Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My New Age Box

I ran to Target this morning to pick up a few things, and got one of those "You could win a $5,000 giftcard if you complete this online survey".  I've got nothing but time, so why not?  So I'm filling it out and it asks "Please click on the box below that best describes your age".  *Sigh.  As of last Wednesday, I have a new age box....30-34.  I am no longer a 'twenty-something', and now feel like I'm definitley not a semi-hot mom anymore.  But I'm really looking at this like 30 is the new 25 and I have had such a great first 30 years that I can't wait to see what happens in my next 10, 20, and 30 years. 

I tend to celebrate my birthDAY like it's a birthWEEK.  It started on Tuesday (my birthday eve) and I got my hair done, nails done, and had a jewelry party complete with cupcakes and ice cream.  Wednesday was the actual day - and since it's quarter end, Joe had to go to work.  But not before he brought me breakfast in bed and I received my much-asked-for-push-present/awesome wife gift of a right hand diamond eternity band.  My hubby is the greatest!  Then my parents arrived at 9:30 and I went and had what was the most amazing massage of my life for 90 minutes and then I was jello the rest of the day.  That night we had steaks and cake and it was wonderful. 

We wrapped up the week with my birthday party with friends on Saturday night, and it was a BLAST!! I haven't had so much fun socializing in quite awhile.  We left Lil E with her Granny and Grumpy and for the first time in a very long time Joe and I took a nap.  When we got up we cleaned and everyone came to the house for some pre-dinner drinks and then we taxi'd to La Huerta (best Mexican food ever) where we ate and drank and were quite merry.  Here some pics to prove it....

Myself and Baby Joe with a lime in my hand

From left (Brandy, Laura, Myself, and Joe) 

Fearing the third tequila shot

Greatest birthday ever.

It's been awhile since I posted and A LOT has happened and is also the reason I haven't posted much. 

I spent an INTENSE 5 days and got Evelyn potty trained!  It's so great - this is going to change my life.  We did the pants off and don't leave your house method and the first day was rough, but by about 5pm I could tell it was working and now she does panties all day and night no problem!  Yes, there has been an accident here and there, but it's totally worth it and wish I had done it months ago. 

I essentially decided when she was at school one day to research the heck out of potty training and really start implementing it the next day.  It's hard - I'll be first to admit it.  Potty training is by far the most frustrating thing I've ever been through, ever.  But to be free of diapers and wipes and pull ups (oh my!), it's heaven.  Although I now tote around a collapsable potty in my purse instead.  But we decorated it and it's great.  One tip that none of the things I read mentioned:  When using a public potty, be sure to cover up the sensors.  Evelyn was just about to go on the potty while at a restaurant and she leaned forward and set off the automatic flusher.....she levitated off the potty and a meltdown followed.  That probably set us back a day, but all is good now. 

A project around the house we did was paint the kitchen/den/eat-in kitchen area which is about 1/4th of the total downstairs square footage.  I'm always so optimistic and was all "Oh, I can totally do this in 2 days".  5 days later, and with Joe's help (I think he might have actual slowed me down) we finished and the room looks great.  I went through about 8 paint samples from Sherwin Williams and then gave up and went to Benjamin Moore where I had a direct hit with my first paint sample.  NEVER DOUBT BENJAMIN MOORE - I never will again.  That and they gave me my own set of paint samples :).  

Here is the color...

     Fresh Olive by Benjamin Moore 2149-30

It's a great neutral that is also a deep saturated color.  Joe and I both wanted something other than tan that would go good with everything and this looks great with yellow, orange, red, purple, turquoise,'s exciting!  I also wanted something to go with the Collier Campbell Mercury peacock color fabric I got a few months ago (which I would use for window treatments). 

Now I'm on the search for a table for the eat-in kitchen area that seats 6.  I'm off to tend to Evelyn.  She has congestion and a cough and can't nap.  Poor baby!  I've got a fun post tomorrow about vintage brooches coming - see you then!

Monday, January 16, 2012

DIY: How To Deball Sweaters

No matter how good I am to them and how hard I try to prevent it, some sweaters get balls on them.  They always seem to show up by the dozens so it's impossible to pick them off by hand, so I set out to try to research and experiment the best way to get rid of them.

After googling for a bit.  I only came up with 2 methods to try:  1)  Buy an Oreck fabric shaver and 2) Use the same razor I do for my legs on my sweater.  Challenge accepted.

