Thursday, February 26, 2009

Consignment Sale Warrior- Part Deux

Because I'm fancy like that. Whilst discussing second hand clothing.

After this post about shopping at consignment sales, several folks asked about my tips for selling items, so I'll be happy to share those, too!
Again, I'm thrilled to be an expert at something, just embarrassed that this is it!

The main person that asked me about this was my childhood next door neighbor, Alana. She was {and still is} one of the coolest people I know. She was a cheerleader in high school and taught the cheer clinics {I attended, of course}, she babysat us and she drove.

Could she get much cooler, you ask?

Why yes, she can. One of my favorite childhood memories of her is watching her bleach her jeans. She was outside in the yard between our houses {near where home plate usually was} and had a bottle of bleach that she was flinging across her jeans back and forth to the tune of "Red, Red Wine" that was blasting out of the boom box {yes, big and silver}. I am literally snorting laughing at this memory! I can't hear Red, Red Wine without thinking about it- which is a tad more often than one might think.
Aaahh. The 80s. Good times.

Back to the consigning, here are some sure fire tips to SELL your crapola fine used items.

1. Plan Ahea...
Or plan ahead. It will usually take MUCH longer than you think to get your items prepped for selling. Especially if you most likely have children {previous wearers of said clothes} around that are big time suckers.

2. Read all the instructions for your sale. Then read again.
Most are very particular about what position on the hangers the clothes should be, what type of clothes/ toys are accepted, what the maximum number accepted is and what specific numbers should be where (price, size, consignor number bar code). This is all for a reason and once you go through the whole sale process once you'll understand it all. Or else it will take you 4 times like, *ahem* me.

3. Become an Iron Maiden
Iron absolutely everything. Except maybe the toys.
It's all about presentation {see below}. And it covers up the pilled shirts pretty well.

4. The Price is Right
A good rule of thumb is to not price anything over 1/3 of what you would pay retail for it (and most of the time I go cheaper depending on how worn it is). I think you have to know the clothes and what they’re worth, but consider if you would rather have $4 or have it back in your house. You will almost always make more money in a consignment sale than at a yard sale, so think of those prices in comparison.
5. Getting Labeled
If you can do labels on the computer, then do that; they are much easier to read. And use big font.
If you hand write them, just make them easy to read and I always add extra info- like “great for grandma's” or “super cute for school pictures” or “only pooped in once” {wait- you could possibly leave that last one off}.
Just think about what the shopper would be thinking. Also, if it fits like a 4, but is a size 5, write “fits like a 4” and then make sure it’s placed in the 4s. Several things don’t get sold because they are in the wrong area and everybody that picks it up will think, “that looks small”, but nobody will move it!
Think like a shopper. The best way to do that is to actually BE a shopper first, so hopefully you can do that, too.

6. Presenting My Used Junk.
Presentation is key. Group outfits together and make sure the top and bottom are clearly shown. If you have a minimum price {ours is $3}, and your item is not worth that much, then group with a like item. Don't try to hide a crummy piece with a nice one, though. That's just frustrating. What are these Faded Glory pajama bottoms doing with this Polo shirt??
Speaking of grouping, pin everything more than you ever think you’d need to. Go ahead and buy the 300 pack of safety pins. The clothes and hangers get a lot of action and things can fall off easily.

7. A Little Some-pin' Special
If you are going to collect your things that don’t sell, put a sticker or stamp in a different place on the sale card {that’s not obtrusive to the instructions} as an identifier- like a gold star or a Mickey Mouse stamp. This makes it really easy to sort and find your clothes if you are going to pick up any that don’t sell {or most places donate them if you don’t pick them up}. If you know you're going to donate any thing that doesn't sell, then you can skip this step. And really, people, do you want it back in your house to begin with? Come on. Let it go. You can do it.

Hope you enjoyed my tips for selling! Let me know if you have others!
I forgot to show you pictures of the whole experience and my "haul" from the other night.

Here are all the other moms who work the sale waiting anxiously to get at that used apparel. Notice the garbage bins and huge laundry baskets with wheels. There is no playing around here.

Here is a shot of the little girls clothing. There are racks and racks like this. You lucky people with girls! I wouldn't know my bloomers from my brain squishers {or headbands- whatever you call them}. Here is some of the baby gear and a general idea of what the whole place looks like. You can't see the majority, but know it's like a big warehouse of used goods heaven.
Here are all the clothing items I got for the boys. Ollie's stack is the biggest on the left there, but since Henry has all his hand-me-downs you can see I didn't get him much. At all. Poor kid. Then I set up this shot of most of the toys that had gotten and FORGOT {like an idiot!} to take it down before the kids got up from nap. I was literally shoving things under the sofa when we were coming downstairs, but they still thought it was Christmas. Fun times, but I wanted to spread out the giving of the toys. Oh well. I'll hide some. They'll just cry a little.
Any more consignment questions? Ask away!
Here's to a little Red, Red Wine and come great cheap clothes. I hope none of them are bleached.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Become a Consignment Sale Warrior in 10 Easy Steps

Tonight was the workers sale night at my favorite local kids consignment sale. This night happens twice a year and I REALLY look forward to it.
As in, it ranks higher than a girls night out.
Or maybe even a movie date. With chocolate cake afterwards.

