21 July 2017

Big Likes #8: Rodan and Fields Redefine Lip Renewing Serum

It's tough trying to keep your lips soft and pretty in the desert. So my big like for this week is Rodan and Fields lip serum. It's amazing. The first time I used it I put it on The Man's and Kiddo's lips. It was the end of winter and both of them had cracked, bleeding and dry lips. The next morning their lips were soft and smooth. A little miracle.

The Man has now become religious about using it and boy do his lips look and feel nice. I love how it softens and smooths my own lips and apply it on my own lips nightly and in the mornings when I remember. I try to get it on Kiddo as often as she'll hold still to do it.

I like to use it as a base coat before lipstick and gloss. The gloss seems to stick to the serum better than lipstick but I've always been a gloss girl and never much liked lipstick so that works just fine for me when I apply them both at the same time. If you're a lipstick wearer and want to try it I would just put it on well before I'm ready to do lipstick and it should be just fine. Even without any lip color my lips look healthy and shiny and fine as they are.

Another thing I love about it is that it has no taste or flavor. Super simple. This is just one of the products I initially tried from Rodan and Fields that made me say, "I need more of this stuff!" This is why Rodan and Fields Redefine Lip Renewing Serum is a Big Like for me!

17 July 2017

10 Things To Consider Before Buying A Mountain Home

Well we've been living in a desert mountain environment for more than two years now and have been in our home for about 18 months. I've learned a few things that I thought I would share about buying a mountain home with a "wild" yard versus living in a designed, manicured neighborhood. There are a few things I've had to learn to adjust to, some things might have turned me away from choosing a mountain home and some benefits are priceless. But they are things I never thought about until I experienced them.

I'll start with the cons just to get them out of the way and so that I can end of a positive note:

1) Pest control: Oh the nature creatures sure are cute. The wild bunnies, flocks of quail, wild birds, and deer are so charming until you realize the furry creatures especially also bring fleas and other bugs along with them. We also have packrats, tons of mice, bobcats, snakes (poisonous and not), tarantulas, lots of spiders, very noisy, rather aggressive birds, coyotes that eat small pets and creatures, ants (of all varieties, sizes and biting abilities), and a lot more flying insects than I see at friends homes even just a little lower on the hill. Those include tarantula hawks which are giant relatives of hornets, hornets, wasps and bees. Pest control could be a full time job if we let it be. Don't imagine we are constantly under barrage of animals attacking us, but living with nature is living with nature. You have to be thoughtful and careful.

Last weekend we had a rattlesnake across our driveway and The Man could not get by, so he had to wait. Two weeks ago we had bear in our yard, very close to the house several times. That was a little scary, especially when one night I came across one and the next night The Man walked out of the house in the dark to a large bear on our front living room patio.

2) Protection for pets and children: All these critters also mean you have to be a lot more careful with children and household pets that go outside. Cats aren't safe around coyotes, and even a large dog can be taken down by a pack of coyotes or other predators. They can also pick up diseases from the wild creatures. Dogs can be rattlesnake trained but you can never guarantee what might happened if your pet comes across a poisonous creature in the wild. Child safety is also a big concern from all these same kinds of animals. I almost forgot to also mention dangerous plants! Cactus everywhere. I once had to pull a cactus needle out of Kiddo's shin that was embedded about 1/2" into her skin. Super gross feeling to keep pulling and pulling until it came out. She fell at the far back side of our property and had a lot way to drag herself back to the house to get help.

We have a rule that Kiddo can't go outside without telling us, so that we know to check on her every few minutes. Both kids and animals have to be trained to be watchful and they also need to be fairly closely supervised. It's also important to have first aid preparedness and plans for all these scenarios. Some extra caution is needed.

3) Mountain weather pattern dangers: The weather gets a little wilder in the foothills. This may mean more powerful winds, heavier rains, more powerful sudden storms of all kinds: electrical, thunder, snow, rain, etc. This can make driving more challenging too even when things are fine in the city. Temperatures can also be considerably colder in winter. You may be just a couple of miles away from the heart of town but a higher elevation, canyons and mountains that storm clouds will bang into make things a little more challenging and unpredictable. I was "twinkled" by some lightening two summers ago - it didn't strike loudly it just buzzed up the air around me and I was holding my cell phone and received a burn on my palm from where the phone contacted my hand. Not fun. I try not to go outside at all if we are having an electrical storm now.

4) Outdated utilities: The farther you live from "civilization" the less maintained utilities will be and the less interested companies are in investing in your neighborhood. Our neighborhood is about 30+ years old now. The lots are big and spread apart and the population is mostly over 70 years old. So you can imagine we are not the hotbed for the tech companies interested in investing in installing their latest technologies. Things you don't think about...high speed internet is everywhere now isn't it?!

The fact that home lots are big, spread far apart and that the soil is very rocky also adds to the plausible costs for utilities to consider upgrading to new systems and laying new wires that have to be buried underground. So our neighborhood has adequate but not great internet access and our options are limited. The phone lines are old, all the wiring is old. We've already had to have the internet company come and replace the main connector for our house at the junction box down the road and were without internet service for a week. It seems like every few weeks we have to restart our modem to reconnect to the system.

5) Public and emergency services availability: Once you are out of the city limits you will likely not be getting city water, garbage, sewer, or emergency services. You may be on the county system for fire and law enforcement and it's important to know how far away these facilities are located if you have an emergency at your home. We have a neighborhood association for garbage and water which we pay for and it's probably more that regular city services would be. We also have a septic tank instead of a sewer system. I have mixed emotions about that as well. Wouldn't probably be my first choice because we are fully, financially responsible for its proper function. When things go badly with a septic system it can mean replacing the entire tank and tearing up a major section of your yard to do it. $$$$$. Ouch.

6) Yardwork, soil and gardening challenges: In our neighborhood, most yards are left completely natural, in fact I think it's somewhat required. But if a homeowner wants to have a manicured space within a walled or fenced in area that is allowed in back of the house. We have a small grass area with a large patio, deck and pool deck area. We still haven't figured out how to deal with our grassy area as far are cutting it nicely because there are "architectural" rocks in the midst of it and around it. We need to work on that. My feeling is that a push mower would be the best bet. It's hardly worth buying a real lawnmower for such a tiny piece of grass plus it sounds incredibly dangerous potentially have rocks or bits of rock being shot out of the bottom of a power mower.

Trying to grow anything in this mountainy soil really is impossible unless it's something that is already growing on this mountainside. For any kind of gardening a lot of soil conditioning or container planting is necessary. However in the hot, desert climate, thing son planters have a hard time surviving. Large container or raised bed gardening seems like the best option. I have only planted a few small containers at this point. Maybe someday when we've finished up more house projects we can think about starting larger scale gardening projects.

Fantastic Pros:

7) The amazing views! Being higher up makes for amazing sunsets, city views and storm watching as they come across the valley. In our valley we enjoy an 80+ mile view in three directions. It's quite beautiful and the sunsets are stunning night after night after night. The mountains on the other side of our home are beautiful too. It's so much to take in and something we don't take for granted.

