Friday, December 16, 2011

Got Winter Break?

The kids are out of school... what to do, what to do? Have no fear, I have a comprehensive list right here! Luckily, here in Atlanta were are having some record high temperatures. For example, yesterday we experienced a high of 69 degrees! I saw an entire family in shorts like they were headed to the beach.
So don't suffer from cabin fever this holiday break and lose your sanity before 2012, when you don't have to! Majority of the activities are my girls' favorites.

Disclaimer: Be sure to check each respective sites for any changes to events or holiday hours.

I have a few great outing ideas...

Christmas Lights and Tree Display
Fernbank Museum of Natural History - Winter Wonderland
Lake LanierMagical Nights of Lights: Coupons available @ Publix
Clayton County International Beach - Festival of Trees and Lights
Stone Mountain - Snow Mountain: Coupons available @ Kroger
Centennial Park - Holiday in Lights display and Ice skating
Christmas on Peachtree - A nostalgic holiday festival at the old Macy's building (currently, 200 Peachtree ). Here is a printable coupon for a free Child's ticket.

County libraries and Storytelling
--Check the event calendars for the library branches are lost of great FREE, wholesome holiday fun! Did I mention that it was free?
Clayton County
Cobb County
Douglas County
Fayette County
Fulton County
Gwinnett County
Wren's Nest - Storytelling Saturdays 1pm; Adults $9, Kids $6

Mindless Fun and Cheap Movie Theatres
--Be sure to check the site for promotional coupons. I don't enter one of these places without a coupon in hand. Why pay too much, when you don't have to!
Monkey Joe's
Chuck E. Cheese 
Venture Cinema 12 - Duluth
The Picture Show at Merchant Exchange - Marietta
Cinemark Movies 10 - Fayetteville; (770) 460-0308

Science and Outdoor Fun
Fernbank Science Center - The Sky Tonight. Saturdays 11am; Adults $4, Kids $3. Free with Fernbank Membership
Panola Mountain - Afternoon and Night Hike recommended for children older than 10. Admission $7, parking $5
Autry Mill Nature Preserve - Exotic Ecotherms $3/person or $5/family
Imagine It! Children's Museum - Exploring the World of Fairy Tales
Zoo Atlanta - There have been several recent births at the zoo.
Lowe's - Build and Grow Workshop

If you have any other activity recommendations, please leave it in a comment box.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cool Earth-friendly Christmas Wreath Ideas

I have created 2 really cooool Christmas wreaths made of repurposed items.

The first wreath was my bright idea but I am sure that it isn't a new one. I used all the Christmas cards that I have been saving for the last 2 years and created a wreath. You are probably wondering why I saved them? I like receiving mail so for people to go out of their way to send me a Christmas card, I felt the cards were too special to chuck into the trash. You will need about 30-40 Christmas cards, a glue gun, ribbon (optional) and some double-sided tape. I created my initial freeform wreath shape with a few cards. Then I stacked the other cards on top slightly overlapping the first row so that you could see the designs on each of the cards.

Here is the final product:

My second wreath made of repurposed items came from a lunch and learn day at my local library. The wreath consists of several 4.25"x5.5" sheets of paper rolled into cones and glued (or stapled) to a 4x4 square cardboard base. Any kind of paper can be used: wrapping paper, craft paper or magazine pages. In my example, I used paper from an old book and old calendar sheets. You will need to make at least 40-50 cones to start.

Next, draw three equidistant rings on the cardboard base. The rings will determine where you start each layer cones. Once you have drawn the rings on the cardboard piece, divide the cardboard piece into quadrants. Start layering each quadrant by placing one cone in the center of each quadrant, starting at the outer ring. Continue to add more cones by further dividing each quadrant until you have completely filled in the first layer.

At this point, you add more cones on top of the first layer but at the center ring. So on and so forth until you reach the innermost ring. Now that the tedious part is over, the fun begins. You can customize you paper wreath with ornaments hot glued to the center (like mine). Use the wreath as a table centerpiece by adding a hurricane vase and candle to the center. The possibilities are endless and can be created for any holiday or special occasion!!! 

Final product:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All good things...

I had planned to keep my blog light-hearted and jovial but unfortunately, it is that reflective part of the year when I pat myself on the back for the things that I did right and try to improve upon the things I did wrong. So here goes...

