Thursday, September 27, 2012

What I love about being a SAHM.. WAHM.. whatever

This blog is my 'happy place' and I would like to express my unexpected gratitude for being 'currently unemployed' (as I put it on the forms). Don't get me wrong, I'm still actively job-hunting and will be until I find a job, and I miss the paycheck for sure (um, we all do). However, to bring some inner peace to my life (HIPPIE) I like to be cognizant of what I'm happy about in my life and enjoy the now rather than the future I'm imagining.

Without further adeu, my favorite things about being a stay-at-home-mom (well, kinda work-at-home-mom as I'm trying to start a business but not exactly profiting)...:
  • Do I want to do my computer work outside on the porch with a cup of tea in my pajamas? YES YOU CAN!
  • I have had sleep problems on and off for years and they are getting better. But, if there's a night that I do. not. get. any. sleep.. I don't have to lead a meeting or handle a crisis the next day. In fact, if I decide it's break time to take a nap, then so be it because who's the boss? That's right, I'm the boss. Of home. Well, when I'm at home by myself. Ahem.
  • My home has never been cleaner. I know, I know, very typical but when my home is dirty and cluttered (no, I don't care about your home and I'm not judging) it just stresses me out. It's weird, but it makes me cranky. Now that I am able to maintain a regular cleaning routine (so 50's housewife), it's just relaxing to be able to sit in a regularly-cleaned home at night.
  • I can focus more energy into documenting the everyday things, here. It's cheesy but I like to be able to look back on what we were doing and I LOATHE and DETEST scrapbooking. (Yes, your scrapbook is beautiful, I just don't like doing it myself). I tend to harbor some guilt about not "creating" (ha) a wonderful childhood for my son (I'm getting better about it, the guilt at least) and looking back at photos from when he was younger- the zoo trips, birthday parties, farm visits- helped alleviate that by illustrating what I am doing. So, this is therapeutic in a way. 
  • I am able to pursue my 'dream job.' Caveat: My dream job is an ever-changing entity but I would LOVE love to be a work-at-home-mom and create at home to help support our family (due to the points above). I am currently working to make that a reality, even if it is a side thing that I do while working full time when I do get a job. I will post more on that later. 
  • I love that all the stuff I used to do after work is now done during work hours. I used to come home, make dinner, start a load of dishes and laundry, and play with Dylan. After he was in bed, I would (try to) put away laundry, clean, sometimes finish up a report from work, and so on. Now, those things are done and I can relax in the evening. So, this time of productivity has been replaced with a new TV addiction. I guess that's not exactly a benefit. But I am getting caught up on Breaking Bad and finally watched Arrested Development in its entirety. I totally get pop-culture references now!
  • Less . stress. I love being able to balance it all, not be constantly exhausted and juggling full-time work with full-time parenthood. I will clarify though, that the majority of the time I was working full time, Justin was away at work in Saudi and so I was juggling it all on my own. That being said, it should be somewhat easier now that we all live together again. Side note: Dear Single Parents, you are my hero. I don't think anyone truly understands how hard it is until they've done it. I'm not saying I was a single parent in that I had my husband's emotional and financial support while he was gone, but I have so much respect considering how hard it was even with the support I did have. Power to you!
New cubical 

There are days when I think, "I would LOVE to be back at work right about now," but I'm happy to just enjoy my time. There are also the bajillion and one unexpected bills that of course pop up once you think you're doing fine, but money is money. Unrelated: Apparently all of the dental work I've ever had (everything) needs to be redone. Fun!

I am sure I will write a list of what I love about being back to work (I miss the kids! They are awesome!) that consists of more than: 1) paycheck, 2)....  when I get a job. That could be in a few months or a few years, but I'll manage until then. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vacation Recap: Virginia Beach, August 2012

For our anniversary each year, Justin and I attempt to make a trip to the beach. This tradition arose out of celebration of our beach elopement at Holden Beach, NC on August 17, 2009. In years past, we've visited Virginia Beach (while we still lived in MI, since Justin's travel points allowed us to stay there and it was close enough to an airport), and last year, the Persian Gulf. This year, our travel budget was tight so we decided to do VA beach again since a) we loved it last time, and b) we had the last of Justin's travel points to use up at a hotel making the trip very affordable.

We stayed at the Westin VA Beach Town Center, which was free with the travel points. It is actually located about a 15 minute drive from the beach, which we didn't mind since we were able to drive there so we had the car (YAY living in Virginia!).

The hotel was beautiful, with clean, updated and spacious rooms located in a town center with plenty of restaurants. Although we didn't end up eating there, there was an Irish Pub, a Ruth's Chris Steak House, and many others.