8) The privacy! We didn't really realize until we moved in that we actually have three houses that are within a few hundred feet of our house because the trees block the other houses nicely. But because the lots are bigger here we have plenty of privacy. All the bedrooms face out to big open, tree-lined spaces so we do feel there is a lot of privacy here.

9) Respectful neighbors. I think people who tend to live in neighborhoods like this are people who appreciate their privacy too so everything is very respectful for the most part. We did have some problems with a neighbor's dogs when they first moved in and were roaming into our yard without leashes and barking a lot but after neighbors complained that seemed to get significantly better. Our neighbors all wave as they drive through the neighborhood and we know we know them well enough to feel comfortable visiting but not intruded upon.

10) Distance from the city hustle and bustle. After living in one of the busiest areas of Los Angeles and surrounded by constant noise 24-hours a day, living a bit outside the noise of the city and traffic is lovely. It is so quiet up here. You can sit in bed at night at stare out the windows at the trees and stars and enjoy the silence. Some nights it is so quiet you can hear traffic from almost a mile away on the closest main road outside our neighborhood. That is such a huge change for us.

One thing that is very interesting is how voices carry across the mountains. Sometimes you can very clearly hear voices through the trees and there are no people there but the voices are coming from several homes away or a completely different direction. It is very strange and sometimes a little unsettling. The wind and the trees do interesting things to the things we hear.

There are so many things we do love about living here and I think there are, in any home one purchases, big pros and cons. Some you recognize before you move in and some you don't find out about until you've lived there for a time. I could do without the dangerous creatures, but I love our home, the yard and the views, our local church congregation and the friends we've made in the neighborhood. Our next door neighbors are the absolute best and that is something we had no idea about when we purchased the house because they were traveling from the time we first looked at the house until long after we'd closed on the house.

I choose to love the good and not worry too much about the challenges. Make the best of it all. Living in this mountain environment is a lot of fun and brings us a lot of things we needed at this point in our lives. I hope these tips will help you know if mountain living is right for you!

14 July 2017

Big Likes #7: Skylights

Growing up we had a skylight in our living room, but I never really understood how fantastic skylights were until I moved to the Southwest. Many homes here take advantage of skylights and it makes an amazing difference in the brightness of one's home and they are a big electricity saver too.

I first really noticed this when we moved into our home and our garage had a skylight in it. That means that you never need to turn the light on in the garage when you go in there during the day if the garage door is down. It's already light. I'm sort of surprised by this every time I walk into our garage because I have been so used to having to turn a light on in all the other garages I've had.

In the townhouse we lived in for a short time before we moved into our house there were skylights over the vanities in the bathrooms and it was wonderful to have that natural light when getting ready and looking in the mirrors. Another room where there are rarely windows and where you never needed to flip on the lights thanks to the skylights.

In this house we also have skylights in our family room and dining/living room and they make such a difference in the amount of light in those spaces. Albuquerque has an average of 310 days of sunshine a year, so we really get a great advantage to enjoying more natural light in our home and need less electrical lighting during daylight hours. The skylights have also really helped out our houseplants who seem so healthy and happy with the all natural light they get.

Skylights are not that expensive to install although I would suggest having a professional do it because it affects roofing and there can be problems with leaks if not installed properly. There are different versions that can be opened for additional ventilation too. Ours are opaque plastic bubbles, so they don't open but we have so many doors and windows in our house that can be opened that we really don't need that feature. But I sure do love our skylights, all the extra light they bring in just makes our home a happier place - and who does not want to save on lighting costs! Skylights are something I have learned to appreciate because of living in the southwest where they are plentiful. They are Big Like #7 this week.

11 July 2017

Visits From Friends On Cross-country Drives

Because we live along a major east-west U.S. highway corridor, occasionally friends pass through town on their way across the country. It seems every summer friends from afar are driving through Albuquerque.

Just last night good friends from California, who have been on a cross-country vacation, asked if we wanted to meet up for dinner later this week. A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of great friends from L.A. coming to town while on a cross-country roadtrip. Such fun. We first learned they would be coming last winter so it seemed a long way out and then suddenly it was time for them to come.

We met up on a Friday morning to ride the world-famous Sandia Peak Tramway to the top of 10,378 ft. high Sandia Peak. We took a short hike and enjoyed the cooler temperatures and beautiful lush green forest and meadows you don't get in the desert valley!

It was fun to see the kids run wild and enjoy each other's company, for all of us to breathe in the fresh air and for the grown up ladies to be able to chat too. The tram ride is amazing and the immensity of the natural beauty and the size of the mountain are pretty astounding.

It was a great opportunity to reconnect and I am realizing that living along I-40 is a blessing for staying connected with friends from afar. Riding the Sandia Peak Tramway is one of the best and most enjoyable activities you can do in Albuquerque for the views of the vast desert landscape we live in, to see the city from above, to get close to the mountains and get close to nature. Once at the top there is a lot to take in and it is all so beautiful.

One of the things that makes catching up with old friends who are passing through town most successful is being very flexible. These groups are usually passing through town on a pretty exhausting driving schedule and they may be delayed or arrive earlier than expected. I think it's important to consider how they are feeling when they arrive and not put a lot of expectations on them.

So we try to be helpful, non-pressuring, considerate and amenable to what they feel they are up for. Our first questions are always "Is there anything we can do for you?" and "What are you feeling up for?" That may be a quick fast food dinner, a full New Mexican food feast, a visit to an indoor activity where it is a cool, a refreshing swim, time for kids to escape the car, stretch their legs and run around in a park, or any variety of things.

When my family keeps this in mind it's okay if we need to reschedule or cancel at the last minute. We understand road trips and know that being open to what works best for our friends is the best for everyone. So we go with the flow and try to be helpful and understanding and not be so excited to see our friends that we overwhelm or further exhaust them with energy, big plans or unrealistic expectations. This has worked out really well.

I am putting together a list of ideas for just such occasions since we know our city better than visitors would. I have a list of suggested hotels and restaurants in a variety of price ranges and excursion ideas and good parks. That way when they ask we can easily have ideas at the ready to share. Sometimes friends get in touch in advance and sometimes it's very spur of the moment so having some ideas at the ready makes this easy.

This ability to have so many friends visit our city was a completely unexpected surprise but we sure are enjoying it. It's fun to share our city, catch up and maintain lifelong friendships!

07 July 2017

Business Classes & A Spiritual Book For Women

This has turned into quite a busy little summer with ongoing kid camps, lots of activities with friends, trying to grow three little businesses and taking two business courses. I think sometimes busy-ness can be a blessing to get us through certain periods of our lives and this might be one of them. I feel like the busy-ness is a bit of a blessing right now.

via Deseret Book
First thing I want to share with you is this wonderful book my sister sent me, A Quiet Heart by Patricia Holland. It was given to my sister by a friend and then my sister sent me a copy. It's a very small book in size and page number but it is filled with so much for the Christian woman's heart. I would recommend it to women of any faith. It is all about our place as women, as unique individuals, our need to filter out so many distractions and truly focus on one thing and that is submitting to the Lord's will for our lives and the promises that we will find peace, greater fulfillment and happiness there than in any other place possible.

It's message is one of gentleness, love, acceptance, humility, inner stillness and much more. Such a great read and truly inspired to help one center on the important and good things of life while letting go of the distractions of the world and the pain and suffering they cause us. Lovely read and I'm not quite done with it.

