Friday, August 28, 2009

Fab Friday: August 28

I am a make-up lover from way back. While I profess to being open to trying new things, deep-down I am a creature of habit & I tend to cling to what works. For years and years, my go-to mascara was Maybelline's Great Lash (waterproof, black-brown). It's an award-winner, a long time fave of many make-up artists, and worked great.
But one day I got a wild hair to try something new. I was ready to explore my options, but I am really picky when it comes to mascara. I need a waterproof formula, and one that is not clumpy, runny, gloppy, or smells weird. Yes, I smell my mascara. Don't ask. After reading through the slew of magazines delivered by my friendly neighborhood mailperson (thank you e-rewards for providing my household with a significant pile of marginal reading material at no charge to me), I decided to give this a whirl:

Can I say "Wow"? Wow. I wanted a little extra volume, but didn't want spider eyes. This stuff delivers. After practicing a time or two, I have the application down pat, and I really like the results. I have small-ish eyes, and my lashes are not as thick as I'd like, but this magic formula lengthens, thickens, and now my lashes frame my baby blues beautifully. A dab of tinted moisturizer, a swipe of mascara, and a smear of lip balm & I feel pulled together on even the worst of my stay-at-home days.

PS - if I had an unlimited budget, I'd love to try out this bank buster:
Hello Dior, are you listening?

What's YOUR favorite makeup product?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Did I Mention....

that we broke in the passports with a jaunt through Canada? Big Daddy's parents came to visit shortly after we moved. On a whim, we decided to head to Canada on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

As many road trips do, this one began with the requisite stop for bad road food. Bob's Big Boy fit that bill nicely (Oh Bob, what have you done to yourself? Your burgers & shakes used to be so deliciously satisfying, and now they are .... not).

After hours of uneventful driving we checked into the hotel, and then headed into Buffalo for "wings". Have you heard of these "wings"? A delightful lady once fried and sauced said chicken wings as a late night snack. The Anchor Bar is the original hot spot, and lived up to the hype.

Even Big Sis enjoyed 'em (sans sauce, of course).

We had our first real glimpse of the Falls after dark. They were stunning.

The next day, we took the Maid of the Mist tour, and again, I was impressed. Few tourist sites actually live up to the hype, but Niagara Falls did. And oh yes, the "poncho" was necessary.

I found this vending machine at the Canadian rest stop we stopped at on the way home. I thought it was charming.

A rare shot of Grandpa & Big J.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Rule of 3

Many days I struggle with procrastination, lack of motivation, and a decidedly long to-do list.

Cooking, cleaning, nurturing, bathing, listening, laundering, refereeing, exercising, manipulating, playing, and blogging all conspire to sap me of the will to do anything but lie on the couch and feed myself caramel turtles.

This is where the Rule of 3 dominates.

I find that my days go much more smoothly when I begin with a list. I am easily overwhelmed, so my list only ever has 3 things on it. If I check off 10 additional things, all the better. But these 3 are my bare minimum of to-do's. The world won't implode if I don't get them all done, but if I do, I am more likely to x out a couple of additional chores.

I like the Rule of 3 because once I cross off 1 thing, I'm 33 1/3 done. 2 things and I am 66.6% closer to feeling accomplished. And if I nail all 3? It's like getting a gold star.

The key to making the Rule of 3 work is to be reasonable. If your list looks like this, you're setting yourself up to fail:
  • Lose 10 lbs.
  • Paint house
  • Learn Quantum Mechanics
Start like so, and you might feel a little more like SuperGirl:
  • Run day 1 of Couch-to-5K program
  • Look at PB catalog to get ideas for paint colors in Master Bedroom
  • Check registration requirements & class fees for DMACC
Just remember: If you have to eat frog, do it fast, and start with the biggest one. Works every time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fab Friday: August 21

We've had a heat wave in the last few weeks. With no A/C, a brick house, and a decided lack of refreshing breezes, it's been H-O-T.

Our fans have been working overtime, and so has the kiddie pool. When the sun hangs low in the sky and bedtime approaches, we'll often sit on the front porch & resort to a decades old way to keep cool: the Popsicle.

Our latest faves are Dreyer's Strawberry Fruit Bars. They are cool and sweet and downright revive me in the evenings. I'll always be a chocolate lover, but in the midst of these sultry summer days, give me a Strawberry popsicle and a cool evening breeze, and I am a happy girl.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Bought A Dress

This was a major step for me.

While I do enjoy a leisurely shopping excursion, clothes shopping for myself generally falls in the category of "Events I'd Rather Not Endure". Along with Trips to the Dentist, Eating Corn Chowder, and Being Tied Up and Forced to Watch 24 Hours of Sunset Tan, clothes shopping is more a trial of fortitude than a pleasure trip.

My mother is coming to visit in a few weeks, and we hope to sneak out and celebrate our anniversary while she is here. I have grandiose plans of eating sizzling steak in the near-dark, revelling in a meal which does not include hot dogs, sippy cups, or the phrase "Sit down and eat your food!".

I strode into TJ Maxx, a woman on a mission. I had run to the bank (child-free!) & was eager to steal a few extra moments to myself. I made my way to the dress section, and, with the words of Cardigan Empire echoing in my mind, I perused. In moments I held a half-dozen dresses in my arms, and I sped to the changing room.

The least likely candidate (peacock-bright, not on clearance) quickly became the clear favorite. Heavy, drape-y double-layered jersey encased my curves in soft folds of perfect proportions. Beginning with a v-neck, and ending gently at the knee, this dress showed me that the rules of body type - when applied thoughtfully - can create feelings that I once believed to be lost.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I levitated onto my toes, trying to imagine the right shoes (Teetering black pumps? Stylish grey wedges? Deep purple mules with just a touch of toe cleavage?) and felt.......pretty.

