“We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes”

I’m writing this post in January long before my March Madness hits so I don’t forget to apologize to you wonderful people.

You see, in March I tend to become…not myself. I don’t know if it’s because by March I am stir crazy from cabin fever, dealing with the seemingly never ending winter. I don’t know if I’m just breaking down my midlife crisis into a month at a time chunks. Whatever it is, when it hits I just go with it.

I do know when I first “snapped”. St. Patrick’s Day, 2007. My husband was assistant coach for my son’s hockey team. He and the coach arranged for free ice time at an arena downtown. I was pregnant with our third child, dodging St Paddy’s Day revellers that were going from strip club to strip club in an area that, shall we say, isn’t the most desirable. Or safe, for that matter. My two door car was loaded with teenage boys and hockey equipment. When we got to the arena, we discovered it was “double booked”, and the boys refused to get on the ice with players they didn’t know. Where, you may ask, was the assistant coach–aka my darling husband? On a weekend trip with his buddies. I snapped.

Last year’s March Madness was a lulu. I became obsessed with William Shatner and a pair of shoes. I’m not even sure how it all happened. It started with my passing on stalking George Clooney when he was filming ten minutes from my home. I may as well confess all. I didn’t go watch the filming because I didn’t want to shave my legs. Don’t ask me about my reasoning–it’s all beyond my comprehension. Anyway, it some how went from George Clooney to William Shatner (I honestly don’t know how I made the jump. At the time it was perfectly reasonable.) I read William Shatner’s autobiography, reporting each new fact breathlessly to my bewildered but patient friends.

And the shoes…oh, those shoes. I believe I described them to the same friends as “sexy, snake skin sling backs”, costing about the same as what I pay a month for my cable and internet service. When I wasn’t telling my friends more than they ever wanted to know about William Shatner, I was talking about the shoes. Why I wanted them, why I needed them, what I’d wear them with, where I’d where them, and on and on and on. My poor friends.

By the end of March, I start coming back to my senses. Last year at the end of March I found myself friends with William Shatner of Facebook, and wailing to my friends that “someone else was walking around in my shoes!” (By the time I had talked myself into them, they were sold out).

So please bear with me. I plead temporary insanity. We’ll be back to our regular programming in April.

The “madness” seems to be starting a bit early this year. Heaven help me–I have a hair appointment on Monday!

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WFMW: Indoor Sandbox

It’s cold in my neck of the woods. Not only is it cold, but it’s dreary. We refer to the sun as “that strange glowing orb” when it bothers to show its self.

We’ve resorted to bringing the outdoors inside for our little tot. One thing she really misses this winter is playing in the sand.  I picked up a trick at her play group the other day that will satisfy her need for grit.

Pour an inch or two of white cornmeal in a plastic tub. Add in plastic spoons, empty plastic spice jars, small funnels, whatever else you have on hand. Place the whole thing on a sheet* that’s spread over a linoleum or tile floor, and viola! fun for your little sand bug. You can store the cornmeal in a Ziploc Baggie when play time is over. If the tub you’re using has a lid, so much the better! Just store the whole thing as is.

*The sheet isn’t just for easy clean up. Spilled cornmeal, like spilled flour, can cause the floor to become slippery.

That’s what works for us when we’re stuck in the house! Hop on over to We Are THAT Family for more tips and tricks from others.

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Prettying Up My Desk

I love my desk. It’s the first piece of “grown up” furniture I’ve ever bought. Come to think of it, it’s the only piece of furniture  in my living room that’s not second hand. But I digress…

I love my desk, but for all the love I hold for it, I did’t take very good care of it. I’ve piled it with clutter. I’ve let dust get so thick on it you could write your name. It was bad.

One dreary Saturday night I found myself looking at this piece of furniture that I love, and decided it deserved better. I deserved better. I (and it) deserved pretty.

Keeping the thought of “pretty”, I started by decluttering my desk. It wasn’t hard, to be honest. Most of the stuff covering it was just things I was to lazy to put away or throw away. After I cleared away the junk, I used what seemed like a half a can of Pledge on my desk until it gleamed. Pretty.

I needed a pen/pencil holder, so I grabbed a champagne flute that was collecting dust and filled it with my favorite pens. Pretty.

I looked at my plain Jane inbox. How plain was it, you may ask? It was an inexpensive, unfinished, wood inbox that I bought at a craft store to use as a drawer seperator in my then infant daughter’s dresser. (Holy cow! Try saying that last sentence in one breath!) I painted the inside of it wine red, and the outside of it dark brown. I then added white polk-a-dots around the outside. Pretty.

