Category Archives: Just for fun

Brain Dump

Emily has these cute little posts she does called “Coffee Chats” which are basically her chance to talk about all the random things she’s been mulling over/doing in her life without having to have a specific post “theme” or title.

Well, that’s what today is for me.

Except I don’t drink coffee. Like at all. I once ordered a hot chocolate and, upon tasting the tiniest sip, immediately knew something was wrong; Lindsay, who is a coffee addict, tried it and said, “Nope, there’s no coffee in there,” but when I asked the barista, he said, “Oh! I think I did add a little shot of espresso.” Mmm hmm. I’m not sure if that means that my taste buds are over-developed or Lindsay’s are dulled, but either way, no coffee for me, thanks.

I don’t drink iced tea either. So, this is not an iced tea chat (but how charming and Southern would that be?).

I do drink HoCho, but the mere thought of something that hot on these blazing Texas summer days is enough to make me shudder. Oh! And Icees. But that might give us all brain freezes.

So…brain dump it is (see above: I think I already got a pretty good start on the concept).

Of course, the thing that’s been occupying my brain the most is the tragedy in Dallas last Thursday.

(If you don’t live in the States, 5 policemen were killed by a deranged sniper at a “Black Lives Matter” rally).

I’ve pretty much run the gamut of emotions–sadness, anger, frustration, futility–and prayed (and talked to my husband) about it a lot.

Ultimately, I know that we live in a sin-ravaged world in which hateful acts are going to be perpetuated by every skin color on the planet. That’s par for the course–as our pastor reminded us yesterday when he pointed out that some of the deadliest race riots in our country happened 100 years ago. Like Ecclesiastes says, there’s nothing new under the sun. Until the Lord returns, we will always struggle to love our fellow man.

I am grateful, though, for reminders that the Lord is constant–that none of this turmoil means that he has abandoned us or forfeited one iota of his sovereignty or his gracious loving kindness. Regardless of the sinful acts of man: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9).

On a similar note, a black reader-friend contacted me, asking my perspective (as a white woman) on all of the racial turmoil our country is facing, and I was really honored by her trust. She’s a fellow Christian, and we’ve had good talks about various topics via message in the past (definitely the type of lady you wish you could sit down and chat with in real life). Of course, our experiences and perspectives differ, but I think we both agree that the main problem here is sin nature, so I mostly just sent her a link to this article which is so well-written and does such a good job of taking a lot of the emotional factors out of the issue, since it focuses on statistics and numbers instead.

Another recommendation to balance that one out? The Logan Family series from Mildred D. Taylor. Namely Song of the Trees, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and Let the Circle Be Unbroken. I read them with the kids, and even though they are heavy and hard in some parts, there is so much insight (especially for a white person) into the legacy of racism that still taints our nation’s history. And Taylor, who is black, does an amazing job of characterization without caricaturing. She writes with great pathos, while still seeming to lack a vendetta.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what kind of music you should listen to while you’re scrubbing your kitchen and praying and feeling sorrow over the state of the world…

I highly recommend Ellie Holcomb. Her voice is gorgeous and haunting. Her lyrics are poignant (and often straight from scripture), and her vibe is just so peaceful.

This is my motto in life at the moment. Not because mine is so hard (it isn’t) but just because it’s a good reminder.

hard is not the same thing as bad

It will be available in the Paint and Prose shop soon, in case you also need the reminder.

Oh, and this one too.

feathers

I love the verse, and I’m kind of obsessed with those feathers. (Be on the lookout for both of these in the shop soon).

We’re leaving for our wedding trip/vacation to Colorado tomorrow night, and I am in full-on packing mode.

I’ve been shopping and setting clothes aside and making lists and planning snacks for days, but as soon as I’m done writing this, I’m diving elbow deep in suitcases (wish me luck; this whole packing for 8 people business is no joke, especially when you’re all required to look put together and presentable for 5 straight days).

At the moment, I’m trying to plan our food for the drive itself.

I need stuff that’s easily passed out and consumed with a minimum of mess. I’m also shooting for healthy(ish).

So far, I’ve got:

  • homemade Lara bars
  • homemade banana muffins
  • homemade chocolate chip cookies (not healthy at all but sooooo yummy)
  • fruit
  • graham crackers
  • peanut butter crackers
  • fruit leathers
  • nuts + trail mix

Any other brilliant suggestions for me?