I signed up for a small business class at a local entrepreneur support organization a month or so ago. It is a six week class and we're about half done right now and the homework/preparation load is increasing. But I am learning a lot and enjoying the class.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a self-sufficiency class at our church which included a breakout group for people wanting to grow a small business. That is definitely something I want to do but dedicating one night a week to it when we are already quite busy in the evenings was a tough commitment - especially realizing it will be almost fall and we'll back in school before this class ends.

We're two weeks in, still 10 weeks to go, but it has been an amazing and enlightening experience already, even when I am so tired I am falling asleep during the conversations. After a couple of nights of little sleep this past week, it was tough for me to stay awake in our class on Wednesday. The whole concept of taking classes with people who can share expertise and individual talents and work together to help each other is pretty brilliant. There isn't a teacher for the class but instead a facilitator - who just helps foster the conversation. There is a curriculum but as a class we go through it together, taking turns reading, presenting ideas, etc.

Both classes come with some fairly significant homework and that is taking some getting used to and some juggling to be able to make it happen. If I thought it was a challenge getting homework done in high school or college, it is much more challenging being married and having a family, a house, and lots of other responsibilities. Wow. But I'm getting it done, even if it's an hour before the class.

I already know that both classes are helping me be a better business person and that will help me across the board in anything I do career-wise. I've invested quite a bit of time and money in my career this summer and I am anxious/excited to get it to pay off. In my logical mind it makes sense that it will but there is always that little voice that speaks fear, failure and falling on your face. But it's good to just shut that one off and do your best.

I hope that a year from now I can look back on this post and see a happy trail of successful growth both spiritually and career-wise. I've been reminded of the philosophy that any forward movement is a move in the right direction and whatever energy you put forward towards your goals will get you in the right direction, even if its not the direction you expected or does not bring the outcomes you expected. I've been trying to just do what I think I need to do each day and not get too crazed about life. Staying in a place of faith and inner-stillness is of massive importance to me in my life right now and it is blessing me so much that I can't even tell you.

03 July 2017

My New & Amazing Skincare Regimen: Rodan + Fields

A few weeks ago my friend Rebecca asked if she could send me a sample of Rodan + Fields to try out and write a review blog post about my experience with the new Active Hydration Serum. Since moving to the high desert of New Mexico from coastal California my skin has never quite recovered. Keeping it moisturized has been a constant battle so I was willing to try anything, but when I heard Rodan + Fields I knew the quality and was very interested. The creators of Rodan + Fields also create Proactiv which I'm sure you've heard of -- and I believe really made it possible for no teenager to have to suffer through bad acne ever again. Life changer!

image via rodan + fields
A few months ago I had to go without makeup for a medical procedure but still wanted to have a healthy, shiny face. I ended up putting moisturizer on five times that morning but in the end achieved a healthy glow I was looking for. I was hoping Active Hydration Serum would produce a similar result with less effort and that it would be more long lasting.

I went into this experiment with good hopes but totally prepared to be completely honest about the results. Rodan + Fields products are very high quality but they are not inexpensive so I needed to see real results before I would recommend a product in this price range to my readers. I can say after several weeks of use I have been more than impressed with Active Hydration Serum.

After just two days of use I could see and feel a difference in my skin. First off my skin didn't look dry. Second the texture felt different, it was so soft. Third thing I noticed is that my skin glowed. In the beginning I put it on morning and night and applied it twice each time. My skin was drinking it in. As the days and weeks have passed I have used less and less, which obviously makes the product last longer and seems to indicate my skin is getting moister and more healthy. After about four weeks of use, I am only applying it at night. In the mornings I wake up and my skin looks dewy and shiny. I love how much younger and brighter my skin looks.

I have to tell you that trying Active Hydration Serum not on had a big impact on my complexion but it also had a powerful impact on my thinking. When my skin looked better than it has in years, I had this realization that I did not have to resign myself to the aging process. If I could feel better about my skin I could feel better about so many things that come with aging.

Taking the time to give my skin more love each night by cleansing thoroughly and creating a better nightly routine for my face, inspired me to take better care of my oral hygiene as well. I started whitening my teeth again which I have not done in a while. That carried over to adding other self-care regimens to my bedtime preparations. It also built back into the end of the day some much enjoyed and appreciated me time. I started listening to inspiring talks while I did my new, more thorough routine and that started feeding my soul too. I began feeling more inspired and excited about life and my life energy.

I saw more changes I could make to feel younger and more energetic and after seeing the results on my face, I wanted more results in all areas of my life. I took my workouts up a notch and made more changes that would energize my life. Active Hydration Serum inspired a real game-changing experience for me. I can't control the passing of the years, but I sure can control how I think, feel and act as the years pass. It's funny to say that a skin care product did that for me, but it did and it was the last thing I expected - and I am so grateful!

Rebecca also included a Glow Pack sample when she sent me the Active Hydration Serum. It included a Redefine Daily Cleansing Mask, Overnight Restorative Cream and a Redefine Lip Serum. I'll share more about my experience with those products in future posts.

Because of the pleasing results I got from Active Hydration Serum I contacted my friend Rebecca again and asked her to tell me more about the Rodan + Fields skin care line.  While I was visiting my parents I got together with Rebecca and talked all things Rodan + Fields. I knew I was going to want to share my experience with the products she had sent me with friends and family.

Aging skin and dry skin are topics of conversation in my world with friends and neighbors. We're all fighting it. Especially here in New Mexico, and in places like Las Vegas, where you can't even leave a slice of bread out on the counter for a few minutes without it drying it. With our high altitude, wind and dry climate here in NM, anything that gives a person soft, dewy skin is a game changer. I knew I would be talking about how these products affected my life and I believed others would be interested. So much to my surprised I became interested in becoming a consultant.

So I signed up to represent Rodan + Fields products and it's important for me to tell you that so you understand that anything I post here is linking directly to my new personal Rodan + Fields consultant website. So in a sense, everything from here on out about Rodan + Fields is a sponsored post, sponsored by me. I'll do some giveaways in the future and keep you abreast of any sales or specials you can take advantage of, if like me you are interested in youthful, vibrant skin. You can get the basics on Rodan + Fields regimen lines here. You may also be interested in the lip serum, Lash Boost (crazy good results) -- and I've heard good things about the sunless tanner too.

If you'd told me even two months ago that I would sign up to be a consultant for any direct sales product line I would've said no way. But when I found Rodan + Fields I knew I was going to sell it just by sharing it, so it made total sense to me to actually join the organization because I knew I would be telling people about these products. Since first adding Active Hydration Serum to my facial routine, I've added the Redefine regimen, the lip serum and I'm starting the Lash Boost this week so I'll share my results with you. If you're interested in learning more about any of these products, let me know. I'm happy to share. Feeling and looking good is something I want for everyone. There is a line created for men too, because I know it's not just we women who want to have great skin.

Right now there is a promotion going on to get a bundled pack of any one of the four regimen lines along with a Lash Boost for 20% off and there are additional savings if you sign up as a preferred customer. If you're interested in R+F this is a good first step to getting to know the product line.

