Friday, September 21, 2012

Random Friday

     So we leave for vacation this morning to Florida to visit our friends David and Katie. I am so excited about finally getting to take a week-long vacation this year and I'm hoping we will get to have a lot of fun. We are driving part way down today and staying with Tim's mom and dad overnight and then finishing our drive tomorrow. I have packed tons of snacks and entertainment and all sorts of stuff to try to make the trip as painless as possible. While we're there, I'm hoping we will get to swim in the pool, maybe go to the beach, and hopefully visit a theme park or two. I'm really hoping we can let Owen meet Mickey Mouse. He's already a big fan. And of course, while we're there, we'll have to do some baby shopping with the parents-to-be!
We're going to visit these crazy folks!
Here's what's been going on this week:

1. Tim's birthday

       Tim's birthday went really well this week. We didn't do anything super special because his birthday was on a Tuesday and he tends to work late that night, but we did have a nice dinner. I made Pioneer Woman's Surf and Turf Cajun Pasta because it seemed man friendly and really indulgent and birthday dinner-ish. It was majorly delicious and because we were having the shrimp and pasta too, I was able to save us money by just buying one steak and spitting it. 

    I also surprised Tim with a gift that he really wanted, but didn't expect to get: the Google Nexus 7 tablet. I actually went through a really elaborate deception to surprise him because he is impossible to surprise normally. So I bought it with our credit card instead of our debit account because our shared account sends him an e-mail every time I buy something online and it always gives stuff away. I had the tablet shipped to my mom and dad's house so I could pick it up while I was there for my cousin's shower so it wouldn't be delivered to our house where he might see it and notice the box and see where it was from. Then I pretended to go shopping for his birthday one day while he was home and then came home and faked like I was hiding his presents away. After that, I wrapped three different presents for him because I typically buy him multiple presents for each holiday and then have him unwrap them in order of least expensive or exciting present to most expensive and exciting present. So I wrapped him a box of coffees for his new Keurig as his first present, then wrapped the tablet as his second, and sneakily wrapped one of his old video games as the "third present." Because the video game is such a distinctive shape, he was convinced that he was getting one of the new football video games that just came out and had no idea that I'd bought him the tablet. This might seem crazy to you, but I promise that he typically knows exactly what I'm going to buy him for each holiday because his wish list is always so short and I generally get him what he wants. And I really wanted to surprise him for once. And even though I had to be sneaky and lie to my husband, the end result was worth it for his surprise face. (See below). 

2. New favorite CD

      So to get ready for our trip, I have been making sure we have plenty of music to listen to. I downloaded a couple songs by the band Imagine Dragons earlier this year and decided to complete their debut CD by buying the rest of the songs that I didn't have. And I am so glad that I did.  In case you're wondering who this band is, chances are you have heard their music before without even realizing it. They have been featured in several commercials including one for the Olympics, the movie preview for "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," and one of their songs was just covered by the cast of Glee in the premiere episode this season. After listening to the CD for a bit just to test it out, I have several favorite songs: "It's Time," "Radioactive," "Tiptoe," "Demons," and "On Top of the World." Give them a listen.

3. Julep Reveal

      Julep revealed their October boxes yesterday and this month they are putting out new "crackle" nail polishes with witch names for Halloween. (There's Ursula, Hermione, Sabrina, and Glenda) I have yet to decide which option I'd like for this month, but there are some interesting colors and combinations. The company also offered an additional combination box with just creme colors after there were a lot of complaints on their Facebook page about the crackle nail polishes. Check out the colors for this month. Still haven't signed up for the Julep Maven program? What are you waiting for? Click my button on the right side of this page and use the code COLOR2012 to get your intro box for just a penny!
American Beauty features Sabrina (a zesty orange shimmer crackle) and Eloise (a smokey indigo blue creme).

Boho Glam features Lisa (a warm pebble gray creme) and Hermione (a bright white creme crackle).

Bombshell features Keira (a deep merlot red creme) and Ursula (a black creme crackle).

Classic with a Twist features Boris and Nicole (an autumn red-brown frost) and Gwyneth (a sheer pink clear).

