So Much to Blog, So Little Time

There is so much I want to blog about right now! I have so many ideas rattling around in my head, but they're going to have to wait for a while because I'm going to see my husband! Yea! I'm so excited ... but even though I leave in 2 hours I'm still not packed! So, this will be a short post. And I probably won't be posting very much for the next two weeks, but don't worry, I'll be back!

In the meantime I am super excited to tell you that one of the websites I featured in a previous post, Bella Luna Toys, is offering all my readers 10% off their products! Cool, huh?

"As thanks, I'd like to offer you and your readers a 10% discount off your next order. Just use the code BLOG10 at checkout! Also, be sure to check out my new blog "Moon Child" where I discuss the importance of play and the value of natural toys.http://www.blog.bellalunatoys.com."

I've been running around like a chicken with it's head cut off this week, so I haven't had a chance to check out the blog, but I will be doing that soon! Hmmmm ... what should I get Ethan for his birthday? Anyone have any ideas for developmentally appropriate toys for a one year old?

I'm thinking about this wooden train, but I'm thinking he won't appreciate it yet. It might be better for when he's two.


Green Your Life: Reduce

To Reduce: to diminish in size, amount, extent, or number

I am beginning my series on Greening Your life today, in honor of what I think is a profoundly dumb idea: Earth Hour. According to the official website, today "hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour."

Now, I'll leave it up to you to debate the merits of climate change and sitting in the dark for an hour. I want to share 3 things you can reduce that will have a positive impact on your life and help you be a better steward of your time, talents, and our precious resources.

These are things I am actually trying to do in my life. Hopefully you can find one or two ideas that you can use!

Reduce Paper Clutter
4 ideas from housekeeping.about.com
(for more ideas, click on the link)

  1. Automate - Set up online bill pay or automatic payments. Turn off your paper statements.
  2. Contain the Memories - Give each family member a container for storing artwork, birthday cards, etc. When the container is full, they have to decide which stuff to keep and which stuff to give away.
  3. Evaluate Your Subscriptions - In addition to cutting down on unnecessary catalogs and magazines, you can have your name removed from junk mailing lists. For more information, visit newdream.org.
  4. Get Rid of Receipt Mania - You don't need a receipt for everything. If you have the option and the purchase doesn't need to be documented for tax purposes, opt for no receipt.

Reduce Unnecessary Debt
There are many blogs dedicated exclusively to this topic and considering that I still have much progress to make in this area, I'll keep my comments brief.
I know from personal experience the freedom that comes from being debt free. If you have a desire to change your financial future, a great place to start would be with Dave Ramsey. I listen to his free podcasts. His book, The Total Money Makeover, is also excellent.

Reduce Stress
Tips from helpguide.org
  • Learn to say "no"
  • Take control of your environment
  • Limit your to do list
  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Be more assertive about things that are important to you
  • Manage your time better
  • Look at the big picture
  • Focus on the positive
  • Learn to forgive
Happy Reducing!

Fashion Friday: Trends for Spring 2010

Now, I do not claim to be a fashion diva, by any stretch of the imagination. But, I do love to shop and I do love clothes. I like to look cute, but I don't usually follow every whim of the fashion industry. And I love bargains. I am not afraid to shop second hand (more like I buy almost everything "gently used").

In honor of my new-found personal fashion sense, I bring you my picks for this season's YES or NO trends:

  • Indigo - Read: "denim." Maybe this will be my excuse to get that cute denim jacket I've always wanted.
  • Sophisticated Tie-Dye - This one definitely takes me out of my comfort zone, but I'm excited to try it.
  • Safari Inspired
  • Military Coat
  • Polka Dot - I'm thinking of something simple and classy, like this dress from Ralph Lauren.
  • Yellow - I must have subconsciously picked up this trend, because my recent Plato's Closet haul includes two really cute yellow pieces. A major development, because I have yet to wear this color successfully!
  • Hot Pants - Um, do I have to explain?
  • Feather Skirts - "Hello gorgeous! Ten bucks says you'll hear that greeting every time you walk into a room with a kicky little number like this on." - Stylelist.com. Really? On what planet?
  • Silver and Gold - I just can't do these in fabric.
  • Sequined Tops - If you want to look like you're clubbing, that's fine. My inner librarian rebels!
  • Nude - No, this trend doesn't involve walking around naked. Beige, light pink, and caramel are the 'colors' of the season. Let's also include other "neutral" trend colors: grey and khaki. Now, I can't pull off this color, but some can.
  • Fold over Neckline - Cute, but I don't think I'll dare
  • Monotone Look - Ditto
  • Boyfriend Blazer - I try to stay away from anything that looks like my mom wore it in the 90s. Kim wears it well in the pic below, though.
  • Novelty Prints - If you were born within a decade of me, think of something you wore in grade school with a shooting star motif