I want you to know that neither this blog or any of my social media accounts are going to be taken over by high pressure sales tactics (bleech!) or constant posts only about R+F. I'll post maybe once a week or so on R+F and the remainder of posts will continue to represent what I've been doing here for many years now. I have always shared the things I'm most passionate about and when a skin care product gives me a new enthusiasm for life and more beautiful skin, I would be wrong not to share it. If you're like me and tend to be a little skeptical, try the Active Hydration Serum and see what it can do for you. Or try the self=tanner, lip serum or eye cream. There are lots of options to step into the Rodan + Fields world in a way that is comfortable for you.

I would love to help you start or continue your journey to amazing looking skin and introduce you to Rodan + Fields. You can contact me at 505 569 0700 or at kcropper @ myrandf dot com.

26 June 2017

It's High Time I Bought A Ticket To Alt Summit

I have wanted to go to Alt Summit since the first year it was held. I wavered that year when I should've just jumped at the chance and then it took off and getting a ticket has felt next to impossible since then either due to timing, finances or how fast it now sells out.

image via Alt Summit
I knew tickets were going on sale last week and I had talked to my super encouraging sister about going but got home from vacation to a busy week and forgot about it. Then the morning the tickets went on sale, my sister texted me the reminder she'd received and said "You should go!" Something inside me said "You should do this" and another part of me was thinking, "You have spent a lot of money investing in yourself and your businesses the past month, you cannot afford to do this." While driving all over town running errands I quickly pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall and started texting my sister back with my waffling thoughts. Her comment was "Pray about it," ....duh....

So I did and the feeling "You should do this" did not go away. I looked at my bank account and even though there was less there than I would like there to be (due to all my personal & family investments - aka business investments) I could wrangle the cost of the ticket. I felt this feeling that this was another investment that was worth it and would pay off long term. I had heard that with so many people wanting to buy tickets the site had crashed in past years due to sheer overwhelming interest and I knew it sold out quickly, so I was half expecting that either the site would be down or it would already be sold out.

I was pleasantly wrong on both accounts. The website was easy, even on my phone. I got right on and after a few seconds of nerves before hitting "purchase ticket" I was done in just a couple of minutes and had a ticket in hand. Within minutes a text went out that it was 75% sold out and in less than an hour all the tickets were gone. I have felt nothing but happiness that I went for it...okay I have felt a little "Wow, I spent a big chunk of change on that ticket for an event happening next year" but I have no qualms that I won't get my money's worth from this event and a chance to go to back to SoCal any time is one I'll take.

It turned out perfectly that I spent last Friday morning with my friend and artist Jackie Leishman (check out her art!) and her family. They were in town driving cross-country and Kiddo and I, her mom and kids took the tram up Sandia Peak and hiked around the back side of the mountains and Jackie and I sneaked in some nice chats. I knew she had been to Alt Summit 2017 so it was great to get the lowdown from her. She gave me some good insights into how to prepared and how much preparation you really should do before you attend. Invaluable info and I'll definitely want to chat with her again in the coming months to get her valuable guidance more fully.

Buying this ticket gave me a feeling that this indeed is going to be a big year for me career-wise and personally. I know at Alt Summit I am going to meet some blogging friends I have known only online for many years now. That will be fun. It also inspired me to make some valuable investments in myself as I prepare. I'll be totally honest and say that buying some fun clothes for the event would not be awful now would it?! Even though it's still a long way out, I am looking forward to preparing for and attending Alt Summit 2018 next February in Palm Springs.

22 June 2017

A Special Request Art Piece For My Birthday

After returning home last week and feeling that sense of urgency to get the wheels of progress rolling again it suddenly seems like there is a lot going on in every direction. That is a good thing and I am really feeling energized by small steps forward that are happening and ideas that are percolating. It feels like the speed of things is picking up too, so I'm feeling excited and a little bit of "hold onto your hat!" I am very interested to see what the next few months are going to bring.

Last year for my birthday I ordered a few pieces of art for the house. One of them was an art piece similar to this one above with the Los Angeles LDS temple as the focal point. This year I wanted to add the Albuquerque Temple now that this is "our new" temple. The artist Tolman Bryant Design didn't have the Albuquerque Temple among their offerings so I sent a message through Etsy asking if they would considering making one.

Within a day or so I had a file emailed to me with the sample work in it, already created and ready to go. I was so surprised! I had been thinking of making this a birthday present to myself - I always get myself something or a few things for my birthday, so I thought this would be a fun gift. I ordered it just before my birthday and then when we got back in town it was waiting for me....along with many other packages that I had ordered.

I didn't think too smart and had a ton of packages arrive here while I was gone. Some I had anticipated would arrive before I left, and a few I hadn't anticipated ordering at all, so it was an unusual cavalcade of deliveries while we were gone which did leave The Man wondering a bit. Ha.

I had used a silver floating frame from Michaels and added a mat to it last time I framed the other temple art. This is because I couldn't find anything else like I was looking for. I could've done without the floating option but it worked with the mat to look just like I wanted it to. So I popped by Michaels again earlier this week and was pleased to find the same frames on sale buy one get one free. So I grabbed two for the price of one and had this all put together in just a few minutes. Now the two pieces are sitting next to each other on top of an antique Spanish chest of drawers in our dining room. They look good together. I should've grabbed a photo to share with you. Duh.

If you are interested in seeing more Tolman Bryan Design art it's available on Etsy in a variety of sizes and different temple versions. If there is one you want that you don't see, apparently it's as easy as asking to see if they can create something special for you to see. I love finding religious art that is out of the ordinary and has a more modern feel. That puts Tolman Bryant on my radar for sure!

 I'm looking forward to a bunch more posts in the next few days. It seems like I have so much to share with you, fun announcements and progress on things. I think this is going to be a fun month to come...lots of hard work, but some good fun. Hope all is well in your world!

20 June 2017

Summer Kick-off Trip

School ended near the last full week of May and then we had just the right amount of days to unwind and rest of before we headed off to visit family and attend sports camps. In the aftermath of our trip I will say that I really liked getting away and starting summer off with a bang right away. It was good for the soul to see family, get out of town out and be somewhere different, and start the summer fun of splash pads and picnics right off the bat.

Sometimes I find that if I don't really start summer off with intention for summer fun, suddenly it's late July or early August and we are just getting having our first barbecue, trip, big bike ride, night at the city park or baseball stadium and we've missed the majority of the summer. So jumping right into the spirit of the season the week after school got out was great.

Kiddo attended golf and basketball camps in the mornings and then in the afternoons and on the weekends we had time to spend with immediate and extended family. We met lots of cousins at a local splash pad one day and another day we took a fun evening bike ride around Midway, Utah. It is a wonderful little town that was settled by Swiss immigrants and has the look and feel of a beautiful quaint European village. After  our ride, that we had the best burgers and fries at a local food truck.

It was so good for the soul to be with our people, to see old friends and to be about different things than we generally are on regular days at home. I met up with a fun friend from California who is now an esthetician working in American Fork and had a great facial and chat. Things have changed so much since I lived in the area where I grew up that it's a challenge for me to find my way around anymore. But it is fun to adventure to new places that I often hear about from locals that I haven't been to.