Speaking of suggestions, I know I’ve asked you plenty of times before what your favorite books are (I need to go back and look at your answers), but if any of y’all have suggestions of books that are super-engaging for long stretches, feel free to share.

We’ll mostly be driving at night (we did this last year, and, outside of leaving Shaun and me a bit zonked the next day, it actually worked really well). And I find that some audiobooks keep me captivated for long stretches while others require a break every hour or so. I need to download some of the “can’t-put-it-down” ones to keep me awake on those long night-driving stretches.

Thanks for all your hairdo suggestions!

I’m thinking I’ll go with a low chignon/braid combo…if I can get my ultra-thick, ultra-layered (the braids tend to end up with sprigs sticking everywhere when your hair is not all one length) hair to cooperate. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of photographic evidence.

Speaking of pictures…

I’m almost completely out of my Younique BB cream that I love so much and didn’t leave myself enough time to order more before the trip, so I decided to take advantage of my Amazon gift card win from last week and order a new brand because of a friend’s suggestion +  glowing reviews (thank goodness for Prime shipping). I was also thisclose to ordering this pore-minimizing finishing powder to go with it when I read a review that said it should NOT be worn to events where you might be captured by flash photography, since the reflective nature of the powder renders your skin completely white in the photos. PHEW! You’d think they might mention that in the product description! Anyhoo, I’m not sure if you should consider yourself lucky or unlucky that I won’t have any pictures of me as a mime to show you after the wedding, but I know I’m sure relieved.

Aaaaaaand…that’s it. I do believe that I have sufficiently dumped most of the contents of my current brain situation right on this screen.

So, so scintillating, I know. Hope your Monday is off to a great start, friends. I’ll just be packing for the next 8 hours.

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Wedding Dress Success!

First and foremost, THANK YOU for your encouragement on Monday’s post. Seriously. I read each comment, and I was just so blessed by your words. Also, for those of you who wanted a cuff of your own, the brand is Lenny and Eva. Here’s the exact saying.

Okay, so the “wedding dress” in the title of this post is a bit misleading, but “A Dress to Wear to the Wedding Success” just didn’t have quite the same ring. (And, in fact, is quite confusing…as if there might have been a dress to wear to a wedding failure too).

Either way…

I found my dress! At least, I hope I did. I ordered it…in two sizes, no less. But it hasn’t actually gotten here, so I guess we’ll see.

But the process? Ugh. Never, and I mean NEVER, get an idea stuck in your head about what to wear to a specific event. Trust me. It’s a pain.

Sadly, in spite of all that looking, my search was not over because I couldn’t get happy with (or find my size in) any of the options that I blogged about.

Shaun is gone on a work trip, which means by 9 PM, when the last child has asked for the last glass of water, and the last plate has been loaded in the dishwasher, I. am. done.

I always have grandiose visions of getting tons done once the kids are in bed, but…then reality sets in like a ton of bricks, and I wonder if I’ll ever get off the couch again, much less do something useful with myself.

And so, I’ve spent the last several nights somewhat catatonic on the couch, listening to my Audible book as I scroll through page after page of some of the most unattractive maxi dresses I have ever seen. We’re talking brown and sage micro-print muumuus and electric purple and yellow camo with hiiiiiiiigh-looooow hems.

When I did my original post, I hadn’t remembered to check ModCloth, but when I did (sometime around the end of last week), I felt hopeful. There were quite a few cute options, but, for one reason or another (usually price, the wrong sizes, or a review saying that the fit or quality was bad), none of them quite clicked.

Until I spotted this one.

eliza j

It grabbed my attention immediately.

But then, I noticed the price. $199.

Gulp.

Never mind.

And so the search continued.

Then, two nights ago, I got the bright idea to scroll through all of Anthropologie’s maxi dresses and note their designers so that, instead of scrolling aimlessly through thousands of listings that pulled up in response to my “floral maxi dress” search, I could try to find dresses from a specific designer I loved.

And–lo and behold–what did my eyes see?

anthro eliza j

Yup. The same dress. This time for $178 (I was honestly amazed that another store charged more for something than Anthro). And, again, I was immediately drawn to the dress…but not the price tag.

But I least now I knew the designer. Eliza J. Which, incidentally, is the same designer of this dress that the majority of you favored from my original post. A dress that I probably would have bought if they had had my size in stock.

nordstrom rack floral

Oh, and of this one (which wasn’t quite the style I was looking for but still sooooo pretty) that I drooled over on the Modcloth site too.

eliza j black dress

(Waaaaay cheaper on Amazon here)

This lady makes good stuff!

