Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cracking Up: A Book Review

This is a guest post from our friend Rachel. She knows the author of this book personally and was incredibly impressed with her book, and asked if she could share her thoughts on our blog. 

Also, don't forget to enter our giveaway

There are those rare, treasured books where you’re sad when they end, where you feel like the characters are real, complex, honest human beings whose lives you have shared. There are books that leave you in silence and a sacred space of just waiting and being and thinking when you finish them, when you feel the need to take a meditative pause before returning to your life. 

For me, Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis was one such book. And quite honestly, I didn’t expect it to be. These books are very few and far between, and I tend to have some bias toward topics and themes that are familiar. I’m not a mother; I will never give; I don’t have children; I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life and never been to Oregon. I’ve studied post partum depression from a very clinical angle as part of training in Marriage and Family Therapy—but never experienced or heard about directly from friends. 

That said, I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I learned it was being published. I regularly read Kimberlee Conway Ireton’s blog (http://www.kimberleeconwayireton.net/) and enjoyed her book The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year enough that I have bought it for several friends.  And to my delight, Ireton takes a deeply personal experience and connects it to very universal experiences: searching for God in the midst of deepest pain, feeling desperately alone, a deep longing for hope—that she finds. She gave me the sense that I do had walked with her in her experience and been given a sense of what this could be like. Ireton uses poetically insightful language and makes herself vulnerable for her readers. She brings clinical depression—a topic that is often buried in uncomfortable silence—and makes it real, universal, and somehow, something that may end. 

Who among us can’t relate to some of the experiences she describes?

Of thinking: “I’ve been feeling a bit dizzy and lightheaded the past few days. Being me, I of course immediately come to the only logical conclusion: I have a brain tumor. “

Of despair: “My tears fall harder, and my heart feels like it’s cracking right open and all the fear and unfairness and suffering is leaking out my eyes. And then, it fills my mouth, and I want to scream, but I can’t—I wake my almost-sleeping babies, I’ll scare Jack and Jane who are in the living room waiting for me to read to them—so it erupts in a silent scream of pain, anger, anguish, as if I could rid myself of those things simply by opening my mouth wide enough, by crying hard enough.

And throughout all the pain and darkness of depression, a powerful hope and determination to keep going:
“A spoon. It is the perfect image for my life. I cannot handle the vastness of life. My borrowing imaginary trouble from the future is like gulping the whole of Lake Washington. I cannot do it. I can only take a spoonful at a time, a sip, this moment, and now this one, and now this one. God gives me strength to manage the spoonful of today’s troubles. One spoonful at a time, I can drink the cup of my life.” 

I could have chosen any number of additional passages that are equally poetic and sincere. But instead, I encourage you to read this book and to put it in the hands and hearts of those dear to you—those who may or may not have experienced clinical depression in any form, those who are mothers and those who aren’t, those who are people of faith and those who are searching for God.In short, I urge you to put this book into the hands of anyone who knows what it is to be human and who wants hope and encouragement along that path.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Just a friendly reminder that our giveaway ends at midnight on New Years Day! Enter now and get an adorable fruit hat! Or another adorable item from a great Etsy shop, Little Sproutie.

Check out the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of our original post (here) to enter.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Links to Love, Listen To, Laugh At, and Learn From

In this episode of This I Believe, an eight year old boy reminds Marianne Bachleder of what is important: gratitude. "I will tend my needs, I will whittle my wants, and I will say often, "'I'm happy with what I have.'"

I love this ad from Pantene that has been making the rounds on the internet. It's a must watch for any woman I know!

"Christmas Jammies (#XMASJammies)" has been stuck in my head for days. And now yours. You're welcome. 

I thought this home grown science project (which led to even more scientific inquiry) was wonderfully done and presented! I learned something from this little lady! 

This post, A Ten Month Old's Letter to Santa, had me cracking up! I definitely sent it to my young parent friends! Little crawlers tend to find the things we most want them to avoid.  Here's a taste: "I would be ok with just a bunch of electrical cords in general, but I would really love these specific ones that are located behind my mother’s desk next to the air-conditioner (whose cord I also want)." Click through to see the pictures and read more exciting items on this ten month old's Christmas list! It's definitely worth it!

I absolutely love this post that features 80 pictures of celebrities edited into classic paintings, from Worth 1000's photo editing contests. Some definitely made me look twice! 

And, last but not least: An air-powered Lego car. Yep. You heard me correctly. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Winter Bundling and a GIVEAWAY!

Update: The winner for this contest is Megan Bowen! Congratulations! You'll be contacted with instructions about how to claim your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered, and don't forget you can still use the coupon Merry15 to get a 15% discount at the Little Sproutie shop! 

Note: I was having a little too much fun writing this post, and it may have gotten away from me. If you don't want to see this many pictures, skip down to the bottom for the giveaway and I won't be mad. I received the hat from Little Sproutie in return for hosting the giveaway and offering my opinion. The opinions, pictures and little girl are my own. 

My little girl loves to be outside. Summer was a completely magical time where we were constantly outside playing in the sprinklers and reveling in her utter delight. In the fall, we tried to keep going for lots of walks, heading to the park to take advantage of the cooler weather, and teaching her the joys of crunchy leaves.

Summer is the best.

Fall is pretty good too.
Then winter hit.

The snow is pretty, and she really loves pointing out snowmen everywhere we go ("'NO-MEHN!!!") but for the last couple of weeks it has just been SO DANG COLD. We've taught CB to go, "Brrr!" and give a little shiver whenever we talk about the outside, and it makes me a little sad. A couple of weeks ago, we went to a nearby city's Christmas light parade, bundled her up in a hand-me-down snowsuit she'd never worn, put her down to walk around for a minute, and watched her promptly fall flat on her face.

For a small moment, she was so very happy. And pink.
But here's the good news! The best, best part about winter is that babies clearly look adorable in winter gear. That ridiculous snowsuit that made her fall down? Adorable. This snuggly coat and bunny hat we took to Bryce Canyon?

So adorable.

But I am so excited today, because I get to share with you the most adorable baby hats ever, and I get to GIVE ONE AWAY to ONE OF YOU! 

Little Sproutie is an absolutely darling Etsy shop that features sweet children's aprons and really unbelievably cute hats featuring fruits and veggies (and footballs! The football hats!). 

We chose the strawberry, because it's probably CB's favorite fruit (although grapes are neck-in-neck) and she looks killer in red. See? (Also, hooray for Crazy 8 having the sweater dress I loved last year on the clearance rack this year - in her size and her size only! It's a very small Christmas miracle.) 

This looks delicious. What is this?

She realized moments later that walking in this stuff was very frustrating.

She liked knocking over mini snowmen. 

