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Happy Thanksgiving

24 Nov


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Thrifty Living: The Dress Up Chest

21 Nov

I am so excited to finally share this post with you. Building this dress up chest from thrifted and secondhand items has been so much fun, and once I tell you how cheap and easy it is to make, you are going to want to make one, too.

You don’t have to build a secondhand dress up chest, but I find that the best stuff, the cheapest stuff, and sometimes, the most realistic stuff, is found second hand. Additionally, the dress up chest helped me think of ways to repurpose items that I otherwise would donate or send to a landfill. And once my friends and family members heard about this dress up chest I was putting together they came forward with things from their closets to add to the bounty.

The best places to shop for dress up items that are new would be craft stores like Michael’s (they have hats, boas, and headbands), the dollar store (sometimes home to some pretty great finds) and the party supply store. Hear me out on that one! The party supply store has lies, hats, necklaces, sunglasses, and scarves,usually for really cheap. Pop-up Halloween costume stores are great, too–but skip the prepackaged costumes and go straight to the accessories. Wigs, hats, and gloves are a better investment than the costumes themselves, which won’t hold up to constant kid abuse.

Creating a kickass dress up chest is part of my life list, so I can consider this item mission accomplished.

(Poppy isn’t part of the dress up chest. She’s just acting as the showroom model. Thanks, Pops.)

By far, though, your best bet is to troll thrift stores and yard sales. Here are some of my favorite items from the chest:

This is something we call “the minky” because it just looks like a weird pile of brown fur if you can’t see how it’s used. It’s actually a large, wide scarf and it functions as a stole or a shawl. It looks and even feels like luxurious fur, but worry not, animal lovers: it’s actually a strange woven mohair-type yard that was knitted into shape. Strange. My Mom found it while thrifting and picked it up because she knew I was putting a dress up chest together.

My mom also found that black beaded purse and the white kitty hat secondhand and contributed the blue Heidi dress from her childhood as well. My Aunt Debbie added the pink-lined white stole plus these glasses.

The black ninja mask is actually a headsock that I saved from my one and only racing experience, and the gloves and mask were leftover from my Rogue costume and Anthony’s Nightwing costume. You might remember the witch hat from Target’s dollar bin, and the make up brushes we bought after having fun with our cousins. The necklaces were contributed by my mother-in-law, much to Zorro’s chagrin. You might remember the bunny ears? Coworkers gave us those. The wings were found while thrifting.

I saved the glasses from Yo Gabba Gabba Live and laminated them at work. They are still kicking! (Though admittedly a bit worse for wear.) We bought the giant magnifying glass when we visited the Children’s Museum and all the kids that come over just love it. What a great $3 purchase!  Isobel calls it her “Lookie Lookie”, but it usually comes out “Wookie Wookie!” Too cute.

That lanyard came from Anthony’s time at Borders. The cat key came from our very interesting time with the White Car. Long ago, before Isobel was even thought of, Anthony and I went on a date to an arcade where we won these Special Police badges and I kept them all this time.

This compass is one of my favorite finds. It’s real and it works and it’s satisfyingly larger than the palm of my hand, making the adventures we have with it extra-epic. It’s a thrift store find.

I bought this sparkle ball at Borders and later I found this stand while thrifting. I don’t know for sure that it’s for a crystal ball, but that was all I could think of when I looked at it.

Anthony found the bag with a moon on it while thrifting and thought it would make a great ‘magic pouch.’ This beaded clutch is one of Isobel’s favorite things, and also a thrift store score.

We also have a fantastic collection of thrifted dress up hats, which I’ll show you later, and besides that we’re adding to our collection all the time.  Whenever we have kids over to play they make a beeline for the dress up chest. It’s one of Kingston’s favorite things to do, and there’s nothing cuter than seeing the kids all dressed up. If you are thinking about giving this a go, I’d like to hearitly recommend it and would love to see pictures of what you find! Link back here in the comments so we can all see. Happy hunting!