Standing under the soul-sucking florescent lights and shabby grey dressing rooms of a discount store, I felt pretty.

Despite the shrill warnings of my practical self: "It's SO bright!" "When are you going to wear this again?" I hustled to the check out stand and breathlessly paid for my treasure.

Even if my dreams of a wonderous evening don't materialize and I never wear this dress, it will hang in my closet as a reminder of who I (still) am: wife, mother, pretty girl.

Now, what shoes am I going to wear with this little lovely?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fab Friday: August 14

One of the benefits of moving to a big city is the greater variety of food shopping. I am so happy to have access to Trader Joe's again, and am enjoying exploring the local Meijer (much like the West Coast's Fred Meyer, but with an impressive international food section. Seriously, I have never been in a non-specialty grocery store that had food areas for Britain, the Mediterranean, Germany, and of course, Poland.).

One of my new favorite discoveries has been Fage. Pronounced "Fah-yeh", this is Greek yogurt, and it is divine. Greek yogurt is much thicker and more tart than regular yogurt. Fage comes in unflavored, but also comes in honey, cherry, peach, and strawberry.

The flavored versions have an ingenious little package that separates the fruit or honey from the yogurt, so you can add as much or as little as you like. While some like to dump & mix, I prefer to scoop my yogurt then dip it in the flavoring.

Fage is not a fat-free or low calorie food, but it is filling and delightful. It has become a regular part of my daily breakfast, and I find it far superior to Chobani (found at Costco, but not nearly as tasty).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Too Hot to Blog

This is what I felt like today.

At 7:30am, it was 77 degrees with 94% humidity.

The heat index peaked at over 100 degrees.

We are fortunate to NOT be one of the 95,000 people without power right now.

The early evening found us filling up the kiddie pool and doin' it up Bundy-style: kids in the pool, Mom & Dad in camp chairs, cold beverage in hand & feet in the cool water.

I am so glad we have ceiling fans in the bedrooms.

Think cool thoughts for us.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Family Travel Gems

Hello internet, remember me? I haven't been good about keeping in touch lately, and I'm sorry for that. There's been a lot going on! I know, I know, it sounds like an excuse. OK, maybe I needed a little break. But I'm back! And I want us to be friends again. So here's a little post about some things that helped our family enjoy our recent vacation.

Le Sportsac Bag: We were focused on travelling light, and so I turned to my Le Sportsac bag. This is one of my very favorite travel bags because it is light, bright (the above is similar in design, but not the one I own), and easy to tote. I like to use it as a carry on because it holds a ton of stuff, weighs next to nothing, squishes flat if you need to tuck into your luggage, and .... drum roll.... you can throw it in the washing machine! I bought mine at a sample sale in NYC several years ago, and wish I'd bought two.
The Peapod by Kidco: OK, this may seem a little weird, but bear with me. We were travelling to a foreign country, and there was no way we were going to haul our big, heavy pack-n-play. Heck, we weren't even bringing a stroller! Given that Big J is a wiggler, and I had zero confidence he would get through even one night in a regular bed without the possibility of a traumatic brain injury, I had to find some other solution for bedtime. Enter the Peapod. It's just what it looks like - a mini tent for your little one. It has an inflatable pad that is secured inside an integrated zippered pouch, it zips closed on top, has mesh panels for breatheability, and everything packs down into an 18" round carrying bag. AND it weighs about 3 lbs! We actually ended up packing it into one of our small rolly bags, and it worked out GREAT. The only hitch is that it got mega-hot in the jungle (it was steamy outside to begin with), and those mesh panels did not breathe really well without a little circulation in the room. Still - it was an awesome solution, and one I would recommend to parents travelling with little ones.

Ultrathon: I was super-worried about bugs in the jungle. No need to be - I packed Ultrathon! This is a super-concentrated bug repellent that I purchased at REI. It looked and smelled a little like Elmer's glue, but once you smeared it on exposed areas, there was no need to worry about those little biting critters. Yes, it has DEET in it, so we were vigilant about washing our hands after application. At first I thought it was a little expensive for bug repellent ($10.50 for a 2 oz. tube), but you really can't put a price on being itch-free.

Paci Plushie: Yes, I know I have blogged about this before. But it really is a lifesaver! Big J has taken to giving Monkey little hugs, and totes him around like a BFF. Although I can picture the day when we are paci-free, until then, I am fine with their relationship.

Gerber Yogurt Melts: Until about a month ago Big J was ambivalent to these little treats. That is no longer the case. I like these because they are relatively healthy (Come on! It's yogurt!), pre-packaged, and lightweight. We brought 3 packs of them, and should have brought 5.

Coppertone WaterBabies Sunscreen Stick: This was my first experience with stick sunscreen, and I have to say that I am a fan. Don't expect to cover your body with this, but it's great for swiping on wiggly faces without fear of an inadvertent eye trauma. It doesn't run, and is waterproof. Plus, it's small enough to stow in a pocket. Genius.

Playing cards: In the jungle, sunset arrived at around 7pm, and we always found ourselves with a little time to kill each night. Big Daddy taught Big Sis how to play War - and she quickly mastered the game. They spent many hours in battle, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kelty Country Carrier: We've had this for years (purchased at a steal of a price by the Grandparents), but never really put that many miles on it. It certainly came in handy on this trip! With no stroller, and Big J getting too big for the Baby Bjorn, we turned to the backpack carrier. It was nice because Big Daddy and I could trade off wearing it (just a few quick adjustments to be made), and we were also able to gate check it - so we could use it all through the airports. One of my favorite features is that it stands securely on the ground, so we were even able to use it as a makeshift high chair. These are not super cheap, but like so many things, if you look around, you can find a used one for a reasonable price.