Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Enter to win a $50 gift certificate to Secret Chef!



As some of you know, I recently won a recipe contest for my baked ziti ("how often is she going to mention this?" - you, "Probably as often as possible." -  me). Sadly, the prize was a gift certificate to a restaurant in Waco and by the time it came in the mail, we were already living in another state. So I double checked with the company who ran the contest and they said I could give the prize to someone else.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of anyone who actually lives in Waco. But I know a lot of people who visit (the zoo!) or pass through on their way to Dallas/Fort Worth or the opposite way headed to Austin. This would be the perfect place to stop for lunch.

I checked out their website, as I've never been there, and it looks like a lot of family recipes - yum. It also sounds like they tend to sell out of certain items each day. If we were still in Texas, you can bet I'd be looking for a reason to head to Waco so we could try it out. But since we don't, I thought I'd offer the gift certificate up as a prize!

Enter using the Rafflecopter box below to win a $50 gift certificate to Secret Chef in Waco. The winner will be announced on Friday, May 29. If no one enters, it'll show up in someone's mailbox as a surprise. Which sounds sort of ominous, but really, who doesn't like free food?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cheers!
Jen 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Stitch Fix #12 - It keeps getting better

Believe it or not, we moved into our new place fast enough that I was able to keep receiving my Stitch Fix without any interruptions. My box showed up a couple of days ago and I was not disappointed. This is box number 12, which means I've been doing this for about a year and I think I've finally hit a stride with my stylist.

I almost kept the entire box. Almost.

When I made my request, I asked for another maxi dress, another pair of Bermuda shorts and bright, colorful items for summer. Here's what she sent me:

I liked the colors, but it didn't do me any favors once I got it on. The top half was just a little too big. I considered alterations, but in the end decided I didn't like it enough to go the distance. This was my one hold out. If the dress had fit, I would've gotten the entire box.

I love this t-shirt. It's exactly my style. But I didn't buy it. I know, right? I couldn't justify almost $50 on a t-shirt, especially when I already have similar pieces hanging in my closet. 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Moving Recap

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles @freedigitalphotos.net
We move every two to three years for my husband's job. There are lots of benefits to moving - you get rid of things you no longer use, you find things you thought you'd lost and it's an opportunity to get organized. But more than anything, it's a hassle. A legitimate pain in the ass. A giant pile of  - you get the picture.

I was doing the math and this is my 8th move in 9 years. Now, part of those moves were while I was an intern so some of my items were in storage. And to be fair, moving by yourself is much easier than moving as a family of four (including Layla). Now that we've moved with E, I have a lot more respect for my parents (also military) who moved frequently with not one, but three children and one to two pets depending on the year.

We were truly blessed this time around because E did great in the car. He slept, he snacked, he played with the iPad and he was - for the most part - a real peach. I was so proud of him because two days in the car isn't fun for anyone. We actually left around 4-5 in the morning so that he'd sleep longer in the car. If you're taking a long road trip with a toddler, this would be my recommendation. Of course, once we got to the hotel the kid was crazy. He was all over the room, placing phone calls (yeah, that got unplugged real quick), wanting to ride on the elevator, wanting to get ice, jumping on the bed, jumping on us - that's where the real trial of my patience came in. Thankfully there were two of us and only one of him. What do you do when your kids outnumber you? I think I would curl up in the corner and weep. Hats off to those with more than one kiddo during a trip. Hats. Off. 

It only took us a day to find a rental house - mainly because most of the ones that fit into our budget/criteria weren't places we wanted to live. We're not overly picky, but we also tend to stay away from giant red walls and outdated appliances. Oh and if it's filthy, I can't get on board. And you'd be amazed at the number of rental properties we saw that were dirty. Not dusty, but straight up dirty.

Which isn't to say that our house is spotless. Just ask the movers. Every time a piece of furniture was lifted, there was a mound of crap underneath it. Dust, toys, goldfish crackers, puzzle pieces. I think there were six books under the couch. And a living spider (much to his dismay, he didn't live much longer). So if I'm saying the house is really dirty, it IS really dirty. And I hate cleaning on both sides of the move. I want to move into a fresh, clean place and not have to worry about cleaning the baseboards or the mini blinds. I already did that once. Twice in a one week? No, thank you.

So of course, the place we chose required some additional cleaning. Always, right? To the property company's credit, they did send a cleaning crew over to do a touch up job before we moved in. And then they sent them out again when I complained that one of them literally left a pile of crap in our toilet. Let me say that one more time. One of them left a giant pile of POOP in our toilet. Sigh. And since that's the stance they took on cleaning our house, I had to re-clean everything. Because, obviously. I'm not even finished yet.

On the bright side, our household goods got here the day after we moved into our place so we only had one night on the air mattress. On the down side, it meant more cleaning for me. I'm starting to think I may have a problem. Like, I know some people unpack their dishes and put them away as is, but I can't do it. What if the person who packed those dishes used the bathroom and didn't wash their hands? What if they sneezed on my plates? And the ultimate no-go, what if they touched their cell phone? ACK - have you seen how dirty cell phones are? You may as well lick the urinal in a public restroom.

Right so, our dishwasher basically runs all day, every day for about 48 hours. See: modern appliance requirement above.

But for the most part, everything is done. We're still putting things up on the walls and the office needs some work, but we're entering what I'd consider a livable condition. I no longer classify us as "moving." I do need to work on the baseboards and the blinds (I don't think even a magic eraser is going to be able to save them) or maybe just buying some curtains to hide the blinds...

And since Nate still has some time off, we're going to spend some time exploring the mountains, fishing and traveling to nearby tourist attractions. That last one is all me - who doesn't want to see where more than 300 movies and television shows were filmed? ("Um, not me" - you, "Are we breaking up?" - me).

Cheers,
Jen 


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Your child is throwing a tantrum? Good job, parents! No, seriously. Good. Job.

Photo courtesy of Clare Bloomfield @freedigitalphotos.net
I have a strong-willed child. He is stubborn, determined and hard to manipulate. When he decides he's going to do something, he's going to do it regardless of safety risks or admonishing. And although it's frustrating now, I know that in the future I'll be glad because everything I've read says that these are the kids who become leaders. I mean, these are not bad qualities as long as they're directed in a positive way. But right now, as a 2 year old, it's a real strain on my patience. This is especially true in public.

I wrote a post several months ago about an epic tantrum he threw in the mall. In fact, he threw one yesterday. We were going into an antique store (bad idea, I know) and I told him he couldn't run around. He immediately started wiggling and trying to get on the floor. So I took him outside and he started screaming hysterically because he wanted back in the store. But let's not stop there, let's add the flinging of his body and my noble attempts to keep him from cracking his skull open on the sidewalk. Nate had to throw him over his shoulder and carry him to the car. All with an attentive audience. I vaguely remember someone saying oh he's not a happy guy and I'm sure people were thinking much worse like, why can't you control your child?

And you know what? I let it get to me. I shouldn't have, but I did. I felt the mom guilt. My child threw down a massive tantrum in public and I felt bad about it.