We arrived on Thursday 8/16 in the evening and went to bed since it was so late. Friday, the day of our anniversary, we headed straight to the beach in the morning where after 3 hours in the sun, I learned that NoAd sun screen SPF 30 does not, in fact, prevent sunburn (maybe it's just me.. ). Besides the painful sunburn, we had a relaxing and beautiful sunny day on the beach, laying in the sun (bad idea in hind sight, see point about sun screen), and enjoying the waves. The water seemed much cooler than what I'm used to in the East Coast but perhaps I was spoiled at the Persian Gulf.

Before heading to dinner, we decided to hit up some mini golf. We found a Pirate-themed location, aptly named "Pirate's Paradise."

Fishing our lost golf ball out of the water. Which only happened once. I swear. 

Our walk to dinner

Justin had done some research and found a Beatles-themed restaurant on the ocean, called RockFish, so of course we had our anniversary dinner there. If you want to make me a customer, just theme your establishment with the Beatles memorabilia and I'm there. There was quite a wait, and the food was either hit or miss. We had some hushpuppies which had too much cheese and were a bit chewy, but the crab cakes and caesar salad were amazing. Also, score one for the awesome memorabilia.

I didn't get a picture of them, but there were some awesome muppet-looking replicas of John, Paul, George and Ringo which I WILL BUY some day when I am rich and don't know what to do with all my money. Ahem.

Saturday we decided to surprise Dylan with a trip to Busch Gardens, about an hour from our hotel. Oh.MAN. When we arrived, Justin and Dylan immediately rushed to a ride right by the lockers so I just followed along. As I was strapped in, I then realized it was the "Apollo." Nine traumatic drops later during which I may or may not have uttered some phrases inappropriate for small children, the ride was over. It was terrifying but SO FUN. Dylan loved playing the carnival games to win a Pokemon stuffed animal. Games were 3 for $5 and I think we played 9 games before winning a Pokemon that was likely worth $0.50 but hey, it's the fun that counts, right? We enjoyed some shows, including the 'Pet Shenanigans' one where trained cats and dogs and rats and so on perform tricks to a stage act. The BEST part was when Dylan was selected to go on stage to give the mathematical parrot a multiplication problem. HOW AWESOME was that? Dylan received a stuffed parrot for his participation and we even got moved to the first row since he would be in the show (they picked Dylan out and let him know before the show started).

I think this photo perfectly captures our personalities: happy go-lucky Justin, anxious me, and nonchalant Dylan. 

We got to see beautiful bald eagles and wolves in the animal section of the theme park, and enjoy the multi "cultures" represented at the park (the term "culture" being used loosely here- that is, if you count slapping some bratwurst on a baked pretzel and lederhosen on a server and calling yourself Germany). We rode a few more rides, played a few more games, enjoyed some "German" food and some beer from the "Irish" pub, and a 4D pirate short movie that starred Leslie Nielsen and had a guest appearance by Rodney Dangerfield, of all people.

The day at Busch Gardens ended with a gorgeously presented fireworks display set to music from "around the world." We were in awe of the amazing colors and lights, and I could see the excitement in Dylan's eyes.

The next day was stormy but that did not ruin our plans to revisit our favorite Beatles-themed VA Beach restaurant, Abbey Road.

Check out the suh-weet art on the side of the building.

Excuse the photo quality, low lighting + my phone camera=bad pictures.

This is our all-time favorite Beatles restaurant (having not been to Liverpool or anything, yet). They have memorabilia EVERYWHERE, an amazing beer selection from around the world (NO QUOTES THIS TIME, term NOT being used loosely here) and great food. I haven't been there during a live performance but they do offer live music and Beatles covers on Friday and Saturday evenings. I cannot wait to go there again and HIGHLY recommend.

Due to the storms, we wrapped up a trip with a visit to the local mall and movie theater where we saw Ice Age: Continental Drift (cute movie, I personally think it was the best Ice Age yet).

We had a wonderful time in Virginia Beach celebrating our anniversary and can't wait to plan next year's beach trip- wherever it takes us.

Note: No links or mentions were sponsored in any way, I am just sharing where we went and what we did on our trip. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A few of my favorite things

I don't mean to get all materialistic, but this girl likes to shop, amiright? These are just a few things that are currently bringing a smile to my face. I thought I'd share in case they do the same for you.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, numbers used
1. I love fall. I love pumpkins. I love pumpkin-flavored anything, but especially beer. I am so geeked for all of the Oktoberfest and pumpkin ales out there right now and am slowly making my way through each, but so far I'm loving, loving, loving this UFO (unfiltered pale ale) Pumpkin beer. Hooray for fall!