All good things must come to an end... I was part of an amazing organization that lead me to meet people that I probably would not have met formally eventhough we had several commonalities and our paths crossed several times in the last 14 years. There is one bad thing about good experiences, they don't last forever. More often than not, they end miserably. Especially when you try to hang on because you had some really great times and you genuinely like the people that you have intimately grown to know and care about. Sometimes you have to know when to say when and leave the relationship in a respectable place, so that all parties involved can at least be amicable. The more I type about this, the more it sounds like a marriage that has went wrong ending in a messy divorce.

There is a point of no return in any relationship where you have invested enough time and if something goes wrong, you will be hurt. I am going to have to walk away from something I truly enjoyed because my feelings are now tarnished or crystallized. Crystallization is a term I learned from reading T.D Jakes' book, Reposition Yourself. Crystallization is the point where deterioration has taken its toll. This is where I am right now. I have to make my exit soon but this means that I will have to leave a few people behind because I have issues with them and the friendship didn't get a chance to flourish before the trouble started. So sad but true.

Let me briefly elaborate on the remaining stages of progression in any relationship or situation from the Bishop Jakes' book. First, there is revelation. This is the stage of discovery for new possibilities or potential . Next is inspiration, the point when you decide to commit or take it to the next level. Formalization is the next step and involves the acceptance of your decision. Basically, you sign on the dotted line. The step that comes before the final stage of crystallization is institutionalization. Here is where the trouble begins and the "honeymoon" is over. I am sure you are probably checking off every friendship or relationship you may have ever had and where they fall within these stages of progression.

I can say that I am thankful for the really great times because I forged great budding friendships that I pray last a while because quite frankly heart can't take another break. So the lesson here is... when something is really good, dive in and bask in the warm and fuzzy goodness. Cherish the friendships that you make because you don't know what may happen next (good or bad). This lesson is totally different from my basic instinct, which is steer clear of all human contact and say, "Why bother? Because I know where this is going." I will close with a quote that continues to come to mind. " 'Tis better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all" from In Memoriam: 27 by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Who knew?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Great Purge

Currently, we undergoing a massive undertaking at home.... purging things we no longer need or use. Don't cringe yet, just keep reading.

Here is the catch, it HAS to be done before the new year. I can be a little obsessive about timelines, so get over it. I have instructed the hubby but I think he isn't taking me seriously. My kids have noticed because their toys and clothes are disappearing every time they blink :). We already have a standing rule around here regarding toys: Every time a new toy comes in the house, one toy must be given away.

My reason for The Great Purge is quite simple... less is more (more in this case involves space) and plus I realized how much stuff goes unused, underused, ignored or even worse, saved for another time or place. I don't want be consumed with stuff. During the holiday season, irrational behavior sets in as consumerism rears its ugly head and devours the money of everyday citizens. Americans are consumed by having lots of stuff and this "recession" isn't going to get in the way of people accumulating more stuff, now is it? It doesn't matter what the stuff is along as they have IT! I could take the time right now to talk about my most recent Black Friday experience but that should probably be another post. Just for the record, I bought only a 5 items and slightly went over my $50 budget.

I have already tackled the "guest" bedroom, which is no longer a guest bedroom because no one comes to visit regularly enough to warrant an entire room for their use. I have taken the bed apart, it is waiting to be hauled away and I have organized the closet. There are a few more things left to sort through but it isn't anything major because the hard part is done already. I have changed that space into a multi-purpose room (crafts, sewing, play or workout), it just depends on who is using it.

Next, on the list is my hubby's closet, not looking forward to that battle. I see items in there that still have tags. I will save that joint task for last. Finally, the office file cabinet... Yikes! This task makes me itch just thinking about it because I saw papers in there dated 2003, which means that paperwork have been in there since we bought this house. I wish you could see the goosbumps on my arms.

I am determined to lighten the load around here just for the sake of having one less thing to think about or task that I wish I could have completed already. I am pushing forward into 2012 with an empty to do list in search of bigger and better things where I can devote my time. So as you take in everything I have rambled about in this post, consider joining me in The Great Purge and you can thank me later.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Image vs. Humanity

Image: a (1) : a mental picture or impression of something (2) : a mental conception held in common by members of a group and symbolic of a basic attitude and orientation

Humanity: a : the quality or state of being human

These are definitions that I pulled from You are probably wondering why I have taken the time to define these words? Well, image and humanity were the first words that came to my mind when I had a chance to dig a little deeper into the sexual abuse scandal @ Penn State. The image of the school, the athletic program, the coach and staff, all had to be preserved at the cost of the stolen innocence and humanity of several young boys. I don't know all the answers and I am sure, as with all scandals, we have only scratched the surface. I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that once certain individuals knew or witnessed the act, nothing was done to stop the perversion, only steps taken to preserve and protect an image.

