this week {2.22 to 2.28}

~ the four of us went out to eat at rey azteca ~

~ we shopped at target, kohl's, lowe's, hobby lobby, wal-mart, bi-lo and harris teeter ~

~ at kohl's, i spent $56 and saved $165 ~

~ i worked on the neighborhood newsletter ~

~ i bought an instyler, hat, scarf, and sunglasses. i have an accessories fetish ~

~ i put together an agenda for and hosted the social committee meeting ~

~ we bought cabinetry for our laundry room ~

~ coleman turned ONE YEAR OLD ~
see related posts HERE and HERE

~ my husband deleted an episode of american idol before i had a chance to watch it!!!! ~

~ spencer had a doctor's appointment. he had a physical (he's almost 5 feet tall!!!), got some booster shots, and got on some new allergy meds ~

~ i got my first ebates check ($3...better than nothing, i suppose) ~

~ spencer had a basketball game on thursday night (and their team actually won) ~

~ matt took off thursday night from work in order to help get ready for coleman's party (his idea, not mine) ~

~ there was plenty of party prep throughout the week, but on friday, i took the day off from work and spent the entire day baking, creating, decorating. my mom was there all day with me and was a huge help ~

~ coleman had a small birthday party at daycare. mom, matt, spencer, and i attended ~

~ mom and i went with coleman and the daycare on the bookmobile (it comes every other friday) ~

~ lindsay came to our house to take photos before and during the party ~

~ we had a house full of folks to celebrate coleman's FIRST birthday ~
here are some early reflections on the event. more details and photos to follow.

~ we attended another first birthday party saturday afternoon (next door) ~

~ spencer has his last basketball game of the regular season. he scored his FIRST THREE POINT SHOT and the coach brought in burgers as a treat after the game. ~

~ my family all hung out and had dinner (and oysters) at my sister's house saturday night ~

~ i was pleasantly surprised to find out that lindsay already posted teasers from the party ~

~ sunday, dad and cynthia came over for a visit ~

~ later on sunday, matt's parents came over to visit ~

~ matt bought a new gate for the bottom of the stairs ~

~ i created a flyer for matt's brother's campaign kickoff (he's running for county council) ~

{savings tracker}
spent = $196; saved = $96 (33%)
annual savings = $767 (40%)
this week's savings were affected greatly by a lot of the party items i had to buy. i used coupons/sales where possible, and bought some things ahead. but, in the end, still had to purchase some full price items.



**party update**

ok, i totally confess that i was stalking lindsay's blog because i knew she'd probably work on our photos today because she is just like that and it's crazy that she did it, but i knew she would, and i'm so excited, because guess what, yup, she just posted some teaser photos, because she's cool like that, did i mention i'm excited, oh yeah!

coleman's birthday party - lindsay alexander photography


coleman's birthday party {reflections}

so, today was the big day! it's hard to believe it finally came (and went). overall, i think things went well. reflecting back - some things worked well, others ok, and some not so great. there will be TONS of details to follow eventually, but for right now...just some reflections on what i learned, thought, felt, etc. and since i've been holding out on pictures, just a couple of my snapshots. lots of fantastic photos to come as well.

the invitation

the good:
- we had about 20 adults, a handful of older kids, and five babies. i thought this was just right. not too many for our house, though definitely chaotic. but they were all "must have" folks and i am tickled they all came. you know what's awesome? no one we invited didn't come. coleman is one loved little boy!!!

- i am so glad that i decided to do the invites, decorations, etc. on my own. definitely worth it.

- hiring a photographer. this was awesome. it's going to be tempting to do it every year.

- a morning party. even though it was a tight schedule, i liked having the party over and done with by lunch time.

- the champagne in the punch. it was a hit :) as was the monkey bread.

- bibs as favors. i was proud of myself for the idea, i admit. everyone loved them.

- having the coolest big brother around to help out. he's awesome. he rocks.

the bad:
- coleman was not in the best of moods. he was cranky, and probably a bit overwhelmed. he slept late (7:30) and therefore did not take a morning nap. mid-party, he passed out. he was asleep in his crib before he got to do his smash cake. oops :)

- too much baking. i was surprised how much time i spent in the kitchen (particularly on friday). though i don't *regret* doing so much of this myself, in future years, i will probably just order a cake or cupcakes from a bakery. i think my biggest mistake might have been doing the cookies and the cupcakes. sometimes i just need to remember that i'm not a baker. i'm a paper girl. next year, i will stick to the paper :)

- an early party combined with a photo session beforehand. i knew this would be tight, and it was. i'm glad my mom was there to help get the food ready!