These hats are made from beautiful snuggly yarn that is cozy on baby ears. It's stretchy enough that it will fit for longer than a day, but it won't come off unless it gets a pretty good tug from a chubby little baby hand. Best of all, it's ridiculously cute. I took my little girl to the store in it the day it came in the mail and people were stopping me right and left to tell me how cute she was in it. (Is it vanity to love getting compliments about my child? Probably. Whoops.) CB immediately recognized what it was when we pulled it out of the package and got a huge smile on her face (although the resemblance to a strawberry is probably not the reason she keeps trying to chew on that stem when she pulls it off in the car. I blame the impending molars.)

And guess what? Enter our Rafflecopter giveaway below and you can win an item of your choice in the size of your choice. It will be perfect for your little sproutie, or it would make a great gift. (By some magical twist of fate, at least three of the Lovely Blog contributors are currently pregnant - I'm sure you could send one to one of them!) Giveaway ends New Year's Day at midnight! 

And if you don't win, you can still use the coupon MERRY15 to get 15% off your order. Put that Christmas money from Grandma to good use!

Don't cry. There's a coupon!
Bundle those little ones up and try not to let them fall on their faces. We'll get through winter together.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Keep Christmas Well

Christmas is a time of ritual and tradition. I wanted to share a favorite of mine.

In 1992 I had just turned seven years old, and my dad decided that I was old enough to join him in a
Christmas tradition of his own making. Reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

The story is simple enough to understand, and you can’t survive a Christmas season without hearing at least one reference to it.  But if you’ve read the book, Dicken’s old English proves to be fairly heavy reading for a seven year old. In those first couple years, the reading was slow going, as my dad patiently explained and expounded on different vocabulary and concepts. As I recall, it took a long time to get through all 114 pages of the short Christmas story.

Each year after that, Dad would approach me and ask if I was ready to read. Some nights we’d be more tired than others, but year after year, night after night, my dad would come to me and read words that would seep into my soul. It was always theatrical, every character was given a different voice, mannerisms, and personality thanks both to Mr. Dickens and my dad. Occasionally Dad would get emotional as he’d read about poor Bob Cratchet losing his son. Sometimes Dad would take a particular line from the book and apply it to our lives, teaching me valuable lessons of his own heart. 

Of course I grew up (as children tend to do) and moved away from home, but the tradition continued on my own. Dad would call and ask when I was planning to start reading, or what part I was on.  I’ve been reading it for ten years on my own now and each time I begin I get the unmistakable thrill of the Christmas Spirit finally beginning, along with the ache of not being that little girl in pajamas listening to Scrooge and Marley come to life through my dad’s voice. I miss reading it with my Dad, but we are still connected through the tradition.

When Marley appears to Scrooge wearing his ponderous chain which has been forged by his earthly sins he cries, “I made it link and link and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” Though Marley’s chains were created out of sin, I think of the chain my dad forged “link by link and yard by yard,” as he created a Christmas tradition that would bond us together, that would shape my childhood and influence my adulthood, and of my own free will I wear it. 

Now as I approach my 21st reading of A Christmas Carol, I contemplate when I will sit down with my daughter Hannah, and introduce her to my favorite tradition. I look forward to carrying on what my dad started: a labor of love.

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness vs. Required Acts of Kindness: My Take on Pyramid Schemes, Chain Letters, and “Please Repost” Requests

I love helping people. In fact, my whole working life has been devoted to helping others. I’m a librarian. That’s what we do. Need help? Great! Just ask! Have a question? Shoot! Hands full? I’ll grab that door for you! A few pennies short? Let me dig at the bottom of my purse; I’m sure I have a few coins jingling around in there that you can use! Need a little chocolate to de-stress your day? Come to my desk where chocolate awaits you! (And I don’t even eat chocolate myself--It is literally there just for you!) Then there are the kinds of things people ask you to do things that are pointless.  In those instances I am less likely to get excited about “helping.”

You want to know where chain mail, pass-it-on exponential office giving, and in-home party perpetuation goes to die (especially during December)? It comes to me. And then it dies. A swift, swift death. Maybe at other times of the year I’d be more likely to keep it going, pass it along, but I’m mildly positive that December equals Cara’s limit. Random acts of kindness? Love them! Required acts of “kindness.” I’m not a fan.

Here are some examples:

Makeup/jewelry/food storage/baked goods/cleaning supplies in-home parties (with strong encouragement to purchase crap you don’t need, have never wanted, will never use--Oh, and do you want to host your own party and then become a beauty consultant/jewelry representative/food storage consultant/direct sales person? No.)

Why I take issue with this: you are using your friends to profit. You invite them over and then guilt them into purchasing unnecessary, overpriced things that really aren’t all that unique. And then you further guilt them into throwing their own parties to guilt their network of friends into buying (you guessed it…) even more unnecessary, overpriced things. The worst is when it isn’t even associated with a real event like a baby or bridal shower--For some reason, I can swallow that a little easier than just having a come-spend-money party. And then there are the invitations from people you may or may not have seen in years, who just recently added you as a Facebook friend.

Sample Facebook conversation:

  • Person A: Hi, Person B! So good to see you here on Facebook! Glad to see you are doing well!
  • Person B (after having not had any real interaction with Person A for at least 10 years): Hi! Nice to hear from you! Yeah, things are going well--Busy as ever, but a good kind of busy! Take care! 
  • Person A: Thanks! Things are going well here for me too. Actually, I’ll be having a party soon--you should come! I’ll invite you to the Facebook event! I’d love to see you there! 
  • Person B: (Reads message, gets event invitation and doesn’t respond because she sees that it is an invite for a product party. Pukes a little in her mouth.)
  • Person B: (Forgets about “party” invite and gets message from a stranger, the “representative” working with Person A for the party.)
  • Representative: Hi Person B! I’m Representative, and I’ll be helping showcase (some products) at Person A’s party. I saw that you haven’t RSVPd to the Facebook invite and I was wondering if you’ll be able to make it next weekend! Person A would love to see you there! 
  • Person B: (What the… Ugh. Reluctantly responds as politely as possible to Representative’s message whilst swallowing true feelings.) Hi, Representative, Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend. Best, Person B

Now, I don’t mind going to hang out with friends--people I actually interact with. Most of them know I’m not going to buy anything anyway. They know that I’m trying to live more simply, that I don’t cook enough to own more than 3 pots/pans, that I have to wear gluten-free/hypoallergenic makeup, that I’m picky about my jewelry, and that I don’t buy into that kind of theme party thing anyway. But I’ll go because I do my best to support my friends’ efforts, just not financially.

