Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Highs and Lows

Both of my kids took good naps today. However, when they were not asleep things felt intense most of the day. It wasn't all bad, definitely more a mix of highs and lows.
The highs included:
Enjoying a morning with my little man while sister was at school.
Running in and out of Target in under 20 minutes and sticking to my list.
Laughing with my daughter on the way home from school while I listened to her use the word "fancy" at least 5 times in a minute. It must have been the word of the day.
Laughing again when she informs me that our car is not "fancy".
Getting a phone call this afternoon with some good news.
Getting to play with my new baby while photographing my adorable baby.


The lows included:
The 3 hours from naptime to bedtime where mentally and physically exhausting.
I felt like I yelled a lot. I hope my daughter will remember me for something positive and not the yelling.
Coming to a difficult conclusion about our cat. We need to schedule a trip to the vet. That is all I will say about that.
Something I was expecting in the mail did not come today.
Having a heavy heart for several friends who are in great need of prayer right now.


Having to go to bed with only one thing checked off my to-do list.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Tuesday's my daughter has dance class. The studio is literally 4 minutes from our house. I was expecting a delivery from the postman. I waited until the last minute to leave for dance then rushed home as soon as it was over. Sure enough, I came home to a delivery slip on the door. The only 55 minutes that I was gone from the house today was the timeslot that the postman attempted to deliver my package. Bust!
The slip said that my package would be available for pick up at the post office later that afternoon. So, just before naptime I loaded up the troops and headed to the post office. Luckily there was no line and the service was fast. I got the package and came home to tuck the kids in for naptime.
Then I dived into my box. This is what I found.  

My new baby. I decided it was time to upgrade. I went with the 50d because it is so highly recommended. There are two newer models and this one still gets the highest rating. Finding these new or used is not easy. The new ones keep getting more expensive because of the demand. Anyways, I found a great deal on a lightly used one and it is mine!
I spent naptime getting aquainted with this beauty. I love it. I do need a lot of practice on it because it handles very differently from my last camera. (Btw- anyone want to buy my old one???)
Today was rainy and super-dreary, so lighting conditions were seriously less-than-ideal. But, I was able to get a couple sweet shots of Ash. I am so eager to get out and really try this thing out and see what it can really do:)


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stuff I bet you didn't know

One thing I love about the blog (and facebook) world is that you get to know so many people that you would not met otherwise. The problem with cyber-friends is that for the most part, you never meet them in person. There is so much about a person that you learn just from interacting with them face-to-face. Anyways, just for fun I thought I would post some things about me that I bet most of you don't know...You know so that we can get to know one another a little better.
1. I twirl my hair. A lot. As in, while driving, reading, sleeping, a lot of the time. I can tie knots in my hair and un-do them with one hand. I have done this since I was a child.
2. I am scared of the dark. Not like paralyzing fear, but I do not like to be home alone at night. And I can't stand to have the curtains or blinds open at night. The thought of someone looking in when I can't see out freaks. me. out.
3. I LOVE getting the mail everyday. As in I am a little fanatical about it. Whenever we come home from a trip I absolutely cannot wait to go through all the mail. When we came home from our honeymoon, it was the first thing I did. Before opening the huge pile of wedding gifts filling our living room. I am not lying.
4. My maiden name is one of the names inscribed in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
5. My daughter's middle name is the one that I always wanted.
6. I am freakishly good at excel. It is weird. It is all attributed to my old career, but I do take pride in it and use it as often as I can.
7. I have about 9 books on my nightstand. Different subjects and topics. Some started and others not. All on my to-do list. (Yea, in all my free time)
8. My birthday is coming up next month. I love birthdays. They are big time around here.
9. I really enjoying doing laundry but hate folding and hanging clean clothes.
10. My favorite flower is the Gerber Daisy. They make me so happy. And they last a long time.
Do you feel like you know me a little better? I hope so! Feel free to share anything fun about yourself in the comments.
Don't forget about the big Destash sale going on in my shop. 20% of the sale is going to Red Cross to help Japan. I really want (read: need) this stuff gone. If you go to my fb page here and "like" the page you will see a discount code for 10% off the destash items. Hurry, while there is still good stuff to choose from!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lightening the Load for Charity