From Droopy to Dreamy

"The butt; they come in all shapes and sizes. But what if you could have the perfect butt you've always dreamed about?"

So starts the infomercial for "Brazil Butt Lift," a DVD workout program. My friend Becca and I were flipping through channels the other night when we stumbled upon this infomercial. With classic lines like, "from droopy to dreamy," it was just too good to pass up. Watching that is, don't worry, Dan I didn't buy it. Actually, in my humble opinion, I think this DVD program, if faithfully followed would actually work.
Here is the three minute version, for your viewing pleasure!


I guess the funny part to me is the obsession over a particular body part. I don't know, I just don't dream about my butt. Or any other body part for that matter. Maybe I'm weird.

I do dream about getting my whole body back in super shape, though. Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and motherhood, while all transcendent emotional and spiritual experiences, sure have taken a toll on my body. And without my personal trainer available (my hot husband), I have been slacking.

I tried giving myself a reward for working out. I decided to buy a new piece of clothing for every ten days of working out. Well, I blew that one in the first week. Not for lack of working out, but I went and practically bought a new wardrobe at Plato's closet. (More about my great finds at a later date)

This week has been super crazy and I've only been to the gym once! It's so hard to workout as a mom. If anyone has any good ideas, let me know! Please!

My new ideas for motivation are:
  1. Sign up and pay for the Utah Valley 5k
  2. Enlist my sister and as many people as possible to run with me
  3. Tell you all about it so I can't back out.
Step one is complete. Now I just need some buddies! My sister said she'd sign up, I'll just need to bug her about it. The race is in June, which gives me plenty of time to work up from the 2 miles I can run right now. Also, that will be about a year since my little squirmy was born. Perfect.

Now ... off to the gym!


Aztec Power Food

Today I am excited to introduce you to two amazing pseudocereals, amaranth and quinoa (keen-wah).

These delicious foods are not true grains, but are seeds. They are prepared and eaten like grains, however and make excellent grain substitutes for people with gluten intolerance. In contrast to grains, these seeds have a complete protein, making them a good choice for vegetarians. Both amaranth and quinoa are high in fiber and contain many important nutrients.

"The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or mother of all grains, and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using 'golden implements'. Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous."

"A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dentepasta). As an alternative, one can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like white rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts)."

Wikipedia on Amaranth

"It was one of the staple foodstuffs of the Incas, and it is known as kiwicha in the Andes today. It was also used by the ancient Aztecs, who called it huautli, and other Native America peoples in Mexico to prepare ritual drinks and foods. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey,molasses or chocolate to make a treat called alegría (happiness in Spanish)."

"Amaranth was used in several Aztec ceremonies, where images of their gods (notably Huitzilopochtli) were made with amaranth mixed with honey. The images were cut to be eaten by the people."

Eating Amaranth and Quinoa

My mom had some of this delicious instant cereal in her cupboard and I have fallen in love with it! It is made of puffed amaranth, rolled oats, fruit, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. I use it as the perfect topping for my berries and yogurt! You can purchase this yummy cereal at Vital Life Products or in select Utah stores.

For some recipes using Quinoa, visit Quinoa.net.


Favorite Things Installment #2: Soap Nuts

Soap Nuts? A plant that acts as laundry detergent?

So I have to admit, that when I first heard about these I thought it was some scam to take advantage of the current going green craze. Then I found out that one of my very cool friends, Meridth, used them and she gave me some to try. You put 2-4 of these things in the washing machine with your clothes and viola!

