Friday Free-For-All

Posted by on May 25, 2012 | 0 comments

I need a day with my kids.  I’m going to be on the computer as little as possible today.  We’re getting ready to celebrate my  husband’s birthday.  And hanging out on a chilly, gray day.  I hope you are with ones you love for at least part of today.

I hope this weather clears up.  I’m supposed to go to this event tonight.  I have to wear all white.  Yes, me, Ms. Pasty-I-Am-Midwestern Nat- I shall be wearing all white tonight.  And I’ve fixed a lovely dinner for us, to boot.  It will be fun, wet or dry.  I’m just hoping it’s more dry than wet.  We’ll see.

Next week  I’m planning on finally sharing my daughter’s low-key birthday party, and I’ll be sharing a new project I’m going to embark on (a BIG one) on my Facebook page.  Have you been there?  I sort of live on Facebook.  Except for today.  :)

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

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My New Hair Style {Short Hair Rocks}

Posted by on May 23, 2012 | 9 comments

It was time for a new hair style.  Way past due.

If you’re like me, then you value a good hair stylist.  I learned this quickly in my early hair stylin’ days.  It was clear that if you want a good cut, you need a good, confident stylist.  This is especially true with short hair because you don’t have much wiggle room.  If someone messes up your hair and it’s already short…you got problems.

I’ve been super lucky in my San Diego years.  My stylist, Liesel, has been doing my hair since 2002, I think.  That’s 10 years, folks.  I am loyal.  And I’m loyal for good reason:  Liesel is A.M.A.Z.E.B.A.L.L.S.  Not only does she cut my hair really well, but she also has become a wonderful friend, and of course she knows a ton about me (and vice versa) since I verbally vomit on her every time she gives me an amazing hair cut.

Back to my current state of affairs.  I loved my previous ‘do.  Here’s how it looked:

 It was fun, and I always received compliments on it.  But there were a few issues.  I was tired of the flat-ironing, and tired of having it in my face.   Clips were getting annoying, and with an East-County-San Diego summer looming….a short hair style was just what I needed.   I’m also running a lot, and having hair in your face when you run…not cool.   Then, there was also this:

See that row of hair that lines my forehead?  Driving me nuts.  That’s all the hair that fell out soon after Emily was born.  My hair fell out for months, and now it’s finally growing back.  However, in a few more months, if I left my hair style the same, I would have been battling a lion’s mane or something.  It’s easier to just cut it short and then it can all grow out together, like one big happy family.

Here’s my new look:

Love.

When Liesel cut my hair I had my Short Hair Ideas Pinterest board pulled up.  We talked about what we liked about all of them, and ultimately went with this one as reference.

I have so many friends (and also random people) tell me that I can “pull it off” when I get a short hair style like this.  I really think just about anyone can “pull off” any hair style they want.  Here’s the key:  you have to like it.   So get your hair cut the way YOU like it. Not the way your man likes it, the way your partner likes it, the way your friends like it.  Style your hair for yourself- you’re the one who has to deal with it.  It especially drives me bonkers when I hear women say that they “can’t” cut their hair because “my husband wouldn’t like it.”   Does he dry your hair?  No?  Does he flat iron or curl it for ya?  No.  Then tough.   Just my two cents.

I love my hair.  Thanks, Liesel!  You da bomb!

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How To Be A Photographer

Posted by on May 21, 2012 | 5 comments

I’ve been wanting to learn how to be a photographer.  More than just a point and shoot camera kind of gal.  For my birthday in March, my husband scraped together enough funds to buy me a new {used} camera, and I’ve been failing horribly.  Even in auto mode I felt like I was taking horrible pictures.  It took me two weeks just to figure out how to take auto photos with no flash.  …Yeah, it was bad.  If you want to see some examples of some awful photos I’ve taken you can check them out here, here, or here.  That’s just a few.

A few weeks ago, my friend Tonya of Create-Celebrate-Explore called me up and said, “I found a photography class.  Want to go?” Um, let me think.  Heck. YES!  And folks, let me tell ya- it was amazing.  I needed this experience for so many reasons!  It was so great to get away for a day and focus on something, learn a new skill, and feel confident about it.