It Girl features Caroline (a dark burgundy shimmer), Leslie (a black and silver speckled shimmer) and Glenda (a radiant silver metallic crackle).

Maven's Choice features Eloise, Lisa, and Keira.

And as a special offer this month, you can add on Sofia, a sparkly green polish that glows in the dark. Spooky!
     So what do you think? Which box would you choose? I love the color combo in the American Beauty box and I really love the burgundy colors. I'm also tempted by the glow-in-the-dark color. Hmm...decisions, decisions.

4. Parenting class

     Tim and I have started attending a Bible study with some couples from the church we've been attending. We are studying the book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. We are really excited about it because we think we can learn a lot from both the book and the other couples in the class who are all older than us by five years or more and I think the five couples there, including us, have 14 children altogether with one on the way. I have read the first chapter of the book and like it so far. It explains how basically all behavior stems from the heart "the wellspring of life" and that you must tend to a child's heart and not just their behavior. We were given this book by our college pastor from our home church in Georgia when we were pregnant and moving to Washington. 

5. Clean rings
       So I was on Pinterest the other day and found the recipe for a mixture to clean jewelry at home and decided to try it out right away. My wedding and engagement rings were super dirty and dull because it's been a while since I had them cleaned. I used to take them in to the jeweler they were from and have them clean them, but since we no longer live there, I haven't done it in forever. The recipe consists of a tablespoon each of salt, baking soda, and dish detergent in a cup of hot water poured into a bowl lined with aluminum foil. Then you just soak you jewelry in it and they come out pretty clean. I used a travel toothbrush to clean my ring a little better and it really came out sparkling. I was very impressed with how easy this was to do at home and I'm so glad that I don't have to buy anything special. Here's the link to the recipe in case you want to try it. 

6. It's a pinstrosity!

     And speaking of Pinterest, have you ever tried an idea you found on the site and had it turn out horribly wrong? I haven't ever had anything go tragically awry, but I did make a really disgusting homemade version of Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte once. I recently discovered the website Pinstrosity, where people submit their Pinterest mishaps and mistakes. It's a great way to also check and see which popular pins might not work out so great. Each entry features the picture from the original pin and a picture of the project that failed. Some of them are laugh-out-loud funny. If you have a spare moment, check it out. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Citrus Lane review (September box)

     My September Citrus Lane box came last weekend and I wanted to share all the goodies we received in this month's "Animal Parade" box. Owen is 17 months old so we got the younger-range toddler box, I think. The boxes are filled with items based on your child's age and gender, so Owen gets different things than a 3-month-old or a 3-year-old might get. 
     When I found is the theme of this month, I was really excited because Owen loves animals. Unfortunately, Citrus Lane's interpretation of the theme was a little different than I expected. Not that I don't like the items, but I guess I expected more things for Owen to play with. And actually, I saw the contents of a box for an 18-month-old on their Facebook page and that box included a toy instead of the cleaning product that I received. 
     Here's the description of the theme for this month from Citrus Lane: "We've noticed a few similarities between animals and children. They're curious, rambunctious... and more than a little messy! This month's fun animal-themed finds are sure to keep your little bear interested and happy - whether that means roaring, purring, or giggling."  So basically the box theme should have been about keeping clean or getting clean based on what I received. 
      Owen, of course, loved opening the box and pulling out all the items. In addition to being introduced to new companies and products, this is probably one of the reasons I love getting a box for Owen each month. He gets so excited. Here are some cute pictures of him opening the box and exploring what he found inside. Scroll further and you can see pictures and descriptions of each of the items inside. 