Gifting pyramids/chain letters

I despise these. Nothing gets me in less of a giving spirit than being solicited. I came to work the other day and found a small bag and piece of paper on my desk! Aww, so sweet! Someone left me a surprise! I looked to see who it was from. It was a pyramid/chain letter gifting thing. I get a gift and then have to surprise two coworkers with a gift. I did not ask for this gift and really don’t have time to find two more gifts to share. I already have four December family birthdays in addition to Christmas (with five siblings, plus cousins, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, friends, and boyfriend/boyfriend’s family). I can’t even keep all of that straight, let alone figure out who to surprise at work and then what to put in the bag of goodies to give them.

Please repost so this will reach eleventy-billion likes and someone’s someone else will do something pointless

No. Just no. These are scams and a waste of everyone’s time. I refuse to waste my own time by reposting it, and others’ time by asking them to do the same. No, I honestly don’t think whoever posted that picture on Facebook will donate five million dollars to charity if it gets 10,000 “likes.” Yes, I appreciate my family and friends. No, they don’t need me to post a paragraph or give another “like” on a stranger’s photo on Facebook to prove it.

Do you want help? To talk? Hey, five bucks to cover parking? Need a ride because your car is in the shop? No problem. I’m your gal! Want some help raising awareness about a real issue (Facebook is not necessarily always the best avenue to educate, just saying, but sometimes I guess it works)? Fine, I’ll do my best.

Want me to buy crap no one needs? Ask someone else.*

Do these kinds of things make anyone else feel extra grinch-y, especially at this time of the year? Share your experiences in the comments! I’d love to hear them!

*There are plenty of people who actually do enjoy this type of gathering. I acknowledge that, and am not trying to invalidate their feelings (doing my best to take a cue from Oprah, love her!). To those people, I say ENJOY! It takes all kinds! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Art, Seuss, and Bullying (a linky post)

These shadow sculptures blow my mind. They have literally taken heaps of garbage and arrange them so that their shadows are amazing.

In other amazing and ridiculous art, check out War on Kinkade, where some guy throws Star Wars scenes on top of Thomas Kinkade paintings.

This article about an amazing woman whose Halloween costume picture became a viral object of ridicule is a great reminder that the people we make fun of so cavalierly on the internet are actually people. It's actually pretty easy to be a cyber bully by accident. Her experience will help you choose not to.

You may remember when Paige shared the amazing Snuggie texts posts a few months ago. Since then I've been reading the blog, which is quite hilarious and wonderful, but recently he wrote a more serious post about how insightful Dr. Seuss's Oh the Places You'll Go really is. I remember having the same reaction after I finished my undergraduate degree and decided I was never going to use my teaching license. It's really a lovely post.

Talking about Dr. Seuss just reminded me of this amazing section of an episode of This American Life where David Rakoff wrote this imagined exchange between Gregor from Kafka's The Metamorphosis  and Dr. Seuss, apparently thinking he is an actual medical doctor. It's hilarious and sad and insightful, and you should listen to it.

And that's it for me! Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Confessions of Someone Who Hates Winter (and who overuses parenthetical interjections)

Let me preface this post by saying I am currently wearing two (that’s right, two scarves), a cardigan, two shirts under the cardigan, sweatpants, a blanket, and slippers & I’m preheating my bed with my electric blanket. (Also, not going to lie: I’m seriously considering breaking out the gloves--and I’m indoors.)

I have come to the conclusion that spring, summer, and fall are meant for spending time with friends, going out and enjoying the weather, scheduling something every possible second of the weekends (and weeknights and weekdays), being positive & energized, and regularly shaving my legs.

Now that winter is here, shaving my legs is far less frequent of an occurrence, and I find myself to be much more of a hermit. I so look forward to coming home from work and slipping into my yoga pants and ugly sweatshirts, and I may (definitely) spend more time with my electric blanket than I do with my friends (it’s only natural, sorry friends!). The sweet, comfy, polkadotted skirts I swooshed around in during the warmer months have been traded in for black slacks and ugly socks. I desperately miss my comfy Teva sandals, but it’s the ebb and flow of the seasons and I must accept it (at least if I don’t want to lose any toes to frostbite--Iowa is cold in the winter, y’all!). Winter is for hunkering down, spending the holidays with family, dressing for warmth and not necessarily fashion (not that I’m the queen of fashion, by any means), and most definitely not shaving my legs (at least until I absolutely can’t stand it anymore). Even having the energy to do that is a bit of stretch sometimes.

I spent a lot of the long Thanksgiving weekend (after having celebrated and given thanks with my family) with my boyfriend, lazily wasting the days away indoors (reading, napping on the couch, and watching TV are valid activities, right?). I was glad to have had some time to recuperate from a hectic fall (and summer, and spring) and I was thankful to have had the luxury of a weekend to waste. My boyfriend made the comment that we’ve got to be more productive with our weekends. I asked “why?” and then I reminded him of the 4-5 months of solidly packed weekends we had prior to this one relaxing weekend. Weddings, trips, baseball games, birthdays, more weddings, more trips, concerts, you get the picture. I’m not saying to completely hide out and waste away the winter--I do agree having routine and to-do lists is important. But, I suppose, if there’s one thing winter is good for, it’s for forcing us to slow down a little and take some time to rest up for the spring, summer, and fall to come.

That’s a big step for me, admitting winter has some value, as someone who hates winter.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

To Elf or not to Elf...why is this a question?

 If I could work my will,' said Scrooge indignantly, `every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!'
Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

In the last few years, an old Christmas tradition has been reincarnated, and it seems nearly every child I know has some version of Elf on the Shelf. If you aren't familiar with this particular tradition, a little Elf is sent to your family to scout out good and naughty behavior, then report to Santa every night. He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake. When he returns the next morning, the children have to find where he has landed (a different spot in the house every morning--if you are lucky and if you've behaved). 

Sometimes the Elf creates mischief, brings gifts, or makes crafts. 

And sometimes, if he's like our Elf, Chippy, he just finds a nice spot to sit for the day. (Chippy may be suffering from pregnancy sickness and exhaustion and just doesn't have the will to create chaos this year.) 

Much like listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving and focusing on gift giving and Santa Claus vs Christ,  people have major opinions about Elf on the Shelf. Like, major. Vitrol spews from every corner of the internet, rallying against this little Elf. 

"He's creepy."
"He takes away from the spirit of Christmas."
"It teaches kids that he is the ultimate authority in the home."

So here is my advice. If you don't like Elf on the Shelf, don't do it. If you really feel like you need to speak your mind, maybe tell your dog or scream into your pillow. 

If you think it's a fun tradition, have at it. Don't worry what other people say about the traditions you chose in your family. After all, Christmas is a time for family. Make it about yours, and nobody elses. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Where my Ladies at?

Emily Graslie is a scientist and YouTube educator at The Brain Scoop, and she has an important message that we would like to share. 