2. We used to play Family Time Fun Dinner Games and Activities* when Dylan was younger, and he loved it. The box contained cards with questions, games, and challenges that we really enjoyed, but Dylan eventually outgrew it. He recently mentioned at dinner one night that he really loved those, so of COURSE I had to immediately find an age-appropriate replacement. Enter, these: Family Talk.* Great questions to stimulate conversation. At the risk of sounding super cheesy, these even help us grow closer as a family. Say it together now, "Awwww" (or, you know, gag if I'm being too sentimental for you).

3. I LOVE this sweater (umm, kind of implicit in the fact that I listed it in my favorite things, no?). Anyway, I love to pair comfy sweaters with comfy stretchy skinny jeans because that way, I can feel um, comfortable but look like I took a shower today! I totally care about keeping up appearances. This sweater is am-az-ing because it has 1) pockets, 2) is long enough to cover my behind, and 3) is v-neck. Not to mention comfy.

Please forgive the crappy photo quality and the fact that the sweater is not currently available at Sad face.

4. So, see above re: my love for stretchy skinny jeans. I'm going to put this all out there though: Yes, that is an elastic waist. BUT HEAR ME OUT. No one can tell! I promise! Oh man I'm old. But still, I can pretend I'm young by wearing these super suh-weet jeans. They are stretchy enough to feel comfortable and not oh-my-god-so-tight that you have to dance around as you squeeze in to them, maintain their shape (i.e., do not droop in the knees and buttocks after, oh, 2 hours (here's looking at you, cough Old Navy cough)), and have a nice dark rinse. These fit me PERFECTLY and my very short-lived quest for the perfect jeans ended at Target. I cannot believe I just waxed rhetoric about jeans for an entire lengthy paragraph. BUT MY LOVE WILL NEVER DIE.

5. I'm possibly the last person on earth to jump on this bandwagon, but I'm crazy about the Burt's Bee's gud line, and particularly the Pearanormal Activity scent (hardee-har-har name cracks me up everytime!). It smells amazing and is somewhat affordable at $6.99 a bottle. I am finding that the other scents are generally available everywhere but I am able to find this scent at Target only.

So, in conclusion, I love stuff, like beer!

*Contains affiliate links. 

Board made at

Saturday, September 22, 2012

DIY Canvas Map Art

I have a very blank spot above my desk. At our last home, I tried to keep things organized with a wall organizer system which just let me sort my chaos into more piles, so it still felt cluttered. I was inspired by Courtney at A Thoughtful Place to keep an organized file system for all the papers constantly coming in. I purchased one at Target in blue and green (can be viewed at, not on Target's website) to add some color. I'm really hung up on this adding color thing apparently.

This system has really worked for us and honestly the paper clutter has all but disappeared since starting it. This may be related to my time at home but hey, it's working.

However, this left me with a huge blank (NEUTRAL) wall to stare at when working at my computer.

I have had, and wanted to display, this map: World Wall Map Deluxe Laminated 50" x 32" (M Series Map of the World)* forever (although mine is not the laminated one). I loved the colors and the size was right for above my desk. However, to frame something that is 50" by 32" is very, very expensive.

I had used the modge-podge to canvas technique with some of Dylan's artwork in the past, and decided to go for it. I found a 48" by 36" canvas at A.C. Moore which was thankfully on sale for 50% off (final cost: $19.99).

I started off by laying the map out and realizing it was too large.

So, I carefully trimmed the borders with some craft scissors.

Ahh, much better. I then used a tape measure to ensure each side was evenly spaced and the map was centered. I marked the edge with a pencil so I would know where to adhere the map when it was time to attach it.

I then used some spray adhesive, spraying back and forth across the canvas within the space I had marked and slowly rolled the map across, starting at the edges and trying to smooth out wrinkles as I went.

*UPDATE: The wall map began partially falling off. I found that re-applying it, spraying both the back of the map AND the canvas has been completely successful.

I then weighted the corners down and let it dry for about 3 hours.

The next step was to add some Modge Podge (I used the Gloss type, leftover from another project), which I applied with a paint roller. During this step, things got very wrinkly. I like to refer to it as 'unintentional texture.'

Excuse the upside-down-ness, still learning how to modify cell phone pictures on Blogger
The final step, after allowing the Modge Podge to dry for about 30 minutes was to apply Acrylic sealer, which I ended up doing 2 coats, 15 minutes apart, and then let dry overnight.