This past Saturday Tonya and I headed up to Santa Ana.  The class was put on by the lovely and amazingly friendly Cynthia Shaffer.  Cynthia was so welcoming, and we immediately started talking as if we had known each other for years.  She’s just that easy to be around.  Another nice thing was that there were four people signed up for the class- we got a really personal experience.  Cynthia said that there have been as many as ten participants, and even that is manageable, but I’m still glad we had a small group.

The class was put on by Studio Crescendoh.  If you haven’t checked out this place and you live in So-Cal, go check it out.  They offer classes in all sorts of art mediums.  I went up a few months ago with my friend Dana and we were so taken with the lovely people and atmosphere of this little gem.

The format of the class was wonderful.  Everyone started at square one together.  Cynthia gave us a tour of our cameras- we were accessing parts I didn’t even know existed.  There was lots of, “Hey! How did you do that?!”  After the intro, she talked about all sorts of fancy photographer terms like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.  I understood all of these things individually but didn’t really understand how to sync them all together to be…. a real photographer.   All of a sudden under Cynthia’s instruction… I could take pictures!  We spent some time in the studio- there were tons of things to take pictures of.  Then, after lunch we went on a walk and Cynthia showed us more about taking photos outdoors, metering light, and taking portraits.  It was so great.  The day ended with a look at photo editing.  When we left my brain was on overload, but in a good way.  Below are some of my favorite photos that I took.  With my camera.  Like a real photographer.

 

This lovely little candle cozy is in one of Cynthia’s crafting books.   They are so sweet, and a great first subject.

This was a great photo where we talked about how to position and light things for studio shots.  Cynthia takes a lot of photos for craft and art books (many of which she made herself), as well as doing portraits and events.

I got to use one of Cynthia’s lenses for this photo.  It was a long lens, so I was probably standing a good 15 feet away from these little shoes.

This is the ceiling in the old building that houses Studio Crescendoh.  It’s so unique, and a good photography study- it’s hard to get bright colors to show when they are surrounded by black.

Some paintings on the wall inside Studio Crescendoh.

On our walk outside we came to these trees; their bark is like sheets of paper- so cool!

One of my favorites- dripping water!  I also had fun editing this photo.  I also just stared at it a lot.

This is just outside the studio- I love the colors of this art against the bland sidewalk.

The lovely Tonya.  She would not say as much about herself, but she is lovely.  Yes, Tonya.  You’re lovely.  And now you’re a lovely photographer.

This is Beth.  She is super sweet. (Beth, if you’re reading this- I can’t find your blog- send me a link!)

This is Jenn.  She’s also super sweet.  She also has a blog.  You can see it here.

The biggest lesson for me in this was that when you want to learn something, don’t spend your time futzing around with trying to do it yourself.  Ask a totally awesome professional to help.  This class was worth every penny and more- and it wasn’t even that expensive!  If you want to see what other classes Studio Crescendoh offers, click here.

 

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Friday Free For All?

Posted by on May 18, 2012 | 1 comment

I am having  a crazy time here, folks.  Cra. Zy.

I have three kids.  Up until a few days ago, Anna (5) was the only one not napping.  Jack (3), was a champion napper, and of course, at 10 months, Sweet Em is napping twice a day.  Those afternoon naps have been precious.  Anna has “quiet time” and Jack & Em would sleep and I…. could BLOG.  And WORK.  And most importantly, I could complete a thought, have a phone conversation, and go the loo without an audience.

Yesterday my sweet Jack was bound and determined to NOT.  NAP.  And “quiet time” does not translate for this boy, folks.  If he doesn’t want to be in his room, then he lets us know.  And conveniently… his room?  It’s next to Emily’s.  Neat.  Today it was the same thing- lots of protests, lots of noise, not a lot of down time for mommy.

So, this mom is doing her best to let go of the nap.

So there’s that.

And then… I just feel like I’m in recovery mode.  In the span of just a week I helped put on a Family Music Festival (1,500 people attended- holla!), planned and executed a much-more-relaxed birthday party for Anna (post forthcoming), and the very next night had a wonderful get together with old friends.  It was fun, but it was also exhausting.

And then there’s this fitness challenge, which I am not doing as well in as I had hoped.  And I know exactly why:  I need to workout more.  I’m eating really, really well (I think).  We bought a juicer (more to come on that), and I’m eating lean proteins, fruits & veggies.  But my body needs to MOVE and all I want to do… is sleep.   I’m hoping that the juicer and some major workouts this week will help.

I’m very excited, though, that this Saturday I will be attending a photography workshop.  I’ll tell you all about it next week.  Promise.   Right now, I need to go to bed.  Not my most stellar blogging week, but we all have our challenges.

Catch ya next week!

 

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Teacher Appreciation Week

Posted by on May 16, 2012 | 5 comments

I love a good Teacher Appreciation Week.  When I was a teacher this week couldn’t come at a better time; it was usually during a crazy, hectic spring-is-insane kind of week, and the parents at our school always did an amazing job of making us feel loved and valued.  I learned a lot of great ideas as a teacher, and now that I am a parent with kids in preschool (and soon-to-be kindergarten) I was excited to shower the teachers at our preschool with some TLC.  Hopefully my ideas will give you some inspiration, too.

My kids go to a local preschool that has a very laid-back feel.  I love it.  There isn’t a lot of fuss about anything- the kids are there to be loved and to learn to love school.  The teachers love what they do.  Can’t ask for much more than that!

In years past, I’ve done a “Thank You Party” for the teachers that taught my kids.  It was really fun, but the longer they are at this school, the more teachers they come into contact with, and hosting an entire staff at my house… well, I do love a good party, but I’m not quite ready for that.  So this year, now that I’m not pregnant or teaching, I decided this is the year to do a real Teacher Appreciation Week.  Here’s what I did to prepare and put it into action!

 

{Prepare}

I emailed our preschool director to get the message out, and she forwarded my email to all of the parents at our school.  I requested that all of the parents let me know if they wanted to help out, contribute money, or whatever was easiest.  I also let everyone know that participation was not required, as I didn’t want to pressure anyone into doing something when they had already planned their own thing.  Very quickly we had a plan, which you’ll see below.

Then I gave a questionnaire to all of the teachers to find out what they like to eat, do, etc.  I thought this would help the parent get to know the teachers and also get everyone excited about the week.  When the teachers filled these out, I compiled them into a simple Word document and emailed it out to the parents to help them with ideas for personal gifts, etc.  Here’s the questionnaire- feel free to download it!  Just click and “save as.”

I also put out sign-up sheets for parents to bring in treats on two days.  One day is for healthy snacks and the other is sweet treats- a little bit of both sides of the spectrum.  To help with costs for decorations and gifts for the directors and cook at the school, I also put out a collection envelope.  This was very helpful- it gave me a budget to work with, and any remaining money can be put towards a gift card to a book store or a place like Lakeshore Learning.  This also allowed super-busy families to contribute and help out without stressing out.

{Action}

The Thursday before Teacher Appreciation Week I passed out this sheet to all of the teachers so that they could know what they had to look forward to for the week.  It’s always fun to know what’s going on and be informed, right?!

 

Monday

Once the plan is in place everything sort of takes care of itself.   The only really involved thing was this past Monday.  Everyone brought in flowers when they dropped off their kids, and we needed to get them into vases so that each room had fresh flowers to enjoy for the week.

I had help from two lovely moms, and another decorated vases for us- they are perfect!  I showed up with an empty bucket and some trimmers for trimming stems.  It took us about an hour to get the flowers removed from their wrappers, separated into 10 bouquets, and trimmed to fit the vases.  I was very thankful for the help- doing it by myself would have taken a few hours.  I also downloaded this adorable bunting from Urban Bliss- I think it was intended to be used as flash cards, but I wanted something cute to hang, so I just punched holes and used some ribbon.  It looks super cute.  I also sewed together some streamers thanks to the amazing Dana.  I made these for Jack’s Party and they will become a staple in our house, for sure.

 

Tuesday

Parents bring in treats.  I was planning on setting them out, but my son, Jack, was sick, so an awesome mom pitched in and set stuff out for me so I didn’t contaminate the food. :)  Thanks, Jessica!