- the crescent roll danish things i planned to make. mom ended up having to do them. they burned a bit and were only about half eaten.

the ugly:
- the "smash cake" was supposed to be a cupcake shaped cake. it was a disaster, sticking to the pan, etc. but, as you read above - it didn't really matter.

- my blubbering moment when i tried to give spencer a gift for being a big brother and i fell apart. oops.

 a glimpse at part of the favors. banana baby food, embroidered bibs, cute green bags (other stuff added later).

i'm tired. busy day. going to bed :)



*coleman at one year*

yesterday i posted that it was coleman's birthday but i didn't much about him right now. so here's a glance at our little blessing and what he's up to these days.

photo taken at breakfast this morning on my iphone.

*he is transitioning from 12 month sized clothing to 18 months. he is still in size 4 diapers.
*in the last month, he finally started feeding himself finger foods (he was kind of behind the 8-ball on this one)
*he pants like a dog when he's excited
*he is obsessed with his socks. he takes them off and carries them around like a lovey.
*he makes this funny mad face and snorts like a bull (but he's not actually mad when he does it)
*we introduced whole milk and replaced almost all of his bottles with it
*he is eating more and more "real food" and less jar food.
*he loves to walk around clapping, for no reason
*he likes to smack (this and the clapping are due to your baby can read, which he does at daycare)
*he loves, loves, loves music. not baby music, real music, preferably country.
*he rarely crawls now - almost always walking
*he figured out that he can feed the dogs from his highchair.
*he got his first haircut

and best of all....
*we can finally put him down in his crib awake and he will fall asleep on his own
* he has been sleeping through the night!!!!



idol {top 24 - boys}

i didn't even try to fight it tonight. i opened up the laptop as i started to watch idol. a couple of things...

- ryan screwed up my favorite part at the beginning of the show.
- i'm really glad that ellen pointed out how differently the show sounded on tv (more specifically, how the contestants sounded WORSE).
- one thing i forgot to mention yesterday was that i don't typically vote this early in the competition. actually, i went many years obsessing over the show and never voting. the last few years, i've started voting more. it helped when we switched from verizon to at&t and now i can text my votes too.

todrick hall - now that's what i'm talking about. he did exactly what i was talking about in yesterday's post. and the judges don't know what they are talking about. i thought he did a good job with the arrangement (and i like the original song a lot also). though i do agree that he didn't sound that good.

aaron kelly - hmmm. i think he did ok, but definitely not wonderful.

jermaine sellars - i'm no expert, but i think he was pitchy, or something like that.

tim urban - i wish i knew more of the back story as to why he was called back. i didn't think he sounded very good :( i really like that song.

joe munoz - i didn't really like him either. this isn't going well. this guy kind of reminds me of david archuleta and i'm kind of over him. :)

tyler grady - this guy has kind of gotten on my nerves so far. he wasn't horrible and i kind of feel like the judges were too tough on him. it's one thing to say he needs to branch out vocally...but a trip to the mall? he shouldn't have to change who he is.

lee dewyze - i didn't think he deserved to get through to the top 24. i enjoyed the performance more than i thought i would. but i'm surprised by how much simon loved it. see how he brought up david cook's hello? that will go down in idol history :)

john park - i like this song, but i only liked parts of the performance. some good, some bad. i think i don't like it when he sings deep (or is in "his lower register" as kara would say).

michael lynche - guy has a great story and i've been a fan. i love maroon 5. he cracks me up...he's so huge that he makes a guiter look like a ukelele. ok, i actually enjoyed that. probably my favorite so far. HEY - I said the ukelele comment WAY before ryan...just wanted you to know that i didn't steal that comment :)

alex lambert - he looks scared to death. ugh horrible. nuff said.  i guess i just couldn't get past his nerves.

casey james - that quiver in his voice is annoying me. i also don't get the appeal of this guy. i think the judges liked him way more than me. actually...i think if it wasn't for that quiver, i probably would've liked it.

andrew garcia - i've been waiting all night for this. i hope he doesn't let me down. OH - love fall out boy... ok...this is different. i'm not sure i love the arrangement, but i still admire his willingness to mess with it. i just love the original so much. i liked the second half better than the first. definitely the best of the night. I do not agree with simon at all. i think it was original and that it was a risk. i actually agree more with kara's comments.