Yes. It’s that good.

So, with my vast experience and knowledge at SOMETHING {I’m kind of embarrassed that this is what it is}, here are 10 easy steps to become a Consignment Sale Warrior:

Before the Sale

1. Sign up to work.
Most sales have volunteers that staff the receiving item times, the public sale times and the closing times. Look online for your local websites and talk to other moms. This is the BEST way to get the best deals; shopping first is a huge advantage and is totally worth it.

2. Get the appropriate gear.
You will need either a very large clothes hamper or a large garbage can. Wheels are really important.
If you would like to go ghetto consignment sale warrior, you can use a clothes hamper with a belt looped around the handle to drag it from place to place.
Oh, yes. I saw that A LOT tonight.

3. Case the joint.
If you consign at the sale or work when consignors are bringing in their goods, try to figure out which sections will have clothes, accessories, books, etc- whatever you are looking for. It’s best to know where you’re going before you get there with other crazies shoppers.

4. Find another warrior princess.
There is a HUGE power in numbers and if you have 1-2 friends who will also be there, it is much more fun and you can get someone else’s opinion on whether or not that item is worth $3.

5. Suck up.
I always ask my kids’ pre-school teachers what they are in need of in their classroom and let them know that I get to shop first.
Tonight I got some big trucks for Ollie’s classroom and some train tracks and trains for Henry’s classroom. I think this might buy my kids a few more days out of time out. Or at least let them get away with one little push on the playground.

During the Sale

6. Know your priorities.
Try to get to your #1 area as soon as possible and work your way down your list. I always go to clothes first unless I need a specific item {like a video baby monitor or double stroller} and I start with the older child’s clothes. There are ALWAYS more clothes in the younger sections {they aren’t as hard on them and have many more clothes, usually to begin with} and my youngest has hand-me-downs. Then I go to shoes, then toys, puzzles, videos and anything else cool.

7. Stockpile your purse.
I know you’ll think I’m kidding, but I bring food and water for snack/ dinner. After 2 hours of throwing elbows and judging the value of Faded Glory {Wal-Mart} vs. Circo {Target} elastic shorts, you need a little boost of energy.
I packed a PB & J and some chips. And I was not ashamed to chomp away while sorting clothes {Helloooo, hand sanitizer?}. One mom came close by me and told me it smelled good.

No, I did not share.

8. Have a network.
Start asking the people in your size zone if you can look through their “leftovers” after they are done. Most people get a big pile of things they might like, then they go through and only keep their final purchases. Ask around- especially if you see that other mom snatching all the cute stuff.

9. Know your sizes and brands.
Some people bring a tape measure and have their kids measurements written down {kids aren’t allowed at our worker’s sale}. Some even trace their kid’s foot around a piece of cardboard and bring that to fit in shoes.
I just wing it.
If it doesn’t fit one child, it will most likely fit the other. And if all else fails and it doesn’t fit either, I can always re-sell it, right?
Try to remember the basics like:
* Gymboree runs big and Polo runs small.
* They only paid $4 for that George shirt at Wal-Mart, so you should not buy it for $8.
* You'll need that Spiderman shirt later to talk your child out of the house to a birthday party or piano lesson, so go ahead and get it now for $4.

You probably know if your child will fit larger in shirts than pants or vice versa. Or if you will use these clothes for the next 7-8 months, like I will, buy your current size and the next size up.

10. Don’t forget special occasions!
If you have a wedding or family pictures or a 4th of July party coming up this summer, go ahead and stock up while the getting’s good. And don't forget swimsuits and dress up costumes.
Cheap is the name of the game, so go for it!

I'm not done! You get an extra tip!

11. Scour the goods.
I have been burned a time or 2 with a shirt that had a stain on the back or a well placed tag was covering it. Also check the size of each item if several are together and the front and back of each if there is a combo on one hanger. I do love a matching shorts outfit, so I tend to lean towards those, but be sure to check it out.

If I had to have an 12, it would be to bring sharp elbows and a smile. The smile will hide what your sharp elbows can do!

Hope this helps and good luck this season at your local consignment sales. They are a great way to help other moms and get some great clothes much cheaper than buying retail!
For more great tips, please check back in at We are THAT Family for Works for me Wednesday.

Some help with the dishes and other things I should probably keep to myself

Finally! Something around the house that helps with the dishes (besides our lovely new dishwasher, of course)!

Why Cranky the Crane was on the counter this morning, I'll never know. But, he was using his skills to help me dig my way out of the dishes.