And... voila! Final product. It flattened out a bit (and the 'unintentional texture is less noticeable on the wall), so I'm enjoying it. Perhaps I will stop being so obsessed with adding 'pops of color' now.

*Note: contains affiliate link. 

Linked up to Thrifty Decor Chick's November Before & After party, A Bowl Full of Lemon's One Project at at Time party.

TDC Before and After

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Photos from the week

Alternate title: Why my guys are awesome.

This is Dylan. Drawn by Dylan. And apparently he's announcing to me that he has a tattoo.

My favorite part is the arrow to his "tattoo."

On Friday I came home from a terrible doctor's visit (not because of my health, thankfully, but how I was treated by the doctor) to these along with a Thank You note from Justin- just for being 'sweet' while he had a rough week at work.

Best. guys. ever. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fighting the war on neutrality: DIY Painted Vase

We recently (finally) purchased a dresser to replace the one we gave away in the move. Envision, for a moment, piles of clothes, underwear, and socks on our bedroom floor and crammed into the nooks and crannies of our closet and you can understand my excitement. So, I was thrilled to be able to use my $25 off coupon at Ikea (and free breakfast day!) and pick up this bad boy. We were equally as excited to be able to set up our nicer TV, although we prefer not to have one in the bedroom (there was no where else to put it).

However, things were looking a bit neutral (the rest of the room has a white bookshelf, white bedding) so I am trying to add more pops of color (mostly blues to tie in with a few framed prints I have). (Excuse the poor photo quality, it was a cloudy day when these were taken). 

So, I decided to add a pink faux flower I picked up at Ikea as well. I picked up a small bud vase at Target for $1.99 to hold it.

The stem was way too long so I trimmed it using pliers...
 and popped it into the vase:

I liked it, but things were still looking a bit 'blah.' I decided to try my very un-crafty hand at the painted vase tutorials floating around Pinterest to add some color.

via Pinterest, original link from Sugar and Charm blog
I have seen others use acrylic paints so I decided to use some leftover "Ocean Blue" Americana acrylic paint I had from another project.

I followed the directions of pouring the paint in liberally, and swirling it around as I turned the vase upside down.

After I had covered about 90% of the inside of the vase, I placed it upside down to dry on some newspaper. I later learned this would be a mistake and would recommend using plastic (bags or sheets) to dry on.

I checked on the vase periodically, moving its position on the paper so there wouldn't be too much paint piled up. I also used a sponge brush to help some of the paint along on the parts that weren't filling in. I don't know if it was because I was messing with it so much, but there were a few small gaps where the paint either dropped off or didn't fill in. Otherwise, it was looking great!

Remember how I advised against drying the vase on paper before?

Here is the finished product, tucked behind my candle sleeve next to the TV. It definitely adds that pop of color I was looking for, and the entire project was less than $5. Awesome.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happiness... is a warm cookie

Please drop everything and immediately procure yourself one of these:

Pumpkin Cookie, Panera Bread

Oh, man this was delicious. I was thinking it would be a cinnamon-pumpkin-ey cookie but instead it was the.perfect.iced.cookie. A buttery shortbread-esque cookie with a hint of lemon and perfectly sweet, but not-too-sweet, frosting on top. And it's seasonal. AMAZING.

Go. Go now.

You're welcome.

And yes, I do get this excited over food. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

United States Botanic Gardens, D.C.

One of the many things I love about living in NoVA (is it NoVA or NOVA? I'm not a 'local' yet) is being able to hop in the car and head to our nation's capitol on a whim. This past Sunday we did just that. After mentioning to Justin that Dylan and I hadn't been to the National Botanic Gardens, and considering the beautiful sunshine and end-of-the-heat-wave weather we were having, we picked our destination.

Scooting through D.C.

The entrance is beautifully seated outside the Capitol Building. 

The "Garden Court" was breathtaking in color and in smell. You can feel your air become cleaner as  you walk through. 

The Botanical Gardens feature indoor 'exhibits' where different regions (prairie, tropical, desert, etc.) are illustrated through flora and fauna. Our favorite was the "Children's Garden" where the kiddos are invited to water, touch, and smell the flowers. 

Dylan waters the plants, these must be hardy ones.

I loved the face planter
The hand pump caused the fish to squirt water.

The seasonal exhibit featured both real and non-real carnivorous plants. 

Dylan gets eaten by a plant. Bummer.

It is just so cool to see how excited Dylan gets learning new information from all the different museums. Have I mentioned I love living here? 

For more information about the US Botanic Gardens, see here: