The Versatile Blogger Award

Well, I’d like to thank the Academy… I mean Stephicakes, one of the most recent jewels I’ve found in my blog surfing, for nominating me for this award. It is good to know that someone I enjoy reading enjoys reading my work as well. And not only enjoys reading it, but thinks I am versatile in my choice/style of writing topics. This is not the first time I’ve received this nomination, but, not knowing how seriously to take it and always being a bit leery of the facebook-type fill-in-the-blank and pass-it-along publicity stunts, I never followed through. But since I felt flattered when I received it then, as I do now, I figured I’d flatter a few other people and pass it along. So here goes:

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to 15 other bloggers.

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Seven Things About Myself:

1.) I am hopelessly in love with three men at the same time! Scandalous, I know! OK, I’ll admit it, two of them are men-in-the-making… but still. Anyone who has read any of my blog probably knows that I’m referring to my hubby and my two boys, the second of which is scheduled to make his debut in only a few short weeks. I ADORE being a mother, even if I’m not always very good at it. It has been one of the most fulfilling (and dang difficult) endeavors I have ever undertaken. And the lessons I have learned in the process are often the topics of this blog.

2.) I aspire to one day be a published author. I know, I know… what consistent and dedicated blogger doesn’t? I’m not entirely sure that I will accomplish this goal some day, but it would be amazing and wonderful if I did. I hope to write children’s books primarily and am constantly toying with new ideas.

3.) One of my biggest motivators in writing this blog (or one day attempting to get published) is the desire to leave a written legacy to my children and grandchildren. To pass on tidbits of wisdom and humility, humor and beauty, and small vignettes of what life looked like when I was young (OK, maybe not so young anymore, but youngER).

4.) Although it is a significant battle sometimes, I REFUSE to give in to cynicism. I prefer instead to believe the best of people and let them continually surprise me; to not always plan for the worst case scenario, but rather the best; and to not let the things that so easily bog us down take a more prominent seat to those that are quietly beautiful.

5.) I LOVE shopping! More specifically bargain hunting. I can’t really explain it, but it gives me a rush of satisfaction and relieves stress in ways very little else can.

6.) I adore cooking and frequently create my own recipes. I see it as a creative outlet, building dishes that are unique and interesting and satisfying out of sometimes surprising ingredients. I rarely use, or perhaps I should say follow, a recipe unless it’s as a springboard for ideas or to remind myself of something lovely I created in the past. My cooking is experimental and, although not all of these experiments are a success, I like to share the ones that are with you, my faithful readers. I imagine that you all jump to cook my most recent recipe post as soon as it comes up, and although I know this is probably not the case, a girl can dream, right ;)

7.) I host a book club once a month that has proven to be an excellent outlet for intellectually stimulating adult conversation that does not center around family and children and everyday life. It has also kept me consistently reading new and surprising books – something that has always been very important for my development both as a person and as a writer.

8.) BONUS tidbit – Although I love being a mother, I HATE being pregnant. Perhaps this is only relevant to me right now because I am enormous and uncomfortable, but it’s true. I also know many of you would gasp and think, “Pregnancy is beautiful and magical, etc. Enjoy every minute!” To those people I want to say, “You are very lucky if that was your experience, and more power to you! Pop out as many kids as you please and embrace the magic!” But for me, this will most likely be my last pregnancy.

So there are just a few things about me you may have already known, or perhaps you didn’t. This is definitely not a comprehensive list, nor is it written in any particular order other than the order in which they popped into my mind. If you are intrigued and would like to know more about me, keep reading . . . I am certainly not shy or private in my writing.

As far as who I’d like to pass this award on to, here is an incomplete list. I don’t want to pick 15 simply because I have to, so I’m picking the ones that I actually consistently read and am personally inspired by:

Life As I Know It – a blog about the many hats of a mom.

Broadside – a blog by a writer in NY who’s life inspires me and whose writing is always intriguing.

Doodlemum – a charming sketch blog that always hits very close to home.

Pomp And Circumstance – a design AND fashion blog, how can you beat that?

Utterly Smitten – tidbits of design and daily life.

The Cotton Boll Conspiracy – a history blog with anecdotes about history that are often surprising.

Redesigning Sarah – a design blog that is always beautiful and a great source for inspiration.

Xanax or Running Shoes? – an honest take on life as a working mom.

Chai Thoughts – my friend’s beautiful blog about life, photography, family, and inspiration.

Dear Photograph – I can’t even summarize this one. You must go check it out.

Jeeze, Julia! – a delightfully whimsical view into one woman’s life and style.

2 Sleeping Babies – a friend’s blog about motherhood and all that it entails.

With a Little Pixie Magic – another friend’s blog who writes about a little of everything in life that just takes a little magic.

Hope you find all of these blogs as intriguing as I do, and show everyone a little love while you’re there!

A Mini-Vacation In A Day

There are some days that you feel like you’ll never recover from. And then there are days that epitomize the recovery that weeks of stress require. Perhaps the later is more rare, but it also leaves a more lasting impression on your psyche. Friday was just such a day for me. It was a mini-vacation in a day without ever leaving town – or even a 5 mile radius of where I work – and it has invigorated my spirit and refreshed my mind and body in a way that I haven’t experienced in some time. I confessed to my husband when I returned home, that despite a few instances of describing my wonderful family to those who inquired, I didn’t really think of them, or anyone else, at all. It was a day just for me and I reveled in it.