And why do I love Cranky so? Because my kids love him and I found him at the last consignment sale that I love- Kids Kloset (Spring worker shopping TONIGHT!!)- for about 3 bucks- new in package with Salty and Bulstrode. I hid him until Christmas and he's now a favorite. Apparently, so much so that he travels from room to room.
Since I mentioned the hall where laundry comes to die in my last post, I thought I'd scan around from the sink and show you that I wasn't kidding.
Here is some clean laundry decomposing right this very moment.
I'm sending Cranky the Crane there next.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Man- Designed Home

I realized today, for the nth time, that a man designed our home. We have major rooms without ceiling lights (we have added them), crazy tile on the floors (there is no way to describe it- we have covered it up) and color coordinated bathrooms- including the toilets, sinks,floor and wall tile.

Our house was built in 1971, so that probably explains the pink, blue and yellow toilets (I HATE that we missed out on avocado green), but it also explains that the design field was probably dominated by men.

Here is my replication of our floor plan - or at least the path from the car to the refrigerator (egg-zakly to scale):

If you can't quite make it all out, on the far left there, you have a "Big, honkin' SUV full of groceries". Now, since we are all being guilted into being environmentally friendly, the groceries are in cloth sacks that weigh about 30 pounds each because you can fit so much in them. {Please note that my guilt does not extend to driving anything that would crunch like a potato chip in an accident- or smell like one driving down the street.}
You then pass through the 2-car garage that has never held one of our cars. This isn't because it can't be cleaned, but it has the bedrooms on top of it and apparently has to have these major poles in the middle of the garage to hold them up. And I guess cars used to be smaller than the afore-mentioned big honkin' SUV.
You got it.
We have a 2 car garage that NEITHER of our cars can FIT in.
Then you walk up 9 stairs, though the foyer, though the living room (aka train station), then into the kitchen (aka train depot).
What's the difference in a train station and depot? From what I can tell, the trains are loudest wherever you happen to be standing. That's all.
Now, you made it to the refrigerator to unload groceries! Congratulations! Now turn around and do that 5 more times! Who needs the gym?
And, do you notice where my laundry "nook" is? Right beside the kitchen so the little woman can get all her chores done at once. {And did you recall that our bedrooms/ clothes changing areas are waaaaay over on the other side upstairs?}
The laundry closet area also clogs up the only passage to the guest bathroom from the stacks of clothes that accumulate there. Luckily, our 3 year old has learned to do the pee-pee dance and hop over piles of clothes while trying to make it to the bathroom. He's got mad skillz. He gives our guests a tutorial when they arrive.
You can see the testosterone that built this home, can't you? I am super thankful to have it, but there are probably a few dozen things I would change about it.
I think if the man designer would have brought in a sack of groceries with 2 gallons of milk in it, then he might have come up with a new floor plan. Or else he would have run into one of the poles in the garage while not looking. I think I would have rather seen the latter.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Flashback and a Sneak Peek

Here's your flashback:
Does anyone remember Ollie's first church choir singing performance at Christmas?

His group of 3 year olds is called the "Joyful Noise Choir".
Yep, it was a dandy.

Today was a somewhat repeat, except he didn't want to sing AT ALL. Again, he was singing ALL morning and I thought this would be the day of his big debut. WRONG. But in the spirit of stick-to-it-ive-ness instead of compassion, I made him go sit up there. Dangit.

The sound system was having some issues so they asked the other 1000 people in the congregation to join in. And everyone was singing.

Except for Ollie.

And here's what we got:

Yes. You can tell he was SO glad to be there. And you know what he whispered to me back in our seats about 5 minutes later?
"Mommy, can we go sing, again?"

How do they know how to push your buttons? Amazingly talented at 3.

Now for a sneak peak:
I met a new friend at Blissdom 09 and already knew of her from her famous jewelry. AND, she has offered to give away a gift certificate to one of YOU!
So keep an eye out this week for an awesome Lisa Leonard giveaway and more info!

Just so you know...

like any good teacher or parent, I knew my answer to that last question before I posted it.
I was interested to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for all your comments!

It seems like the majority of commenters and poll takers would go for the trip and people on that side of the fence made very good points: keep the ring from your wedding day, time together more valuable, etc.
Then the jewelry brigade made good points, too: if you don't like your ring, then that would be a great move, it would be a family heirloom, always take a diamond, etc.

One very obvious point that wasn't made:
1) Did anybody note how wonderful my husband is that he is on a trip with a big bunch of guys and he called home to tell me that he wishes I was there? How awesome is he!?

In all likelihood, we will probably do a mix of both over the years. And I will be happy with whatever perks come along with this great marriage! It is truly the marriage that matters, not the wedding or ring-as I mentioned, but it did make me feel better for even thinking of it, though that my former pastor had a ring upgrade (as has my mother, so I'm not the only one who has ever thought of that)!

We're shooting for mission impossible this morning: getting to church on time, so I need to run.
But Ollie is singing in church, so hopefully I'll have a good video to post later on. And maybe a new rule for what NOT to do in church.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Seriously Shallow Question

Jason is in Colorado skiing for 5 days with a big group of our guy friends.
Don't worry, I am going on a girl trip (or 4) later this year. They are having so much fun and need that guy time, so I'm happy for him.
The only reason I'm telling the blogosphere this (since I said I'd never mention if my husband was out of town, you know- thieves and crazy UPS men and all) is that my parents called at 6:00 pm tonight to let me know that they were coming into town tomorrow. This is wonderful news because I definitely need the help this weekend! But, it left me 18 hours before their arrival to clean this pile of filth, go to a 2 hour meeting (with children), have a full day of work- oh, and sleep.