And with that, here's a look at what I got in my box:

  •  Green Sprouts Long Sleeve Bib (yellow with duck print) - This long-sleeved bib is made of waterproof, lightweight material and features a catch-all pocket at the bottom. It's long-sleeved design basically protects your child's entire shirt while eating. They also recommend using it during messy art projects which is an idea I never thought of. I am definitely a big fan of this bib. Retails for $20. 
  • InnovativeKids Faces Book "Goodnight Faces" - This book, featuring a hole cut out of both sides of it, allows you to make a mask of each character in the book. It seems like a cute enough book, but isn't my favorite of the ones that Citrus Lane has offered in the past. Owen does enjoy the mask aspect of this book and thinks it's funny when I pretend to be the puppy or mouse or other animals, etc. in the book. I'm not sure why my photo is sideways, but Blogger won't let me fix it. Retails for $6.99.

  • Rich Frog Tub Sponge (dog) - This sponge is made of soft terrycloth and has a hook for hanging it to dry. I don't really find this sponge very practical for washing Owen. It is pretty stiff, but he does have fun playing with it in the tub, so at least it has that benefit. He loves plunging it under water and watching it pop up because it floats. Retails for $5.95.
  • BabyGanics Toy and Table Cleaner - This toy and table cleaner spray is nontoxic and free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. It is unfortunately a repeat item for me that I received in my June box. I don't mind them reusing popular or successful products from the past, but I think they should spread them out a little further than three months apart. I do like this spray though and use it to clean Owen's high chair. We still have about half a bottle left from June though so I have it stored away for when we run out. Retails for $3.99.
  • Happy Baby Happy Tot Food Pouch (Apple and butternut squash flavor) -  We love this brand of baby food, but we haven't fed Owen baby food in pouches for a while. We give him applesauce and other snack-type pouches, but he doesn't eat the meal-type pouches anymore, so this was sort-of a weird addition to the box. In the past they have given me more older toddler foods like snack bars and things like that and I prefer that over a single squeeze pouch. Also when Citrus Lane gives out food samples it seems like that have been new flavors or products from companies that I like, but this is a product and flavor that has been on the market for a while. Retails for $1.75. 

      So while this was not my favorite box that I've ever received from Citrus Lane, I did get a couple really neat things and I'm hopeful that they will include some more items for Owen to play with in the future. I really love this company and I know they try hard each month to come up with exciting new products and companies to introduce their customers to. And if they continue to give Owen a book a month, he will love them forever.

     If you're interested in trying Citrus Lane, you can get 10 percent off your subscription by using the code SUMMER10 (If that doesn't work, let me know and I will contact Citrus Lane and figure out what the current promo code is when you use someone's referral link to sign up). You'll save $7.50 on three months, $12.50 on six months, or $25 on twelve months. Click here if you want to check it out. I'd love it if you used my link so that I can get credit towards a free box at some point. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Random Friday

1. Photos on the wall

       While I was visiting my family in Georgia last weekend, my wonderful husband was working on his Honey-Do List. Actually, I didn't ask him to do anything while I was gone, but he still wanted to do a few things around the house. One of his projects was hanging my photo collage in our dining area. I had laid the frames out on the bed in our spare room and when I came back from Georgia, there they were on our wall. He did such a great job! And our house looks like people live there and not just squatters. I framed a bunch of Owen's one year photos, some wedding photos, and a recent photo of Tim and I from a wedding we attended. I decided to use a mix of black and white and color photos and I really love the way it looks. What do you think?

2. What's On My Nook + Owen's new favorite

      I am currently reading the third book in The Mortal Instruments series, "City of Glass" by Cassandra Clare. I am really enjoying this series and love the characters and the plot twists. It is a young adult novel, but the plot and writing is pretty mature. Basically from what I've read online about the series, the author really wanted her main characters to be teenagers and explore their coming of age stories and that her publishing company urged her to make them adults. But since they don't really go to high school or deal with their parents asking them to do chores or anything like that, it doesn't really seem like they're teenagers. Plus, they're making a movie of it that will come out next year, so you better start reading the series now because I'm betting it will be the next big thing after The Hunger Games mania. 