I also had a chance to do a little undisturbed clothing shopping and scored on a few great deals on summer clothes. We enjoyed some great meals at my folks home and out to eat at fun old favorite eating spots and some "new to us" spots too. I think I got a bit of heat exhaustion one day and eating a lot of salads really helped with recovery. Fresh fruits and vegetables just make summer such a happy time for me.

We were sad to leave everyone, but once we were home we were also happy to be back in our own home, beds and routine. Thanks to our fun 10-day trip we came home in full summer mode. Even though we have work, home chores, classes and camps to attend to,we are still making the most of summer by taking some free time every day to relax, swim and watch a little TV or go somewhere fun. Bedtime has also gone out the window, for better or worse. It feels like it's okay so far and I think everyone in the family seems to be benefitting from taking a break from the rigorous and tiring routine of the school year.

It's been insanely hot since we got back and we feel like we're roasting a lot of the time, so that downtime really does help us keep our sanity and stay as cool as possible. Swimming has helped cool down our core body temps in the late afternoons and we stay cool the rest of the day. What a blessing it's been to have a pool, even though we kept telling our realtor we did not want a pool. But there are a lot of houses in the southwest that have a pool so it's not always so easy to find the house you want that doesn't have a pool. In the end I'm so glad we have a pool. Lesson learned. Living in the southwest and having a pool is a good thing.

Summer is in full swing now. Kiddo is in a local golf camp this week and I am working as much as I can while also making time for downtime for myself, with the family and with friends. One thing I still want to work on is getting out with friends to do things. I am not very good at initiating plans but am always so happy when friends call and invite us to do things. This summer I want to plan some mom and kids outings and a few night time family picnics. Better get on that!

30 May 2017

Saying Goodbye To May: Patio Outdoor Space Ready

May is pretty much my favorite month of the year and I am always sad to see it end. With Mother's Day, my birthday and Memorial Day weekend it's pretty much a month long party. Not complaining!
I have so many beautiful cards on my mantle along with fresh flowers and potted plants that have come my way the past couple of weeks. It just makes everything feel so festive.

I have been working hard on outdoor living spaces as I have talked about repeatedly here. I am happy to report that for the past several night we have been out on our front patio, with the solar lanterns lit playing games and having fun. Every day it seems I add something new. First it was a couple of tea lights in jars, then I broke open a big box of wicker lanterns like these on the table above.

Story about those wicker lanterns. In December 2011 (!!!!), we had just gotten engaged and I was in full-blown, excited wedding planning dream land. I found these wicker lanterns at TJMaxx and ended up driving all over the Los Angeles metro area buying them out of every store so that I had enough to use them on the long tables for our wedding. You can see my original blog post full of enthusiasm about having found them here. Well fast forward 6 1/2 years (oh my gosh....) and we never had our big wedding thanks to a little detour called Afghanistan.....and these lanterns, along with anything else I purchased for our wedding have been languishing in storage ever since.

I didn't have the heart to get rid of them, thought perhaps someday we might actually have a vow ceremony/reception of some kind that we could share with family and friends. So in boxes they have sat. Finally I brought one box out and opened it. Along with six lanterns I found a couple hundred really cute paper napkins I had purchased for a pre-wedding picnic or rehearsal dinner or something. Wow. Anyway I put three of these lanterns out on the coffee table on the front porch and they look so fun and festive and create such a lovely light in the evenings...and I feel a little sad that they are going to get used and get ruined without every having served their true purpose but whatever. I have to get over that...

I started making a small buffet table for the back deck with two towers of four cinder blocks and a pretty wood top that I built. I spent part of Friday night at Home Depot with my building plans, trying to figure out the best materials to use and pushing one of those gigantic pull carts that was so heavy I had to totally lean my entire body into it to get it to move. Then I packed everything into my little VW Golf (crazy amount of cargo space, even fit 6' wood plants and 10 cinderblocks with room to spare!).

I have been working on this table since Friday night and hoped to have it done Saturday but it's definitely a work in progress and I should have it done by Wednesday. I have the top done, just need to even out the edges on each side and then stain it and polyurethane it for outdoor use. It's a bar height and will fit our new little portable barbecue grill and leave room for serving food too. You can see the example of the table I'm building here. I'm not doing the sides, just one long 6' length. I figured we can add the sides later if we feel we need them but I think the three-sided table is more than we need and doesn't fit out space all that well. We have a fairly narrow patio but it's very long so a long table along one wall makes great sense for us. I'll share more details when I have a finished product to show you. Excited about it! Really makes my soul so happy to have a creative project.

We also got our temporary, but large and fabulous, bi-fold door/sawhorse dining table out of the shed last night. Hooray! throw a giant tablecloth over that and we have a table to eat at outside. I made a makeshift grilling table out of a 3x3 stack of cinderblocks to hold the little portable grill I picked up at Ace Hardware on Friday. I was looking for a different grill which they have on line but apparently don't carry in the stores.

While they didn't have the one I wanted, they had this little grill on sale for $12.99 and how could I beat that?! Some day we plan on having a nice big grill in the back - and are so lucky to already have a gas line from the house out to the patio -- but until we decide what we want and how we'll configure it all, this little grill will work just fine. I probably should've bought two or three and we could've had an awesome little grilling station for $36. I might still do that. That would get us through some fun entertaining and they are so small and easy to deal with. I like the idea of having three of these on a long table and cooking up all kinds of fun things that way.

I couldn't let Memorial Day Weekend pass without a barbecue so that was my big goal for the weekend. I kept the menu easy and light. Burgers with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. Here's a link to my hamburger recipe I've been refining for a few years now. I think I've found my groove with the spices in these and they always taste good. I picked up some already cut up pineapple, a big watermelon and chips today and we were in business!

We ate dinner just as the sun was setting with our cafe string lights on, wicker lanterns on the table and a delicious, simple summer feast. We had a great time and after the meal we played with Kiddo's plethora of glow-in-the-dark bracelets, necklaces and other trinkets she's been stashing in a drawer. Nights here in Albuquerque are so perfect for outdoor time. Little to no wind, no bugs, perfect temps so you don't need a sweater. It's just lovely being outside on summer nights here! I hope we'll start eating outside every night we can throughout the summer.

Now that we have everything set up, it should be a cinch to enjoy our outdoor areas as much as we can throughout the summer. Looking forward to having friends over and swimming the summer away. Speaking of which, the pool is up and running as of today --- with just one little challenge. Our heaterless pool is still a little cold. Water temps at 63 degrees. We need some hot sunny days!....or I need to finally order that solar pool heating blanket I kept looking at last year that is supposed to heat pool water up by a good 17 degrees. That would work.

I am so happy we're set for summer finally. Being able to go outside to read, have a cup of tea, relax, take a nap or eat a meal is the best and it just makes our home feel tons bigger when you add these outside rooms where one can go. Hooray for summer. Here are a few more things I am thinking about building for the backyard this summer.

Sectional seating
Dining Table
Outdoor Rugs
Two by Four Bench
Simple Concrete Planters

25 May 2017

Seeing Our Positive Accomplishments: Home Decor

I have been feeling discouraged with the progress (or lack of progress) on making our home look lovely. I am highly motivated to have a home that is comfortable and welcoming and we have been struggling. That means I really struggle because having this feels so vital to my soul. While ruminating about this over the past couple of days, it came to me that things are getting prettier around here, I just haven't let myself see that.