I went out and bought one of these bad boys for $20:

Then grabbed my Venus razor from the shower and put a brand new razor head on it.  Bing, Bam, Boom - we were in business.

Sweater #1 is an olive green number I got from J Crew.  I checked the tag and it is 80% Lamb's Wool and 20% Nylon.  This one is pretty clumpy, and the clumps are big.  It's a larger size knit and it has a woolly look to it so it shouldn't be too hard to get looking good again.  Here is a couple befores...

To be fair, I decided I would shave it with the Razor on one half, and use the Oreck on the other half.  I honestly didn't know what to expect, but here are the results...

The work of the razor astonished me.  It was very quick and had immediate results.  I just treated the sweater like a piece of wood and shaved "with the grain" so to speak in a downward motion.  I did overlapping 3 inch sections at a time and it worked amazingly. 

The one con I found is that the more I shaved, the more I shaved.  It was almost like my shaving created more shaving. But the end result made the sweater look as good as the day I bought it.  You can see in the pic below the section on the left of the sweater I shaved versus the untouched side to the right. 

Then it was time to try out the Oreck.  To be honest, I was expecting NOTHING out of this thing, but was pleasantly surprised.  It did a really good job at sucking up the balls once I got a good feel for how much pressure to use.  It didn't get as close a shave as the Venus, but if I hadn't used the razor on the other side, I think I would not have had to touch it up with the razor later

Comparison:  Left side=Venus; Right Side=Oreck. 

Because the Venus had shaved the left side so smoothly I shaved the right side of the sweater too.  This turned into the perfect combination so I used the Oreck on the remainder of the sweater and then did the Venus over it.  Here is the final result:

Here is what the canister for the Oreck looked like when I was done. 

It really did look as good as new.  I was so impressed, and it only took me about 10 minutes to do the whole thing which was a bonus.  So I decided to move on to the next sweater.

Sweater #2 is also from J Crew, but its made of:
36% Viscose
34% Nylon
25% Merino Wool
5% Alpaca

The ingredient list tipped me off that this one was going to be a pain in the ass.  And oh, was it ever.  Here is a pic of the sweater:

You can see it's a much smaller, tighter knit than sweater #1, and the balls were smaller too.  The Oreck almost had no affect on it whatsoever.  So out came the Venus.  After 30, yes 30 MINUTES I got this thing looking good.  I shaved it in a downward direction and then had to shave it in an upward direction to get it looking good again.  But in the end, I availed. 

There is no challenge too great for the likes of E3.  The harder I'm fought, the harder I fight back!  Let me know what I can help you with around the house - the accountant in me loves to figure things out!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

DIY: How to Hem Your Own Jeans

Remember the post where I said the crotch of my only semi-fitting pair of jeans had torn during one of my worst days ever a few weeks ago?  Well, in the spirit of my simplicity cleanse, I kept wearing them thinking I could take my time searching for a new perfect pair of jeans.  That lasted only another two days until the rip spread and it become obscene for me to continue wearing them.  So off to the mall I went to try on jeans and feel fatter than ever.  Ugh.

First stop - Gap
One of my old and reliable favorites are the Long and Lean offered here.  So I tried some on.  Still looking good, and they size their stuff big which made me feel like a million bucks.  Then the salesperson brought me the Curvy fit, and it fit perfectly too!  And the fabric was super soft and stretchy and I could sit down in it and it was comfortable and it wasn't cutting into me at the waist.  Impressive.  But, even though the price was right I decided I needed to shop around a bit more since the Gap isn't going anywhere.

Second stop - Banana Republic
I have a pair of jeans from Banana that were a post-pregnancy-tide-me-over-until-I-can-fit-in-my-regular-jeans-again buy.  I like them.  I only like them because they are the type that grow on you during the day and by the end of the day I can just slip them off without unbuttoning or unzipping them.  But, I was lured into Banana that day with the sale sign of "Take an Additional 50% off Already Marked Down Merchandise". Damn you Banana, you've got my number.

They had exactly 2 pairs of jeans.  One was a trouser style and one was a flare style.  I put on the flare first.  Whoa Momma...and I thought the ones at Gap were comfortable.  The denim was so thin and stretchy and soft and wonderful that I looked at the price tag on the spot; marked down to $64.99 - that means with the 50% off plus tax....$35!  Sold.  Tried on the trouser - also super cute and comfy (but not as comfy as the flare) and they were kinda dressy and I need jeans that are more for wollaring around on the couch and floor all day. 