And so the search continued. I scoured Ebay, Poshmark, Tradesy, and the internet at large for the ModCloth/Anthro  Eliza J dress. With no luck.

Until…I somehow stumbled upon a site that claimed that Nordstrom (where I had already looked but somewhere missed it) had it…on SALE for 40% off!

Every other time something had lined up this well, some other glitch had emerged (usually not having my size in stock), so I squinted really hard, clicked the link, and was pretty much shocked to discover that they had both of my possible sizes available. Whaaaaaaaa?

Could it be?

And the best thing of all is that Nordstrom has free shipping both ways, so I ordered both, lickety split, and have my fingers crossed that one of them will work.

Now, I will freely admit that, even at 40% off, this was not a cheap dress. BUT! I was willing to pay $95 for this dress for several reasons: 1) I was reeeeeeally sick of looking for something that I liked in any price range and was definitely not finding it in my optimal $30-$50 bracket, 2) Shaun had already said he was fine with my spending more on a special occasion, and 3) if I choose to, I am 110% confident that I can wear this dress once and then sell it for a profit on an  Anthropologie Buy Sell Trade Facebook page that I’m a member of.

Of course, then I compounded my “problem” by falling in love with the shoes that the girl in the ModCloth pic is wearing.

teal heels

I clicked the link expecting them to be $80 but was pleasantly surprised to discover that they were “only” $40 (I’m telling you: a weeks-long search for something specific will chip away at your bargain-loving resolve until every price tag looks relative to the YIKES! NO WAY! version you saw two minutes before).

I can honestly say that I’ve never spent more than $100 on an outfit for a specific occasion other than my wedding, but I’m just so relieved to be done with this one (and yes, pretty tickled to be receiving pretties in the mail soon) that I’m calling it a win.

What do you think of my pick? Worth the work? (Um, no dress is worth this much bother, so don’t answer that too honestly).

I would say that this saga is finished, but I guess we all know that–if the dress doesn’t fit (or even if it does)–I’ll be blogging about it. To quote my favorite line from The Devil Wears Prada (other than: “When I think I’m going to faint, I eat a cube of cheese”)…”GIRD YOUR LOOOINS!”

Oh, and have a happy Hump Day, okay?

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The Hair Up There

I have no excuse for my extraordinarily, ahem, punny title other than…Monday?

Sure. We’ll go with that.

Anyhoo, I think I’ve talked about this before (but six children is slowly but surely turning my brain into sludge so…) here’s the deal:

I love DIY. I will happily DIY practically anything that I think I can pull off instead of paying lots of money for an already done deal.

Anything except haircuts.

I know there’s this magical thing called Youtube, which could certainly give me more than enough information to fake it through a few little boy haircuts and a bob or two.

But…I just haven’t been able to make myself pull the trigger on that one.

Partly because I feel like I am missing the hair-cutting gene. I have the hair-styling gene for sure. I’ve always been able to braid/elaborately style my own hair without having to look in a mirror, and I’ve even been recruited to do styles for special occasions for others a time or two.

But put a pair of scissors in my hand, and I’m all thumbs and elbows and overflowing potential for one of the worst chili-bowl cuts since 1994.

If I were forced at gun-point to open a hair salon (because that’s what it would take), I would probably name it, “Weedwhackers R Us,” just so everybody would know what they were getting going in.

Which brings me to my wonderful friend, Hollie (who would be a good egg in my book just for being a fellow “ie” name-speller but who also happens to be the best hair-stylist I’ve ever been to, so that’s a nice bonus).

I’ve been going to Hollie for…I’ve lost track. But something like 5 years? I think? (I really have lost track). And besides that one time that she accidentally grabbed the cutting shears instead of the thinning shears and lopped an impressive chunk off the back of my hair (yes, we laugh about it now; no, we weren’t laughing at the time), she’s never steered me wrong. (And let’s face it: I have enough hair for three people, so that one chunk was practically enough for Locks of Love, and I didn’t even miss it that much…once I learned to hide it when I styled my hair. :/).

Add to that the fact that she lets all of my kids cram into her studio to do cuts assembly style, and I couldn’t imagine a better friend/stylist.