My heart is hurting for so many things right now. Japan, sick kids, families losing their homes, orphaned children...and the list can go on and on. I think it is the times we are in. There are just so. many. bad. things. It is hard to take it all in sometimes.
Anyways, I have a charitable heart. I always want to give and help all these people and causes but our budget certainly doesn't allow it. Since we are a single income family with a super tight budget (As in, milking-every-penny tight), I try to think of creative ways to help by donating my time or services but sometimes people really just need money. Well, remember when I wrote this post about lightening the load and getting rid of all the stuff? I have decided to take the same approach but to earmark a portion of the sales to help charity. (I should have been doing this all along but believe it or not the light bulb just went on!)
This time I am aiming to help Japan. I think it devestates me so much because they are similar to Americans in so may ways. They have money and supplies and stable buildings. They had emergency plans and support systems and things still went catastrophically wrong there. Like Katrina but so much worse. There are just some things that you cannot prepare for no matter what.
So, I have decided to sell off the majority of my extensive fabric stash. It has just been sitting in storage for almost a year. Just sitting there. Looking prety and not getting used. I have TONS of really good stuff. We are talking yards and yards of designer goodies. First I pulled aside this stuff.
I pulled everything out and starting measuring and sorting and taking pictures and notes. It was an ordeal but I had over 50 listings when I was done. Isn't that incredible? The crazy part is that I didn't finish. I figure that I will start with these and then once they sell I will move on.
look at all this!
I know you are asking yourself, "Why do I care?". Well, here is where you come in...You can participate too! I am calling this event "Supplies for Supplies". It is one big destash sale on etsy.
All the items are listed in individual shops, just search the tag "destash for japan" to find participants.
Don't have anything to sell? That is okay, feel free to link this post on facebook or your personal blog to pass the word. I can't vouch for all the participants but I know my prices are really great. Most designer fabrics are $9+ per yard but I have my stuff priced at $7 per yard and many 2+ yard cuts are less than that! So, you can help charity and get a good deal!
Each shop will be donating their own amounts, but I have designated 20% off all the sales to be donated to the Red Cross for Japan relief. When I make my donation, I will take a screen shot and post it here to share. I am hoping for something really big!
If you are interested in participating, just leave a comment with your email address and I will contact you with details.
Currently, you can find great destash for Japan at my shop here and at Monkey Style Boutique here. Remember, if you want to participate, let me know because I would love to advertise for you!
While I am on the topic of charity, I would be upset with myself if I did not mention this effort. My good friend Bethany is raising money to help Carter. He is a 5 1/2 year-old little boy who was just diagnosed with leukemia. Isn't that just heartbreaking. Beth has designed these super cute printable posters in her shop. 100% of the proceeds are going to help with Carter's medical bills.

You can purchase these (and more) precious prints at Beth's shop here. Read more about Beth's effort to raise money for Carter here. Follow Carter's family blog here.
What can you give?

Monday, March 21, 2011

To pin or not to pin?

Do you know what pinterest is? If you don't, go check it out. It is the newest cyber thing. Like how tweeting was a year (or more) ago.
I can't decide if it is helpful or just another way to waste the little free time that I have. In some ways it seems great and very organized and in other ways I imagine I would just stare away into cyberspace looking at tons of cool and mindless stuff.
So, I ask you...Do you pin? Should I?
If you vote that I should, please pursuade me:)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Where I stand with my New Year's Resolutions

Back in January I posted my personal goals for 2011 here. Now that we are 11 weeks into the year I thought I would check in and see where I stand. Just trying to keep everything real and hold myself accountable.
1. Lose 25 pounds- Yea, this is not going very well. A large part of this has been the lack of effort. I dropped 6lbs almost immediately and have been able to consistently keep it off. I have not made it any further though. I also have not attempted to go to the gym or made any enormous dieting efforts. Wouldn't it just be easier if it would come off with wishful thinking?
I am frustrated with myself. I am also frustrated with the poor role model that I am being to my daughter. Just the other day we were driving somewhere and she saw a couple running out the window. This is what came next:
"Mommy, why are they running?"
"Well sweetie, they are getting exercise so they can be healthy."
"Mommy, what do you do for exercise?"
Ouch. I had nothing to say.
Yesterday I vowed to really try and take up running again. I have trained for a marathon running 10-20 miles at a time on a weekly basis. I was hard core. Then I busted my knee and had surgery. Anyways, I went this morning before church. I started really slowly but I completed the goal I had set. It takes one day at a time and I succeeded today.
2. Save money- I am doing okay here. We have put aside a little for several different things.
3. Payoff debt- This is an area we are actually doing decent in. Our tax return really helped us out here.
4. Practice photography more- Well, I think starting a business and having multiple clients a week should count for something. I also consider this category a success so far.
5. Write (at least) one new pattern for the shop every quarter- Fail. I do have a design in my head. I just can't seem to find the time to get it on paper. I wanted to get it done over spring break. But spring break ends today, so that is obviously not going to happen.
6. Try one new recipe a month- January and February were a failure but I am trying something new this week. It is really simple and you can hardly consider it a recipe but it is new in our dinner rotation so I say that it counts!
And just for pictures sake....look at these toes? Are they not delicious?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Today