overall, i felt like the night was pretty disappointing.

i'm tired. time for bed.



at 5:30 this morning, coleman woke up. as i was feeding him his bottle and looking at his absolutely precious face, i was remembering that exactly one year ago, at that very moment, we were walking into the hospital and checking in. spencer was sitting beside me, matt was parking the car, and i was politely tell the nurse that "no, you don't want me to sit in that chair, i promise".

i know it's cliche, but it is just so hard to believe a year has passed by. where has the time gone? how on earth could it have happened so quickly? last night, i was getting a little emotional. i sang happy birthday to him in the car on the way to daycare. bad idea, i got all choked up. not sure why this first birthday is so emotional for mommas...but it is.

i feel a little bad that i didn't so something "big" for him this morning, but what could we do that he'd actually "get"??? but i did make sure to take plenty of pictures.

look at that adorable face

my big boy! notice the queen shirt...he was born with we are the champions playing, so i thought the shirt was appropriate for today.

goofy boy.

my favorite chubby cheeks

yay coleman! (he loves to clap)

this is what he looks like when the tv grabs his attention for a minute. it was a dog food commercial, i think. weird.

uh oh, sleepy already??? being one year old is hard work!



idol {top 24 - girls}

ok, this is one of those moments when i post something because this is *my blog* and i totally get that no one cares to read what i'm writing :) and i'm ok with that.

if you have read my blog in the past, or know me personally, then you know that i am totally o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d. with american idol. it's probably not even healthy. but that's ok. we all have our vices, and thanks to DVR technology, i can enjoy this vice without sacrifice to other areas of my life :)

so, there i sit. the first night of "voting" in season 9. the top 24. the *good stuff*. i must begin with a confession...i just watched the entire 2 hour episode (about an hour behind 'real time' because i don't do commercials). the entire time, i couldn't help but *blog* my thoughts throughout the entire show. i eyed my computer, but said "no, i will not do it". i'm sure my tempatations were mostly due to matt having to work tonight and therefore i was watching the show alone.

so, here i sit now...the show is over and it was eating me up inside. i had to blog about the show. i'm not promising to blog about every idol show. but tonight, i feel like it. and like i said...it's my blog, i can do what i want.

as i watched the show, i realized a few things and also want to say a few things that are worth repeating (in my opinion).

*i have watched nearly every episode of all 9 seasons. to the best of my knowledge, i've only missed 2 episodes (only 1 of which was after the top 12).
*my favorite part of each and every show is when ryan seacrest says and THIS is american idol. LOVE IT.
*i honestly, truly miss when ryan used to end the shows with "seacrest, out". i have no idea why he stopped. but when i write my pool emails at work, i still finish them with "blackwell, out".
*as referenced, we have an idol pool at work each season. wanna guess who the organizer is?
*there is one major thing that controls my opinions on this show. chill bumps. that's it. as a teaser (or lack thereof)...no chill bumps tonight.

some newer observations:
*the judges often hype about "song choice". i totally get this from their perspective...but i have the same issue (but slightly different). if someone sings a song i hate, it's significantly harder for me to love them. and vice versa...if someone sings a song i love, i'm more likely to love them in return. sweet, aren't i?
*one of my early favorites is one of the guys (andrew garcia). why? because he took a paula abdul song and made it kick ass (pardon my french). he reminds me of people like david cook that can take a song and "make it their own" (total idol-ese there). remember "hello"? omg...awesome. and trust me, i don't say "omg". ever. anyway, i digress. many times tonight, the judges told the contestants they needed to stop trying to sound like others and find their unique place and work with songs to make them more unique as well (and i honestly think they managed to do this without saying "make it your own"!). they are looking for people like david cook and blake lewis (even if blake lewis only sold 300 albums - and i was one of them).

general observations from tonight's show:
*i like ellen. yes, i said it. when she was chosen as a judge, i was flabbergasted. annoyed. disappointed. bewildered. so many things. now she is here, and i confess. i was wrong. i love her. i love the comedy she adds. and she seems to know something about music.
*i really, really hate when the judges start throwing out specific artists in relation to a particular contestant. sure as heck, that contestant will listen to the judges and sing one of the suggested artists' songs. and ya know what happens? the judges will then criticize the contestant - the song was "too big", it wasn't "unique" or it was "copycat", or you should go with something "out of your safe zone". ugh.
*is it just me or did ryan retire from his position as 'host' and take on the job of 'contestant counselor' after each performance???? kind of weird.