That assembly-style situation is exactly what we had going on a few weeks ago when every single last one of my kids (minus Della, since she’d already had her birthday cut) got a trim (or more) on the same morning.

I would love to say that I was the least bit emotional about the twins’ first haircut because that would make me sound like a better mama (I guess), but I wasn’t. I was ready. Della didn’t get a haircut until her 5th birthday, but her hair has natural curl and never looked scraggly or weedy.

I could not say the same for the twins.

haircuts1

{Getting ready for her big chop}

haircuts3

{Duck lips and downcast eyes; oh no! Already her bob has aged her to teenagedom!}

haircuts

{Oh, phew! Back to being little girls!}

And the boys only get about 2 haircuts a year and were looking more than a little Hobbitish.

Even little mister’s Theodorable curls were starting to frizz and hang down in his eyes.

haircuts4

Clearly, he was a huge fan of the process.

I would also love to say that I lined all the kids up and took a group photo of all the freshly shorn sheepies. But…I didn’t. #momfail #bloggerfail #seenoteaboveaboutsludgeforbrain

I give, as my excuse, the fact that all 7 of us headed to the grocery store to buy Shaun’s birthday dinner ingredients immediately following an hour and 1/2 of haircuts, and keeping 6 children a) alive b) happy and c) out from underfoot of fellow shoppers WHILE remembering all the things on your list kind of drives the thought of group pics straight out of your head.

This was not taken on Haircut Day, nor does it showcase any of their haircuts in any sort of clear way.

But it IS a group pic (and rather compelling evidence that my husband is a hoss). So, there’s that.

haircuts5

Do you guys cut your own kids’ hair? (Go ahead, make me feel like a fraud as a mother; I can take it).

Any great (beginner) Youtube videos to share? I’m all eyes!

 

 

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Crushing the Clutter: The 3 Week, 50 Bag Challenge

I am not a hoarder. I’ll just say that up front because, one time, I made a joke about my “hoarding tendencies” on social media and got scolded for flippantly using a term that should be reserved for an actual disorder.

There are no piles up to the ceiling anywhere in my house. I do not have 12 potato peelers. Or four foot high stacks of newspapers.

HOWEVER, there is a tiny little hoarder voice in my brain that says, “But you might possibly, maybe need that some day” most times that I go to get rid of something.

And you know what? 9 times out of 10, when I have a very strong thought like this, I regret chunking that particular item all of a week later when I end up needing it and have to go buy a new one.

BUT.

There are still lots of areas in our house that could use a thorough, ruthless edit. I have 3 different storage areas full of decor that I haven’t used in at least a year. That’s not cool. My bathtub in our master is currently housing trash bags full of clothing that I need to sort through (good thing I like showers, huh?).

It’s time.

But it’s the kind of project that I will always push to the back burner because there’s always something more pressing (and fun) that could be done first.

So, I’m turning up the heat (I hope you are fully appreciating my stove-themed metaphors) on this particular project by issuing myself the following challenge:

crushtheclutter

{Don’t you love the random happy/creepy stuffed toy leering at you from the bag on the right? Go haunt someone else’s nightmares delight another child, please}

I saw on The Money Saving Mom’s IG that she was doing a 500 item challenge. And I seem to remember a 40 bag challenge from forever ago. So, call it arbitrary and overly ambitious (it’s both), but I’m going with 50…in three weeks.

The bags can be any size you like, but I’m shooting for trash bags full.

And yes, I’m skeered. I feel like I’m probably going to do nothing but find things to throw away for the next three weeks.

But I like a challenge, and I feel like this one needs to happen to force me to get. this. done–not only for the sake of my home but for the sake of my sanity as well. (Because I know my brain is going to feel a little less cluttered with every bag I donate).

Also, have you heard of this book?

artoftidying

I can’t seem to escape it. It pops up in my IG feed every other day, gets recommended by every blogger I read, and practically reaches out and snags my elbow as I walk through Barnes and Noble.

The premise seems to be that, rather than adhering to a strict organizational code, you simply assess your belongings and your need (or lack thereof) for them based primarily on the criterion of whether they bring you joy.

Or something like that. I’ll know better when it gets to my house because I just ordered it. Most books like this stress me out, but multiple people have mentioned that this one provides clarity without condemnation, so I’m hoping they didn’t just say that because they got the book for free or something.

ANYway, here’s to a more organized, less cluttered 2016!

Are you with me?!