The desk lamp I’m not thrilled with. It looks like something Scrooge would use, had he had electricity. It’s fine for now, but I do have plans to scour garage sales and thrift stores to find something more pretty.

Since I’ve prettied up my desk, a miracle seems to have occured. It’s no longer a magnet for junk like it was in the past. It looks…fantastic!

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WFMW-Grocery Bag Holder

I love keeping a supply of plastic grocery bags on hand. They come in handy, don’t they? What I don’t love is devoting an entire drawer to them. My kitchen has limited storage space, so it’s really not an option. Enter the empty paper towel tube!

Yep, I stuff the grocery bags in a paper towel tube. Actually, I use an empty cling wrap tube–they’re sturdier. It doesn’t take up much space, and I can fit enough plastic bags in there to last me a few weeks.

And when I’m out and about? I use the paper towel tube’s little cousin, the empty toilet paper roll. I shove a few grocery bags in there, and toss it into my glove box or diaper bag.

That’s what works for me to keep my grocery bags in line! Hop on over to We Are THAT Family to see what’s working for other’s today.

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Friday Fun! Movie Picks for February

Don’t you just love February? The grey skies are ignored for a bit as our thoughts turn to love. I think, though, with Valentine’s Day looming, we hyper focus on romantic love, and forget about the many other forms of love that are just as strong, and (at times) more enduring.

Like the love a boy has for his car, as demonstrated in Christine. Or a boy’s love for his mother, like in Psycho. And don’t forget a mother’s love for her son, so shown in Friday the 13th. Then there’s the love of a favorite author, as played out in Misery.

Ok, so obviously romantic comedies aren’t my cup of Kool-Aid. I do, however, have a few love stories that I just, well, love. I hope you enjoy them too!

Let’s start with my two favorite movies displaying a mother’s love that don’t involve an abandoned summer camp. Mildred Pierce, starring Joan Crawford, is a fabulous movie that shows how far a mother’s love can extend, and as a result  taken advantage of.  My other favorite is  Steel Magnolias, a movie that shows worrying about your children doesn’t necessarily end at their high school graduation.

Next up on my list is a movie in which the lead character is the most unlikely love interest in recent movie history. As Good as it Gets, starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear. What woman wouldn’t want to hear “You make me want to be a better man”?

Ok, I do have to finish off with a movie about a man’s love for his car, and subsequently his neighbors. Gran Torino, in which Clint Eastwood starts out as one of the most unlikeable characters. If you’re expecting this to be another Dirty Harry type of movie, you’re in for a surprise.

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Indoor gardening

I miss my garden. I miss hanging out in the yard, watching the vegetable plants grow. I miss pulling up to the front of my house and seeing the flowering hanging baskets on the porch. I even miss pulling weeds, for crying out loud!

Don’t get the wrong impression. I don’t have a green thumb. My mom has a green thumb. I envy her green thumb. And her ability to realize that plants need to be watered more than once a month, but I digress.

During the winter months when I really miss my garden, I make do with my Peace Lily. His name is Phil. He has hopes and dreams. He hopes I’ll remember to water him, and dreams of being watered on a more regular basis. But again, I digress.

As I was flipping through a Better Homes and Garden magazine the other day, I saw it. Little brothers and sisters for Phil! AND they seem to need the care that I’m already in the habit of giving Phil. Kids, I’m talking about a cool little succulent table top garden.

I was giddy as I surfed the internet to find other examples of a table top gardens made mostly of cacti. I found a great instructions about how to do it at this site. After a little more, er, digging, I found a woman who took it to a whole new level at this site.

I cannot wait to play in the dirt again! I’m hoping once my husband sees how well I’m doing with the new house plants (and Phil), he’ll agree to something that I’ve lusted over for years–an indoor herb garden. And that he’ll pop for this cool container that I can hang over the kitchen sink. If Phil can have hopes and dreams, so can I!

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WFMW: Organizing Computer discs…

Once upon a time I had discs, dvds, cds, and the like in a nice, neat pile on our entertainment center. I think at one point there was about 80 of them. After watching my teen daughter flip through her little zippered cd case, I got my brilliant idea. I could some of those for the case-less cds, the box-less dvds, and the computer discs that I can never find when I want them.

For less than five dollars, I picked up enough of these cases at the dollar store to organize all the rogue cds, dvds and computer discs. Works for me!

Hop on over to We Are THAT Family for tips and tricks from around the web.