Scrapbook: Tea Time

4 Oct

Anthony was right.  Zorro and Poppy do love the jellyfish tent. Fortunately, they love it for more than just scratching and attacking. Sometimes they like to be civilized.

He kind of reminds me of Jabba the Hutt here. Surveying his domain.

 

“You guys don’t mind if my butt is in the frame, right? Great.”

I call this expression, “American Gothic if it were to take place in a jellyfish tent surrounded by a child’s tea set and enacted by animals.” You know, art.

Have I mentioned that Poppy is kind of a spaz?

She’s a cute spaz, at least.

Follow Friday – Subjecting You to Photos of My Cats

19 Aug

Yesterday Isobel and I were in the backyard playing her new favorite game: “beach.” It involves a large patch of sand and several buckets and plastic shovels. While we were digging, Jupey came over the fence with a fresh Barbie in his mouth. He ran to Isobel and dropped it at her feet.

“A dolly! Jupey brought me a dolly! Mommy, look!” she shrieked excitedly, picking it up.  “Thanks Jupey! I love you.”

It’s my Mom’s birthday today and she’s pretty much the a Cat Whisperer. Today, in her honor, I’m subjecting you to photos of my cats. Happy Birthday, Mom!

What is Follow Friday? It’s a Twitter meme that I have taken a couple steps further.  Learn more about it in my FAQ. See my nomination for a Shorty Award for Follow Friday here. You can read more Follow Friday goodness here.

wheelfreed Does farting count as tooting your own horn?

mindykaling Oh no. Every T-Pain song now seems like a parody to me.

apodixis I have tuna flavored laxative on my fingers, in case you were wondering.

sgnp I’m not losing horribly. I’m helping you have the best game ever!

louisvirtel This tweet may not seem like an awesome Madonna tribute, but I’m actually lip-syncing it and humping the floor.

twopretzels Craig taught Lila to say “dog balls.” Yup. Can’t really say much more than that. Dog balls.

CourtNeedsSleep I just don’t understand why we went with ‘Unicorn’ over ‘Unihorn’ that’s all

Greeblemonkey Season 2 Muppets is clearly the year Jim Henson started smoking weed. #muppetnight

danforthfrance I never found out if the girl in that movie got her grade changed. (It was porn.)

cbnickras Back in the old days, before health insurance, people just died young! We should just return to that magic golden age!

LouisPeitzman This guy’s OKCupid page says his ideal partner reads at least six hours a week. Does reading online dating profiles count?

stray @pcsweeney My unbridled hatred for Outlook is thicker than the richest pancake syrup.

freudiantypo Just once I’d like to get a prescription bottle with a warning label that says, “Take with plenty of beer.”

shariv67 Isn’t it cute how old people sign all of their online comments? Sincerely,
Shari

MakeMommyCoffee Clearly tired of me checking for new teeth Allie waited until I was vulnerable and plunged her whole hand into my mouth & laughed maniacally.

PlumeriaSprite Atypical cells are the enemy but atypical friends are really fun.

Hojimoto I shouldn’t have to ask for a *Chocolate* Frosty. In my day when you asked for a Frosty you got Chocolate and liked it!

massagebyted Yes, I do think you should fill the back of your truck with lettuce and old chairs before you take the craigslist “for sale” photo.

MagpieLibrarian Cat skirt, squirrel shirt, snoopy scarf, AliceWonderland necklace, RedRidingHood pin. I’m your fucking kid’s librarian. Let’s read some shit.

sarahmcdallen Such a lovely day. Kim & I discussed having a lie down on the grass, but she said, at our ages, people wld probably think we’d fallen down.

apelad How can it be 1:35 already? Oh right, time passing.