Third stop - Masons
For those of you not residing in Northwest Arkansas, Masons is an upscale trendy clothing store that carries expensive jeans; the $150-$300 type jeans.  These are the type of jeans I use to wear back when I had a job (aka could afford them).  But since my birthday is in a few weeks, I asked for jeans as the gift from my parents and thought I might find the perfect fitting cost covered jean there. 

Sidenote: My Dallas shopping spot for jeans was The Blue Jean Bar at Snyder Plaza.
This will be short, I tried on the largest size (a 32) in pretty much every jean they had and they either looked horrible or didn't fit.  Now I know I have a hard body to fit - but I currently wear 30's and 31's in other brands (ex:  Joe's Jeans, James Jeans).  So this time, it's not just me - it's the idiot designers that for some reason think making the consumer feel like crap by making their sizes smaller will sell more jeans?  And people keep buying them?  This is what is wrong with the world today people.
So I head home perfectly happy with my size 10 jeans from Banana.  Well, almost perfectly happy.  I failed to mention earlier that the jeans were too long; most jeans are too long on me as I'm long waisted and have squatty legs.  In my past, the upscale trendy jean shops offer a service to the squatty such as me by offering to send your jeans out to get hemmed for the cost of anywhere from $8-$16.  This is so super frustrating as you just spent 2 weeks worth of grocery money and now have to spend more as well as wait another week so they can go be hemmed!  UGH!!!! (Shout out to places like Gap that offer different length jeans like Ankle, Regular and Long/Tall).

Well, I'm a bit of a rebel so I think to myself "I have a sewing machine and I'm pretty handy with it, why don't I just hem these bad boys myself".  So I did.  And I'm going to tell you how to do it too.  Before diving in I didn't know how long it would take (30 minutes), but after I thought it out, it was soooo easy.  So not worth even an $8 send out hem job.

The way I'm going to hem the jeans will keep the original hem intact.  I'm going to give lots of pics and lots of direction....and away we go!

First, you gotta decide what length you want the jeans to be.  Since I don't work anymore or have much of a nightlife, I put on the jeans with flats since that's what I wear 9 times out of 10.  I hemmed them a little long for flats in case I wear my cowboy boots or wedges with them.  I just tucked the bottoms under and stuck some straight pens in to mark the length I want.

After I pinned, I took my handy dandy little gauge and discovered I want to take 2 inches off the length.  So I measured at multiple points all the way around the bottom of the pant leg and pinned off the 2 inch mark. 

We will be making 2 cuts around the bottom of each pant leg and we are about to do our first.  So take up your scissors and cut all the way around the pant leg in as straight a line as you can from 1/4th to 1/2th an inch above the current hem stitching.

Now it's time to make our other cut.  Now cut all the way around the pant leg right along the pin line. 

You can toss the center piece of loose fabric and remove the pins from the jeans.  Now we are going to repin the original cuff to the jeans. 

Turn the loose piece of fabric inside out, and then place it on the outside of the pant leg.  Make sure the seams line up correct on the sides. Use straight pins to affix the loose fabric.  Pin as close to the cuff as possible.   

What we are going to do is sew all the around the entire pant leg right up next to the cuff.  After sewing, we will flip the cuff down.  Here is a pic that can help you check yourself; this is what mine looked like after I pinned the cuff to the pant leg and flipped it down. 

Double check to make sure you have extra pins around the side seams so they line up perfectly for sewing. 

Now it's time to sew!  Most sewing machines are equipped for pant legs such as this.  On my machine (it's a Brother) I had to remove a piece off the end to be able to do this a little easier. 

When you drop the foot and place the needle, make it as close to the cuff as possible.  I had to pop on my glasses to sew it and I sewed very very slowly to ensure I got right up next to the cuff. 

Just take your time, and soon you'll be done.  If the cuff starts to get away from you while you're sewing - no worries, just go back and resew the sections you need to.  Here's what it looked like when I was done.

I then opened up the hem and hit it with the iron so it would be sure to lay flat once I popped on the jeans. 

And here's a pic of it compared to the other (untouched) leg of the jeans.

Looks just as good as what I was paying other people money for!  Even if your hem isn't perfectly straight, how many people that close to the bottom of your jeans to look at it?  No one will ever notice the difference.  And here it is being modeled by moi. 