My sister-in-law forwarded me a grand jury recount from the previous investigations and it is horrific to say the least! This is my opinion, Sandusky used his organization as a breeding ground for his potential prey for his somewhat insatiable appetite for little boys. So unfair! The boys already had difficult stories and background but now what... therapy and monetary settlements?!? Money can't heal emotional wounds, it just improves the exterior while the interior still suffers. How many young boys could have been saved from the physical and emotional pain if the assistant who walked in during an incident would have said something the moment he witnessed the act? He just walked out in the name of self-preservation and image... so sad.

I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be for victims and their families, my heart goes out to them as well as my prayers. As a parent, I can't promise I won't hurt someone for the smallest infraction against my kids, once the innocence of childhood is lost, it's gone forever. I say lock me up now, to prevent me from not giving Lady Justice her say. I would take matters into my own hands, literally.

As you read this, let's keep all involved lifted in prayer for healing, forgiveness, repentance and comfort.

Nomination for Favorite Costume

Makenzie and Payton have been nominated to the next round of the contest so vote, like or comment as many times as you can between now and November 20th!!!

Simply put, the more votes ("stars") and facebook "likes" they get - the higher the score. The more comments their costume receives - the higher the score. The more visitors I drive from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr pages - the higher the score.

Vote here for Thing 1 and Thing 2!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review: Jesus Calling

I am roughly 24 days into this great new devotional given to me by one of my Morehouse brothers called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I am pretty skeptical about a lot of books that offer any sort of help or guidance. I have found in all the "self-help" type of books that I have read, with the exception of an elite few, none of the books actually provided any sort of tangible advice you can set in motion within one second of reading it.

Many who know me would call me a high-strung busybody always looking for something to get into. With this book I have taken time to ask myself, why am I always in such a hurry? Why do I overschedule and overcommit? What am I avoiding? Or why do I inadvertently omit God from some of my daily decisions or even my personal ambitions like He couldn't handle it? Before you call me a heathen, ask yourself if you include God in every single decision (minuscule or life-changing)?

In addition to this book and a conversation that I had with my aforementioned Morehouse brother, I have also learned that it is totally OK to continue on your journey with wounds or scars from life's journey because it causes you to lean on the Lord even more for the strength to continue. Previously, I have found myself trying to be okay with pain and trying to move past hurt because that is what everyone expects you to do. It is not socially acceptable to continue to talk about your battle scars...

Aside from the wonderful substance of the book, there are a few other bonuses: It is compact enough to fit into a handbag or the door compartment in the car. Translation: Great stocking stuffer!!! Give someone a gift that will last all year (it's a 365 day devotional) and it doesn't require an activation fee or batteries.

Disclaimer: I am not by any-stretch of the imagination a certified bible thumper, I just wanted to pass on what a great gift I received and how it has helped me so far.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Take your vote back!

I'll have to change hats here and add some seriousness to my tone. TAKE YOUR VOTE BACK PEOPLE!
After reading several articles and watching a few interviews about politicians who are "living paycheck to paycheck" on their $174,000+ salaries. When a person takes a political office or any sort of leadership position (paid or unpaid), it is a choice or calculated decision. We always have the right to walk away, if and when, there is strain added to your personal life and more importantly our well-being.
So when I enter my designated polling location one week from now as well as the next year, I plan to be very selective (as always) but I urge you to do the same. The general public has always been the X factor in any civilization. Once the people become restless because campaign promises crumble as easy as pie crust, true change is on the horizon. I say, POWER TO THE PEOPLE! We have two major avenues of power as a citizen, Our Money and Our Vote. For example, if you don't like the service you receive at a store or restaurant, what do you do? I tell everyone, who will listen, about my experience and I never spend one red cent at that establishment again!
Let us not forget (as well as remind others) that we elect these officials to speak on our behalf, by proxy, in Washington, at each State capital and every County/City seat. They work for us, not big oil companies, not big banks or the wealthy elite!!!! Seriously!! We cast our ballots for the fan favorite (GA voter info) and the lobbyists take it from there for the duration of that politician's term, offering money, favors and/or gifts while taking their souls in exchange.
The voice of the constituents isn't heard until time for re-election. But then the cycle continues because we are given more campaign promises during debates and interviews that start like this, "If I am re-elected, I will..." This prompts me to ask, "Why do I have to wait around for you to do the right thing next time?" The whole thing actually bothers me to the point of frustration. Here's a Robert Johnson article that echoes a similar sentiment.
So, what are YOU going to do because I know what I am going to do... TAKE MY VOTE BACK and give an opportunity to someone else who will hopefully get it. I know one thing for sure, I can't allow these political dinosaurs to continue to do nothing that counts (immediately) and to do everything that causes further damage to the deficit, constituent morale and international relations.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Hey there! Here are the pics from our Halloween costumes. My girls and I dressed up as The Cat in the Hat and the super Helpers, Thing 1 and Thing 2.