FuckItLibrarian This lady honked at me as I turned into the library. I told her to kiss my ass. No one honks at the librarian.

rstevens my kingdom for an easier to control kingdom with more serfs and better access to navigable bodies of water

MagpieLibrarian if you liked it, then you should have put all hold on it. #allthesinglelibrarians

InfiniteChicken …now if you’ll all just cover your eyes for a few seconds… #BadMagicTricks

thechrisleroux Ladies and gentlemen, I think we can all agree that this puppy is now dead… #BadMagicTricks

johnmoe Sawing a bagel in half #BadMagicTricks

sgnp The Miser’s Reach-Around #BadMagicTricks

InfiniteChicken Now moms, kids—you will notice I am not wearing any pants… #BadMagicTricks

jenstatsky “OMG sooo cute, did you see this YouTube video of Zooey Deschanel playing the piano?!” – Cats.

NotGaryBusey Crocs are just PT Cruisers for your feet.

badbanana Where Settlers Settled #NewNebraskaSlogan

badbanana America’s Vast, Pasty Midsection #NewNebraskaSlogan

badbanana That Smell is Iowa #NewNebraskaSlogan

fierceflawless My constant inner monologue while watching tv: “these people are assholes.”

PMuffintop Day 2 of Kindergarten and my child has already asked me what “shitballs” means. Hooray!

muffpunch You know it’s a good day when you’ve used the phrase “you’re more than welcome to fire me.”

slackmistress It doesn’t matter where I work, I’m always the one who has to explain what Furries are.

LPCookbook Someone in the hallway is kerfuffled because they do not know how to use the watercooler. JUST PRESS THE BUTTON THAT SAYS “WATER.”

slackmistress “You’re a good neighbor..like a State Farm rep I get to sleep with. ” – @BeTheBoy to me

giromide Take these broken wings. They’ve been sittin’ in the basement for, like, two years. Shake ’em first. Might be some damn earwigs in ’em.

EvenMoreSarah Dear God I just got a Google ad for flushable dog poop bags called Flush Puppies. Now I kind of want to disable my OWN account.

maggiesox I am beginning to resent every email in my inbox that doesn’t come from Pottermore. I just cursed out an email from my mom.

BridgetCallahan I resent almost all of you for almost everything – my acceptance speech.

jephkelley Flying next week and already know which section of SkyMall I’m flipping to first. The Pendant of Arwen Evenstar is as good as mine.

ClevelandPoet There’s a statue of a priest guy sticking his fists out in my gallery. Every time I pass by I have to urge to fist bump him. #GotMadRespect

thecheckoutgirl Just washed down my birth control pill with french fries, essentially doubling the effect.

chickenscottpie I’m suffering from Michele Bachmann overload. Can we all just agree she’s an embarrassment to humanity and then never talk about her again?

batsly I hate to brag, but I’m really fuckin’ good at it.

wheatnik Instead of writing books, I tweet, because I am horrible at stringing sentences together in a coherent manner. I love chocolate pudding.

jszyd How does a shepherd keep track of how many sheep he has without falling asleep?

heyrenees The state of everything makes one thing crystal clear: we picked the wrong time to cancel the space program.

EliBraden Actually ‘B’ isn’t a number. RT @KimKardashian: How many people u know can take it this far? B

mrpilkington Who wants to watch antiques roadshow?! I’ve got 137 hours saved on the DVR. You’ll probably never hear from me again.

rstevens I don’t need to get enough rest if I just keep raising my Sleep Debt Ceiling.

danforthfrance Told Grandma how to order the Internet and asked her to call me back to tell me how it went. Chain smoking like Apollo 13 Mission Control.

TheSuniverse I have a cut on the tip of my middle finger. Damn. That finger gets the most work.

revtrev Actual Sign: “In case of fire, exit building before tweeting about it.”

guiltysquid I’m letting my children vacuum. The mama bear in me is wanting to run and grab my precious in a protective fashion. Oh, my poor Dyson.