Last week I finally FINALLY got a plant and pot that I bought last summer out on the front porch of our house. You may remember I had planned to make a wood plant stand to put the pot it. Well just didn't have time for that. So here we are 10 months later and I found this wonderful stick table I bought 18 months ago and put the pot and plant on top of that and suddenly I have a front porch look that I like. It goes well with the basket I bought last winter for the door that I can update for holidays and seasons with a cute little sign on the front and rotating flowers or plants inside.

I happened to pick up these patriotic fan decorations at Target last week and they were sitting on my desk and I thought, hey I know what I can put in that basket for the summer. Since the front door is well protected and shaded they should be fine there for the entire summer. If not I have another set I can replace them with. The doormat I bought last fall some time and I love it and it all works and speaks my style. Needed that! Okay, progress is happening!

Even if the house hasn't been painted a color I actually like and I'm a little unthrilled with the turquoise front door (some days I like it, but I would love to get rid of that middle section with all the scrolly stuff!) I can still be happy with things done the best they can for now. Wanting everything done right this second isn't really very realistic and why make myself miserable. It may not be magazine worthy but it's the best it's ever been and I can be happy with that for now.

Before I updated the front door basket I took a small whisk broom and swept down the entire door. Then I used a really great squirt bottle that has a good strong sprayer on it and squirted down the front door really well with just plain water, getting into all those nooks and crannies. It was like a mini-power wash for the door. I dried it off and wow did it look a million times better without all the silt and dirt deposits on every edge!

That entire front door update was not that hard and in fact took just a little over 30 minutes. The Man had stacked some small boxes of wood near that door which was making it look a little messy and they had been there for a while. Making those go away was just three simple trips to move those boxes where they needed to be.  None of this was as overwhelming as it feels sometimes.

Next I realized that I'd made some valuable improvements on our "curb appeal" by hanging the silk lanterns together in a tree, adding the new chairs and a little "As-is" IKEA table I picked up just before we left California that has been waiting for a home. Now when people come up to our home they don't see dry ground, scraggly juniper trees and sagebrush. Hopefully they see a welcoming patio! Plans are to add an outdoor table here shortly with some chairs for outside meals, newspaper or magazine reading, journal writing and early morning tea. Can't wait.

On the back patio we still have work to do, but just adding my pretty white and terra cotta pots of vegetable and herbs has cheered up that space quite a bit! Progress!

It sure helped to turn my attitude and perspective around when I started really seeing the good things that are happening around here instead of feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by the mass entirety of the project. Life really is constantly about baby steps and when we get overwhelmed and discouraged it's usually because we're looking beyond the mark a bit and forgetting those baby steps that are what really get us to our goals, hopes and dreams. So today I am going to again take baby steps towards my home and life goals. Recognizing my small successes has been a major source of encouragement to keep taking small steps forward!

22 May 2017

Creating Cozy Outdoor Spaces For Our Home

I have mentioned a few times here that I have been working on creating some welcoming and relaxing spaces for our yard. When you start doing the math on decorating four outdoor spaces the costs can balloon pretty quickly, especially if you hope to add a comfortable, quality sectional seating area. Even if you DIY things it can still get very expensive. I can buy a nice table for what I could make one for by the time I buy lumber and treat it so that can safely be outside in the sun and rain.

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So I made my dream list, whittled it down and then whittled it down some more. I came to a realization that making the areas serviceable for our goals could be done well with a little creativity and some cost savings. Rather than having a long table with chairs for the dining area, I am considering two picnic tables set end to end. That way I get a table and seating for a huge savings over buying a table or building a table and then needing to buy 10-12 chairs. It can still be plenty cozy with a nice table arrangement and our beautiful string lights overhead. Lovely.

I also got very practical about chaise lounges for the pool area. The hotel style plastic ones will work just fine and I can get seating and side tables for a nice price with a discount. Done deal.

I also started watching sales and looking at Craigslist. Craigslist, comically was extremely overpriced for the used furniture people were selling. I could buy new for a better price. I'd been watching a few patio chairs at Target anticipating there would be a sale toward the end of May and found them on sale this past weekend. I was looking at a different chair but when I went into the store to give them one last try I ended up picking up the Southwest Wicker Club Chair which I liked a lot better and was just five dollars more.

So I grabbed the gray with gray cushions and found a way to pack them into the back of my Volkswagen Golf. IT has a pretty amazing cargo area when you put the back seats down. I also had three huge bags of soil that I had to move to the floor of the front seat because I needed the height to get the chairs in. But it all worked and I actually still had quite a bit of space in the back.

I also picked up two of these pillows which are great. I like the funky pineapple image and on the back it's a fun, bold black and white pattern so you can choose a side, use one of each or whatever you like.

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For right now these chairs are going on the front patio, until we get a table out front. I'm almost thinking about picking up three picnic tables and putting two in the back and one on that front patio. Because it's an East facing patio, it's a great place to sit in the mornings or to get away from the sun in the afternoons and early evenings. It's also next to the driveway so there's room for other activities like bike riding, giant bubble wanding or throwing ball with the dog as well.

Once I got the chairs in place and all the wrapping off them and tags cut off the pillows, I pulled out the super cute solar silk outdoor lanterns I picked up at IKEA in February. You can see them at the link, scroll down a bit. I had planned to put them in the backyard, but I going to use them in the front for a while. I also have three strands of white and black small round lanterns that I can use in the front or back. I might put those in the front yard and then bring the larger silk lanterns to the back yard where I think they will hang better from the larger trees.

So far my initial planning budget has plummeted by a thousand or more dollars, which is good. We can always upgrade later and we we may find that picnic tables fit our mountain home just perfectly. We can get all three tables for less than the price of one dining set with chairs. I like that idea right now. There are still so many things we could invest in for this house and that need attention, so it makes sense to be budget conscious but also get the house in a place where we can enjoy it more and entertain, etc.

Working outside the house has been fun and it's encouraging us to spend more time outside which I think is hugely healthy for the mind and soul. It seems like if you start the habit of spending time outside at the beginning of the summer you spend more time outside over the course of the summer.  I'd like to do that this year. I always think those summers where you realize mournfully in mid-August that you didn't make the most of it are rather sad.

So it's headlong into summer now, fingers crossed. Now we just need some summer weather two days in a row. The weather certainly has been fickle this Spring! I may regret my complaints come early August after it's been 100+ for a month straight. Ha.

Wax Museum Project: Meet Rachel Fuller Brown

Wax Museum projects seem pretty ubiquitous here in the U.S. these days but just in case you don't know what that is, grade schoolers pick an influential person, create a report or tri-fold poster about that person, then dress up as them and do a brief oral presentation for students in the school. Our kiddo came home with the name of a person I had never heard of before. After all I learned about her, I thought I would share some of that with you.

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Dr. Rachel Fuller Brown (on the right) and her research partner Elizabeth Lee Hazen discovered Nystatin, the first anti-fungal medicine and it was introduced to the world in 1950. This was the second great medical discovery of the 20th century following two decades after the discovery of penicillin. Nystatin is used to treat fungal infections like athlete's foot, thrush and candida as well as used to treat fungal disease in trees and artwork that has been damaged by fungus.