This is how I did it: The red tops and bottoms were purchased from a local big box store for around $12. I purchased a .5 yard of white fleece and used a red fleece blanket for some the red pieces ($1.74). I used temporary glue dots to adhere the red shoe covers I made for my daughers' shoes and some of the white fleece for the mittens. Their bright blue wigs are actually 2 blue feather boas that I purchased a craft store ($6) and stitched them to 2 separate wig caps (.99). I wrote on two fleece circles of various sizes with black puff paint (.97) and attached them to their red tops.

I cut the white and red fleece fabric into strips, stitched them together to make my hat. The hat was a little on the floppy side so I used fabric glue to attach two pieces of cardstock inside the hat for support. As for my belly and bow tie, I cut a piece of white fleece using a serving platter as a template and then I stitched on two remaining red strips leftover from the hat to make the red bowtie. I completed my costume with a pair of black slacks, a black long sleeve shirt (which I already owned) and an attached striped tail (1/8 yd @ .98). Volia!

Here is the final product:

Three costumes for less than $25! You can't beat that! I researched and priced packaged costumes just for the sake of knowing my total savings (my drug of choice). 2 "Thing" costumes at Party City $39.99 each and 1 adult Cat in the Hat costume $59.99... that's KWAZY! Gotta go find my next deal or adventure... TTFN!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dapper Cat

Here is the a picture of the pumpkin that I carved today. It took me about 3 hours, start to finish, with a few interruptions and I think the finally product is a great effort. I kind of wish that I have chosen a template that was little more difficult. Enjoy the picture!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Patch or Bust!

All is well now that I had my pumpkin patch fix. Fall just doesn't seem right without a visit to a pumpkin patch, Halloween costumes and a Fall foliage drive. I have completed 1 out of 3, not many weekends left so I need to hurry.
This past Saturday, I enjoyed the afternoon at Yule Forest Pumpkin Patch in Stockbridge, GA with a few close friends and their children. The kids had a ball! There were several activities for the children. Let's talk about a few of them, shall we? First, there was a huge bouncing pillow that was buried into the ground, which every kid loved except my youngest. Then, there was a semi life-sized pirate ship that the kids could play in, around and on, which was located near a Fun Zone. The Fun zone was a series of 3 obstacle course moonwalks and a quasi-spooky inflatable haunted house, my 3-year-old declined this activity as well :). The pièce de résistance.... the hayride through the cartoon forest, which showed the age of many parents on board and a petting zoo, which offered horseback rides for a fee.

Overall, I think the $28 for entry for 2 adults and 2 kids, activities, 2 "free' mini pumpkins and a $5 off coupon for a Christmas tree was money well spent. Warning: if your child can walk, you will have to pay full price for that child.

Let me give a shoutout to Stevie B's Pizza Buffet, that is where we had our "after party." I think we almost cleaned the place out because having fun is hard work! FYI: Kids under 4, eat free.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oprah's Lifeclass

I knew she couldn't stay away too long!! Thank goodness. Oprah is back but this time on OWN. So I stumbled across her show and I wasn't dissapointed. The topic today was Ego vs. True self, as she referenced the Ekhart Tolle's book, A New Earth. I am definitely guilty of this at times. The quote that I liked the most was,"Don't wait until you are on your deathbed to acknowledge that no "thing" (material or otherwise) should define who you are and your worth." This is hard considering the world we live in is based on what you do for a living, what kind of car you drive, where you live and the square footage of your home. What is someone suppose to do if that house burns to the ground?!? If I had to measure myself on those standards, I would most definitely be OUT OF LUCK!
So for this week, I will have to constantly ask myself why am I upset and who is responsible for those feelings, my ego or true self? I also learned during this premiere episode that my ego produces my fears. That's pretty deep because more often than not, we associate ego with pompous or selfish behavior. Who knew?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ahh... It's that time of year again!

I love Autumn for several reasons. I will list a few and bear with me, there are a few superficial ones. Let's see... My primary reason for loving Autumn is because I get to drag my color-coded storage bins out of the garage and decorate the interior and exterior of my home. Next, I get to take long drives with my family as we enjoy the multi-colored foliage and its surroundings. And finally, I won't break a sweat before I can get in the car because the temperature are much cooler here in Hotlanta.