Happy St. Patricks Day to you all. I have tried to incoporate green into our otherwise boring day. This is mainly for my 3 year-olds benefit. Everything is more fun as a holiday. It is not much but here is our green from today...
 Emerson and I made green chocolate chip cookies with green sprinkles.
 I wore my dirty green flip flops. (I didn't realize how yucky they looked until I took the picture).
 The little man is wearing green. He is obviously very happy about it.
 My daughter in her green dress. Although her arms are covering a lot of the green-ness.
 A big green hug.
 Look at how she just adores him!
And these came in the mail today. New fabric from my friend Daryl at Exclusively Quilters. This is from their Green with Envy line. I don't know what I am going to make with it yet, but Emerson has requested a new skirt.

I am also contemplating having breakfast for dinner tonight and making green pancakes. I think Emy would get a kick out of that! What did you do today?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

10 things right now

1. It is Spring Break this week and I have just now come to the realization that I don't like Spring Break nearly as much as I used to. As a kid, the week off from school was awesome. It generally involved lots of sleeping in, socializing and doing stuff that parents didn't know about or approve of. It rocked. Good times. Now it just means that the kids are home from all their normal activities and all the stuff that I would normally take them to do on non-school days are jam packed with people. So, I spend the week debating which is the lesser of two evils- taking two young children out in massive crowds or staying cooped up at home with them.
2. My daughter took pride in her acting out today. The spanking tally was really high. I lost count.
3. While my demon daughter napped I took some "official" 6 month pictures of my little man. He was slightly distracted by his, wind, and the new feeling of grass. However, despite the distraction, he was just precious. I could photograph him all day.
 4. St. Patricks Day is tomorrow and we have nothing planned (see no. 1). I do have green picked out for the kids to wear, but that is it. Any last minute suggestions?

5. I wore the only green shirt I Genius.

6. I finally broke down and went to the urgent care clinic last night. They determined that my original sinus infection never went away and that I needed another and stronger dose of antibiotics. They also gave me a steroid shot. I love those things. They relieve all that pressure so fast. Today I am feeling so much better already. Praise the Lord.

7. I am almost finished editing images from my 3 sessions last weekend. Editing sure takes a lot of time. I definitely don't have my post processing as efficient as it could be. I need to work on this.
8. Do you watch Criminal Minds? If you don't I highly recommend it. It is really really good. Oh man, tonights episode was so awesome. I totally called the ending too:)

9. My husband is already asleep in bed. I can hear him snoring all the way down the hall. Anyone else deal with a loud snorer (or grinder, sleep talker, etc)? On really fun nights, my dear hubby does all 3! It can be quite a circus.

10. I am heart broken over Japan. I am sure you all are, but I just wanted to put that out there. I read on someone else's blog today how she watched her son eat breakfast this morning and she was overcome with grief at the thought of all the mothers in Japan who couldn't feed their hungry children or worse those who couldn't find them. Oh my word. It brought me to tears. The blogging community is taking a day of silence on Friday in Japan's honor. There are lots of ways to donate and help, google it and do something. Even if it is only a little.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Random at night

Happy Spring Break to you all. I don't know if it is spring break for you, but it is here in North Texas. I will be honest with you, we are not off to that great of a start here. I feel like our house is just an infestation of all possible germs.
My kids recovered from the last batch of junk only for my husband and I to get it. Then my daughter gets sick again late last week. It morphed into a sort of semi-stomach funk. Now my husband and I are still recovering from the last thing and hoping to avoid the new thing. Ugh. Seriously? Is this what it is like with two kids? The germs just keep rotating around and morphing ever-so-slightly? I don't like it one bit.
Even though I have had a round of antibiotics and steriods (a couple of weeks ago) I am thinking of going back to the doctor tomorrow. I can function but I still don't feel awesome. Headaches, sinus pressue and green snot daily. Now a touch of nausea added for good measure (pretty sure it is the mucus build up that is causing that). Is this TMI? If so, sorry.
Anyways, we still have 4 days of our spring break week left and there is nothing on our calendar. Not. one. thing. This is terrifying to me. I don't like facing an empty week with kids. Not even when I don't feel 100%. I better put my thinking cap on quick.
I am really really behind on my google reader. Again. It probably has something to do with the fact that I follow way too many blogs to keep up with. And also the fact that I am not 100%. Oh, and the fact that I have 2 little ones, 2 businesses, 3 blogs of my own to keep up with and a husband. And a house. And friends. And you get the point.
While I should spend an hour to get caught up with my reader, I am going to go to bed. Maybe a solid night sleep will help things along. You hear that sweet baby...mommy needs a solid night sleep. Okay? Okay. Night.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Birdsong Giveaway Winners

I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend. Without further delay, the 3 winners of a free pattern from Birdsong are:
Evie n Lizzie said...