so, a lot of jabbering to get to tonight's 12 lady contestants:

paige miles: cute hats that she always wears. the show started out so hard  for me. i didn't feel she sounded good at all, but then the judges loved her. i didn't understand. after getting farther into the show, i think maybe they are having some sound/technical issues they were/are working through. i just didn't *get* what they got from it.

ashley rodriquez: (side note: i also think "battlefield" is a stupid song). similar sentiments as the first performance...the 'sound' issues were interferring with my ability to form a good opinion.

janell wheeler: her acoustic performance during hollywood week kicked some serious butt. i was disappointed tonight. (note which is relevant to a previous comment...i do not like heart).

lilly scott: she is not my "type". as randy said, she is kind of that indie type of artist and that doesn't fit with what i normally like. however, she was much better than the earlier contestants. she seemed real (though she makes some goofy faces while she sings).

katelyn epperly:  i must agree that my first impression of her (tonight) was the horrible "look". so, i'm right *there* with kara on that note. but, that aside, i really enjoyed it (despite not knowing the song). and i admire her for going totally random on song choice.

haeley vaughn: ok, i have to start by saying that i was an early fan of hers. i was all over the "black girl sings country" thing she was working on. then that was it. hollywood comes and goes and no more country. tonight...no country. i'm confused. then, she sings and i seriously just want her to stop smiling - which is just rude, i know! then simon ends up agreeing with me, which reiterates that i'm a jerk?!?!? when it's all said and done, i'm not even sure how i feel about her singing because i'm so confused about everything else.

lacey brown: that look and sound and style she has going on...totally not me. but ya know what? i like her. not sure why. but i do. so glad she made it to the top 24 (side note: wish she'd made it last year because megan joy annoyed the crap out of me). now...on to tonight's performance: i hate fleetwood mac. i hate the song landslide. (go ahead, throw stones, i can handle it). so this was hard for me. one thing i will say. this chick is so uniquely beautiful. i do like her and hope she makes it past tonight.

michelle delamor: i am not a fan of the whole "big black female voice" thing (think fantasia and jennifer hudson here). but i was immediately liking her performance tonight (within seconds). i think i liked it better than the judges.

did benami: again, her acoustic performance in hollywood week was awesome. the song she sang tonight...didn't she sing this during hollywood week, too?? anyway...i thought it was good (again, maybe more so than the judges) but i also *get* that it was a little dull. did she wear an afghan?

siobhan magnus: there is no way to sugarcoat this and i'm sure it will sound close-minded. she is just too weird for me. i can't get past it and i have a hard time enjoying her. sidenote: i hate that wicked song.

crystal bowersox: she is so the type i don't want to like. very hippie-ish (here i go again with my closemindness). but i can't help but like her. i can not stand alanis morrisette. but i managed to get over it.

katie stevens: ok...if three strikes and you're out, then i guess the opposite applies to her. 1) she is crazy likable and i don't know why - that "likability factor" that simon talks about all the time. 2) she chose a michael buble song. i love this song. matt loves michael buble so i will have to see his thoughts on this tomorrow 3) she wore red high heels. call it done. i like her. screw the judges.

ok, i'm done. many words and lots of boredom later...glad to have gotten that out of my system. i would've hated to lose sleep because i kept writing this blog post in my head (this happens more often than not).

randomness: they are saying maybe snow tomorrow. it was 60 degrees today. what the heck????


*too good to be true? maybe not*

so, about a year ago (while i was on maternity leave), i began coveting this fancy, smancy hair machine....

during that time at home, i watched way too many infomercials. i guess that's what happens when you aren't a soap opera fan and ncis reruns don't start until the afternoon. it's a miracle i didn't end up with a garage full of billy mays' favorite products. somehow i managed to pass up the shamwow, magic jack, and slam chop... but this gadget had a place in my heart. maybe it was the american idol stylist doing kimberly locke's hair that really put the clincher on me. i researched it and considered it, but ultimately didn't spend the money on this pricey thing. after going back to work i didn't see the informercial nearly as often, but i had not forgotten about it.