The challenge officially starts Monday, Feb. 8th and ends Monday, Feb. 29th (the last day of the month…I would love to say that I planned that, but…I didn’t. I’m not mad about it, though).

Be sure to leave a comment below if you want to jump in on the challenge. (Remember, they don’t have to be trash bags. 50 Walmart bags is like 200 medium-sized things. I bet some of you feel like you got that many excess toys for your kids last Christmas alone).

I will, of course, be blogging about my progress and ultimate results. So, stay tuned for pictures of all the junk I’m getting rid of! (Can’t imagine how pumped you are about that).

P.S. In conjunction with this challenge, I’m also doing a closet clean-out and selling a lot of really cute stuff that I love…but just don’t wear enough over at my closet shop account @mifmcloset. Feel free to head on over and see if something catches your fancy. The prices on all of the items include shipping, and all you need to do is type sold and your Paypal email to claim them. If you don’t see something you need right away, be sure to check back because I’ll be adding more items (hopefully) daily.

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Lady Mondegreen

So, I posted this picture of Della and her…um…interesting rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” to Instagram yesterday.

mondegreen

“Mary had a little lamb, its fleas were white as snow.” Della, age 4

And I had a comment that basically just said the word, “Mondegreen.” And I was all, huh? Probably about how you’re feeling as you check out Della’s fuzzy earmuffs in the midst of the August heat (what can I say? Girl loves her some earmuffs).

So, naturally, I looked it up. And here’s what I discovered.

In 1954, an American writer named Sylvia Wright coined the term “mondegreen” in her essay entitled “Lady Mondegreen,” which was, apparently, a common mishearing/pronunciation of the phrase: “laid him on the green” in the Scottish ballad “The Bonnie Earl O’Moray.”

mondegreen1

{Clearly, Della is shocked at her own linguistic faux pas}

Eventually, the word “mondegreen”–meaning the (mis)use of similar sounding words to substitute for the actual phrases in a song/lyric, thus changing the meaning of the song–was added to the dictionary. (Although my computer does not seem to have gotten that memo, since it insists on adding a squiggly red line to it each time I type it).

You may have found yourself drifting off a bit by now, but for me and my word-loving, grammar-geeky heart, this was a fascinating discovery.

If for no other reason than that I now know what I was doing when, as a child, I sang the words: “In Him we live and move and have our beans.” (Our being)

Or when my best friend, Ronda, sang: “God’s not dead. He is Elijah!” (He’s alive).

We were mondegreening. (Okay, so I don’t think it’s supposed to be used as a verb, but whatever. It’s a made up word ABOUT made up words. Who’s going to call me on it?)

I’m sure there are AAAAALLL kinds of other examples I could come up with if I tried really hard, but it’s late as I’m typing this, and I don’t have the brain-power to brush my teeth, much less wrack my brain for mondegreens from times gone by.

Which is where you come in. Did you Lady Mondegreen it up as a kid? Or maybe your own children have invented a few creative phrases of their own?

Be a dear, and share, won’t you?

P.S. Runners up from our FB page include: “Lead on, oh kinky turtle” (Oh King, Eternal) and “Gather around the thorny turtle” (throne eternal). Clearly, kids have pond creatures more than eternity on their minds.

P.P.S. Oh! I thought of a couple more “adult” ones. Ever heard the Taylor Swift song: “Blank Space?” Raise your hand if you thought the phrase: “Starbucks lovers,” is in it. (It’s not). Or how about an old throwback to Elton John and his “electric boobs” (electric boots) from Benny and the Jets??! Oooooh, I can already tell this is going to be fun(ny)!

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What goes around…

I don’t believe in karma, and yet, as a mother, it’s impossible to deny that similar behaviors ripple throughout multiple members of our family, popping up when you least expect them and feeling, at times, a whole lot like poetic justice.

simondellaevy

Case in point:

Della (the queen/empress/duchess and high priestess of saying, “Mama” multiple times and then following it up with either silence and/or repeating, “Uh, um, mmm, uh, um,” until you feel your soul shriveling up and dying a bit): “Mama?”

Me: “Hm?”

Della: “What’s that swirly water thing for?” (pointing at the whirlpool tub in our gym’s women’s locker room).

Me (distracted by the equally soul-shriveling process of trying to prevent a toddler from putting both legs in the same hole of her swimsuit…for the 12th time): “Uh.”

Della: “Mama?”