And watch Grey's Anatomy. (What do you think is wrong with Izzy??)

Priorities, you know.

So, I'm scrubbing the house like a mad woman and Jason calls to tell me how beautiful and wonderful it is in Keystone and how we should go there for our 10th anniversary. Since our 10th anniversary is 2 years away, I do like to hear that he intends on coming home and continuing our marriage. Always a nice reminder.

But here is the thing, waaaaay back in my mind, from around 1990- near all the old Seventeen Trauma-rama articles and my crush on Zack Morris- I thought you were supposed to get a ring upgrade at 10 years! Is that crazy? Has anybody else got this carved in their mind?

Let me just tell you that I am not an extravagant person. I do not have a lot of expensive jewelry nor do I come across as flashy. Quite the contrary, actually. You might question if I showered some days. And I do shower.
Most days.

But I do like nice things. I don't have a lot of them, but I like them.

I have never even mentioned anything about another ring to Jason (until he reads this, of course, but I'm hoping it will be buried on this page by the time he gets home) because I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings, I think that is such a silly and shallow thing to bring up AND I know that our treasures are not on this earth.
I do.

But why do I keep thinking that in the back of my mind??

I do not know where we will live, what our financial situation will look like, what our health will be and where our economy will be in 2 years. But we are going to play this game for fun as if this was your choice today.

So, here's the question. If you had to choose between one or the other (don't even ruin the fun and comment both), would you choose a ring upgrade or a cool ski vacation for a 10th anniversary celebration?

Pretend it is the Price is Right and you are the first bidder in the Showcase Showdown and you get to choose from the 2 showcases. Which would you choose?

I'm also putting a poll at the side over there (if I can figure it out) so you can continue to weigh in if you aren't the commenting type.

I'm anxious to hear your pro and con list. And any Trama-rama from 7th grade. Just whatever suits your fancy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Please meet my new children

I'm not actually acquiring any new children at the moment, but I am renaming my existing children for the blogosphere.

Their names will be:
Ollie (short for Oliver- full name only to be used when we are angry with him)
And Henry- who is obviously very confused by this. He just learned his real name.

My mother already hates the names, so I know I'm off to a good start. Why, you ask? Well she didn't like Ollie's REAL LIFE name when we told everyone that's what we were naming him when I was expecting.

And he is named after my father.

So, she will warm up to them like she did to the real name and hopefully life will go on.

As you can see, they are close to their real names so I can remember who they are. And so that you- who presumably might actually know me or them- will know who I'm talking about.

Why am I changing their names?
I don't think that anyone is going to come steal them. If they have read 1/ 10th of this blog then they know that while they might be cute, they are certainly a hand full. Particularly Henry at this point in his life. He has another name around our house- Captain Destructo.

I do think that blogs live forever- no matter how long I continue writing- they will have a record somewhere. And I'd hate for one of my children to find out in middle school that there is a picture of them floating around of them picking their nose or their mother called them Captain Destructo- or something of the sort. Not that I'd ever do that, of course.

Oh, you saw that? Case in point.

So, I know this will be weird for a while. And I thank you in advance for just coming along with me. The stories will still be real and the pictures will still be here (how could I deprive the world of those precious little guys?); just the names are changing.

Oh, and I'll have a new website hopefully by next week.

And a huge jewelry giveaway.

Just call me a tease with fake children's names. I'm sure I've been called worse...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pizza- quite possibly the world's most perfect food

When did pizza start to get a bad rap? Was it the scantily clad mascot from the “Caesar! Caesar!” commercials of the 80s? Or the low carb diets of the 90s? Or the trans fat hype of the 2000s? When did it start to go downhill?

I’m not sure when pizza was thrown under the bus like Tatiana from American Idol {how bad is it that I HATE that she’s actually a decent singer?}, but our family still loves pizza. Every person loves and eats it. I can’t say that about too many other foods. There is big excitement on any given pizza night. So much so, that Ollie has jumped up and down at doughnut boxes before thinking they were pizza. I guess all foods that come in large boxes are equally scrumptious.

If you think about it, it is a very well rounded food: grains (bread), fruit (tomato sauce), meat (if you like it that way- and who wouldn’t?) and dairy (cheese). I will be the first to set up camp in the side of tomato = veggie, but apparently those aren’t the facts. But I don’t really trust the "classification" people anyway since a dolphin is a mammal and not a fish. Go figure. Back to pizza and fruit, you can also get pineapple on it. Have you had it? It’s good! How many foods can you have pineapple OR bacon on them and still enjoy them?

Pizza and I go way back. Growing up, we would usually get pizza on Friday nights and my sister and I would eat cold, leftover pizza on Saturday mornings at 5:00 a.m. and would watch old reruns of Get Smart followed by the USA Cartoon Express. {Captaaaaaaain Caaaaavemaaaaan always goes with pizza in my mind.} Great memories with pizza that was just a little tough around the edges, but still tasted delish!