fast forward to yesterday...i am browsing the aisles of target and have decided to replace my flat iron..maybe even invest in a nicer one. i find the appropriate area in the store...and do my eyes deceive me???? there it was....AS SEEN ON TV....the instyler! there was no price. i grab it and trot to the near price check scanner machine thingy. $99.99. in the buggy it goes. what? am i crazy? i feel no guilt. i deserve this.

then i get in the check out line, and already the buyer's remorse sets in... uh oh. so i call matt for that 'seal of approval'. he thinks i'm insane, but as always, says "just get it" (followed by "but i'm getting my fill in the blank" ... this time it was a clock of the same price). so, i buy it. (and matt goes to the nearest target minutes later to get his clock).
last night, i gently open the packaging. i want it to be fully returnable when it turns out to be a piece of crap. i mean, if it takes a full hour to convince me that i need one, it can't be that good, right??? this morning i actually look forward to doing my hair. i'm so pumped about using my snazzy new beauty-making machine!
i was a little nervous, but i read the instructions and took my time. it was easy. and it worked. it actually worked. nothing difficult. nothing confusing.  nothing sneaky.
was it worth $100? only time will tell.
will i be returning it? not based on this morning's performance.
do i look like a supermodel? let's not get carried away.
overall...pleasantly surprised on the first day of use.
but i'll probably give it a few weeks before i throw the box away :)



catch up + no excuses + disclaimer

*catch up *
ok, so the whole point of this blog party was to have a post every day for a month. well, i failed you this weekend. i do plan to play catch up. i have so many post ideas, that's not the problem. the problem is finding the time to execute them! so, i will do some back posting for the weekend.

*no excuses*
though i will apologize for not posting, i will not make excuses. the weather here in the Southland was fabulous. coleman and i had lots of much needed outdoor time in the sunshine, soaking up the vitamin d. where you are... i hope your weekend was a beautiful as ours.

on occasion, i will "back-date" posts. what this means is that i may write the post on a wednesday, and then date it back to sunday, so from my blog it will look like i posted it on sunday. about the only time i do this is with my "this week" posts. i try to make sunday  my picture-editing and blog post day, but sometimes (like yesterday), it doesn't happen. for consistency, i like having all of those posts dated for the sunday that ends the week. if you view my blog through a reader, these back-dated posts should still show up at the top of the list regardless of the date (at least that's how it works with my google reader account). if you get email reminders about my postings, i'm sure you will get them even with back-dating. the only issue i see is that if you visit my blog directly - other posts that are actually older (but not back-dated) may show up higher up than the newer (back-dated) post. this might cause someone to miss that the "this week" post is actually there. in reality, i doubt any of you actually care. but i felt like i needed to provide this disclaimer anyway. i feel better now.

your loyal, but sometimes slack, blog writer....



this week {2.15 to 2.21}

~ i forgot to wear my pedometer for a few days and eventually just gave up on the challenge. (more on that later) ~

~ i had a heart-to-heart chat with my boss ~

~ i watched the westminster dog show ~

~ i worked on the "lists" album for my family ~

~ i took a half vacation day just to get my hair done and grocery shop. then never made it grocery shopping. ~

~ spencer had his first archery tournament. his team lost, but could still be eligible for state. he scored a 167 of 300. i honestly don't know if that is considered good or not. ~

~ i shopped super double coupons at harris teeter twice ~

~ coleman got his first hair cut ~

~ i wore a scarf in my hair (something i haven't done much sense i cut my hair shorter) ~

~ i picked up spencer from school and was entertained by a bunch of students doing the cupid shuffle ~

~ i got a skinny vanilla latte from starbucks ~

~ i filled out a "parent survey" for spencer's school ~

~ spencer got his progress report. all A's!! this was the first time this year. he finally brought up his language arts grade ~

~ we ordered pizza ~

~ i attended the last btms pep rally meeting ~

~ scott came over to hang out ~

~ i grocery shopped with coleman for the first time ~

~ coleman had PJ day at daycare ~

~ i added a Bible app to my iphone ~

~ brigitte and sydney babysat coleman for me ~

~ we finally had the big btms pep rally event ~

~ coleman and i went for a walk with tara and colton on saturday ~

~ coleman and i took a wagon ride to the playground on sunday. then he played with mccrea in the yard ~

~ later on sunday, we hung out in the yard with all of the neighbor babies ~

~ i went to bed at 8:30! ~

{pedometer challenge}
so, as i mentioned above, after a few days of forgetting to wear it, i just let it go. and i'm ok with that. i had always wanted to wear a pedometer for a bit and i did that for several weeks. it was cool. i have a better understanding of how active and inactive my days are. i learned what i need to do to keep my step count up, etc. it was a great experience and worth every penny of that $5.00 :)