Ahm76 When couples introduce me to their infant, all I hear is “look what we built using only our private genitals!”

jszyd “Holy shit!” – Guy who walked into the stall immediately following Jesus.

Cre8BeautyDaily No, YOU just lied to your 3 yr old niece & told her that the sea salt caramel you just ate was special vitamins for pregnant ladies.

KeepingYouAwake That there is a soda called Squirt is just hilarious to me. Honestly, just try not to laugh with a mouthful of Squirt.

dantelfer I wish a museum would hire me to wander around and yell at everything.

luckyshirt After the Flood, God made a rainbow as a promise He would never kill us all again. But later He got all mad at us again and made celery.

Shedletsky A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy.

luckyshirt “This feels so amazing. You are so terrible at this. I am in heaven. I want to kill you. That’s perfect. You’re an idiot.” -a cat being pet

ecsuperhero Old man Shane received his first ever jury duty notice and just tried to throw it in the trash. Aw, my baby daddy wants to go to jail.

thejohnblog I don’t believe in cruelty to animals, so I lied and told my dog his butt looked great in the jeans I put on him.

guiltysquid Answer your phone in public with, “Where in the hell is my monkey??” and people act like you’re odd.

smileydooby So few racists ever take the time to get to know me. They’d still end up hating me but you know, later.

Filmdrunk Jesus Christ, iTunes, I just wanted to buy an album, but I’ll have my lawyer take a look at this agreement and get back to you.

zombiesitcom I don’t care how much your bridesmaid dress cost, you still look like Grover. #ThingsIShouldFacebook

Athenabee @exlibris I’m a Jupey groupie.

steenyweeny i don’t care what any of you say, growing out your bangs is the single most awkward stage of life.

trollprincess Dear rest of the world: If Bachmann gets nominated, please invade. We’ve clearly had an accident and are unable to care for ourselves.

TheNextMartha At a restaurant that advertises “Shrimp 5 ways.” All 5 ways are fried.

ispinyarn Damn autopilot led me around 3 sides of a large square. It is so fired.

pourmecoffee  To actually vote, Iowans go on stage and the John Deere Sorting Hat announces their choice.

TheRedQueen Well my genius appointment was 20 mins ago and I am still waiting. Genius a little faster guys.

amandaha I did the walk of shame back to my old hair stylist with June’s awful uneven cut. That’s what “walk of shame” means, right?

arcasmically @exlibris marinating chicken. LIKE A SAUCE.

morninggloria Every time I read about a drunk man in his 30’s falling into the river or something equally dumb, I wonder if it’s one of my ex boyfriends.

johnmoe Hey now! Your a monster! Put some pants on! Go play! Wait now! Here’s a lobster! Call your friend’s mom! No way! #SMASHEDMOUTH

apodixis I’m convinced that typing in all caps is a sign of some kind of learning disability.

What is Follow Friday? It’s a Twitter meme that I have taken a couple steps further.  Learn more about it in my FAQ. See my nomination for a Shorty Award for Follow Friday here. You can read more Follow Friday goodness here.

Flip Book: Zorro Hug

17 Aug

My SAHM Confessions

27 Jul

This is what my workspace looks like on any given day. He’s been doing this forever, and it’s kind of surprising my computer’s never exploded from the extra heat. Or the pressure.  Quite often Poppy likes to join us and annoyingly sit between my head and the computer monitor. Add to this the fact that Isobel is on my lap if I’m here and she’s awake (and sometimes even if she’s asleep–note below), and it makes for a full house.

Recently, I wrote about the SAHM gig and how it’s treating me. I wrote about our schedule and the logistics of staying at home, and I briefly touched on my deepening bond with Isobel. It’s been a few months now since I’ve left the library, and writing that post has made me think about how I’m different and the things I have learned.  I realized I have some confessions to make.

This is probably going to sound very obvious, but it wasn’t at all clear to me until I left my job and had some distance. You know what? I did not at all enjoy being a mother who worked outside the home. I loved my job and I loved working–until I had Isobel. Then my job just became another item to cross off on my list of unpleasant tasks. It became a never-ending chore.