Rather than take the 13.4 million dollars she earned from the royalties of Nystatin, she donated it to further scientific study opportunities for women and other good causes. She received many awards for her scientific contributions and spent her entire career contributing not only to scientific research but also to helping the next generation of scientists get established.

Wax museum day at our school was a great opportunity for me to learn some new things about Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Sally Ride, Helen Keller and other notable women. There were some terrific costumes including Stephen Hawking, Teddy Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong, Amelia Earhart. and my very favorite character of the day, Bob Ross, the PBS painting teacher.

I thought this was a fantastic project for the kids because they had to practice doing research, creating an artistic display, costume design and most importantly I think, the art of public speaking. There are so many elements to public speaking including eye contact, voice intonation and volume, organization of thoughts, appropriate use of time allowed and more. The Man and I invested time in visiting all the booths and found them very interesting. It was fun to interact with each of the kids and ask them questions. I know for sure that our family will never forget Rachel Fuller Brown or her contributions to medical science.

19 May 2017

Grand Designs: A Refreshing "New" Home Design Show

I first heard about Grand Designs from the Young House Love Has A Podcast hosted by John and Sherry Petersik a couple of weeks ago. It's new to us here in the U.S. but in the U.K. many seasons have aired. I checked it out and have to say I binged all the episodes within two weeks...I realize that's not really binging in the "didn't leave my house for three days until I'd watched every episode" context, but for someone who is quite busy, I got through them pretty quickly.
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Here are the reasons I really like this show:

1) The host and writer, Kevin McCloud is completely likable. There is nothing annoying to him. He is curious, kind, generous, and asks the right and often obvious questions viewers want to know. He makes the show better in every way.

2) The homebuilders are dreamers and risk takers. No one is whining about granite countertops and stainless steels appliances here. (Little HGTV joke.) The homebuilders on this show are doing remarkable things and sometimes it works out and sometimes there are some major disasters and yet they all make it work the best they can. Some of the biggest doubters are often family members.

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3) Every story doesn't wrap up perfectly every time. Sometimes the homeowners run out of money and the homes don't get all glamorously and magically finished. There are disagreements between spouses and mother nature certainly has taken her toll in a few episodes. But there is still a warm, hopeful, upbeat feeling to the show.

4) There is always an element of attempting the impossible in each episode. These builders are really trying to do new things and envision new ways of doing things.

5) There are some amazing homes features. Some are very expensive and some are not. But they are all very unique.

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6) You get some great lessons on architecture. This show is more about building the house than furnishing the house. You can learn a lot about different building techniques and materials. You do get to see the decorated or at least partially decorated house at the end but there isn't a lot of time spent on the furnishing aspect.

7) The build locations are often unbelievably beautiful spots all over Great Britain. If you like lush, green meadows and ocean cliffs, you'll definitely get that here.

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I thought initially that there were two seasons available on Netflix, but later noticed that it's episodes that bounce around between the many seasons that have been made of the show.  Hopefully at some point Netflix will add more episodes of Grand Designs and perhaps put them into chronological order. Most of the episodes featured right now are from 2009-2012. So there is a lot of talk about "the bad economy" and situations that now seem to have been a long time ago now. But those elements don't take anything away from the enjoyment of the show.

I'm recommending this show! If you check it out I'd love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below or comment on other social media. Happy viewing.

18 May 2017

Checking Off The Small Things

Today I did something that I've been needing to do for months. It was a small thing but aren't those the things that end up driving up nuts day after day -- those little things we need or need to check off our To Do lists. Today was a good example. I have needed a new eyelash curler for a long time. I am usually pretty good about replacing those frequently because they do get weak and quit working well and the eyelashes show it. But I have struck out finding the one I like at several stores and then at other stores it seems too high prices for what I've paid in the past.

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It's been one of those small seasons in my life where I feel like there are a lot of little things like this that have been put off as we've been super busy, tired, etc. in the last few weeks of school. As we face the beginning of summer break next week and things are winding down a little it's nice to try to get caught up with some of those small things. One season of sports has ended for a while, all the big school projects are done as of today, lots of doctors, dentist and optical appointments were taken care of the first couple of weeks of May too. Whew! No wonder we felt so busy.

So it feels like the perfect time, due to need and to a slightly quieter schedule, to take care of little things. I have been running more errands, doing a better job keeping lists of things and taking time a couple of days this week to take care of a few of them. It seems like lots of these things are self-care items like the eyelash curler.

Today I also bought a nail buffing block. I like to get a good pedicure, but Mani-pedis are significantly more expensive here in ABQ than they were in L.A. so I'm good to do my own nails since I only buff shine them and keep them pretty short. Then I can indulge in a pedicure once a month. My nail polish always seems to stay in pretty good shape and I give myself a good foot buffing after every shower so they stay in pretty good condition along with lots of coconut oil, lotion, etc.

I found myself a better hydrating shampoo, conditioner and leave in conditioner to try this past week and boy did it make a huge difference in my hair when I washed it last night. Soft and silky - and much easier to comb through and blow dry. Little things like this make life feel a lot more pleasant.

I also got some new lip gloss and wonderful hand lotion from Aveda this week. My last lip gloss was running low and I had a $25 product gift card at my salon. Monday morning I went in and had a fun little shop which only cost me about $5 over the value of my gift card. Last Friday I got the highlights refresh that will take me into the summer months happily. I'm having to get hair upkeep done more often now, which is costly -- and a big bummer. Another task I need to take care of is getting new bras. That has been put off for too long now and it's a must. I also need some new workout clothes. I'm at a point where most of mine are getting a little ragged.

I also need body lotion. I've gotten very selective about lotions I use...no mineral oil, no petroleum. So it's pretty much impossible to buy lotion at a major drug or department store. You might find some shea butters or Burt's Bees options that will work but they usually come in pretty small containers  which don't last long when you live in a desert! But I can't just go to the regular lotion aisle and grab something that is clean of ingredients I don't want to be putting on my body. 

I've been using Bliss Spa lemon and sage lotion for years. Get it for a great price at Marshalls or TJMaxx and I stock up because they don't always have it in the larger more economical bottles. I need more of that stuff which I've been adding some magnesium oil to in the evenings before bed. 

After a shower I often add some coconut oil or Un-petroleum Jelly to my lotion to combat the dry, dry climate here in NM. This is also an inexpensive way to make the lotion last longer. I buy my coconut oil at Trader Joe's and one jar lasts quite a good long time. I'll take care of getting that lotion before the end of the week. I'll also share more about magnesium oil in the next week or so. Have been trying it on the family and am learning as much about it as possible. I have a store credit/gift card in my wallet for my lotion needs. Yay.

I also need a new bronzer. I've been experimenting and not really liking anything I've found. I think it's time to get serious and go back to Bare Minerals that I used for years and loved.

It's so nice to have the things you need on hand so that you can be diligent about self care. It's never fun to be feeling frustrated when trying to take care of yourself especially because the times we need self care the most are when we're already tired. I'm happily checking a few things off my list and trying to make life a little more enjoyable.

