July 30, 2010

Flitting Around

Hello Sweet Friends!
This week has been a whirlwind of jumping back into the school schedule, catching up with old friends, working on a major renovation project, and wedding preparations.

1.Over the weekend my brother and his fiance' came to town for a wedding shower given by my mom's long-time friends. The bride was very gracious as she thanked various "strangers" for the abundance of gifts as I coveted her array of new crisp-white towels.

2.Twice in less than a week I had the opportunity to catch up with my own long-time friends. This is a cyber-hug to my friend (and secret reader) Mary. We've been friends since college days and it does a body good to have a friend who stays as funny as she was the day I met her. She lives in Atlanta, so we took the opportunity to meet along the interstate and catch up. Since it was 102 degrees that day, Hobby Lobby, Mimi's Cafe and JC Penny served as a playground for the abundance of offspring we toted along. I'm sure that JC Penny had their undercover shoplifter stoppers following us since we spent an hour and a half meandering through the children's department and purchased nothing.

I also had the chance to catch up with a friend from high school/college days. Kellie, her camera, and her adorable twins came for a visit and a dip in the pool. One of the best things about catching up with old friends is getting to know their children. What a delight to watch the circle of life unfold!

3.I've been up to my eyeballs since January with a major renovation project at our church. It is finally starting to take shape, which is good since my kids have started wondering if it is our second home. :) I do have before/after pictures that I will share in the near future.

4.We started our school year on Monday and let me tell you, the kiddos were much more excited about starting the early school day than I was. If the world could operate on a 9am-midnight schedule, it would be fine with me. All in all, it was a great start to the school year. I just didn't have it together enough to blog and teach at the same time...

What kept you busy this week?

July 26, 2010

Follow Up to This n' That

To fully appreciate this follow up, go here first to read about This n' That.

Computer camp ended up being all that we imagined and more. The people at the Mac store really went above and beyond my expectations. The staff was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and entertaining to say the least. They even offered a free seminar to the grown-ups on "parental controls." My girls wore big grins for the duration of the morning. At one point my daughter breezed by me and whispered, "I LOVE computer camp. Thanks for signing me up." The angels sang... and I got a gold star.

They were given these cute t-shirts and name badges with cool pins:

Remember the savings goals that my girls have been working on? My days of paying my children to do silly things like rub my shoulders are coming to a quick end. Camera girl reached her goal last week so we promptly did a little comparison shopping and purchased her first digital camera. We were so proud of her working hard to accomplish her goal. She wore the batteries out within the first 48 hours. But it sure provided good entertainment for my mom's birthday when she played a video of herself proclaiming her love for her grandma. 2345 times.

On Wednesday, the girls were asked to bring a digital camera to camp since they were going to do some video editing (how cool is that??) Needless to say, our new photo fiend was thrilled. The joy was short lived because 10 minutes into the morning she came to me in tears with a broken camera in her hands. It had been dropped during a transfer. On concrete. 6 days after purchase.
Hard life lessons.

I promised to take it straight to the camera repair store after camp. Upon which they informed me it would cost $50 more than what we paid for the camera for them to even open it up. Sigh.
Mercy won out on this one. Since she had worked so hard and it truly was not her fault, we decided to purchase another camera for her with the 2 year protection plan.

Thursday was a much better day for the NEM family.
I arrived ready to plop my 6 year old in front of the kid sized computers to play games for an hour and a half while I attended the parent seminar a few steps away. Suspiciously, there weren't any other parents hanging around. I meekly asked if they were doing a seminar and they said "no, but if you want to learn something we can teach you. In fact, we have the guru here today. He's just arrived from the Mac flagship store in San Francisco." Um... well let me think about it...
So I had a one-to-one computer lesson for almost two hours.
I was the very happy girl with a great big lightbulb on the top of her head, who decided the $100 she forked out for a new camera was worth every penny.

Have you ever faced a parental dilemma? What did you do?

July 25, 2010

Sunday Rest

But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long...
Psalm 71:14-15

July 21, 2010

This 'n That

1. I've spent 2.3 hours on the phone with Apple Care experts helping me adjust to my new toy. Let's just say that having to wait 19 hours for my laptop to "migrate" information to the desktop was like giving a child an ice cream cone and telling him he can't lick it until it is completely melted. But I'm learning patience. Apparently waiting 9 years and saving our pennies to purchase a new family desktop computer didn't do the job.