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The Children’s Classic Mystery Challenge, Volume 1

                                              

I’ve already admitted to how giddy I was to find the 5 Minutes For Books site. Imagine my glee when they gave me the perfect excuse to dust off some old favorites from my childhood! I knew just the series I wanted to kick off the challenge with: Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators.

For those not familiar with the series, The Three Investigators are  teenagers who solve crimes and still manage to make it home every evening in time for supper. Jupiter Jones (the brainy First Investigator), Pete Crenshaw (the athletic Second Investigator), and Bob Andrews (in charge of Records and Research) have a sweet deal with Jupiter’s uncle, who owns a junk  salvage yard: they work in exchange for freebies from the yard. That may not sound like much, but when you consider it’s how they obtained their headquarters (an old mobile home trailer), and equipped their lab, the boys made out like bandits.  Jupiter had whipped together a homing device in the book I  read.

The series begins when the Jupiter wins the use of a chauffeur driven limousine for thirty days, and decides it’s the perfect time to open a detective agency. The approximately 14-year-old boy and his friends decide to solve a case for a big director to establish their agency. Enter Alfred Hitchcock. After a rocky beginning to their relationship, the director agrees to introduce their cases for the boys. Ok, their was a bit of blackmail involved in the beginning too, but Hitchcock eventually forgave the boys.

The original series started in 1964, and by 1987 there were 43 titles in the series written by four different authors, starting with the series creator, Robert Arthur. I’ve noticed over the years that Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators had turned into simply The Three Investigators. Alfred was never mentioned in the later editions of the novels.  After I finished The Secret of the Crooked Cat, I took the opportunity to do a little sleuthing of my own to find out why. It was a harrowing adventure involving a couple clicks of my mouse, but I found my answer. After Hitchcock’s death, his estate wanted more money from the publisher (Random House) to use his name. In response, the publisher  dropped Alfred like a bad habit, and invented a mysterious detective to introduce the books, even rewriting earlier novels to do so.

I enjoyed my trip down memory lane, and can’t wait to take another one next month. Check out what other classic children’s mysteries others have enjoyed over at 5 Minutes for Books!

eta: Whoops! I was so excited about this challenge that I posted it a week early. The link will be activated next Tuesday.

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Gearing up for February

It’s almost here. One day away. The time of year I tend to dread. February.  Or, in my house, known as “dealing with the yearly finances/see where we stand/what do we need to tweak/OMG its tax time!” time of year. Happily, there’s a national holiday tossed in there too. To many, it’s “Valentine’s” Day. To us, it’s “There’s No One Else I’d Rather Be In Debt With” Day.

I’ve found a book and a few sites that help keep me from curling into a fetal position during February, and I thought I’d pass them along.

My all-time favorite book is one that I got as a free download when it first came out. Suze Orman’s Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny helped me face a lot of financial fears I had, like looking at my FICO score (and doing something about it).

Cindy’s Porch is one of my all time favorite sites.  I credit her fully for changing my attitude about spending money.

Northern Cheapskate is a new favorite. I initially went to it because I loved the title, and stuck around for all the fun help.

A favorite tool that I’ve used for years is over at Flylady’s website. Her free FACE (“Financial Awareness Continually Empowers”)  Control Journal has really helped when I’m not sure where to begin, and feel overwhelmed.

Please feel free to share what works for you. I’m always looking for ways to make dealing with finances easier!

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Site Construction and The Flu

Happy Friday, all!

You’re not seeing things. Diapers and Hair Dye is under going a face lift. I’ll be trying out different looks over the next week.

We’ve been battling the flu and colds in my happy home. 4 out of 5 of us are walking around like the living dead, groaning and reaching for fluids, kleenex and vitamin C.  The fifth (my son) is running for his life to avoid the biohazard around here. I think his quoting the rules from Zombieland are a little over the top, but whatever.

Even though we had to miss our usual activities, like my toddler’s Wee School and my “Bridezillas on Bouncy Balls” class (more on that in a different post), the week hasn’t been a total wash. I stumbled across the 5 Minutes for Books site. Are you familiar with it? You are? Why didn’t you tell me?! What a fun place! Book reviews, reading challenges, book clubs…it’s like a little slice of heaven for busy people who love to read, and may have slacked off because of hectic schedules. A couple of the challenges had me running (ok, “staggering” would be a better description) to my bookshelves, reaching for old favorites that have been neglected in recent years. It’s been fun to focus on a great story and not how horribly we’re all feeling around here.

Speaking of which, it’s time to re-medicate and hold a cage match fight over the last 4 ounces of orange juice.

Have a healthy weekend!

~Wendy

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