"I would choose the ON SALE Hair Bow Instructions with video mini to large sizes how to make boutique bows PDF ebook Easter Spring photo prop

Thank you for such a great giveaway!!!"

Just the Two of US said...

"12 tutorials Complete Collection of beginner bowmaking and tutu instructions with video access - How to make hair bows PDF and video access boutique pinwheel flower funky loopy tutorial I would soooo pick this tutorial!
loving this giveaway!"
Michelle said...

"I would like this one: ALL sizes How to Make boutique bows Pdf ebook beginner bowbands. Thanks for the chance to win!"

Congrats to you all! I will be in touch shortly.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

This was worse than it looked...

With all the organizing I have been doing lately, it was just a matter of time until I got to our master closet. Whew, glad it is over. It was nasty. I have been intentionally avoiding it for a long long long time. This clean out was seriously overdue.
Look at the disaster on those shelves.

Shelves are great but look at the mess they are holding.

Um, yea that is way to many shoes just thrown on the floor. The sad thing is that if my 3 year olds shoes were pilled up like this I would have yelled at her.

All in all, I spent a little over an hour. I went through and pulled out anything that I have not worn in 2 years (normally I would use the 1 year cutoff but I was pregnant all last year so I figure that I could give myself a little longer). Anyways, if I hadn't worn it in 2 years it was pulled out. Once all the old was out I sorted tops and bottoms. Shirts were organized by sleeve length. Shoes were matched and organized.

All the things that were pulled out of the closet were put into 4 piles: Sell, Donate, Trash or Storage. Things that are a brand name and in great condition I set aside to try to sell on ebay. I only had 3 things that fit this description. Stuff that was literally trash, as in clothing with holes, broken shoes or actual trash, was finally thrown out. Leftover maternity clothes that hadn't been pulled out already were put into storage and everything else went into a pile to donate.
The majority of the donate pile. I think there were easily 20 pairs of shoes here.

Still not perfect, but much much better.

Shoes sitting with their mates.

On a side note, my little man turned 6 months old over the weekend. Crazy how time flies!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stop what you are doing and read this. Right now.

Hi everyone. I want to introduce you to someone...this is my friend Beth (and her adorable daughter). I have know Beth since high school. We went our separate ways after high school and were reconnected 3 years ago. There are days that we talk a lot. Seriously, a lot. She is a dear friend who I trust fully. I trust her opinion, I seek advice and counsel from her, we pray for each other and share secrets. We also laugh a lot. She rocks.

Beth is one of the most financially responsible people that I know. This is really inspiring because she is not an elder, she is my age. She is tempted by all the "stuff" that I am. And yet she makes remarkable decisions. She has a lot of great advice to offer about budgeting. I thought her advice might be helpful and/or inspiring to some of you. Enjoy!

Sabrina asked if I would share a few budget tips with the Noodles and Milk readers. Of course, I said yes because I'm addicted to saving money. Watching my savings account grow is one of my favorite pastimes. Followed closely by eating chocolate covered Oreos. Yum.

1. Write it down. Tonight. Sit down with your significant other (and older children if you'd like to include them) and put your budget on paper in black and white. Or blue if you prefer. Figure out how much is coming in and going out every month.

Don't try and write out a budget for the entire year-this is NOT effective. Each month your family has different financial needs dependent on everything from the weather (utility costs) to birthday celebrations (gotta pay for that party!). In our house, we budget by paycheck rather than month-so every two weeks we sit down to write a new one. Believe me, taking a little extra time to figure out where your money is going (and telling it where to go) makes for a lot more peace in the home.

2. Stick to It. Make sure your budget isn't a "pie in the sky" plan. It needs to be realistic. If you know that you are going to order pizza once a week because cooking just sounds like too much work (I've been there...oh, just about every night), great! Budget for it. If it's not in the budget, don't do it. Budgets aren't set in stone, but they are guides and should be followed. Next month, review how you did and make necessary changes. And in the end, when you have a monthly surplus of money, it will be worth the little sacrifices here and there.