As always, let me know if I didn't explain something clearly or you need more clarification.  Hope to hear about your successes soon!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DIY: Valentine's X&O Door Hanger

The weekend is over and we had a very productive one at the house.  Joe cleaned out the garage yesterday and reorganized everything.  So now I have a lovely pile (pile meaning about 1/8th of the garage) that I need to go through and decide if we are going to keep things or donate them.  This includes the 5 boxes not previously opened since the move from Dallas.  I told myself I'd do one box a day this week until I'm done.  This sounds doable - let's see how well I execute.

I also worked on cleaning out my closet which has been much harder than I thought.  It's strange how emotionally attached I am to some of my clothes.  It was pretty easy going through the work clothes and deciding which of those I'm going to get rid of.  But this simplifying is definitely a process.  Everyday I look over the closet and find something else I'm willing to part with, but it really is hard.  Am I really going to wear the shirt I wore when Joe and I got engaged ever again?  Probably not, but I just can't let it go yet. 

To help, I did the thing where you turn all of the hangers the wrong way and each time you wear something you hang the hanger the correct way so that you can better see what you actually wear in your closet.  So far it's not too surprising what I have and haven't worn.  May 1st is the date I've set in my head to get rid of the winter clothes I haven't worn, but I have a feeling I'll be able to cut the cord before then.

As for my other resolutions, I've done 3 workouts and lost almost 2 lbs. last week - Yay Me!  I'm also back to list making to help keep tabs on things to do around the house and my multiple projects and I will say it's helping.  Having to see an actual physical LIST and I do mean a LIST of the ongoing projects I have is humbling and I'm honestly embarassed to show the list to you, my readers.  So I'm not going to until I'm able to mark some things off of it.  As a result of the list, you will probably see an uptick in the amount of postings here because I'm finally knocking a lot of half-complete projects out.

That does not include today's.  Today's was something I saw on Pinterest on Saturday and immediately had an idea how to knock it off and make it work better for my front door.  So without further Valentine's X&O Door Hanger project.

I just ran over to Joann and picked up "X" and "O" cardboard letters and grabbed some red and pink paint.  It took about four layers of paint on each letter to get good coverage.  That cardboard is absorbant! 

After painting, I hit each up letter with 2 coats of polyurethane.  Make sure to apply the polyurethane LIBERALLY.  If you don't, you'll be able to see the brushstrokes.  Make sure you let the poly dry between applying the layers (if additonal layers are needed).  

Here is the polyurethane I used.  I have also used this exact brand for furniture I've done.  It's water based so it doesn't have too much of a smell to it and it's very easy to clean out of brushes.  Use at least an inch wide sized brush or larger to help get even coats.  I thought it would be best to use the poly to help protect them since they are going to be outside for the next month. Also, I used the Satin version instead of the more shiny ones. 

After poly'ing I just took some super glue and glued the letters on top of one another.  About 2 seconds after doing this I thought that maybe doing Command adhesive might be better and if the glue doesn't hold, I will switch to that. 

To add the ribbon I simply took some leftovers from the Turkey shirt project and used my regular ole Swingline stapler to attach it.  

Here is the final product! 

This project cost me less than $10 and less than a day to do!  Hope you try it, and send me your ideas too!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Baked Southwestern Eggrolls

This one was requested for dinner last night from my hubby, so I obliged him.  This makes a ton of eggrolls so they are great for a snack for parties.  I made about 20 last night so I had leftovers for lunch.  They are very hearty and it's a meal in an edible wrapper!

I recommend using this brand of eggroll wrappers:

They don't have too much flour on them, and they get the perfect amount of crispy when cooked. 

2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 package frozen spinach (10 ounces)- thawed and squeezed dry
1 16 ounce container of On the Border Medium salsa
2 Cups of corn (I've used both canned and frozen - no preference)
1 Can of black beans (15 ounces)
1 4 ounce can of green chiles, drained
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground cayenne pepper
1 package of eggroll wrappers (usually found in the produce section)

Heat a skillet on the stovetop to medium heat.  Add the 2 chicken breasts and entire container of salsa and simmer the chicken on both sides until thoroughly cooked.