We think she's an absolutely lovely person, and we appreciate her honestly sharing her experience to expose the discrimination women face. Thanks, Emily! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fighting Our Fears

When I was 19, I decided to apply for a study abroad in London, England. (I feel that I should specify, because when I lived in the Midwest I drove sometimes drove past London, Ohio. Also Versailles, Indiana, which they pronounced Ver-sails.)

I remember thinking, "This is my one chance to see the world. After this, I will be content with the rest of my life as a humble English teacher in a small western town."

So I applied for this study abroad and wrote an essay about how reading A Tale of Two Cities changed my life when I was 15, and I made London playlists and dreamed of going to the Globe for several months. I got into the program and got my passport. I purchased a plane ticket and some new clothes.

My plane ride to London was the first I'd ever taken alone. I was going to arrive without a cell phone and without any idea about how I would get to the place where I was staying once I landed. I didn't really know the other people who would be there.

As it turned out, conquering London wasn't nearly as hard as I was afraid it would be. And after I learned how to get around London, it was easy to brave York, Durham, Stratford . . . Paris. And I remember this moment when I realized that I could do anything. I could go anywhere. The world was mine and I wasn't afraid of it.

I have since explored many cities (mostly on foot, which I think might be easier): Toronto, Edinburgh, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, St. Louis, San Antonio. I went back to London. I moved to another state for grad school. I ended up in a relationship that went from long-standing friendship to romance very quickly, and it freaked me out but was ultimately so wonderful that I married him. I moved to and from Texas. I had a baby. I did so many things that I was terrified to do, and they resulted in some of the best parts of my life.

I've been thinking about fear lately. I recently went to an inspirational conference for women, and one of the speakers said that there are four types of fear.
  1. Fear of disappointment
  2. Fear of change or bad things
  3. Fear of failure
  4. Fear of success
I think we all struggle with all of these types of fear, but sometimes I think fear of success is the most dangerous. We fear we will succeed and it will be amazing, and then maybe more will be expected of us. We become our own worst enemies. We foil our own efforts because we are terrified of what we will do if we find out we can accomplish more than we think we can. Stupid, right? (And yet ironically, at this conference there were a bunch of drawings for prizes, and part of me was a little relieved I didn't win because I didn't want to scream for the jumbo-tron or find a way down to the stage from my place high in the arena. Really. That is a thing I was afraid of.) 

My favorite thing that the speaker said was something like this: Peace is not the thing you feel when you face your fears - it's what you feel right after you do. There is peace on the other side of brave. 

Never let your fears keep you from participating fully in your own life. You can listen to your fears - but if they are stopping you from doing something that has the potential to be amazing, fight them off and jump right in. You will be amazed at how the world will open up to you. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Links: Christmas Edition

Just to shake things up a bit, we're sharing links to some favorite online shops, just in case you might be looking for something fun for family and friends this season. Or yourself, because a lot of this is great. Disclaimer: we are not being paid for any of these reviews, and our opinions are our own. We're just sharing them because we think they look neat.

First things first, the geek in me definitely owns a Doctor Who skin cover for my kindle, a matching case for my iPhone, and a stereo skin cover for my iPod from Skunkwraps.  The case has held up amazingly well.  I was worried when I bought it that it might not be strong enough to withstand a fall, but that is not the case.  I drop it quite a bit. The skins are great for protecting against scratches and such.  Plus they are fun, not bulky, and have held up with every day use for almost two years. Not too shabby.

Coin is a really cool-looking new product that's going to be released this summer where you can put all of your credit cards on one neat card that also alerts you when it is being left behind. We're sharing the link here because Meg's husband fell in love with it and ordered it during their 50% off pre-order (which still has a few days left), and if you refer people, you get $5 off for each person who decides to order it. She told him she'd help him get his link around. We haven't actually used the product ourselves, but if you also think it's cool and decide to get one, use his link, okay? (Merry Christmas, honey!)

If you happen to be purchasing something for a crafter, weelittlestitches is a great place to start.  8-bit patterns for popular characters.  Star Wars, Big Bang Theory, Back to the Future, The Sound of Music, etc. etc. etc. They are embroidery patterns, but are easily used for needlepoint. 

Finally, I am so in love with this print (and all the prints) from Paperchat.  I've already gifted "Treat Yo Self" to a close friend and would happily hang Tom Haverford's Food Slang in my kitchen. 

Now I think it's time to go and eat some Zerts and perhaps search for a few more awesome gifts for this year.  Happy hunting!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Blogger Envy

So. I recently found out that the founders and writers of two blogs I have faithfully read and adored for years are people that I have actually known and associated with at different points in my life.

Known and....disliked?

It's okay, guys. I knew both of them a long time ago and all parties involved parted ways cordially and with little thought of each other since. Plus, as Cara taught us in a recent post, it really is okay not to like everyone. As long as you still play nice, of course.

Anyway, when I found out that these blogs I read all the time were written by these two particular women, I was floored.

I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I read blogs a lot. Like all the time. And I read a ton of different types of blogs. Cooking and fashion and books and news and sports and travel and typography and photography and family and...everything (except politics. I don't do politics). Basically, if you are a decent writer and can make me laugh, then there is a good chance that I read your blog. I'm a bit of a blog stalker, too, so I don't personally know 90% of the people whose blogs I read.

Don't judge- you know you do it, too.

So, for those unknown 90%, I have to imagine what these people are like. Logically we may understand that people present a fairly limited picture of themselves online, but the longer I read someone's blog, I think the more I forget that fact. I start picturing these people as they present themselves in their blogging lives and, because we are mostly our best selves online, I get blogger envy.

These people are so awesome! These people are so talented! These people are so clever! The people are so beautiful, eloquent, well-dressed, good at parenting and can juggle, too!

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that two of the people that I have been idolizing for several years now are, in fact, people that, truth be told, I do not really care for in real life.

It shouldn't have been that big of a realization, but folks- IT WAS.

This is a mantra we hear over and over. Don't let others make you feel bad about yourself. I consider myself to be a person who is actually pretty comfortable with who I am, but even with that confidence, the envy manages to worm its way into my psyche, creeping in through this wonderful thing we call the internet. Thanks a lot, technology.

I try really hard to take all these wonderful blogs and bloggers for what they really are- pleasant snapshots and anecdotes of other people's imperfect lives. As one who loves writing on blogs myself, I know what a wonderful outlet they are. Sure, these people probably take better pictures than me and bake better cakes. They all do dozens of things better than I do, but there's a good chance there are a lot of things about them that, should we cross paths in the real world, I would not care for, and I certainly would not want to emulate myself.

Those two bloggers still create wonderful recipes and take beautiful pictures and are raising great kids and have very successful businesses. I still eagerly read every word they write. But. BUT! I no longer want to be just like them when I grow up. And that's okay.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Confessions of an Awkward Date: Part I

Like all of you, I had some fairly awkward dating experiences in my search for Mr. Right (or in my case, Mr. Turney). I was reminded of one the other day when a friend of mine posted a picture on Instagram of his three year old daughter eating popcorn at a movie theater. The caption read, "First Daddy/Daughter date!"