      Next up, I have the latest J.D. Robb installment from the In Death series, "Delusion in Death." I love this series so much and have talked about it in the past on the blog. Here's the description: "It was just another after-work happy-hour bar downtown, where business professionals unwound with a few drinks, complained about the boss, maybe hooked up with someone for the night. Until something went terribly wrong. At first it was just a friction in the air. The noise intensified. The crowd seemed oppressive. Some sharp words were exchanged, some pushing and shoving. Then the madness descended. And after twelve minutes of chaos and violence, eighty people lay dead. Eve Dallas is trying to sort out the inexplicable events... And if Eve can’t figure it out fast, it could happen again, anytime, anywhere. Because it’s airborne..." 
       And just for fun, I thought I would list Owen's favorite book this week. It's called "Trucks Go" by Steve Light. I bought it for our road trip coming up next week, but couldn't resist reading it to him a few times this week. He loves it! Each page features a different type of truck and on the page next to it is the noise that the truck makes. For instance, "The garbage truck goes Burbaba burbaba burbaba screech beep-beep-beep crunch crunch crunch." Owen thinks it's hilarious when I read out the noises and after we finish he runs around the house going, "Wee-ooh, bam, beep!" and other noises from the book. I highly recommend it for any truck-loving little boy. Owen is on a big vehicle kick right now from school buses to garbage trucks. 

3. Delicious Dinners Cravebox

     My Hunt's Delicious Dinners Cravebox came in the mail the other day and honestly, I was a little disappointed. My box included Hunt's Dinner Sauce in the Cacciatore flavor, a box of Gia Russa instant polenta, a box of True Lemon lemonade packets and a set of plastic cutlery. The box was a limited edition offering just to people who live in Kentucky and cost $10. I just don't really feel like I got my money's worth of the items in the box. I recently saw this sauce at Kroger for $1.99. I guess I just expected to receive a few more Hunt's products since they sponsored the box with Cravebox. Now don't get me wrong, I still love Cravebox and I like their lottery system to win special edition boxes. I just wasn't thrilled with this one. I guess I though that it would be a really exciting one because it was only open to a limited number of people and I figured that would mean the box would be a little higher in value. Oh well. 

4. Fall TV

     I am so happy that all my favorite shows are coming back to television this fall. Well, except the ones that weren't renewed for a second season (sorry Sarah Michelle Gellar). We watched the season opener of Glee last night and I am super psyched for the two new singers on the show and happy that some of the previous cast members have gone to college. Though why they are following Rachel to New York, I don't understand. Stick with the kids at the high school please! Moving on... I am also excited for the return of Once Upon A Time, Revenge, Modern Family, New Girl, Raising Hope, Grey's Anatomy (if only because I've watched it this long and want to see it through to the end of the series), Bones, and Castle. There are also a ton of new shows coming on this fall, but I wasn't really wowed by the premises of most of them. Tim and I are thinking about giving Revolution a try because I will watch anything that J.J. Abrams has a hand in (He also did Alias and Lost, among other things). And we will probably watch The Mindy Project because it is sandwiched in between some other shows we watch. But other than that, I'm not that interested in some of the new shows. Are there any new shows you want to see?

5. Fantasy football

      It's that time of year again. You know, the one where my husband is glued to the TV and his laptop. Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So last week when Tim was drafting his fantasy football team, I tried to get a spot in the league. There weren't any open spots though, so after doing tons of research all day to get ready for the draft, I instead helped Tim pick his team and we are working together. Our team is named the same thing from last year and is called "My Team in Asomugha!" (pronounced Awesome-wa) after professional player Nnamdi Asomugha of the Philadelphia Eagles. We won our first game last week and we're expected to win this week by .72 points. It's projected to be a close one, but our quarterback Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears scored insanely low last night (only 11 points when he was projected to score 30- ouch!) so I don't have high hopes for this week. 

6. Welcome Fall!

     To officially welcome my favorite season last night, I made Caramel-Stuffed Apple Cider cookies. Actually, Tim begged me to make them so I made a quick trip to Walmart for some missing ingredients and whipped them up before we watched the season opener of Glee. These cookies are one of my favorites because they are just so unique and delicious. I love the caramel inside and that the cookies are flavored with actual apple cider packets. Here is a link to the recipe that I use. Anyway, some other things I am looking forward to this fall are the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte, visiting a pumpkin patch, and celebrating Owen's second Halloween.