Here’s another fact that’s hard to argue with:
Pizza is served at 4.2 million birthday parties a year.
Ok. I made that up, but I’m assuming that it’s correct. Have you been to a birthday party lately without it?

I realize that if you eat too much of ANYTHING that it can be bad for you particularly those things high in fat and calories- oh, how well I know that , but a little pizza now and then is just good family fun.

Here is a recipe that I adapted from a great pizza I had on a trip to Michigan in 2003. It’s somewhat healthy- at least it includes a veggie- and I hope you like it! It works for me (we ate it tonight)!

Chicken Alfredo Pizza
1 pre-made whole wheat pizza crust
1 packet or pre-made jar of Alfredo sauce (packets will require other ingredients, but I like the warm sauce better)
1 head of broccoli, chopped
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
2 c. of mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread Alfredo sauce on the pizza crust.
Add broccoli and chicken and then cover with cheese.
Cook for 10 minutes (maybe more if you like it more browned).

And if you eat it while watching Tatiana on American Idol OR Captain Caveman then you get extra points.
For more Works for me Wednesday tips, check out Rocks In My Dryer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Because I Owe You

We are sick. Our house has the funk. Eyes watering, nose running, dry coughing funk.

I had a dream that a man with a cape and super hero costume on knocked on our door and was forcefully trying to sell us something. Luckily, Jason was here that day and he also had a cape and super hero costume on to combat this fierce overweight caped salesman at the front door.

**All this to say that apparently I'm not taking the right drugs if I keep having dreams like that.**

I need something to cheer me up and then I remembered a post that I owe to blog world.

A while back, let's just say before Christmas, Becky did a Pay it Forward post. She asked 3 people to play along and accept a small gift from her and then she asked those people to then pay it forward on their blogs.

Well, I jumped at the chance to play along, but it seems as if I only hopped on board to receive and not to give! Now, I'm giving back. It's only taken me 3 months.

If you would like a small gift from me with the responsibility of paying it forward to at least three other people, then be one of the first 5 people to leave a comment in the comment section and make sure I have your e-mail address. (I'm upping the ante a bit since I was a slacker-rific participant.)

Love y'all like the (last!) heart shaped KK doughnut I had for breakfast. Only the best for my health.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Everybody needs a little Sugar on V-Day

The edible kind of sugar is what I'm referring to, but the other is a nice added bonus!

Since I was a Hart growing up, we have always had a Big Valentine's Day at our house, so I want to continue that tradition. My mom was a teacher and you can imagine the amount of "Hart" gifts she received over the years, so our house always looked like Cupid had set up shop there in February.

We started with heart shaped pancakes for breakfast (with green eggs as a tribute to Ollie's current favorite book- and they looked gross, so there isn't a picture here!).
Then, after lunch we went to Krispy Kreme for some doughnuts.
They were making heart shaped doughnuts today! Super cute! Here are a dozen of our closest friends.
The kids loved the special treat
(we "suffered" through a few ourselves) and we got to see the perfect concoctions being made! Ollie called the icing a "dirty waterfall". But he had no trouble gobbling it up, of course.

Hope you had a nice relaxing day of luurrrve. Or just a nice relaxing day! This is the first Saturday that I've been at home doing nothing in over a month! What a treat.

Jason and I didn't do gifts this year because, honestly, we just didn't have time. Doesn't that sound horrible? We should make time for ourselves, but have you seen our agenda?? Just scroll down there for a look at what's been going on around here. And the rest of February is equally busy. I'm glad this is a short month!
Do you do anything special with loved ones? I'd love to hear any traditions. And any cute boy V-Day items would be nice to hear about, as well. The only stuff I've ever gotten for them has said "heart breaker" or something along those lines. Boys really get jipped in the holiday clothing department. Can I get an "Amen" there?

Off to eat some heart shaped brownies. I'd hate for the doughnuts to be all alone down there in my tummy. Is there a New Year's resolution coming around again soon?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why you shouldn't follow Mapquest directions and other musings from I-65

I spoke at a conference on Thursday for work down in Orange Beach, AL. I don't know why I decided to drive, since it is 6+ hours away from my home, but somehow it seemed ridiculous to fly to a location in my same state (and I would have most definitely had to fly through Atlanta to get there). But, if I had driven 6 hours north I would have been in Ohio and would have flown without question. I had time to ponder this absurd decision and many other thoughts while I spent 13 precious hours of my life in a rented tin can rattling down the interstate.

Since I was bored, I decided to take some pictures and pretend I was a photojournalist. Please forgive the quality of these pictures. Most were taken at 77 mph.
Here is yours truly while driving. I don't remember any rule in Driver's Ed about photographing yourself while driving- or talking on your bag phone for that matter- so I think it's perfectly fine.

OK. I'm interested to hear your views on this. I am all for a monogram on a bag, jewelry, a key chain or a purse. But a car? Is that acceptable? In hot pink? As if we thought a man had a curly monogram on the back of his minivan?About this time, I decided to follow Mapquest directions. I should have known better, but I was just along for the ride. The ride that took me through people's neighborhoods and FLORIDA to get to Orange Beach, AL. Here are some of the local scenes from my off-interstate adventure.