{coleman's birthday party}

~ bought stamps and mailed the invitations~
~ i wrapped the plastic ware in napkins and tied with ribbon ~
~ finalized all of our outfits for the party ~
~ covered water bottle labels ~
~ spray painted cake boards ~



{one little word}

Several years ago, Ali Edwards began choosing *one little word* at the New Year. It was to represent what she wanted to be or accomplish or focus on that year. She describes the concept much better than I, so I encourage you to check out her original post in 2007, and her subsequent ones for each year: 20082009.  2010. FYI - I just re-read all of these posts myself. This concept of *one little word* has grown in popularity and you will often see other blogs mentioning the concept (particularly scrapbooking blogs).

I have loved this concept since day one (I love words, ya know???), but I struggled each and every year to find the right word. Weeks would go by and I would eventually just give up. But for some reason, this year's word came to me easily. I took this as a sign that it was a good year to finally join this growing trend. So, what is my word?


At the New Year, I had so many goals that I felt strive was the strong action word that I needed to push me through my year. It encompassed so many things for me:
~ strive to be a better mommy
~ strive to be more patient
~ strive to renew my faith in God
~ strive to scrapbook more efficiently
~ strive in my career
~ strive for better balance

I'm a little late in posting this, obviously, and I really wish I had done this earlier, when I'd first chosen the word. But here we are, seven weeks into the new year and I have had a very clear realization. STRIVE is not the word for me. Not even close.

So, you may be wondering how so much could change in such a short amount of time. I honestly don't know the answer to that question. But, at some point in the last few weeks, I've gotten a smack in the face (one called "reality"). I quickly realized that I was over-committing myself. And not just in general, but committing to things that just are not important enough. My priorities needed some rearranging. I was giving up time with my family and friends to serve on committees. Is that what life is about? Planning pep rallys and food drives? It's good stuff, but not the good stuff.

A dear friend of mine made such a valid point when I confided in her on this topic. As working moms, or probably just moms in general, or maybe just women in general...we tend to *define* ourselves based on all that we can squeeze into our short little days. How much can we volunteer? How many cupcakes can we bake? How many events can we plan? How many funds can we raise? If you take that innate (yet crazy) tendency and add my own personal flaws which include, but are not limited to, being incredibly anal and a total control freak...well, it's a recipe for disaster.

In a matter of weeks, I managed to pawn my baby boy off on anyone that would have him (hubby, friends, family); I turned down multiple happy hour invites with girlfriends; I royally ticked off my husband; I spent time at work not working...and all for what?

So, here I am...confessing my errors and starting anew. It's time for a new outlook on the year, and my life; a new set of priorities; and a new one little word. so, what's my new word? It's quite predictable, but so very appropriate.


Nothing about my actual goals have changed, only the way I'm going to go about reaching them. Think about these words. Seriously...take a second and mull it over. First let's look at the denotation of each. STRIVE means to exert one's self vigorously or to make strenuous effort toward any goal. BALANCE is defined as mental steadiness or stability and a habit of calm behavior. Wow...what a difference, huh? Now, think about the connotation of each. How do you feel when you think about each word? For me, it's significantly different. Strive brings about a tense feeling of obligation (something that is very *me* by nature). But balance makes me feel immediately at ease. I literally feel myself sigh when I think about the word. That feeling does not come easy to me.

So, there you have it...One Little Word for 2010 (Take Two). It's more than just a word. It's a state of mind.

I encourage everyone to choose "one little word"...and don't feel like it has to start on January 1st. There is no reason why you can't start right now. Or next week. Or next month. It's my opinion that you have to truly feel your word in order for it to work and you can't force that. So, take your time. If you decide to do your own "one little word", I'd recommend checking in at Ali's blog every once in a while. I loved this post where she provides some great ideas for working with your word and she is planning on posting similar things monthly.




for your entertainment
ten things you may want to check out

as i browse through blogs that i frequent, i will "star" them in google reader if i want to refer back to them. i do this particularly if i'm on my phone so i can't really do much with it at that moment. later, when i have time and i'm on a real computer, i will go back through them. if they are still of interest to me and i want to save them in a more permanent manner, i will add them to my tumblr page.