Me (while tugging spandex up over chubby toddler knees): “Hm?”

Della: “What’s the swirly water thing for?”

Me: “Um…” (still tugging and attempting to keep half-dressed toddler and myself from toppling over onto the potty in the miniscule stall that is the stage for our antics, while avoiding crushing toddler’s twin sister).

Della: “Mama!” Starting to sound annoyed. “I need to know. WHAT is the the swirly water thing for??”

Me (sanity hanging by a thread as I attempt to peel sticky toddler hands off one leg while balancing on the other leg and doing my best to drag a pudgy, sticky toddler hand through the correct bathing suit strap configuration while avoiding a dip in the toilet): “Um, well, ah. It’s… Um…”

Della (with a sigh of resignation): “Mama, you have too many ‘Um’s.’”

Hashtag: welcome to my world, Daughter.

dellabraid

And then there was that time when…

Simon–in a soothing tone to Della after she fell and rather spectacularly scraped and bloodied her knee: “Della. I did this one time, and Mama told me I had to take deep, calming breaths, and it would be better. And you know what? I did, and it was.”

(Funny, I don’t remember its happening quite like that)

Della, in high-pitched, machine gun yelps: “I can’t, I CAN’T, I CA-AAAAAAN’T. There’s bloooooooooood!!!!”

Simon, in a maddening, patronizing tone: “Just don’t think about it. It will get better. Take deeeeeeeep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. There you go. Just like Mama when she has to get a baby out.”

Me:

simondimples

Ever feel like what goes around comes right back around in your house too?

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In which you help me choose glasses…(again)

This post could also quite easily be titled, “In Which Abbie Practices Her Pursed-Lips-Smile.” But my propensity for smizing is not exactly the main point of this post, so we’ll just stick with the original title, m’kay?

So, 3 years ago, you guys weighed in on which glasses I should buy, using uber-nifty virtual try-on images as your guide.

Well.

I did end up buying glasses–one pair, in particular, that I loved and wore all the time. Until a certain precious 18-month-old who shall remain unnamed (but whose name is identical to the abbreviation for a famous city in Louisiana) snapped the ear-piece of said beloved glasses.

Hashtag bummer. I do have another pair, but they pinch my nose (and can’t be adjusted) to the point of headaches. So, suffice it to say that I’ve been wearing my contacts pretty much non-stop for about a year now (because I am a rather blind little bat), and my 32-year-old eyes are tired.

Fast-forward to a week ago when I discovered that world of online glasses shopping has advanced at leaps and bounds to the point that some companies will now send you multiple pairs of frames to try on in person before you decide to buy (with free shipping both directions).

GENIUS!

So, I ordered up a grand total of 11 pairs from two different companies, and today I’m showing you the top 4 contenders (all from Warby Parker…not a sponsored post; just thought I’d share).

But, of course, I couldn’t just make a decision. OH no. I had to consult you, my lovely blog-friends.

So, I’m guessing you’ve already figured out how this is going to go.

I’m going to show you the 4 options, and then, you’re going to comment away telling me which one I should choose (and why, if you’re feeling particularly verbose).

Thanks in advance for your help!

Here we go!

glasses6

glasses1

glasses2

glasses4

{Clearly, I have a thing for tortoise-shell-hued plastic frames, so don’t feel bad if you end up feeling a bit like, “Well, Abbie, 3 of those are the same.” What can I say? At least I’m consistent?}

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Game of Love Basket {Valentine’s Day Gift Idea}

I promised last week that I’d have a few practical ways to get the kindness ball rolling in our marriages, so that’s what I had intended to do today.

And since I am far from the fountain of all marital wisdom, I had planned to share a few ideas from the book The Love Dare–which I had picked up at our local Christian bookstore when I was there about a month back, scouting out some homeschooling materials.

Problem was, it had disappeared. I finally found it in my husband’s office, but when I tried to take it downstairs, he snatched it back. I gave him “the look” and said, “Hey, Mister, I bought that for me.”

He started to hand it back to me, then hesitated and said with a sheepish expression: “But I’m in the middle of it.”

Well, as you can imagine, I dropped it like a hot poker. Sharing marriage tips with you guys is great and all, but ain’t no way I’m going to get in the way of my husband’s reading a book on the subject. I love y’all. But…ain’t no way.