While the chicken is on the stovetop, combine the rest of the ingredients (other than the eggroll wrappers) in a large bowl.  Mix well to blend.  When the chicken is done cooking, mince the meat and add the chicken and salsa into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Mix thoroughly and it will look something like this:

Now it's time for us to roll!  Lay the eggroll wrapper on the counter with one of the corners pointing towards you.  Place about 1/4th a cup of the filling in the center and then mold into a rectangular shape.  Pics below:

Take the corner closest to you and fold up and roll a tad.  Then you will fold in the sides, and keep rolling until a small part of the remaining corner is free.  Dip your finger in water (I keep a small bowl on the counter to dip freely) and brush it on the free corner.  Then finish rolling.  The water helps seal the corner. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly oil a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place the sealed eggrolls seam side down on the sheets and lightly spray the tops of the rolls with the cooking spray.  Bake for 16 minutes, or until lightly brown, turning halfway through the baking. 

The eggrolls will come out of the oven piping hot and will retain their heat for quite awhile, so I recommend letting them sit for about 10 minutes before you start eating.  I serve mine with ranch dressing with some fresh jalapeno diced and mixed into it.  The cool of the ranch pairs nicely with the spice of the eggrolls! 

My Operation Simplicity

I'm inspired people.  Ever heard of a simplicity cleanse?  It's not lower intestine related like my BFF Brandy thought.  Here's how that text message conversation went:

Me:  I'm going to do a simplicity cleanse.

Brandy:  Never heard of that one.  If you want a REAL cleanse, go get a colonoscopy.

Something to that affect.  After I explained what it actually was we both then LOL'd and actually laughed aloud in fits for about 5 minutes.

Anyway, Simplicity Cleanse.  I found out about this from my favorite Better Homes & Gardens magazine (it really is the best) December 2011 issue.  Check out this blog  Joslyn Taylor is the creator and author and she had 2 goals in mind for 2011:

1)  End 2011 with less stuff than she began with
2)  Only purchase items she intends to keep for 5 years

I totally "get" her.  She kept buying and buying stuff (clothes and items for her house) that she didn't Love and didn't utilize.  So she decided to completely change her way of life.  During  her experiment she realized that buying higher quality items, gives you more value.  For example instead of buying 3 pairs of shoes from Payless, she would "invest" in a higher brand shoe which in turn will last longer.  Look for things with VALUE is what she impresses.  Try to stay away from buying items that are "trendy" and will be out of style in a year or so. 

I love this idea.  I was looking for inspiration to scale down my wardrobe as well as the amount of stuff we have in this house.  Now that I don't need my work clothes, I will be getting rid of a lot of pieces that I just won't wear anymore.  Hopefully some of my favorites I can integrate in my everyday ready to wear clothes.  I'm looking to scale down my wardrobe so that every single day of the week I can go to my closet and love what I'm putting on and not have to think about it.  If I have to scale down to only 10 outfits....then so be it. 

I also need to be cognizant of getting rid of clothes that may not be appropriate for an almost 30 year old Mom.  It's time to be less trendy and buy items that I don't see all the college kids in town wearing.  I really hate seeing 50 and 60 year old women dressing like their daughters with knee high boots, rhinestone jeans and such.  Ick.  I will not be that Mom. 

As for the house....UGH.  I still have boxes I haven't unpacked from the move.  We have A LOT of stuff.  All of us do:  Joe, Evelyn, the dogs, and myself.  It  needs to go - I don't want to be a pack rat anymore!!!  In the Dallas house we had tons of built in shelves all over so I had tons of tons of, for lack of a better term, Crap to put on said shelves.  I don't love it, I hardly like some of the things, but it was better to have something up there than nothing at all.  Well, we don't have any built ins in the new house, so low and behold that's an easy out for a lot of stuff. 

This is not going to be an easy project, and it will not all be done in one swoop.  I went through the closet last night and took out like 10 items.  It's a start, but I definitely have more work to do. 

So, I have created some action items to assist me in my Operation Simplicity:
  • Try on every single article of clothing I own and take a picture of me wearing it.  If I don't love it - I'm getting rid of it.  If it doesn't wear well on me - I'm getting rid of it.  If I'm on the fence about anything, I will call in a jury of my peers (Laura and Brandy since they live close) and force them to watch me try on everything and give me a "yay" or "nay".
  • Go through the house room by room and get rid of everything I don't love.  BUT, before getting rid of it - think if perhaps I would love it somewhere else in the house or maybe in a different color.  It's amazing sometimes how a quick spray paint job can completely change an object. 
  • New purchases:  Never buy anything new without "sleeping on it" whether it be clothes or a couch.  If it's clothes - take a picture of myself in it; if it's a houseware make sure it's returnable if I get it home and don't like it. 
Alright friends, I'll keep you updated in my progress.  I'm going to start working on my closet today.  Wish  me luck! 


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