2. While we're on summer break, I've filled my rainy afternoons with important things like designing my lesson plan book. Since I didn't want to fork out $7.99 for a cute 3ring binder, I bought a white one with clear insertable front/sides for $1.99, added some scrapbook paper and patted myself on the back. Because school starts in a week and the inside still looks like this:
Anyone else in denial about school starting? Several people asked me about our schedule in the comments section. We follow a modified year-around schedule which allows us 2 weeks off in the fall, 3 weeks at Christmas, and 2 weeks off in the spring. Hence the start of school in July. We LOVE this schedule when the long breaks roll around. Right now, I'm still digging the sleeping in n' such...

3. I signed my kids up for computer camp at the Apple store with the hopes that they can then teach me everything they learn. The rules state that the parents have to stay in the store thru the duration of the camp. Their reasoning probably has something to do with liability and good marketing time for the adults. I'm thinking "free help at the Genius bar" time. We'll see...

4. My girls set their first big savings goals earlier in the spring. One is saving for her 1st computer and the other for a digital camera. Can I just tell you how easy this has made my life? No more asking for stuff in the dollar section. No more watching them spend their $$ on junk. Plus I can pay them to play with my hair, wash the dog, brush the dog's teeth (gag), and organize the kitchen drawers without feeling guilty. It's for a good cause, right?

5. I am learning the joy of submitting to my husband on areas I never even considered:
Ummm, yeah. This deserves a whole post in and of itself.

What do you like to do to waste time?

July 20, 2010

Perfect Pound Cake

2 sticks butter 3 cups flour
1/2 c. Crisco 1/4 tsp. salt
3 cups sugar 1/4 tsp. baking powder
5 eggs

1 cup milk 2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon flavor 1/2 tsp. almond flavor*

Cream the butter, Crisco, sugar. (Now we're feeling healthy!) Mix in eggs. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine milk and flavorings. Alternate mixing in dry/liquid ingredients to the butter mixture. Pour batter into a greased, fluted metal pan.
Place in a COLD oven. Turn heat to 325 degrees. Bake approx. 1 hour 20 minutes.

*Depending on the flavor you prefer, you can always increase the almond or lemon flavorings to suit your taste. It is flavorful enough to serve without any topping, but be my guest and add whatever your heart desires.

This recipe is originally from Southern Living, but passed to me by my dear friend Leslie who is a master cook. It is basically no-fail.

What's your favorite topping for pound cake?

July 19, 2010

Summer Bliss

beach towels
crepe myrtles
steady rain
flip flops
swim parties
summer tunes
iced tea

July 18, 2010

Sunday Rest

{Jesus said}
You did not choose me,
but I chose you and
appointed you to go
and bear fruit -
fruit that will last.
John 15:16

July 16, 2010

Foodie Friends

Unlike my husband, I love to try new foods and new restaurants. The more unique, the better. I draw the line at Indian food. Just. Can't. Do. It.
So when my foodie friend, CPQ, invited me to a Girls Night Out I knew it would be good. I had never heard of the restaurant but she said they serve tapas. Right away I felt so metropolitan. Since my lunch had consisted of a soft pretzel from Target, I was ravenous by the time we got there.
Tapas means small savory dishes, so I was a little nervous that I might leave hungry. But they were having a special on margaritas so I joined my pregnant friend and ordered virgin because I do know my limitations.
Anything with the name Napoleon catches my eye. Probably because it usually it has to do with desserts. This Napoleon Tapas did not disappoint. Puff pastry, mounds of sauteed mushrooms, goat cheese, pesto. You get the idea. And I didn't feel guilty because of the small size. Which means I still had room for dessert.

Any event with the CPQ is never dull. She started the evening with offering to drive. Which led to a humorous turn of events involving getting locked IN the car, a surreal conversation with the OnStar eye in the sky, and watching her exit the vehicle Dukes-of-Hazard style for the entire evening.
CPQ pondering the mystery of her self-imposed lockdown.

Not only was the evening filled with delicious food, I learned of many must-try food establishments in the tri-state area. Knowledge is power. And possibly fattening.
However, my friend Heather inspired me to get back on the exercise wagon with a definite goal in mind. Her quest is to do a half marathon in November.
Wonder how many food establishments we would pass in those 13.1 miles...