This particular friend took me to that same theater many years ago so I commented, "You didn't leave her there and make her walk home did you?" I honestly couldn't resist. Here is the story of the date that ditched me.

I was a 19 year old college student going to BYU-Idaho. My boyfriend (who I was extremely devoted to at the time) had just left that week for a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was pretty brokenhearted. A mutual friend of ours called or texted (who can remember the finite details) and asked me if he could take me to a movie. I wasn't really up for much but he was a good friend and I knew I could confide in him about my boyfriend because they were good friends. He asked me what movie I wanted to see and I requested The Notebook (which happened to be the movie I saw on my first date with said boyfriend). He agreed and picked me up for the movie.

Here is where I believe I made a mistake. He picked me up and asked me how my missionary was. And then I talked and talked and talked about him for the short drive to the theater, in line at the theater, and while we were sitting down for the movie. I admit it was pretty rude of me. Here was this nice guy taking me out and all I could talk about was the boy I was pining for. Also, my intentions weren't even pure. My missionary had always suspected that this friend of ours sort of liked me, so he told me that as soon as he left this friend was going to pounce. I wasn't so sure about that, but just in case I wanted to make it clear I wasn't interested.

So the theater goes dark and previews begin and he leans over and whispers "Be right back." The previews end, and the movie begins and he's still not back. After about 15 minutes I start to feel extremely uncomfortable. After about 30 minutes I realize that I've been ditched. Completely. I was extremely distracted the whole movie (which I didn't leave because, free movie). I felt myself go red and I honestly didn't know how to react. So I watched the entire movie by myself.

When the movie was over I stood outside of the theater hoping for a familiar face to come along. I finally decided to walk home by myself in the creepy dark. It was Rexburg Idaho so the chances I was in danger were slim to none but I was still a little scared to walk all the way to my apartment alone.

The date wasn't terrible because this was a guy I really liked and I got ditched (thank goodness) but it was embarrassing to be left by a friend without an explanation. I've always assumed it was because I was talking non stop about my boyfriend. The weirdest thing was we've NEVER talked about it. He never called to explain, I never investigated, but somehow we still went on to be good friends and even 8 years later we still keep in contact online. He and his wife even stayed with my husband and I when they were coming through Las Vegas a couple years ago.

His version of the story was that he didn't want to see The Notebook so he left to see another movie in a different theater (Shrek 2). He also insists it wasn't a date, and I sort of agree. It had the makings of a date (he drove me, payed for me, we were by ourselves instead of with our usual friends) but we were such good friends at that point that becoming involved romantically would have felt sort of bizarre.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013


"Rather than starting your day with a stressful list of things you have to do,
 try greeting the day with a joyful list of things you want to do!"

When I make a to-do list for the day, I usually title it "Possibilities". Then I include things I want to do along with the things I need to do. 
Here's my list for today:

-grocery shopping
-clean bathrooms
-babysit 3-6
-crochet (I'm working on a blanket)
-work on newsletter
-make dinner
-read book
-write blog post!

There's a good chance I won't get around to cleaning the bathroom today, but it's just a possibility, so if it's not done, there is always tomorrow.

Monday, December 2, 2013


I have a really bad case of Fear Of Missing Out.

Facebook used to be a large part of my life. After meeting someone new, I would instantly send them a friend request. Once my friends list passed 1,000 I could not get off of Facebook. What if those two people in my Biology 101 class started dating? What happened at Jessica's birthday party? Where was everyone going on Spring Break? I didn't want to be the last to know.

During graduate school, I finally decided that it was okay to let some of my facebook friends go. In fact, I let them all go. If I did not see you at my Grandma's during the holiday season, you were deleted. My friend list dropped to under 150. I had deleted over 1,000 "friends" and about 100 of my actual, real friends. My newsfeed was filled with my aunt wishing everyone a Happy Easter and my little cousin's posting pictures of dogs and football scores. 

It got so boring that I deactived my account for a while. (No offense, family.) 

Eventually, I gave in and started adding back my real life friends. I missed seeing their life updates. But, in all honestly, I missed their updates before when they were mixed in with 1000+ people who I only shared one memory with and hadn't seen since 3rd grade.

Now, my mother has more Facebook friends than me. 

I still feel guilty and add a few people who are beyond my close friend tier, but they never show up in my newsfeed. If you are reading this and I haven't accepted your friend request, please know that you are not alone.

I can't go back to spending hours on Facebook. I don't care as much about parties or relationships or who has the newest baby.

But the real issue is that I have a new FOMO thing. (Fear of missing out, for those of you who haven't heard this acronym.) 

It's the 258 blog posts in my RSS feed that I refuse to delete. What if there is a post about how to create the perfect life? Or how to become a nicer person? Or how to grow to like children?

Does your FOMO thing morph as you get older?

How do you deal with FOMO? 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Links I Love

It's that time of the week again: Links!

I love the variety of lighting and expression in these beautiful portraits of mothers with their one-day-old babies.

Like Harry Potter? Like real life? What if there really was Harry Potter in real life? The folks at Movies in Real Life found out.  (My favorite part is toward the end when he actually gets down to the platform with his luggage and owl, around 2 minutes in.)

This Dutch artist's Grey Power project that brings children's drawings of their grandparents to life. The colors, imagination (and multiple limbs) are fantastic!

Enjoy random things and awkward social situations? Then this 2008 Viva PiƱata commercial is right up your alley!

Need a puppy pick-me-up? This list of 16 Dogs that Ruined the Picture. Here are a few of my favorites: 

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I guess I really love effective marketing. Here's another commercial I love, this time for GoldieBlox! (Edit: the original video with some awesome and empowering lyrics had to be taken down due to some questions of copyright with Beastie Boys, so here's the version with a different music selection in the background.)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Traditions

Holidays are so much fun. Every single is marvelous, and sometimes quite strange (We celebrate Columbus, but not some of the geniuses who made our modern life possible, explain that to me). But no matter the holiday, every one celebrates it their own way. In my family all holidays are low key.  Even Christmas is chill and fairly relaxed and deliciously lazy.

Let me tell you a funny story.  My wonderful husband comes from a very crazy and awesome family.  The first time I met them? Groundhog Day. During their annual Groundhog Day party. That's right everyone, they celebrate that. And literally every single other holiday they can figure out how to celebrate.  We all went on a mini vacation to celebrate 11-11-11. I'm not kidding. They are so much fun!