Just missed the gun show. Danggit. And really the sign below it is about as humorous.

You probably can't read this, but the minivan's bumper sticker says, "Screw it. Let's ride." With a Harley Davidson logo. Yes. I think they are compensating for their car van choice. And maybe trying to scare the other moms in carpool. I hope the driver wears black leather chaps every day to pick up her kids from school.And clearly I was near a race track - or else they advertised with Mapquest to take people to their race track- because I passed approximately 42 of these signs. I'd hate to have clear signage to the beach (without passing through 13 speed traps small towns), but I better well have a way to get to the race track. Thank you, Florida.

One the benefits of getting up super early this morning to come home was getting to see the sunrise. I've always wanted to go to Pine Apple. Has anyone ever been there? Is it as lovely as it sounds? Refreshing and delicious? Or is it spiky around the edges?This is my favorite sign of all on I-65. It's on I-65 North just north of Prattville. It has been recently updated, but the red devil is still there with his sickle to "get you". I pretty sure that you say "Gi- chew" for this. Does anyone know what possessed the town of Clanton to hoist a large peach hiney in the air? Really, can you think of anything else when you pass this? And how could this possibly hold an acceptable amount of water? And my favorite spotting of the whole trip was leaving the rental car place in Huntsville today. This car owner has made his own homage to High Country in Scottsboro, AL. Those are stick on orange letters people. Did I even need to show that the license plate was from Alabama? Ahhh. So good to be home.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bag, you're it

I am reporting to you live from my hotel room in Orange Beach, FL- condo capital of the world. OK, probably not really, but it seems like the beach has turned into a condo/ high rise hotel farm.

My camera and I are one in the same tonight- about out of battery life, but I did snap a few pics before this post (please note that the furniture and carpet shown below belong to the hotel and not to me personally).

My new friend (who I actually "knew" before Blissdom), Nicole at Apron Strings a Flutter, tagged me in this meme. What's a meme? It's not your grandma; it's basically a "tag, you're it"- blog style {and I think it's pronounced "mEEm", but it could also be like your grandma}.

Here's the scoop:

1) Post a picture of whatever bag you are carrying as of late. No, you cannot go up to your closet and pull out that cute little purse you used back before you had kids.
2) Tell us how much it cost. This is not to judge…this is for entertainment purposes only. And if there is a story to go along with how you obtained it, please do tell.
3) Tag some chicks. And link back to this post (Beth @ Total Mom Haircut) so people know why the heck you’re showing everyone your diaper bag/non-diaper bag.
Here’s mine:

I have been carrying this bag since my 30th Birthday when my ever-so-sweet and wonderful hubby got it for me. It's pretty extravagant for me; it's a Kate Spade. A real one. And if I had gone to my closet I could have pulled out a few fake ones! Since it was a gift, I'm not sure how much it was and I haven't asked.

I'm not embarrassed of the bag, or the fact that Jason has told me that it is the last purse I will ever be using, but I am pretty mortified of the sheer amount of crapola I can fit into one very nice purse.

Um, yes. that's right. All "fits" into the bag shown above.

You'd think there were 2 of me: 2 pair of sunglasses, 2 phones, 2 bottles of generic nosespray, but I am prepared.

Umbrella? Check.

AA batteries? Check. 8 of them.

Tape measure? Check. (That's the red paisley thing.)

Ketchup emergency? Oh, that's right. Mama's got you taken care of.

Band aids, fabric swatches, Salty the train, pen bag, lip bag (it's the pink one; I'm a little obsessed), birthday candles and even a smooshed Milky Way for a rainy day. Sad, so sad. But McGuyver would come to me if he needed anything.

I tag my friends Laura and Annie. And if you like this sort of thing, well then, by all means, play along.

And, if you can guess how many ketchup packets were in my purse, I'll send you a smooshed Milky Way. Or a real prize. You never know! Good night!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Blissdom:: The Recap

I don’t know why I succumbed to the 2 colons in the title there. It seems to be the cool form of punctuation these days; I see it everywhere! They're like a cute little square and I love them!

Let me tell you about Blissdom- it was amazing.
The things I liked most were getting to meet wonderful, fun bloggers and learning about blogging as a craft.

One of the first things we talked about was your personal goals. For me, I would just like to tell my story. I want to have a record of my crazy antics so my kids can lock me away someday for all the stuff I put them through. Or just not feel guilty if they don’t visit me in the old folks home. Truly, this documenting is an act of love for my family {it’s all they're getting for V-Day}.
I also love to share stories and encourage other friends in the blogosphere. I enjoy connecting with other women {and guys} out there and you really do make my day.
So, without further ado, here are the top ten blogger-ific new things I learned at Blissdom ’09.

10. Blogger is at the bottom of the food chain for blogging platforms. Wordpress is the “industry standard” and Typepad is not that bad either. Blogger is for beginners and is super easy. And that’s why I love it.