In the summer there seem to be a lot more social engagements and gatherings and it sure feels good to look and feel good on those occasions and it's so nice to feel good every day. Having what you need on hand at home to look good and to feel good makes such a difference. Taking care of little things only takes a few minutes but sure makes a big difference in how I feel about myself and my life.

17 May 2017

A Little This & That

It's been a busy few days with lots of unexpected interruptions to the regular routine....if there is such a thing? I feel like we've been on the go nonstop lately and this week seems to be no different. I haven't gotten any of my big To Dos done yet, but I certainly haven't been sitting around.

Kiddo had a big school project due on Thursday so that is keeping me busy making sure she is staying busy and on track to get done on time. She needs a tri-fold board, costume, oral presentation, etc. When she was younger I had such a better handle on getting homework done. We lived in a smaller place and it just feels like sitting at the kitchen counter was so conducive to me being able to help her get her homework done quickly.

These days she's is often at the table in the living room working on homework and I am in the kitchen. It's much harder for me to keep track of what's happening and how fast she's working, etc. This makes for a little bit more frustrating homework process. Our kitchen bar/counter area isn't really great for doing homework but I'd like to find a happy medium somewhere in all of it.

Another really goofy thing that has been happening recently is that I feel like our grocery shopping habits have swung out of control. I like to go once a week, with a list and just get it all done. Of course, as with many other families that may mean going to a regular grocery chain, then making another trip to a place like Target or WalMart and then another stop at Trader Joe's. Also a little tiring.

But the past few weeks The Man has been calling me almost daily saying, "I'm at the grocery store, do you need anything?" For some reason he loves to go to the grocery store. In LA when we had a store a few hundred yards away he would go just to wander around. Unfortunately this lead to some fairly frequent impulse grocery shopping. So he's been stopping almost daily getting some little item he needs, then calls me to see if I need anything.

Trying to give instructions over the phone about what brand and type of item to buy, trying to explain where to find it or even texting a list doesn't seem to work too well either, despite both our best hopes. He frequently can't find what I'm asking for or forgets to get an item, etc. and I find myself not giving him a full list because it's too tiring, so I'll give him three or four items and then go without some other things I need.

I hate to make another trip but then find myself without key ingredients I need or any items you would consider "meal" foods. It's all a little silly. But again, not super cost efficient and I feel like we need to reign that in or I just need to never have The Man get anything on my list, make a real list and go once a week myself again. It's so strange how things can just slip out of habit around the house and them you really have to regroup and stop the madness.

Maybe it the big school project Kiddo has do this week. Perhaps we've been running a little too fast the past few weeks. Spring is always so busy for us with a birthday or holiday or other event seeming to come almost weekly from January to June.

Maybe it's the coming of Spring and so many more things to do now that we need to keep the yard and pool up and get it all in shape for the summer. Maybe it's the end of the school year that is exacerbating all this mild chaos. I notice Kiddo is more tired than normal after school and perhaps the parents are tired as well. Haha.

Whatever it is, I am feeling a little pushed to get us back into a good rhythm here at the end of the school year before we jump headlong into summer. In my spare time (hahaha) I am kicking off two businesses and trying to work on decorating our outside living spaces.

I set a goal and budget for decorating four small spaces in the yard. As I started pricing things out, I felt a push to try to do it for a smaller and smaller budget and took that on as a big challenge. I have been searching for best deals and finding less expensive options that will work well for us for a few years.

It's been a very fun challenge and I've been excited to try to find things sourced from businesses that offer discounts and to watch for sale prices on the items I want to buy. I am really excited to watch for some Memorial Day sales on a few items. It's a lot to keep track of. I'll share more of what I'm looking at soon and put together a post on each of the four spaces and how I budgeted.

I thought it would be a bit humorous to post a happy Mother's Day photo with this post because in all honesty this Mama isn't feeling super on the ball right now. It was nice to have that day, last Sunday to celebrate the beauty of motherhood but Monday morning it was right back into the thick of it and feeling a little undone. Life is what it is, isn't it. There is no predicting or directing it much beyond what you try to do.

11 May 2017

Shaking Up The Routine

Yesterday I ran away from home for a while. I've been at home working too much lately and it was starting to make me a little loopy. I also needed to have one of those regroups where you just feel like you need to start sprucing yourself up a little better -- you know getting in a rut of wearing the same thing over and over or wearing your hair up in a bun every day.

So I took myself out to breakfast and enjoyed a peaceful half hour or so eating a yummy bagel with cream cheese and sipping on a hot chocolate while writing in my journal. I went a little later in the morning and the bagel shop was pretty quiet. It was so lovely. It felt so good to eat something I didn't have to make for myself or for anyone else. It was a cold, gray, rainy day so sipping on something warm and nibbling on warm toasted bread was so nice. Even though it was only for a few minutes it was perfect and it fed my soul to sit there alone and be able to think without disruption, which doesn't happen that often at home.

Then I ran a couple of errands. I bought myself some high quality shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner. I currently have three bottles of shampoo in my shower and none of them are really doing anything good for my hair. When I get out of the shower my hair just feels like it's in knots and is so hard to get a comb through, even after I've conditioned it in the shower and put on leave-in conditioner as well. I realized again today that we live in a VERY dry climate and my hair is feeling the effects. So this weekend I am going to deep condition my hair and then I decided to upgrade to a new moisturizing shampoo and see if that will help my hair a bit. This is one of those things I've been putting off. One area where I need to and deserve to take better care of myself. I do have to say, however, that I've been doing a lot better on the self-care in other areas though, especially sleep, vitamins, essential oils, lotions, etc.

I also made a quick dash to one of the big craft stores and even though I was just popping in to grab two quick items I made a round around the store for inspiration. Those trips always get my mind percolating and help me see new creative projects I'd like to explore whether they be interior decor, gardening, painting, knitting...so many things. I always leave inspired.

When I got home I felt happy to be home and be with my family again, refreshed and ready to continue accomplishing things. I spent some time outside admiring the new growth on the trees The Man planted last year, playing with the dog, looking at the moody, cloud-covered mountains and enjoying a few rain sprinkles on my face before we came inside.

I was able to get quite a few things done after my mornings adventures out including blazing through 40 pages of the textbook I am studying, which I told you about last week. Thank goodness! I was beginning to feel like I would never make any progress on that book. The first 80 pages took forever, but then I got into a section that I more easily breeze through which got me to the section I was really most interested in studying. So I made some good progress and that felt so good! I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. What a relief to be halfway through the book now. I think I've found my groove with this book so I can move more quickly now. Yay!

Some days shaking up the routine is just what is required so we can return to the routine and blaze some ground. Other times we just need to leave the old routine and come up with a new one. I think both are somewhat in order in my life right now. Last night the thought came to me "My life is a grand adventure." For all the ups and downs we have, it really is a great adventure and when I think of it as an adventure rather than a "challenge" or something hard to be suffered it sure makes it all look brighter and happier.

I want to live shining and happy so thinking of life as an adventure and continually looking at new ways to experience it, to shake up the routine, seems like the perfect recipe. I am going to shake up my routine more often. You never know what might come of it. Serendipity seems to happen when we step out of the expected and try things in new and different ways. You never know who you might meet or what might happen when you shake up the way you normally do things or try something in a new and unusual way.


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