Do you like to try new food? What's your favorite?

July 13, 2010


1. Glad that we still have 2 weeks of summer break. Which really means I'm glad I have two more weeks of sleeping in and playing on the computer doing things around the house.
2. Unbelievably glad that I am old enough to not be sucked into thinking everyone looks good in the Super Skinny Jean which apparently will be the fashion forward item this fall.
3. Gladly relieved that my bridesmaid dress finally arrived, since mine decided to take a detour through Utah on its way to NC "on the truck." Now for alterations...
4. Glad I still have 39 days to drop a few pounds for the wedding.
5. Delightedly glad that I just discovered Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches to help me on my quest. Pure bliss, no guilt.
6. Snuggles
7. Job 38-41 (A great reminder of who God is)
8. Happy children who just discovered the hours of entertainment a video camera can bring.
9. Fresh summer fruit
10. A cleaned out and organized attic and laundry room. Holla!

What makes you happy today?

July 12, 2010

Is Blue Bad?

Choose your battles.
That's a phrase worth learning when it comes to maintaining just about any relationship under the sun:

As my children have gotten older, I've realized just how important that little piece of sage advice is. Between the age of 1 and 5 most of the battles are about fundamental things, like safety and obedience. Around the age 6-7 it starts to get a little fuzzy. By 9 that phrase takes on a whole new meaning. At the pre-teen stage there are many topics that have to be weighed much more heavily than who gets the first piece of cake or how long they are going to stay in their cribs for nap time (ahh, the good ol' days).

The problem is that many of the "battles" involve more than right and wrong. Lots of times they involve preferences. My preferences don't always match up with her preferences. That's when I have to take a step back and decide if I am going to make it a battle or wait for something worth fighting for.

For example, I think my daughter's toes look adorable in Hot Spot Pink or Strawberry Delight. She prefers Caribbean Mist and Blue Lagoon. Who is right? The better question is: Is this a right/wrong issue? No. She knows my preference. But she is also growing into a young woman of her own. I want her to start making little (safe) choices. It's okay that we don't agree. One day we'll celebrate those differences and spur one another on.

For now, I'll hold my tongue and say yes to blue nail polish. Who knows, I might even find myself trying out Mint Breeze. If you can't beat 'em, join em. Right? Besides, I will have much more important things to say no to in the very near future.

Some things I ask myself before saying NO:
~ Is is morally wrong?
~ Is it age appropriate?
~ Does it lend itself to evil?
~ Is it offensive to others?

Conversely, many moms are a little too quick to say YES.
A few years ago I held off saying yes to Hannah Montana. Was she evil? No. Morally wrong? No. The "age appropriate" question stopped me from saying yes. I just didn't feel my girls were ready to be exposed to the sassy attitudes on the show. Did they miss out? No. Were they disappointed? For about a day. Now that Ms. Cyrus has shown us her racy side through the music video arena, I'm giving a big sigh of relief that I don't have to explain that to my girls.

Many moms of pre-teens are facing a dilemma regarding the Twilight series. Melissa at A Familiar Path wrote a thought provoking post that I highly recommend if you are considering saying yes. I think she and I would be great friends IRL.

Nail polish is just the tip of the iceberg (a blue iceberg according to my daughter). We as moms have many opportunities to don the boxing gloves. I don't want to remember the pre-teen years as a constant battleground. I need to carefully choose what is worth the tug-of-war. And when it's time, I'll dig my heels in and protect my babies like a mama-bear.

July 11, 2010

Sunday Rest

Praise be to the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ!

In his great mercy he has given
us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus...
and into an inheritance that
can never perish, spoil, or fade-
kept in heaven for you.
1 Peter 1:3

July 9, 2010

Summer Dads

Here's to living the good life.
(It's so much better than Hollywood gangsta rap.)
Scroll down and pause the music to hear the video.

Hope you are enjoying this summer day!
{Thanks James and Kelli}

July 6, 2010

Where in the World...

While enjoying lunch at a beachside restaurant this summer I overheard this conversation:
Lady: My mom is in Haiti distributing medication.
Man (who was obviously an authority on everything): Did you know that it has the highest rate of AIDS in the world? She should be careful.
Lady: Really? I would have thought a country in Africa would.
Man: Well, Haiti is in Africa.
Lady: Um... I don't think so...
Man: Well, it's off the coast of Africa
And that, my friends, is another reminder of the importance of geography lessons.