I am sure my neighbors think I am weird, but who cares that has never stopped me before! I am one of few in my subdivision that decorates for the seasons (less than 5 out of 72 homes). Quite frankly, they should be used to it after 8 years. LOL! Here comes my opinion, brace yourself... I think that everyone should at least throw place a wreath on your front door at a minimum. Decorations add a fresh, colorful dimension to your life with a splash of whimsy to boot. I love it! My decorations bring a smile to my face when I pull into my driveway and plus, it gives me a chance to bond with my girls.

Oh, wait! How could I forget this one!!! Nothing says Autumn like picking a pumpkin from a pumpkin patch and taking a hay ride (after taking my allergy medicine).

Until next time....

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Mommy Epiphany

I have struggled with my decision for long time to stay at home with my daughters until they reach school age. Here I am 4 years into my decision (minus the press conference, of course) and I have finally found acceptance. Sad right? I know! So I am sure you are probably wondering why I am okay with it now. Well, I am finally starting to see the fruits of my sacrifice and it makes me smile from ear to ear.

I don't take my calling as a Mother lightly. I went through a lot just to have my daughters considering I am not able to get pregnant (and stay pregnant) as easily as others. My decision to stay-at-home all started with strict bedrest prescribed by my Ob for 6 out of the 10 months of pregnancy due to complications that previously resulted in one stillbirth and a miscarriage of twins. Once Makenzie was born, I thought to myself, "So I am supposed to drop her off at 6 weeks into the hands of a stranger... No way, not happening!"

Yes, of course, I could be enjoying my view from a 6x6 cubicle while pushing paper along the line for approval to the "higher-ups" on the 20th floor or dodging blood in extremely messy surgical settings (don't ask), for the sake of saying I have a "real" job. I would much rather enjoy lunch at the zoo and watch my toddler brush a goat for the first time.

So here I am almost 5 years later, driving the same car from college (thanks Dad), cooking majority of the meals we eat, a closet full of clothing staples that never go out of style (Thank God!) and minus the fancy ADULT summer vacations that all of my college buddies take each year. The grass always look greener on the other side anyway. This is okay with me because I have 2 healthy, well-adjusted girls that have been exposed to lots of cultural activities, really cool road trips and a mom that wouldn't trade the experience that we have shared together for anything. I had the opportunity to see every "First" thing Makenzie and Payton would every do and I had (and have) the chance to their true foundation builder.

If I had chosen the other path, I am sure that I probably would have never realized what I missed out on and I would have never been the wiser. No one gets the chance to see "what could have been" like in the movie, The Family Man with Nicolas Cage. It is clear to me that I have lost a lot but I have gained a lot as well. Please understand, I am not knocking the decisions of others; just explaining mine. Do what works for you and your family.

My girls only get one childhood and I have a front row seat!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Adventures in Canning...

For my first attempt at canning I made orange marmalade. It smelled absolutely delicious in my home while it simmered away. I researched several different site for recipes but the one that I liked most was from Here is the link: Orange marmalade recipe I wanted a recipe that did not require too many ingredients and any extra kitchen gadgets that I didn't already have. I am very impressed with myself. I have included a picture from the cooling stage. I will include a picture of the final product in some cute little jars later.

Next up... Strawberry-Peach Preserves.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It has been 7 days since my last Facebook confession...

I have decided that I would take an indefinite hiatus from Facebook. I'm not sure why but oddly it feels really, really good! I have been a little restless lately and looking for ways to reduce my distractions so that I could focus on some personal goals. I actually felt like I was a bit of a slave to Facebook. Checking in at least 5 times a day and practically spraining my thumb trying to reply to a post or check a picture/note/post that I "may" have been tagged in on my phone.

This decision has been totally liberating. I no longer have to think of clever or witty posts just to get a reaction from others. My friends' list is extremely meager, in quantity, by the standard of any experienced Facebook devotee. I think I may have around 125 friends. Weak, I know but respectable. My ambitions were noble in keeping my list small and "intimate"... I am a private person.

Ironically, I have been classified as weird by a few because I have decided to sever my ties with Facebook even if it may be temporary. I have received several texts and phone calls from friends wanting to know why. I am void of any ridiculously cool or earth-shattering reason, so I just say,"I just lost interest". This reason wasn't good enough for my parents. *chuckling*

I could be reactivating my Facebook account next week, next month or never. Time will only tell...