ANYhoo, in lieu of tips from the experts, I thought I’d share what I’m getting Shaun for Valentine’s Day, just in case–like me–you sometimes struggle to come up with a meaningful and specific gift that you know your hubby will love.

This is basically a twist on the “Favorite Things” basket that I made him for Father’s Day a couple of years back.

This time, though, the theme is: Game Night.

Why? Because for the last several years, it just hasn’t been convenient or–let’s face it–worth the effort to go out for Valentine’s Day.

Sure, it’s fun to get all gussied up for a night on the town, but when you’ve got a newborn to feed, and every dress you try on is far from nursing-friendly, it feels a bit tedious. Even without a newborn, sometimes it’s just too much trouble to make reservations, find a babysitter, fight the traffic, pay the inflated prices for the “Valentine’s Specials,” and on and on.

So, we’ve had a lot of fun the last several years staying home and cooking a fancy meal together, love songs on repeat in the background. (This Ed Sheeran gem is, by far, our favorite right now).

This year, I thought it would be even more fun to jazz things up with a game night basket for Shaun. He loves board games, card games, word games–really any sort of competition. And so do I.

game of love

I was inspired by a trip to Marshall’s, where I scored that basket, the “Bulls and Cows” game, the wooden target game, and this (which wouldn’t come close to fitting in the basket)…

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…for $35.

They had all of their “guy-themed” Christmas items on major clearance. Otherwise, even at Marshall’s prices, the Bingo set alone would have cost $50.

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Of course, considering that it’s made of real wood and is really good-sized (hard to tell, but the metal ball tumbler is over a foot tall), I thought $20 was a steal!

All three of the games I bought were two-player-friendly, and I made sure to include lots of his favorite snacks from our local Whole Foods-esque grocery store.

valentines

Pictured here: Virgil’s Black Cherry Cream Soda, Murray’s Ginger Snaps, Deep River Olive Oil and Rosemary Kettle Chips, Kettle Popcorn, and–to top it all off–Marish English Toffee Caramels (pretty much THE BEST chocolate/toffee/carame I’ve ever tasted).

Of course, these are all tailored to Shaun’s specific tastes, but I can picture all kinds of creative options like a poker-themed basket with lots of–ahem–chips. Or, if you want to get super-creative, a carnival-themed basket complete with water pistols, bean bags, targets, and cotton candy.

Even if your husband isn’t all that into games, I bet he can be persuaded for at least one night by adding the all important word “strip” to the description of any game (okay, maybe not Monopoly, unless he’s got the patience of a saint).

After all, it IS Valentine’s Day.

Just sayin’. ;)

What about you guys? Any big plans for V-day?

Do you struggle to come up with great Valentine’s gifts? Or do you guys skip the gift exchange?

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My Favorite Girls to Follow on Instagram

I’m no social media maven. I’ve pretty much given up the Twitter-ghost, except to tweet my posts or to double-post my IG shots. I’m equally bad at Pinterest, which is practically a shameful thing for a blogger to admit.

But Instagram? Instagram I can get behind (you can find me at @misformama). I can’t even explain why exactly except that it just feels more…real…than most other social media outlets.

I use it to document the little moments of our life (I’m never going to be a scrap-booker, that’s for sure) and to interact with you, my sweet reader-friends.

Oh, and also to stalk the inspiring, pretty, funny, fantastic goings-on of lots of talented, creative, encouraging women out there in blogland.

If you’re an IG-lover too, then you’ll want to take a gander at these fun ladies’ accounts. I could have added plenty more, but these are the handful that I make sure to check in on on a regular basis. And since sharing is caring and all, well, I’m sharing…

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Gracelaced/Honeyholden/Jaminato/Itsjustlaine

Some of these ladies are my go-to source for escapist eye-candy when my kitchen is a mess and the laundry piles are up to my eyeballs, but most are that + a huge source of encouragement to me.

It’s so great to feel camaraderie with fellow homeschooling mamas like Laine and Mary (who amaze me with their craftiness on a budget and orderly homes), to laugh along with Sara and Jami (who are the queens of quips and spot-on emojis), and to feel uplifted by Woodsermom’s beautiful photos and wise/practical words (as she raises goats, plant-babies, AND 9 kiddos!!!), and on and on.

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Lindsay_Hellohue/ThePleatedPoppy/JonesDesignCompany/Mary.Krause

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SaraParsons/Tweetopotatopie/Whippycake/Woodsermom

What about you guys? Are you fellow Instagram-lovers?