dessert tower tutorial
used this as a guide for the one i'm making for coleman's party

the joyful life library
sounds like a good cause. i plan on donating.

how to blog
some nifty tips for blogging

mini-book DIY tutorial
super cute and it looks very easy to make

successful blog
haven't really looked around on this one yet, but if you are trying to "grow your blog", i think it would maybe be a good resource???

free valentine's day goodies for digital scrapbooking
have heart day photos? want to digi scrap? go here for freebies.

craft room roundup
nifty ideas for snazzy craft studios...love looking at this sort of stuff

couch to 5K program
i'm not a runner. not sure i ever could be. but if i was ever crazy enough to try it, this post mentions a "couch to 5k program" that sounds cool.

five things to read this weekend
haven't read them yet, but plan on doing so.

what is your blog wearing?
some suggestions of place to get "blog wear"



**it really IS worth it**

since i've started couponing, i've gone through a few different "phases" and changed my methods a few times...it can be pretty time-consuming and i've tried to figure out the most time-efficient way to do things, while still be pretty thorough. regardless of how much money i save, i often wonder "is it really worth it?". i found this article and it made me feel a lot better. whether you are a couponer, or you think coupons are stupid, it's a good (and very short) read. thanks to common sense with money for sharing the article link.



tutorial {easy digital valentines}

for several weeks, i'd had an idea floating around my head...i wanted to do some sort of super cute valentine photo shoot with coleman and turn those adorable shots into the most amazing digital valentine ever. well...that didn't happen. so i improvised.

i wasn't even planning on buying coleman a "valentine's day shirt" because it's such a girly holiday. however, i found the best shirt at target. it said "cupid is my homeboy". how flippin' cute! anyway, i digress.

on this day of creative goodness, i put the shirt on coleman and did a mini photo shoot. i got a few acceptable shots so i let the little munchkin off the hook. i created a very quick and simple digital design in PSE7.

my canvas was 4" wide by 3" tall. i began with a basic red striped background. then added my photo with a frame. in the left corner is a heart/love embellishment and then i just typed a quick note at the bottom. not very impressive, but i was short on time. here is the digital file:

i printed six to a page (on hp presentation paper)

i cut each one out leaving a thin white border, then matted with black cardstock.

i got lucky and happened to find some envelopes that fit. TIP: choose an envelope FIRST and then create your valentine based on the size! I just got lucky.

i needed 24 pencils for spencer's class and had a pack of 30. that means there were 6 remaining - the exact number of kids at daycare. see where my mind went??? i added decorative circles to the pencils (you see more information on these in my text tutorial for cupcakes).

i also used the decorative circles as "seals" on the envelopes, and then taped the pencil to each one.

Not super exciting and certainly not even close to the fantastic ideas in my head, but i was pleased to have done something personal. spencer has always done boring, store-bought valentines (which is fine). now that i have {minimal} digital skills that i lacked when he was younger, i hope to be able to do something cuter for coleman each year (until he tells me to stop!).



tutorial {valentine's day pencils}

last thursday was a marathon of valentine goodness. after being out of town for three days and left with one day to get everything done for school/daycare on friday, i was a mad woman of red heart creating. i did manage to take a lot of detailed photos and this week i will do a few tutorials featuring the (very simple) projects i did.

i will start by saying that regardless of how simple or complicated your project might be...if you are making multiples of something, the key is assembly line production. you will see that common thread in my heart day tutorials.

for spencer's "valentines", i opted to keep it simple and skip the candy (total confession: i just didn't buy any candy...therefore it wasn't an option). i had picked up some valentine's day pencils at party city the previous week, so that was my starting point. in planning coleman's birthday party, i have fallen in love with my 1.5" circle punch. you will see that common theme throughout my heart day projects, too.

i began by using PSE7 to design 1.5" circles. I kept in simple, for time's sake, and made sure they were NOT girly. I chose a darker shade of red, and added a black outline. I did add a heart, but I lowered the transparency so that it was barely noticable behind the text. I chose a font that looks like the ESPN font. I printed all 24 on one sheet and used my magic punch!

here you can see a good illustration of my assembly line process. the circles are punched and stacked. the pencils are ready. tools are handy. i went ahead and cut all of the ribbon pieces at once.

next, i tied a piece of ribbon to each pencil.

i added some dry scrapbooking adhesive to the back of each circle.

and then attached the circle over the ribbon on the pencil.

and there they are...finished products. like i said, SUPER SIMPLE.