3. Pay Yourself. Even better-pay yourself automatically. Most banks will let you transfer a set amount of money (like a direct deposit) automatically into your savings on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. It's much much easier to build a savings account this way. Money that you never see will not get spent. The old adage that you live off what you earn is true. Just pretend you earn a little less and put more money away for a rainy day.

4. Know your weaknesses. I have a good friend with the best of intentions to get out of debt and stick to a budget. But every so often she decides that she "needs" something, even if she doesn't have the cash and splurges. Putting it all on a credit card. Not good, people. Know your weakness-my friend's weakness is a handy credit card that she ought to cut into teeny tiny pieces. Mine is Chick-Fil-A. Without some self discipline, I could break the entire budget in one week with my Chick-Fil-A habit. In fact, to help me out, we've gone to a cash only food budget. Now when the cash is gone, it's gone. I'm a lot less tempted to spend too much eating out now, knowing that the money has to last a couple of weeks.

What's your weakness? Shoes? Accessories? Kid clothes? Deals? Remember that you can add a little bit of money into your realistic budget for these things, but only if you can afford it and when the money is gone, it's gone.

5. Live within your means. Just because your parents, friends, neighbors, etc have something, does not mean that you need it. I love the mantra, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." In fact, I'm often telling my husband that I just want to live like the Amish-a simple life sounds so peaceful and financially sound. I loved Sabrina's post about selling "things." It's a great way to add to your savings or pay down your debt AND simplify your life. A couple of weeks ago, I sold my wedding dress on Ebay and put the money into savings. The money in savings is doing me a heck of a lot more than the dress was hanging in my closet taunting me with its size 4 tag.

There is a time and season for everything, including owning nice cars, taking covetable vacations, and collecting electronic gadgets. That time and season is when you can afford it. NOT afford the payments. Afford to pay cash. My parents scrimped and saved, bought second hand and always paid cash. Growing up, we didn't drive fancy cars or wear expensive brands, but my parents are reaping the benefits of their financial decisions now. Currently, they own (as in paid in full) 5 nice cars and 2 homes. Just in the last year they have been on an Alaskan cruise, to New Zealand, Hawaii, and several trips across the United States to visit various family members. They are in a financial position to give back and do so generously. That sounds like a pretty good life to me. Moral of the story: Budget and save. You CAN do it. It is exhilarating to watch your debt decrease and your savings accumulate.

6. Find pleasure in saving money. Don't think of yourself as a poor victim, looking around at what others "have" (that the banks actually own). Be proud that you are in control of your money. Spray paint second hand furniture with happy colors (we have a bright orange $15 dresser in my son's room), cheer when you sell your kids' old clothes on Ebay, and reward yourself when you pay off a debt.

7. Do yourself a favor and read a Dave Ramsey book. It will most likely change your life. I was a skeptic-mainly because I was already budgeting and saving money, but his book was entertaining and gave me the extra jolt I needed to really get serious.

If you'd like to follow, I share deals and free stuff here. Read other posts I've written about saving money on my blog.

Wasn't that great? I hope that you learned something new or was at least inspired by her words. I do have a couple of things to add to her article.

1- If you do not already follow her deals facebook page...join it now. Trust me, it is awesome.

2- As Beth described her parents lifestyle, I can attest to the fact that my inlaws are in the same position. They lived most of their 20's, 30's and 40's super frugal and were extremely financially responsible. They made tough decisions and because of those decisions, they are able to live an amazing lifestyle now. They own 3 homes and paid CASH for all 3 of them. They buy a new luxury car every 3 years and PAY CASH every time. They have established large college funds for all 7 of their grandchildren. They give away a very considerable amount of their income every year. And they are retired. At 60 years old. They just took a 2 week roadtrip from Texas to Florida just because. And there are a lot more details like that if you dig deeper. I cannot help but be inspired by their story.

I hope this has been informational and inspiring. If you have any other tips or stories to share, I would love to hear them!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Somebody had to be first

Well, it is official. I had my first paid client as a photographer on Sunday. I was sure that after I posted the opening of my business on facebook, that my first paid experience would be family or friends. Well, I did have lots of friends book with me (I am actually booked into May!) but the way the scheduling worked, my first client was someone that I did not know.

Ya'll, I was so nervous. The only thing that calmed me down was that I was working with a baby the same age as my son. This helped because I knew what to expect out of that particular age.

This little doll was so sweet but not sure about me at first. She definitely takes in her surroundings and is more serious than playful. I only got one semi-smile out of her. Thankfully her mom told me that she is a serious baby and doesn't smile much anyways. This made me feel better that I was capturing her natural personality.

Here is a little peek at our afternoon.


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