Any must-follow suggestions for me? I’m a sucker for pretty pictures, real posts, inspiring words, Godly advice, and funny hashtags.

 

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Meet Audrey, the Aqua Kitchenaid Mixer

First of all, can I just say a big, “Awwww, thanks!” for all of your sweet comments on my “new” light and bright kitchen?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll just keep right on saying it: Y’all are NICE!

I am completely honest when I say that I love how it turned out, and it makes me really happy, not only to have such a cheerful space to do life in (I really do spend about 75% of my at-home time in the kitchen between cooking/cleaning/projecting/homeschooling/making snacks/eating meals, etc.), but just to have every last detail of the vision that I had in my head out of my noggin and on my walls/shelves.

(Or, at least that was true until the “O” from my ENJOY sign came crashing down to the floor during family Bible reading yesterday morning and shattered into a gazillion tiny fragments; you know you’re a mama-blogger when your knee-jerk thoughts are a) Praise Jesus there wasn’t a baby underneath it and b) Praise Jesus I had already taken pictures of that because it probably won’t get replaced for a good long while and c) somebody needs to go sweep that up!

But even as genuine as that happiness is, I have to admit that, as  I was editing my pictures, another person’s beautiful kitchen popped up in my IG feed, and my knee-jerk reaction to that was to think something mopey like, “Mine’s not nearly as polished and awesome as hers.”

I know we’ve all heard this quote a ton, but…Comparison really IS the thief of joy.

I get a lot of joy from pouring my heart and soul into the heart and soul of my home. And still, a moment of viewing someone else’s version of kitchen happiness is able to (at least momentarily) tarnish that??? Ridiculous.

I would love to just blame it on preggo hormones, but I think it’s more of a human nature thing–a finding-your-worth-in-your-works instead of the-One-who-works-all-things-together-for-good kind of thing.

ANYhoo, I say all of that to assure you that your feedback–and above all the repeated, “It looks like you!” sentiment–was such a helpful reaffirmation of what I already know to be true: God created us all with unique talents and tastes, and while we can certainly appreciate someone else’s talents and tastes, the second we cross the line into coveting them, we’re not going to be content with our own anymore. And that’s just wrong.

So, yeah. Thanks for helping to restore some much-needed perspective.

And now on to the actual purpose of this post.

And that would be introducing you to this pretty, who had already caught several of your eyes from Monday’s post.

audrey mixer

Meet Audrey (yes, as in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…Tiffany blue…and all that).

She’s my new kitchen BFF.

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{See her hiding back there all being all demure?}

Of course, since I love her so much, I am definitely hoping that she never has a run-in with my former kitchen BFF, Penelope, her scarlet predecessor, who got unceremoniously carted off by a total stranger following a parking lot rendezvous in which cold, hard cash changed hands. (I promise this is not how I treat my real-life pals).

That might get ugly.

But, here’s the thing: as much as I loved ol’ Penny, her sheer redness just didn’t jive any longer with the lighter/brighter vibe I was going for.

So, my options were to a) paint her myself (which would not have gone well), b) have her repainted by an autobody shop (apparently, they’ve been known to do such things and, while not cheap, it’s usually less than buying new), or c) sell her and buy a new one in my preferred color choice.

Since I got her for such a great deal brand new 5 years ago, I was pretty sure I could get at least all of my money back, which made the swap a bit of no-brainer.

Turns out, I was right. I actually made money selling her used (and without asking an exorbitant price, either) and then put that fundage toward the purchase of pretty lil’ Audrey, who just so happened to be on major sale (I did a lot of research and couldn’t find a better deal than this site offered), with a coupon code AND a $50 factory rebate.

Suh-weet!

As it turns out (and don’t tell Penelope), Audrey is more than just another pretty face. She’s actually quieter and runs more smoothly than Penny (who definitely got the job done and had no actual “problems” but was just a little bit on the noisier/rougher side, in general…which I would have never known before I got Audrey).  I don’t know if I just lucked out or if Kitchenaid actually upgraded their design.

But I do know this: Audrey and I are very happy together.

Do you have a Kitchenaid mixer? If so, how long have you had it, what color is it, and–most importantly of all–what is its name? I guess you already know all of my answers.  I don’t see myself getting another one any time soon (probably never), but I definitely wouldn’t complain if I won one of those fancy, painted flowery ones that the Pioneer Woman gives away!

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