Don't get me wrong, I love the way my family does things. It's my comforting home routine. We have our specific meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years.  I look forward to them every year.  The first year I spent any holidays away from my family was the first year I was married.  We went down to my grandmother-in-law's home for Thanksgiving.

Along with 100 other members of my husbands family.

 I was completely shocked. I grew up in a home of 6, and we occasionally had others over, but our biggest number was 15, and we were all exhausted afterwards. Not to even mention the different food they served.  For one, we arrived 4 hours before the meal was scheduled to be eaten. And we peeled pomegranates for hours.  I had never even had one before.  I am now quite skilled at seeding them, its probably one of my more random talents. Then when we did eat, I was unfamiliar with half of the items being served. Pomegranate salad: delicious and unhealthy. Broccoli salad: not delicious, in fact quite the opposite (although I am the only one who thought that!) Coconut cream pie: I guess this one is normal, but my family is sheltered.  And there was no chocolate chess pie. Never heard of it? You have a void in you life that you didn't realize existed until just now. And it needs to be filled with chocolate chess pie. Imagine a chocolate pie that is akin to brownies, but much creamier. Words cannot describe.

Anywho, back on track.  I was in shock, it was a strange sense of culture shock.  It never occurred to me that people did things differently than we did. Small minded I know, especially considering I have lived in more than 10 states, in Europe, and like to think of myself as educated.  I felt like a small town girl making my first foray into the big city, and I was unprepared.

But I loved it.  LOVED it. Suddenly not only were there strange disgusting dishes to be tried, but a whole host of other traditions I never realized existed.  Now I want to do it all.  I want to celebrate Columbus day (even if I find it to be an unexplainably stupid holiday).  And now that I have children, I love making up traditions.  We have Easter egg hunts on the morning of Easter to make the kids work for their candy.  We open Christmas presents early throughout December because I am so impatient and it stretches out the magic just a little more.

Sometimes growing up and learning new things can be hard, but other times it can open up a world of great new things to try. Delicious and disgusting and exciting new things.  Seriously go out there, burst your own little bubble of comfort and look at something new.  Because pomegranate salad or chocolate chess pie certainly make that journey worth it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Confessions of the World's Most Socially Awkward Person

I'm such a socially awkward person. Every time I tell my husband my latest awkward moment of the day he always assures me that these things only seem to happen to me and that I seem to be a magnet for embarrassing calamity. Some of them are small and seem to be an almost daily occurrence like the time I told an acquaintance of mine about a weird baby name I had heard only to find out that her daughter shared the same name, or when I asked my mother in law if her new hair-do was for Halloween (it wasn't) But some of them are big moments, that make me wish I could change my name and move to Mongolia.

So, confession time.

I confess that at my previous job my boss was a little person. He wasn't often in the office because he was out doing important boss things. One day I rounded a corner, walked smack into him, and knocked him down with my legs. And then to make bad matters worse I said, "I'm sorry I didn't see you!" And then I stammered, "Oh I didn't mean you were difficult to see.... Uh I just wasn't looking down there.... I mean, not that I need to look down to see you..." And it continued, in that horrifying vein, stammering inadvertently offensive things in between apologies until I finally slipped away into embarrassment oblivion. And to top it off, that was the first time I had ever met my boss.

I confess that when I waited tables in college, I was the worst waitress ever. We were supposed to grate cheese over each salad we served. It always took quite a while for the customer to say enough cheese and I used to zone out while I was working the slow, dull cheese grater. One day some little old lady with short curly hair leaned over to get something while I was grating the cheese. After a while I looked down to see I had been grating cheese not into the salad, but into her hair the whole time. I was mortified. It was a ton of cheese! But she hadn't noticed so I just sort of walked away and didn't mention it. She still had a mountain of cheese in her hair when she left the restaurant.

I confess that I think I committed the worst foot-in-the-mouth moment that has ever happened in the history of the world. A lady in my neighborhood threw her husband an 80th birthday party that I attended. It was in a church, there were speakers, there were musical numbers, there were flower arrangements... A few months later we were talking and she mentioned a song to me. I said, "Oh right, isn't that the one you played at your husband's funeral?" By funeral I meant birthday party...

I confess that I kind of sort of called the cops on my neighbor one day when he came over to borrow an egg. To be fair, it was a neighbor that I had only seen at night so I didn't recognize even though we had talked several times and there had just been a bunch of break-in's in our neighborhood and I was sort of going through a paranoid, protective new mother phase and I didn't really think the police would actually come! But come they did. Four squad cars, several policemen questioning neighbors and interviewing witnesses before they came to my door to tell me that my neighbor was just making peanut butter cookies.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Characters we love: Doc McStuffins

As a mother of a preschooler and a toddler, I am often assaulted by horrible, mind numbing "entertainment" that is equally annoying and pointless. Not only that, but most of these shows play into typical stereotypes that undermine the potential of my daughters.

That is, until Doc McStuffins came along.

Doc McStuffins is Disney's animated tale of a six year old named Dottie, known as Doc McStuffins. Instead of dreaming of castles and princesses, Doc aspires to be a Doctor, just like her mother.  Doc spends her days diagnosing ailments and treating her stuffed animal patients with the aid of her magical stethoscope. Not only is this one of the rare occasions where a Disney female protagonist wears a lab coat instead of a ball gown, Doc is African American.

Myiesha Taylor a Doctor and mother of a preschooler said she was excited to see, "a child of color in a starring role... and she’s an aspiring intellectual professional, not a singer or dancer or athlete.”  She decided to create an online collage featuring Doc surrounded by photos of real African American women medical professionals. She wrote,  "We are trailblazers. We are women of color. We are physicians. We ARE role-models. We are Doc McStuffins all grown up!"

When my preschooler discovered Doc she absolutely fell in love, and so did I. At three years old growing up in a large, multicultural city she didn't even notice that Doc's skin color was different from hers. For her fourth birthday, she requested a Doc McStuffins birthday party and requested chocolate cake because, "Doc's hair is brown." Hannah tells me that she wants to be "A doctor or a nurse and a mommy," when she grows up. I'm sure she'll go through lots of phases between now and adulthood, but I'm very happy that one of her role models is a little girl who wants to make a big difference. Plus how can you resist THIS adorableness? 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rewarding yourself: Moving Edition

When I accepted a new position at the 2nd largest university in the United States, it hadn't quite hit me that we would be moving over 1100 miles. All I could think about was NO MORE WINTER and I GET AN OFFICE WITH A DOOR. I had only a few weeks to prepare for the move. We had to pack, make several trips to Goodwill, find a mover, figure out a new place to live, get boxes, sign papers, freak out, breathe, eat out for days, say goodbye to our small number of friends, freak out, etc...

By coincidence (or God, however you see fit) we were moving to the same town as some of our closest friends from a previous city. They graciously let us stay at their beautiful home while we searched for a place of own.