There’s a lot of talk pitting moms who stay at home versus moms who have careers–parenting is fertile grounds for self-righteous one-upmanship– and as someone who has done both I can unequivocally tell you that there is little difference in my actual parenting. I was a fantastic working mother and I am still a fantastic stay at home mother. The vast difference between these two scenarios is that in this one I’m happy.

Staying at home doesn’t make me a good parent. I was a good parent before. I was a great parent, even. But I am an even better mother now because I’m happy.

I know incredible mothers who work outside the home because they have no choice, and I know some wonderful mothers who choose to work outside the home  for the same reason I chose to leave the library: happiness and personal fulfillment. I have no doubt that those working moms are just as capable, caring and wonderful as those who are able to stay at home. It was the right decision for me, but it isn’t right for everyone.

This new surge of happiness and well-being makes sense on a physical level. I try not to bore you guys by bringing this up repeatedly, but I have Crohn’s disease, and my health is rather delicate. Now that I’m home all day I can rest when I need to,  eat what I need to when I need to, and get sick if I need to. And that is okay! My new boss doesn’t care! Working at home has significantly relieved the stress on my body and my new routine agrees with it greatly. This alone has made a huge difference in my quality of life.

Aside from the realization that I really didn’t enjoy being a working mother, I’ve realized another thing about myself, too. One that’s almost embarrassing to share with you because it’s such a cliché: I have learned to savor the moment and to truly embrace my current limitations. As weird as it sounds, experiencing  PPD and all those struggles I went through really helped me realize this. I had internal levels of perfection that I would demand of myself, and I didn’t dare stray from those expectations.

Once I had Isobel and PPD kicked in, I had no choice but to let things go.  I found out it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t keep on top of the (non-diaper) laundry every day. Dirty dishes could sit in the sink and without blowing up. I could go weeks without vacuuming and the world still turned. Sure, all of this was a symptom of my illness, but I have come out of this experience a much mellower mama. I no longer strive for perfection–I strive for happiness.

So much of my former mindset was really counting on Things Being Perfect One Day. I’m no longer waiting till things are perfect. I’m letting go. And I’m realizing which things are worth holding on to.

Little Big Links: Shapeshifters and Magicians

20 Jul

Before I get to all the link goodness, I need to tell you a story.

One day last week, I woke up and let Jupiter in after his long night of carousing through the neighborhood and murdering things. He wasn’t wearing his green collar. He was wearing a blue collar, the collar he had previously lost somewhere outside last March. Almost immediately after we made the decision for Jupiter to be an indoor-outdoor kitty he had last the fancy Etsy collar we gave him.

After Jupiter lost the blue collar, he became proficient in murdering small helpless animals, and decapitated lizards and fatally wounded birds started showing up on our doorstep in an alarming number. Anthony and I realized that for the sake of nature we needed to put a ring on it–or more specifically, we needed to give Jupiter a new collar that had a bell.

That day Jupiter wandered in the house as if nothing was wrong, as if he wasn’t wearing a collar that had just disappeared off the face of the Earth several months ago, new collar nowhere to be found. When Anthony woke up I told him I had a story for him, and I alerted him to the fact that our cat was most likely haunted That’s when I found out Anthony had a story for me.

The night before Anthony had been playing in the yard with Isobel while I took a shower and used the bathroom in peace. While they were playing, Jupiter appeared on the fence. He was mysteriously without collar. There was something in his mouth.

The blue collar.

Thoroughly confused, Anthony took the blue collar from Jupiter’s mouth and fastened it around his collarless neck.

WHAT.

The story only gets weirder. Two days ago I found the green collar. Jupiter had carefully placed it on our doormat. I mean, I’m guessing Jupiter put it there, since that’s where he leaves all the headless lizards for us.