What in the heck is a soap nut, you might ask? It really does come from a plant, but it isn't a nut, it's a berry/fruit. According to the website Green Virgin Products (where I buy my soap nuts): "The soap nut contains a natural soap called saponin. Saponin has cleaning abilities equal to toxic chemical detergents. Soap Nuts are extremely hypo-allergenic and can be used by people who are allergic to all other detergents. They are completely green and don't pollute our planet."
The great thing is, they actually work! And, not only do they replace detergent, but you don't have to use dryer sheets either. You get soft, clean, fresh smelling (there are no perfumes) laundry for a fraction of what you would spend on regular products.

I highly recommend trying these out, especially if you have sensitive skin or are trying to reduce the chemicals in your home!


Give A Hoot

Recently, at the library I stumbled across an adorable board book about some baby owls. Later I went to the fabric store and saw the cutest owl fabric I want to buy to make some bibs. Then I came home and listened to some Owl City. In honor of my accidental theme, here are some favorite owl things I've found. Enjoy!

Free Tutorial @ Whimsy Loft
As you probably know from previous posts, I'm in love with sock animals.

OWLIVIA - Stuffed Owl
Free Tutorial at Moda Bake Shop
You can make this adorable little stuffed friend! I love free tutorials!

Ocean Eyes Album MP3 $7 @ Amazon.com
When I told my younger sister that I liked Owl City, she said, "I don't like them because they're popular." I didn't know this was a popular band. Oh well. Wikipedia describes Adam Young's creation as "American Synthpop." My favorite song is "Sunburn," but I also really like the hit single "Fireflies." Why do I always find bands AFTER it's cool to like them?

OWL BABIES by Martin Waddell
$16 hardcover $7 paperback @ Borders.com
The most adorable children's picture book. I am absolutely in love. Three little owl babies wait for their mommy to come home from hunting. Great lesson: Mommy will always come back.

$15 @ Amazon.com
According to the reviews on Amazon.com, this adorable little owl is not so little, but about as big as a newborn baby. What a cute addition to a nursery!

Free tutorial @ Juicy Bits
I am thinking of making these without the ornament strings as part of another project for Ethan. Either way, these are super cute.

$18 @ Mini Me Baby Gear
I've been seeing a lot of these appliqued onesies lately and can't wait to get my hands on some for Ethan before he's too big.

LITTLE HOOT by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
$10.19 @ Amazon.com
This adorable little book is about an owl who wants to go to bed, but his parents make him stay up late like a good little owl. Cute twist on the regular goodnight book.

I just think this backpack would be perfect for a little girl in colorful tights and pigtails ...


Play Amongst Lovely Things

"The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things" - Plato

Dan and I feel very strongly about plastic toys. For several reasons, we don't like them and we don't want our children to have them. The idea of my sweet little baby playing with unnatural objects just doesn't sit right with me. That said, Ethan has plastic toys, most of which were given to us. In an ideal world, we would be rich enough to buy a few beautiful wooden and cloth toys. (We also feel strongly about kids having too much stuff) As I look forward to that day, here are some beautifully crafted toys from one of the most delightful websites, Bella Luna Toys.

Cozy Kid's Room

I love decorating even though I've never really done it in real life. In my imagination I have a house I call my "Someday House," and I have it decorated just the way I like things. Simple, cozy, and warm. When I saw these pictures on one of my favorite blogs, Tutus and Turtles, I instantly fell in love. How perfect for a little boys room! Who wouldn't want a tent in their room? If you want to see the rest of the house, click here.

Sewing Safari Part 1: Dresses!

Dan and I are going on a cruise! Yea! Besides the fun we're going to have, I am super excited about the cute clothes I get to wear. I will need two dresses: a cute casual dress and a cocktail/semi-formal dress. Do you know how hard it is to find dresses? I always have a difficult time finding one I love, that fits, and is reasonably priced. So, I have enlisted my mom's help as I embark on an adventure: sewing two dresses in two months. (Keep in mind that while I technically "know how to sew," it has been years and my biggest projects were dresses for my American Girl dolls)

The first dress, my casual/Sunday dress will use the same pattern as this dress, recently featured on our family blog:
This dress belongs to my little sister, and I almost stole it from her because I love it so much. Yesterday I bought the loveliest green linen look fabric and can't wait to cut it out! I love green dresses!