It began with an early departure from work to attend a “team-building” event that had the potential to be either amazing or awkward. Thankfully it turned out to be delightful. The company took our whole department to the local Viking cooking school and had us divide into groups to take a cooking class, at the end of which we got to enjoy the fruit of our labor. The menu we were preparing was entitled “Chicago Steakhouse” and was comprised of grilled rib-eye steaks over a bed of sautéed spinach and mushrooms with a side of bacon wrapped scallops atop homemade hash-browns and spicy apricot glaze, a delicious salad with fresh vinaigrette, and a heavenly apple tart for desert. There was wine and appetizers, lots of laughter and camaraderie, and, in the end, the utter enjoyment of a job very well done.

After stuffing myself to my heart’s content and taking a few extra minutes to browse the Viking gift shop, it was on to the next event of the day – my one hour prenatal massage at Aqua Day Spa, courtesy of my husband for our anniversary. Anyone whose ever been pregnant, and even most of you who haven’t, know that there’s not much better than calming your aching and disproportionate body with this kind of relaxation. The physical and emotional therapy of this section of my day needs little explanation or embellishment, so I’ll just say that it was lovely!

I went straight from my massage appointment to their salon next door and got my first haircut in over six months. And this wasn’t just any haircut. It was a masterpiece by a hairdresser who took an hour and a half with me, carefully and meticulously getting everything just the way he, and I, wanted it to be to make sure that I “wowed” my hubby when I got home. I love my hair long, but too often I feel that I sacrifice style for length and it just hangs loosely around my face with very little in the way of interest or fashion. This time, however, he managed to leave my length and still create a style that had movement and life and intrigue. I was SO pleased. He actually apologized to me for taking so long, and I assured him that anyone who was willing to take a such time to pamper or beautify me, was more than welcome to do so and I was quite grateful!

After all of this, I returned home to find that my boys had had a fantastic day together and had made lasagna and salad for supper which I didn’t have to lift a finger to prepare or clean up. As I shared with them the details of my day, I am sure that every feature of my face and the deepest parts of my eyes confessed more adequately than my lips ever could that… I was myself again. I was happy. And I was reminded, once again that life does not consist wholly of the tasks and stresses that claim so much of our time.

Fashion on a Budget

I have shared with you all before my love of shopping as a means of reducing stress. I know that for many of you this is unfathomable since shopping and stress are essentially synonyms in your book. But for me shopping is an outlet unlike any other, and it’s guaranteed to lift my spirits. But regardless of whether or not you share this sentiment, most of you can understand the ‘tired’ feeling that your wardrobe gets after certain items have been used and re-used – sometimes for years. It is that feeling that, despite having full draws and closets, you actually like very little of whats in there and constantly feel as though you have nothing to wear. Oh well . . . back to old faithful . . . Sigh. Because in today’s economy, who can afford to revamp their wardrobe every year?  YOU CAN! With a little extra work and an affinity for bargains and consignment stores, you can accomplish a tremendous amount on a dime.  Particularly if, at the end of a season, you find sales at consignment stores. Then the already ridiculously low prices are cut in half. And you can feel good about what you are buying, not only because you are saving so much money, but because you are helping reduce waste by buying second-hand. The best way to demonstrate this amazing potential is to share with you my most recent jackpot. Everything below I got for a TOTAL of $70.00 – the cost of one outfit new at a department store.  Enjoy and happy bargain hunting!

Yellow Dress - $4.80 (found at the Bargain Boutique); Red Dress - $4.00, Red Jewelry - $3.00 (both found at Goodwill), Boots - $3.00 (found at the Bargain Boutique)

Plaid Top - $3.20, Red Top - $2.40, Sandals $3.00 (all found at the Bargain Boutique)

White Top - $3.20, Black Top $2.40 (both found at the Bargain Boutique)

Red Top - $3.20, Purple Top - $2.40, Jean Skirt - $3.20, Shoes - $3.00 (all found at the Bargain Boutique)

Black Top - $3.20, Patterned Top $2.40 (both found at the Bargain Boutique); Jeans - $4.50 (on clearance at Target)

Coral Skirt - $3.20, White Shirt - $1.60 (both found at the Bargain Boutique), Grey Dress - $15.00 (found at Kid's Kloset)

Digital Retail Therapy

When I was young, or perhaps I should say when I was childless, one of my most significant forms of stress management was SHOPPING!  I love to shop.  I believe some people call this retail therapy.  However, since Aiden came along and basically ruined shopping for me, turning it from stress management into stress manufacturing, I have pretty much given up shopping altogether.  While this is good for the pocketbook, which has also suffered since the arrival of our not so little bundle of joy, it is not so good for my moral. 

Enter online shopping!  Don’t get me wrong, the internet will never replace the sights, sounds, smells, and excitement of hitting the shops with some girlfriends and scoring incredible bargains, but it’s something.  It’s an outlet.  And there is SO much out there that you would never find in an ordinary store in your local strip mall.  One of my all-time favorite sites is ModCloth.com.  Their retro style is amazing and I feel inspired almost every time I visit their site.  They also have a blog called “Life in Style” that I have linked in my interests if you’d like to check it out.  I think, if I could just perfect my money tree project, I would redesign my entire wardrobe based on items, or at least inspiration from their site.  Here are a few of my recent favorites, just to peak your interest.

A collection of ModCloth Dresses that are to die for!

 

A variety - I actually purchases this retro inspired swimsuit last year and LOVE it. It's so modest that I feel comfortable in it while still feeling sexy and pin-up-ish.

 

ModCloth Hats and Shoes - Just lovely!