7. Honest deal.

        I have a great deal from The Honest Company to offer my blog readers. Through the end of the month, if you use my link [HERE] to make a purchase in The Honest Company's online shop or begin a monthly subscription with them, you will receive a $10 off coupon. Please note that the free trial does not count toward this deal. This is a great promotion because although I normally would get a $10 credit for recommending this company to someone who makes a purchase, there generally aren't any incentives for the people who actually sign up. This way, we both win! I cannot say enough good things about this company. I have loved every product that I've tried and I am looking forward to receiving my next shipment of products soon (hopefully today!). I plan on doing another review of the products I receive next. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bridal shower recap

    My mom and I held my cousin Johanna's wedding shower on Sunday and I think it went really well. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and activities and Johanna received some really nice gifts. I was really happy to see my vision for the shower come together and my country theme with mason jars turned out really cute. Here are some photos of the shower.

In the entryway, I placed these mason jars so that guests could write down marriage advice for the bride-to-be and put them into a "Love Advice Jar." 

I had a recipe box on the entry table as well for guests to drop off their filled out recipe cards that I included in their invitations.

I made three mason jar banners which were tied together with jute. Super cute, right? Banners are so fun.

We decided to forgo paper plates and plastic forks for mismatched antique china and silverware (in mason jars). We rented them from the momma of the bride of the wedding we went to in August. She bought a ton of plates to use for the wedding and now rents them out for events.

Guests drank tea and raspberry lemonade from small canning jars. 

I bought the pink and white striped straws on BHLDN. All the daisy lids were leftover from my wedding. 

For the table, we used a floral tablecloth and I ran two strips of burlap down it to add to the country feel. Then I decorated with mason jars. The little bride and groom birds were from my wedding. 

I put an assortment of mason jars on a cake stand to add some height to the table. This one I filled with various things from a package of scrapbooking decorations and added a ribbon and tag.

I made this jar into a vase and wrapped it with jute and ribbon. Thank you Pinterest.

This jar I filled with fake pearls and a tag that says Mr. and Mrs. Then I added a bow made from ribbon and jute and another tag. 

I turned this jar upside down and used it like a snowglobe of sorts with a photo of the couple and crinkly brown paper. 

More mason jar vases in the living room. One I had Tim spraypaint pink and the other I wrapped with jute and ribbon again.

More flowers. Floating pearls and a mason jar-shaped tag.

My mom made some of the food and the rest was made by the woman who catered my wedding. Her food is delicious!

We had chicken salad sandwiches on croissants, mini cheeseballs, crackers with spinach artichoke dip, and assorted fruit on this end of the table.

And mini ham sandwiches, marinated veggie k-bobs, chocolate shooters, and lemon blossom cakes on this end.

Johanna, opening one of her gifts from us. P.S. It's a dutch oven and I'm jealous.

More presents. We also played a game where you ask people if they have certain items in their purses. It was really fun. My cousin Ethan's girlfriend won.

Johanna's soon-to-be sister in law Anna was in charge of making her "bouquet" from the  bows and ribbons on the packages.

For party favors, I made raspberry butter and put it in little jelly jars. The jars are so little and cute!

Then I added a tag tied on with jute. Actually, my friend Haley came over the day before and helped me tie all these on and watch Owen while I made four batches of raspberry butter. 

Delicious and super easy. Just soften a pound of butter and then mix in a container of raspberries and a little bit of confectioners sugar. I mixed mine in my KitchenAid mixer using the dough hook attachment because it doesn't destroy the berries, but breaks them up really beautifully. 

    I found all my mason jar tags for free online here. Invitations, recipe cards, thank you cards, etc. were bought on Etsy from this seller. Straws and napkins were purchased here. I bought most of the mason jars at Kroger. Crafts supplies (jute, ribbon, etc.) were bought at Michael's. The china plates were rented from a family friend's mom. The recipe box was purchased at Hallmark and the recipe cards don't match exactly, but they do look pretty cute in there. If you have any questions or want sources for anything else, leave me a comment.