I really debated about whether to buy or make my cocktail dress. I want it to look really stunning, and I found the perfect dress at Nordstrom. But I wasn't quite ready to fork out the stunning price. So, I did some investigating and found a pattern for the EXACT SAME dress from Butterick! As an added bonus, my mom said it wouldn't be too difficult to sew. We'll see about that.


Tea for Beauty?

Last week while visiting our local ritzy supermarket, (Cleverly named "The Store") I found a line of red teas boasting different health properties. Now, I love tea. I especially love Rooibos (Red Tea) which is from South Africa, is naturally caffeine, and full of antioxidants. Plus, the cool cans these teas come in totally win me over. I am a sucker for slick packaging.

Anyway, I picked this tea, "Get Gorgeous," which boasts to help improve your skin's appearance by virtue of the antioxidants. After I bought it I went on line and looked up some reviews on this amazing tea blog, The Tea Scoop. The author didn't like the taste because it was too fruity (good for me, that's the way I like my tea!), but there were multiple comments posted that verified the company's claims. So, I am looking forward to this little experiment and I'll let you know how it goes. So far I think this is a delicious tea that I would drink even if it does nothing for my poor skin.

The company that makes this, The Republic of Tea, is truly amazing with a vast array of different flavors. You should check them out!


Favorite Things Installment 1: Sock Attack

If you read my previous post, you will know I recently found a lot of cool new things from my friends.

One of Dacia's favorite things she shared was the CUTEST sock monkeys that she makes for friends. Dacia made one for Ethan and it was the only stuffed animal he liked for the longest time and is still his favorite. The above monkey is not one of hers, but is similar.

So, after a little web research and tons of cuter than cute ideas, I am just itching to make my own. Of course, being Michelle, I would need to buy a book. Because there is a book for everything. This is the book I want:

Oh, my gosh! Doesn't that little dog just kill you?!

But, I must hold my breath on this one. You see, dear reader, I already have enough crafty projects for one little Michelle to handle at the moment. For now I will just dream in socks!

If you are interested in making your very own adorable creation, you can see a step by step tutorial by visiting THIS WEBSITE or a simple overview on THIS WEBSITE.

Favorie Things

Dacia and I recently hosted our second annual "Favorite Things" Party, and I must say, it was a smashing success. What better way to spend an evening than with favorite people, favorite foods, and all manner of favorite things?

For those of my dear readers who have never had the privilege of attending a Favorite Things Party, let me enlighten you. Here is my recipe for a delightful event:

  1. Select the perfect night, preferably in January or February.
  2. Invite 14 of your most favorite girl friends in the whole wide world. (Keep in mind that 10 of them will say they are coming, and 7 will show up)
  3. Instruct each friend to make a list of at least 10 of their favorite things from the previous year. These things should be specific (like a favorite movie, restaurant, store, book, game, website, health/beauty product, etc). The point is to share things you love and learn about cool things that your friends like. Your friends should bring as many items as possible and practical for show and tell.
  4. Each friend should bring one item that they can share with everyone. (Like bringing everyone a copy of the menu for your favorite restaurant or a piece of your favorite candy) These things should be small and inexpensive - just cute little treasures to take home.
  5. Each friend should bring a favorite food along with a copy of the recipe for each guest. (Yum ... this is always a highlight!)
  6. Welcome your friends to your home and bask in the excitement and camaraderie of sharing favorite things! Each guest should take time to explain their list and hand out their goodies.

We have found that this party works best for groups that either know each other well (our little military community, or a family, for instance) or are very outgoing.

Stay tuned for future posts in which I share some of the favorite things I discovered!

I'm Back!

My computer's fixed, I figured out how to get my pictures on it again, and I have an internet connection that actually works!


Now, if Ethan takes a few good naps, maybe I can update you with some of the things that have been rattling around in my head for the past two months!

Stay Tuned!