I blame our hotel-like atmosphere for what followed.

I set my eyes on this lovely 2 bedroom duplex that had been completely redone on the inside. This was the nicest place we have ever lived. It had a driveway! And a dishwasher!

The next day we signed a lease and I instantly wanted to paint the walls. Then we needed rugs to cover the nice tile. Then we needed a new comforter to match our new walls. Then we needed some mirrors to hang in the front room. Then we needed a whole set of stuff for the guest bathroom.

A little past our renting budget, and two credit cards later, I realized that no one would even see our place for months. I wouldn't even get a paycheck for 4 weeks. My husband was jobless.

Fast forward to 4 weeks later. My husband is still jobless. That paycheck is gone. Six people have seen our place and zero of them have seen that new shower curtain or comforter. We still have the same couch and chair we've always had that my husband found a Goodwill before we were married. We came home to a floor covered in broken glass from the mirrors everyday for a week.

Did we really need two new rugs that cost more than one of my loan payments?

I realize that I felt the need to reward myself for working so hard toward this new position. Endless cover letters, 8-hour interviews, and countless rejections had taken their toll.

Next time, I think I'll just get myself 2 cartons of ice cream and call it a day.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Sometimes I get bogged down by the internet.  There is so much time-wasting and mind-destroying junk out there, it is nice every once in a while to find all the wonderful things the internet makes possible and all the awesome things it would be so hard to find without it. 

I've mentioned Smart Girls at the Party on the blog before. I love it.  But there's also a YouTube channel called Ask Amy where Amy Poehler answers questions submitted by girls.  There's a wide range of topics.  My favorite, though, was her video posted after the Boston bombings.  "Just because something has a gazillion views doesn't mean it's worth your eyeballs." Perfectly said.

I like all these quotes from Walt Disney, but I might like how pretty most of them are presented more than the actual quotes.  That kind of thing goes a long way for me.  Still, great advice from Mr. Disney.

I kind of want to read all of the books on this list of the most famous book set in every state. Ideally, I would also be independently wealthy and could travel around the country and read each book in each state. Even more ideally, I would arrive in each state during peak weather conditions and stay in the most comfortable of lodgings (maybe a snowy day in Utah in a cabin in the mountains with a cozy fire and blanket or 70 degrees by the water with a hammock on the porch, you get my drift).  One can dream.

This has been floating around for a while on the ol' interwebs, but it kind of blows my mind.  The Pixar Theory.  All the Pixar movies laid out in an order that explains how all the Pixar movies actually take place in the same world.  I'm amazed at how someone has actually figured this out.  Also, how someone had the time or motivation to figure this out.  Also, it's a little crazy, but not so crazy that you don't spend time yourself thinking about it.

Finally, this photo project, I'm Not a Look-Alike!  None of the people photographed are related.  Insanity.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Love Affair (With Food)

First, I am happily married, no problems there.  I am not talking about that kind of love.

I am talking about food. I LOVE food.

Growing up my mom had a fairly limited food repertoire.  She isn't a bad cook by any means.  She just knows where she is comfortable, and what my father will eat.  It is a very small area, trust me.

It wasn't until I was about 13 that I figured out that there was more food out there than chicken and rice and Sunday roast.  I really thought that roast was what everyone ate on Sunday.  Some unspoken rule, it's just the way it was. When I learned that there were different cultural foods beyond the "Mexican" food my dad loved (which let's be honest, is more American than anything else, he doesn't even like it spicy! Sometimes I'm surprised we share DNA)  Chinese, and Indian, and Cajun.  I loved trying it all!

I also found my love for cooking around the same time.  And because my mother had never made (or hadn't within 10 years) many of the foods I wanted to try, it was just a blind guess.  I didn't even start with recipes.  I just had ideas in my head of what I thought would go well together and made it.  I have to admit, my family ate some pretty horrible stuff.  I once tried making stir fry with just a frozen veggie mix, which I now scoff at, and was so worried they would stick to the pan I used about a cup of vegetable oil.  It was inedible.

But as I've gone I have actually found I have a small talent for it. I'm no Bobby Flay, and I'm certainly not Paula Dean (thank heavens), but I can certainly navigate my way around the kitchen. I usually don't use recipes either. I like to get ideas from them, but then I make it on my own. With the big exception of baking.  That's not really something you can wing it on. You really do need precise amounts of baking soda and salt.  Trust me on this one.

I love to try new foods, and I am happy to say that I have had many great opportunities to do so.  My dear friend Megan (editor of this blog) introduced me to one of my favorite Indian restaurants.  Bombay House is always very high on my list of choices for date night sans kids.

I also try really hard to expose my children to different things.  My son usually rejects it all.  He has tried some things. My daughter, however, will eat everything I offer her.  She loves salmon and chicken tikka masala. She's a huge fan of Nutella (who isn't?) and I love watching her try new things. I feel some strange sense of pride getting my children to try foods that I'm sure my father hasn't and wouldn't ever try.  And when they like it, I feel like I have made some big parenting success. (Some days my world feels very small, I take whatever I can get!)

I believe that everyone should have a passion.  One of mine happens to be something my whole family benefits from everyday. (Well, there have been some meals that were certainly not a benefit. But mostly it's good.)  I love making dinner and lunch.  I love trying things, and my husband is great about eating them, even when I know he doesn't like it.  Being passionate about something that I get to do everyday is wonderful!  And I truly do have a love affair with food.  It's in my top 5 favorite things in the world. And that's really saying something, since I have some of the best family and friends this side of the Mississippi, and the other side too for that matter. It's delicious, and marvelous and never ending. You can try anything, and it's delicious (usually). Find your passion, and don't let a few bad moments (or stirfrys) deter you! Embrace what makes you happy, no matter what it may be. Be you, and be lovely.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Confessions of a Real Grump

 Sometimes you just have a bad day. It's true. There are days that start out fine and then something happens and I realize: Nope. This is not what I wanted to be doing today and not how I wanted to feel. (And, yes, I know I am in charge of how I react to things, blah, blah, blah… "Only you can make you feel a certain way" or whatever that quote is…) Sometimes, though, you just need to feel it. Feel grumpy. Feel sad. Feel hurt. Feel mad. Feel whatever it is that is tugging at the back of your thoughts. Because, and I swear I heard this on an Oprah episode (and look at Oprah--she’s definitely got her poop in a group!), if you're feeling a certain way then there's a reason. It is justified. If there wasn't a reason then you wouldn't be feeling however it is that you feel. (Heavily paraphrased, of course.)

So, yes. On the day that I’m writing this I feel tired; I feel stretched too thin; I feel un-heard and under-appreciated; I feel jaded; I feel downright grumpy!