So where in the world...
can you find a quality world globe? Check out CSN. Remember the little product review I mentioned earlier? This is what I chose to review. They have everything you could imagine and I was imagining a raised relief globe. I was very pleased for several reasons.
The size. It is a 9" which is the perfect size: not too big, not too small.
The color. I really wanted an antique looking one, so that when my homeschooling days are over, I could use it to accent my home.
The details. It has up-to-date political boundaries clearly marked for our geographical needs. Like finding Haiti and Africa.
The quality. The base is hardwood. The semi-meridian is die-cast metal. Very well made.

If you are in the market for a world globe this Replogle Roosevelt Globe is a gem.
Want a 12" blue ocean? They have it. Want a kid friendly version? They have it. Want a cool black starlight globe? They have it.
Within a week of ordering, it was on my doorstep. I love efficiency. And geography.

*CSN provided the product to be reviewed

July 4, 2010

Sunday Rest

Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, O LORD,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea
the LORD on high is mighty.
Psalm 93:2-4

July 1, 2010

Frugal Summer Decorating- Part 2

The easiest way to add a splash of summer is to add a starfish or two. The best place to make a little change is the mantle. It's a focal point and versatile. My "sunshine" board is actually a discarded kitchen cabinet with vinyl lettering attached. Simple, clean lines are perfect for summer.

Remember my leftover drop cloth fabric from yesterday? I used it to make a simple curtain. If you are the no-sew type, you will love this. Drop cloths come in a couple of sizes, and with curtain clips, you can have gorgeous curtains without a needle in sight. See here for some inspiration and clear directions.

While we were on our cruise, I really wanted to find a piece of art to remember our trip by. We could have taken out a second mortgage and bought a piece of art on the ship, but what fun is that? Instead I found this neat antique-style map of the Caribbean. It was rolled up, ready to travel and it was only $9. Can you believe it fit a giant frame I already own?? Out came the french-country rooster, in went the map. Glory.

Do you have a Ross? If there is one in your area and you are not a frequent shopper, I won't judge. But I will cluck my tongue and shake my head because you are missing out. I eyed this little "relax" carving at another store, but couldn't bring myself to spend $19 on it. Cute, but not that cute. I took a stroll through my local Ross the other day and this little gem was sitting there with my name on it for $3.

I ordered these prints last summer and they are still one of my favorite things hanging on my walls. I even left them up thru the winter. They are very well priced (plus I had a discount). The frames and mats came from Walmart, so the total investment was minimal.

What I love about summer decorating is the simplicity. Shells from the beach in a jar: so easy. Clean lines and light colors make me happy.

What is your favorite summer color? Do you go for bright and happy colors or light and airy?

Frugal Summer Decorating- Part 1

I love to lighten up for the summer. Fresh and airy rooms make me feel cooler when the weather is HOT and humid.
Remember my barstools? It was the end of the yardsale day and the guy that I bought the barstools from was willing to give me everything he had for $50. I didn't want everything, just this lamp. So he sold it to me for $2. It needed a little TLC but that was easy. A little black paint on the base and top rim, and a new shade made it a star.
It is a Currier & Ives nautical print, which is perfect for summer. Just in case you were wondering, I don't change out my lamps seasonally. It just happens to go along with the theme of the day. :)
Across the street from barstool man, I purchased these chunky candlesticks for $2. Paired with a summer photo and an antique electricity line glass, it makes a nice little group of friends.

My family room used to be gold, red, and green. Over the past year we've painted and changed things up to a more soothing neutral scheme. This golden chair kinda stood out from the rest of the room; but I can't get rid of it. I rocked all of my babies in it; it's comfortable; and it's the only chair we have in the room right now.
Since the lines are pretty straight, I decided to try to make a slip cover for it. Since nice, durable fabric can be $$$, I decided to take a chance. I purchased a canvas painter's drop cloth for $9.97 from Home Depot. Washed it, and traced a pattern from the cushions.
Can I just tell you how much I love canvas drop cloths now??? I even had enough left over to make a curtain. (Tomorrow...)

Have you used something unusual lately? Please share... I'm always looking for fun, frugal ideas!