9. You can buy your own website with your name and connect your blogger site to that. {That’s what I’m going to do in the BIG CHANGE.}

8. Twitter is what all the cool kids do. There is a whole world of people out there “tweeting”. If you don't know what that is, I will explain in a later post, but basically it’s a world of Facebook status updates. And, you need to update your Twitter pretty regularly- as in- at least every 8 hours. Or you’re dead to me. Well, not to me, but to the die hard twitter-ati {twitter mafia}.
7. If your blog gets 100- 200 visits a day, then it is in the top 10% of all blogs. You can track this several ways, but I track mine with Google Analytics.

6. Err on the side of caution with privacy. OK, whoops. Haven’t quite done that. That’s why, when the BIG CHANGE occurs, my kids’ names are going to be different. If you want to vote for new names for them, let me know in the comments section.
5. They’ll let just about anybody join the Twitter-ati. I’m already in. Let me know if you are a member of the Twitter-afia, too.

4. Pictures are a huge deal. I guess I knew this, but there are SO many cool sites with picture editing tools and storage info that I’ve got to start using. The one I’m most excited about is Picnik- especially since I got a one year free membership!

3. Blog layouts are also a huge deal. Of course I knew this, but I learned about where things need to be in a layout and how to make it remember-able.

2. I was not remember-able AT ALL when I got to meet and hang out with one of my favorite bloggers- Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer. I was like a bumbling idiot- much like when I met Keifer Sutherland. {What? You don’t know that story? I’ll post about it later…} Then I got to see her again on Saturday and apologized for my dorkiness. She is amazingly graceful and polite and acted like I hadn’t been a drooling groupie the day before. Just when we were getting to chatty and she might have had the impression that I was a normal person, I went and asked for a picture with her crossing the line back into dork-dom. Oh well. If she ever was going to be my friend, she might as well know the truth!

This is a horrible picture of me- obviously ignoring #4, but I'm getting over that.

1. Focus on good content and nothing else really matters. That was what I heard again and again from everyone. If you have the stuff that people want to read, then it doesn’t matter what your pictures look like, what your platform is or what kind of babbling, groupie idiot you are in real life.

I actually could list many more things I learned. The whole environment was really uplifting and encouraging; I will absolutely be back there next year! Thanks so much to the many people who put it on- the Blissfully Domestic Crew and the One to One Network. Phenomenal job, ladies!

P. S. Don’t tell Jason, but I have a new Valentine- or at least a new crush. He is Chris Mann and he came to sing for us live on Saturday. He is amazing. I have his CD and I might let you borrow it if you can claw it out of my white knuckled hands. His real CD isn’t out, yet, but I will be buying/ downloading it as soon as I can. We got a preview CD- how cool is that? Apparently it was only for the Twitter-ati. Being in the mafia pays.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Happy Home

I don't know if it's being away (which I will recap tomorrow- I promise) or the spring weather or the fact that I didn't have to cook any food today, but I am just plain happy to be home. I am so thankful for healthy, fun children and a wonderful husband.

Go ahead, wipe the sap off the screen, but look at my little cuties and you'll see why I'm in love:
The weather has been beautiful and just right! I love 68 degrees and sunny!! I should move to San Diego, but they wouldn't understand my accent.

We got to play outside today after church and just had a blast running around with the kids. Oh, and I got to play on the swings, too:

I hope you had a wonderful and blessed day today! I can't wait to tell you all about my blog conference tomorrow!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gettin' My Bliss On

I'm at my totally rockin' cool blog conference. Can you tell I'm loving living in a land of my own? There are moms like me, people who love to write like me, wannabe techies like me and real life techies- much UNlike me.

The one thing I've learned so far is that I am SUCH a beginner. I mean these people have business cards. Everyone does. Apparently I missed the memo.
They are cute and designed to look like their blogs. And they throw around terms like SEO and RSS like their calling football plays. I'm so happy there is a beginner's track and a big girl track for the sessions. That's not what they're named, but you get it.

I have learned tons of things already and my blog will be undergoing a major overhaul when I get back to the real world. I didn't take any pictures of people tonight, but I did snap a shot of my loot- or swag:
Here is my "swag bag"- a very nice one from Land's End just waiting to be monogrammed:And it was FULL of goodies: a book (that I almost bought a while back! The cheap girl in me was SO happy to see it!), Little Debbies, a FREE PAIR of Crocs!!! (do I need to tell you what my cheap-y self thought of that??), CDs, a Wal-Mart reusable bag and dirty socks. Oh, wait. That last item was not from the bag, but they snuck in the picture.

I've also picked up a few new friends:

Caryn at Rockin Mama, Nicole at Apron Strings A Flutter, Steph at Red Clay Diaries, Monica at Writer Chic and Lawn Boy, Katy at Alpaca Farm Girl, Elizabeth at Coastal Carolina Moms and I learned all about a cool site from Kelby called Type A Mom where you submit your own articles!

Whew! I'm exhausted. Can't wait for tomorrow!
I'm going to go curl up in bed with the Little Debbies and the dirty socks. Good night!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How tall are YOU?