********************

How the holy hell he came to be wearing this collar again after months and months of its disappearance baffled me. I mean, sure, this is the cat that eats paint chips, ran through the house with a turkey gizzard in his mouth at Thanksgiving, and takes a pacifier every now and then, but still. This is weird, even for him.

But how about some links, shall we?

First of all, the awesome collar Jupiter initially lost was Zorro’s, but we transferred it to Jupiter since it seemed to fit his personality better. Also you couldn’t see the awesome star with all Zorro’s fluff. You can find that collar here made by Etsy seller Miss Moustache. Her collars are all adorable and of impeccable quality and soon she’ll be offering engraving on their tags, too.

We ordered Poppy’s collar here from Etsy seller minihundpets. It is also of fantastic quality and the seller is super nice. I adore the strawberry print on Poppy’s collar! Unfortunately, Poppy hates the bell. I mean, she tolerates it better now that she’s worn it awhile, but my god that cat wanted to murder me when I first put it on her.

Last but never least is Zorro. He needed a new collar, too, since that whippersnapper Jupiter took off with his old one. I ordered this gorgeous sparkly turquoise collar from Etsy seller SecretCatLounge. Even though they are based in Australia the collar came very quickly, and packaged adorably, too.

The sparkles are very subtle, but they are there. Again, wonderful quality. I picked out this lime green bell for a dollar more and couldn’t be happier with how it looks on Zorro.

My Mom did his colors--he's a Spring!

Some other fun cat links:

Cats. Where they do not belong. (via @shinyinfo)

Crafting with Cat Hair. I used to joke about making a sweater out of Zorro fur. I was just a joke I swear.

A List of Non-toxic Houseplants. Also good to know if you have kids.

The Best Drift Cats. After porn, the internet was made for cat videos.

The Best Scratching Post Ever. I’m hoping I can convince Anthony we need this.

Legwarmers for Your Cat. You’ve already knitted a sweater out of cat fur. You may as well go all the way.

get it off get it off get it off

Scrapbook: Blankets

16 Jul

Remember the cloth cleaning rags? Isobel is good at finding alternate uses for them.

Scrapbook: Coloring on the Fourth of July

11 Jul

We didn’t exactly have the 4th of July holiday I’d envisioned. The day before Isobel came down with a cold, and what started off  as an innocent temperature skyrocketed into disaster when her fever went from 99.1 to 103.7 in a matter of hours. We kept her as comfortable as we could and administered baby Tylenol at regular intervals. The night before Independence Day I was up until five in the morning when Anthony relieved me. That’s when I noticed I, too, was coming down with the cold.I was in a horrible mood from lack of sleep and my own fever, and I wasn’t made any happier by the thought of cancelling on the barbecue we would have been attending, a barbecue with cousin Victoria, whom Isobel adores. My family understood, though.

My fever must have made me somewhat delusional, because I still assumed we’d at least drive out and see the community fireworks display a few miles from our house. Anthony, rightly, questioned this idea. “Are you even wearing pants right now?” he asked me.

Touche, husband!

The argument (such as it was, I replied while mumbling nonsensically into my EmergenC) was over when Isobel passed out at 7:00 pm anyway–the show doesn’t start until after 8:00 pm when the last remnants of the sun are gone. What to do, then, with a whole night to ourselves while I felt so crappy?

Anthony and I ended up spending our holiday with a marathon video game session, which was perfect. Isobel slept through all bangs and pops and explosions and we hacked through our thief guild nemeses. It was the best possible way to celebrate America’s rebellion and subsequent establishment if you happen to be severely sleep deprived and running a fever.

These photos were from the Fourth of July afternoon. I may not have been wearing pants but I managed to dress Isobel up and take photos of her in her favorite coloring spot–the window seat in the library.

Yay, America.

Scrapbook: The Necklaces

9 Jul

Unfortunately for Zorro, it was time to play dress up.