Guess what? That’s okay. The good news is that this feeling doesn’t last forever. Usually a good talking-out session combined with a good sleep helps shed light on the situation and scare away the grumps and negativity. Even the most positive people need a crummy day of reality once in a while to help them remember the good days, right?

(And the even better news, I know that by the time this is posted I'll be coasting along in a grump-free zone after, hopefully, having gotten it out of my system for a while!)

How do you handle a not-so-great day?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Power of Vulnerability

This TED talk went viral a little while ago, but I was thinking about it again the other day and thought I should share it in case you missed it. It's funny and beautiful and empowering - pretty much all of the things I love. Enjoy!

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Anti-Bucket List: Things I will never do (and I'm okay with that)

Recently I've been overwhelmed by all the things I've yet to accomplish. Maybe that sounds spoiled and ungrateful, (because it is) but I've been sick and exhausted and generally useless, so I decided to make a list of things I will never do (by choice).

1) I will never skydive. I'm sure this would be great for lots of people. In fact, I purchased skydiving tickets for my husbands 30th birthday so he and his best friend could go. They had a blast. He's threatened to do the same for my 30th birthday. I've promised if he does so he will either be murdered or served divorce papers.

2) I will never get plastic surgery. It's just not for me. I'm happy with the way I look and the only thing I'd ever consider being reconstructed in any way is my postpartum bellybutton which somehow reminds me of a sad clown, but even then who really cares about my sad bellybutton?

3) I will never run a marathon. This one I'm a little bummed about. But I remember when I was finishing my half marathon and there was a diverging path for people running the full I remember thinking that I couldn't imagine going  ANOTHER 13.1 miles. Too much training for me.

4) I will never own a pet. This one might make me a monster, but pets are a lot of work, and kids are a lot of work, and I opted for kids. The rewards are much greater in my opinion and they aren't as smelly.

5) I will never pay for designer anything. If you are into designer labels, more power to you...but I think it sends a materialistic message that I wouldn't want to send. It's not for me. If someone gave me something for free, I would take it and use it, simply because I love fantastic deals and free is as fantastic as deals get. Related note: my husband received a Coach wallet for a Christmas gift from one of his students one year. It was extremely generous, but he ended up selling it because as a teacher, he felt odd walking around in his JC Penny Dockers with a Coach wallet in his pocket.

6) I will never watch the Austin Powers movies.

7) I will never go hunting. Camping is bad enough, but camping with bloodshed is worse.

8) I will never stop being in love with Zac Efron. And I will never apologize for that.

9) I will never read 50 Shades of Grey.

10) I will never get a tattoo. I can't think of anything I'd rather not do, besides skydiving. There is no single word or image I can fathom being happy with for my entire life. Even if it were something as beautiful as my children's names, how can I be sure I would always love the font, size, and location of my very permanent and painful choice.

11) I will never be too old for Harry Potter.

Friday, November 15, 2013

An Insane Range of Links

Happy Friday everyone! Here are some things that I am enjoying this week. Have a wonderful weekend!

This list of reasons to be a parent made me laugh so hard I was crying, then laugh that hard AGAIN when I was showing it to my husband. My favorite image from it is probably this one:

This brown butter icing is my new favorite thing on the planet. My sister-in-law and I made it for our babies' joint birthday party, and my life changed forever. Now that she has posted it, let it change your life as well.

I recently went to see a lecture by one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, at Symphony Hall in Salt Lake City. The lecture was quite wonderful and largely concerned the story of how a woman named Alva Smith went from being an wealthy socialite with Kardashian-like spending habits to being one of the most avid supporters of the suffrage movement. You can listen to an abridged (but still great) version of the lecture here, as it was broadcast on the Hinckley Institute Radio Hour earlier this week.

I've been trying to teach myself how to make dolls recently, and my favorite place to look for inspiration and tutorials (especially for hair, which still baffles me) is the Wee Wonderfuls website. If you've never checked out Hillary Lang's work, do it. I get so sucked in trying to figure out how she makes so many beautiful handmade toys that I have to go to bed instead of actually trying to make toys myself.

Doctor Who fans, just in case you haven't seen it yet, you can watch the 50th Anniversary minisode that went up this week here. It probably won't make sense if you don't have at least a little bit of a background in Doctor Who history, but if you've been eagerly awaiting the 50th anniversary episode with me, it will make you drool with excitement.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Confidence Boosters

Sometimes I feel like I lived my life a little out of order.  For instance, I loved middle school and absolutely hated high school.  That's not normal, I know that.  Also, I had a healthy, and possibly somewhat misplaced, sense of self-confidence during high school and college, and now that self-confidence is barely staying alive.  I never really had to work at believing in myself or my abilities and now I have to work really hard.  I know it has to do with anxiety and several unfortunate events during my mid-twenties, but knowing the cause doesn't really help solve this type of problem.

I'm finding the only way to solve it, step by painfully-slow step, is to kind of hack my brain and trick myself into thinking more confidently.  Sometimes I falter and fall back a step or two, but there's still plenty to learn in backwards steps.  So I'm constantly searching for ways to boost my confidence in myself.  Turns out, they are all super cheesy.  Self-affirmations, compliments, celebrating small achievements.  It's weird to get super excited about doing your hair, make-up, and wearing a real outfit to work on a Tuesday, but I kind of do get excited about it because it's a step forward.  I have a framed poster next to my bed that says, "Every thing is going to be alright," because that's actually a helpful thing I need to be reminded of every day.  I try to look in the mirror every day and admire one thing about myself.  It could be my hair or my outfit or maybe it's the fact that I'm all ready for work and leaving on time, instead of 10 minutes late. Some days, some weeks, are easier than others, but for the most part it is actually working for me and I'm starting to feel more like my old, happy, and confident self.

Do you struggle with this? What boosts your self-confidence? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Unrealistic Expectations

I was talking with my husband and I said, "I don't know why we think everything is supposed to be easy and that we should always be happy." We would definitely like to be happy all the time and have an easy life, but it's just not realistic all the time.

Unrealistic expectations in life can cause real disappointments. I don't think we should have a negative outlook on life. I'm an optimist, and I enjoy it. There's a psychological term "self-fulfilling prophecy" meaning that if you believe something it can come true. I think that's wonderful!

Pessimism is unbecoming. It is a depressing way to live. Some people say they are pessimist so they won't ever be disappointed and will sometimes be pleasantly surprised. But a pessimist wouldn't be pleasantly surprised, they would just find something wrong.

Being a realistic optimist is what I like. You have high hopes for life, but you understand that bad things can and do and will happen. People die before you think they should, people get sick, people lose jobs, natural disasters happen, human nature kicks in and makes a mountain out of a mole hill. But you can still see the silver lining on the storm cloud, you can still see the good in most people, you can still see the blessings you have in your life.

Plan for tomorrow but live in the present.