Wednesday

I called our local Jamba Juice and got a great deal on 20 smoothies.  They even gave us a nice discount since we were a) ordering a boat-load of smoothies, and b) it was for amazing teachers.  Score!

Thursday

Parents bring in treats.  Easy!

Friday

I pick up bagels and cream cheese to bring in, and parents bring in their own gifts.  I also bring in gifts for the director and cook of the school.  Hooray for Teacher Appreciation Week!

What do you do during this week for your kids’ teachers?  There’s tons of inspiration on Pinterest, but I’d love to hear what you have done, too!

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Knitting Project Complete

Posted by on May 14, 2012 | 1 comment

I’m so glad that I finished this cowl… just in time for June.  (Read that with as much sarcasm as you can stand.)

I don’t know what the deal is with me and knitting projects lately, but it takes me f.o.r.e.v.e.r to complete them.  This one will have to get tucked away into my closet and come out in the fall because I know I won’t need it this summer.  But I still LOVE how it turned out.  I first saw this on Pinterest, and sourced it to Jen Geigley’s blog, Hey! Jen Renee.  Jen so nicely posted here about seeing this cowl at The Gap and she just made her own version (without a seam, to boot).  I used the exact same yarn, just a different color.  I’m really into gray.  Grey.  However you spell it.

I did run out of steam at the end, so mine is not the full width it should be, but it’s still plenty thick.   And I LOVE the seed stitch- I’ve never done it before.  I do worry that with my next project my brain is going to get confused with when to purl and when to knit, but I’m sure I’ll get back on track.

So that you can see it in action, I even made you a video so you can see how it looks on….with my summer tanktop and all.

 

 

Thanks for such a great pattern, Jen!

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#iwillrockthis Challenge Update

Posted by on May 10, 2012 | 1 comment

Have you heard about the I Will Rock This Challenge going on?  I’m participating!  I’m on a journey to being healthier and more fit.  The more fit…man, that’s gonna take a while.  But the healthier, in terms of eating habits and choices, is coming along just splendidly.

Soon you will hear about my juicer, juicing, and anything fruit and veggie-ish.  Am I going vegetarian?  Vegan, even?  Nope.  (Sorry, Janis.)  But I AM cramming more fruits & veggies down my own throat, and I’m noticing a difference in the way I feel and how my body is, well, behaving, I guess.  I just feel better- we’ll leave it at that.  This juicer I ordered… it comes on Tuesday next week.  You will likely see me posting pictures of it on my Facebook page because I am SO EXCITED to get it.

I’ve eliminated processed carbs like bread and refined sugar.  I’m eating little to no dairy, and for someone who really loves ice cream and anything creamy- this is a huge step.  I used to allow myself to drink a huge glass of milk each morning, milk on my cereal, yogurt every day for lunch, cheese & crackers as a snack, ice cream after dinner/before bed…  And then I’d wonder why my stomach was in knots a few times a day.  Duh.

Has my weight changed?

Well, that’s interesting.  I posted earlier about my attempt at my own version of the HCG diet.  Since starting that diet I’ve lost about 17 pounds.  But during the I Will Rock This challenge… I’ve just held steady.  And that’s okay.  I’ve been more active and I’m not eating as strictly as I did doing HCG- I needed more calories.  So I’m still balancing everything out, and hope to move up in the rankings in the coming weeks.

I’m working out as often as possible.  I have to work really hard to make the time and get it done.  I’ve been on two runs, tried the 30-day-Shred workout, a Pilates workout, and I’ve cleaned my house, which counts for something.  I also recently went through my closet and was able to put on seven, count ’em, SEVEN pairs of pants and shorts that did not fit me before my birthday.  Holla!

One thing I’m loving about this challenge is the group of women who are participating.  We are so nice to each other, even though there’s a nice pile o’ cash at the end of this health rainbow.  We exchange ideas, vent, and cheer each other on.

And so, there’s my update.  I’d post a picture update, but there’s no huge change to how I look.  After I get my haircut next week, though- you’ll see a pic of me soon enough. 😉   Be sure to check in tomorrow- I finally finished a knitting project!

(click here for photo credit)

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