopped or crushed canned tomatoes

1/2 cup half and half (optional)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Parmesean cheese

1. Heat 1 Tbsp butter and the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic; saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes, or until tomato mixture begins to thicken.

2. Remove from heat. Process in 2 batches in a blender until smooth. Return to pot and heat over medium heat until soup is warmed through. Stir in half-and-half (if using) and 1 Tbsp butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with parmesean cheese. Makes about 7 cups (serves 4-6 people)

Be sure to head on over to Menu Plan Monday for more ideas!