To end any controversy, I am 5' 7 1/4 " measured by my hubby against the door where we have all our measurements. Apparently, my last doctor visit and my life insurance physical rounded up to 5'8", but I'll still take 5' 7"+ - which is "about 5' 8"" like I said here (and was questioned by my own mother).

Do y'all have a door in your house where you measure your kids (or yourself)? We started one when we moved into this house and I think we're going to have to take it with us. My grandmother had one that a painter painted over and she is still a little bit angry about it; don't bring it up unless you have a spare 30 minutes or so to re-hash.

So, bloggy friends, how tall are you? Since I don't get to see you all that much, do you shop in the midget petite or tall section? Or are you in the average department like I am?
If foreheads had their own department (like mine should), I would definitely be in the tall area, but thankfully no one notices because of the green bolts in my neck.
And the bangs. I have always had bangs because of that Mt. Rushmore I was blessed with. I just pretend like I'm in style when they come back in and just live with it when they are out. They are here for good to help mask my cranium maximus.

I'm off to my blog conference in Nashville tomorrow that was my Christmas gift and I can't wait to share what all I learn!

I'll have to update from Nashville- I mean, it is a blog conference- duh, so keep an eye out for a fun post with pictures of my new friends. I'll be the tall one in the back with the 5" forehead.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bundles of Joy

OK, yeah, right. They hate getting all these coats on in the morning, but it was 19 degrees on the way to pre-school this morning with a high of 31 today! Eeesh! Where is Spring? Are you out there on the horizon anywhere?

Please come soon so their car seat straps will fit again without me pinching their cute little thighs! Good thing they have on the flannel lined jeans today. (And Ollie skimped out of a hat because his monstrous 'fro keeps his little head warm. He does have a hat, gloves -he calls them "glubs"- and an ear cover thing for school if they play outside.)
Hope you're staying warm today!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

If it was really just the thought that counted, I would be Jane Fonda

I am determined to get back into some old clothes. Oh, yes, and be healthy, too. But mainly I have got some killer jeans that are getting a little tight around my lovely lady humps. And they were expensive. And I am cheap. Therefore, I must lose weight.
Do you agree that you always look and feel better in expensive jeans? I think its pocket placement. That’s all that a good jean is about.

I have been every size from a 4 to a 14 in the past 10 years and I usually hover around the middle of that area in an 8-10. And I’d like to get back down to that solid 8 area. I would tell you my weight, but I am about 5’8” and my weight would sound like a cattle auction to those of you that shop in the petite section. So, just be satisfied with my size, ok?
And I’m always uncomfortable hearing other people’s weights. It’s like talking about money or what jewelry you want from your grandmother’s will at the dinner table with your grandmother at the table . My mom taught us just not to do that.

So, in the quest-for-wearing-my-great-jeans, I got up at 5:30 am and got dressed to run yesterday morning. I opened the door to pouring down rain and had to turn on my heels and frump down to my office to work. I mentioned to someone my story and they told me- I presume trying to console me- that “it was the thought that counted”.
Well, actually, no, not really. In order to burn calories, you have to move. I’m no expert on calories- aside from the eating them portion (as you can tell from my size span above), but I have learned that you have to actually DO SOMETHING to burn them. I have been missing the “do something” portion lately.

I LOVE to run and am always so happy when I get done running. It’s the getting out of my warm bed and cracking the door open to the outside that’s the hard part. I have had shining moments of time for motivation. Whether it was a class reunion, a beach trip or just a deal with God to get up and spend some quiet time outdoors in solitude and prayer, I have had streaks of consistency.

Followed by huge gaping holes of inconsistency.

I need some motivation! What ideas have you got? I have a beach trip with some girls from college in April, so that is helping. Or, I would love to have another high school reunion to kick me in the butt. Anyone out there want to plan a blogging party so that would motivate me to get moving? Or a challenge of some sort.

I am going to ask Jillian from the Biggest Loser to come yell at me every morning. Or maybe you can call me at 5:30? Any takers?
I might be able to swing you into my grandmother’s will if you are really good, but we won’t talk about that here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Recipe for Fun

This recipe sounds like combines a whole bunch of things that don't usually go together for fun. But much like a Super Bowl dip with corn and avocado, the end result is totally amazing!

  • Take one cranky 15 month old who is anxiously awaiting 2 molers.
  • Add a 3 year old who threw up all night at his grandparent's house. Be sure to reserve the grandparents for later use.
  • Combine with a husband who doesn't feel all that great himself, and has to finish his Bible study- thus rendering him helpless.
Add the first 3 ingredients together to create Mom who has to do something with these children inside her house by herself.

  • Dig through linen closet and find king sized sheets.
  • Add a dash of clothes pins (or those pampered chef clip things that are the bomb).
  • Drape over the sofa and add some chairs with no planning whatsoever.
Add dry mop in the center to create "big top" type look and allow easy walk through.

And VOILA! Here you have a great tent for fun! For testing purposes only, we used a husband who did actually come help and took pictures without being asked.

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