Friday, April 30, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 119

I finally got a haircut. It's been at least 7 months. I'm so lazy. And cheap. I've been trying to give significant attention to the budget lately, and cut spending wherever possible. It occurred to me when I realized I desperately needed a haircut a few weeks ago that it's kinda ridiculous that I pay a good $60+ for a haircut. I mean, I really like her work, but cutting my hair is not exactly rocket science. But I also refuse to return to the days of Supercuts horribleness, so I wasn't sure what my other options might be. (I did watch a YouTube video on how to cut your own hair, but that seemed like a really bad idea!)

Then a stroke of genius hit me on my way to Oregon. Everything's cheaper in Oregon. Everything. So my mom booked an appointment for me with her regular stylist. I paid $20 for this haircut (wash and blowout included)! Can you believe that?! It just kills me. And it's amazing what a generous tipper I'm happy to be when I'm only throwing down 20 bones to begin with! Good thing I get haircuts so irregularly. I'm happy to schedule in at least 2 annual trips to Oregon for $20 cuts!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 118

I made it to my Mom's in time to join her for a ridiculously busy few days, kicked off by her Soroptomist fundraiser at the local playhouse. They rent out the whole house, sell the tickets for a higher price, and serve apps, beer, wine and desserts. It's a good time and a great fundraiser idea!

Can you guess which play was showing? That's right--The Wizard of Oz! Like my Mom's super sweet Dorothy braids? A local lady made these on headbands for like 30 of these women!! Too cute.

Some other randomness from the day...this is a house that I thought was super cute across from the church where we were picking up all the goodies they had been prepping for the few days before (nice to have a retired caterer in the group!) Don't you think our house would look super cute like this--with some shingles mixed in? Love it!
Adorable gardening project at the church's pre-school. One of the ladies informed me that, "they're teaching the kids to grow pot!" Hahaha.
The super cute Glinda/Elphaba inspired food markers, made by my mother.
The munchkins! Awaiting their next scene. The Lollipop Guild stole the show!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 117

I made the trip to Oregon last week for the worst reason; losing a member of the family is always an awful reason to bring the family together. But it was nice to be together. This was actually the only time I've ever been with all 3 of my cousins at the same time. And it was great to see Lindsay pregnant--she's due two months before me and is ridiculously adorable.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 116

Chai concentrate, discovered here via Angry Chicken. Not too shabby, actually. I can't stand the Chai in a box stuff, so while I love Chai, I don't drink/order it very often. It's just too regularly gross. This concoction is a bit heavy on the earthy tones for me (the nutmeg maybe)? But that could also be because there's a chance that my nutmeg is from 1982, and poor quality to begin with!

It's pretty awesome to have this readily available in the fridge--normally I drink half a cup hot, then switch to an iced version. Yummy! It's not quite sweet enough for Raf and I, but we love our sweet stuff! Either way, it better than any I've bought (outside of India) and I'm too lazy to make it from scratch on any kind of regular basis, so this works just fine for me!

PS--speaking of Angry Chicken, look at the book she just posted about on her site! Oh no...more projects!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 115

Hey all! Apologies for the week long silence. I was in Oregon for much of the past week, with my camera, but sans USB cord. So, I'll see what I can do to catch up now.

This is a year's worth of plastic bags I took in to recycle. Made my stomach turn. Especially considering how many fabulous tote bags we have in the closet. I'm hoping that by posting this photo of shame to my blog, it will be seared in my brain to take the totes wherever I go.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hawthorne Threads

I haven't yet submitted an order with Hawthorne Threads, but I don't think it'll take long. I love my local quilt shop, but they can't carry everything cute that I see out in blogland. Hawthorne has a crazy good selection, and I might even be able to save a buck here and there (not an easy feat with high quality fabrics).

They have some pretty cool features on their site (like color matching suggestions), tiered pricing and customer appreciation discounts, and a weekly-ish e-newsletter that keeps me drooling over new prints.

So, for Beth and others without a super sweet shop nearby, I'm pretty sure Hawthorne will keep you satisfied. For me, the only difficult part is narrowing down my picks!

The 365 Project: Day 114

Mmm, fresh local strawberries from a little farm/stand within walking distance from our house.

They got me to thinking that maybe it's time to kickoff my first canning season! Raf is out of town for a bachelor party next weekend, so I'm thinking of having some girls over on Saturday to do a little strawberry jam make & take. Anybody game?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 113

My tricky treat. Here's the story: I miss beer. Like, I really miss beer. I can hear Raf pop a top across the house and every time I cringe and yell at him. I even dreamt that I drank a beer last night. Not just a sip, a WHOLE beer. Raf keeps calling me an alcoholic. I'm not having withdrawals or anything--I think it's just the irritation of knowing that I can't have something.

People keep teasing me and telling me they're going to buy me O'douls, but I have no interest in fake beer. But fancy root beer is just silly enough to ease the torture.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deodorant Update

As you may recall, it was on my 2010 List to find an alternative to deodorant. Some people have issue with the chemicals. I get that, but it wasn't my driving force. For me, it's about the icky residue it leaves on my skin, and the fact that I can reapply 3 times a day, and still feel like I smell worse than if I just skipped it all together and let the world deal with my lovely natural body odor.

The first super random solution I tried this year was Milk of Magnesia. No go. It's funky to put on (since it's a liquid), and it didn't work any better than deodorant. (Though it didn't work any worse either.)

A couple people have mentioned the Crystal to me, but I've read mixed reviews online, from a chemical perspective it still has aluminum, and (most relevant) I've never seen it in stores.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I read about a blogger using straight baking soda as deodorant--and that's it! Sounded way too simple, but I was willing to give it a go. So, I used baking soda solo for about a week and a half. The results? It totally works! Crazy, I know, but it does. All day long, no smell whatsoever. It's kind of amazing!

Then, a few days ago, I mixed in some Arrowroot powder with the baking soda (less than half Arrowroot in the mixture), based on more blogger experimentation. I had read that some people had rash or post-shaving sting issues with the straight baking soda. It is a bit abrasive and I noticed after about a week, my skin was looking and feeling a little raw. But the Arrowroot makes all the difference in the world! It makes it all soft and fluffy and luxurious, and I think as long as you keep the majority of the mix baking soda, it still works just fine. (Note: Arrowroot was recommended instead of cornstarch, which some use, as it has less chemical ick.)

A few notes:
  • Application: Some people recommended brushing on with a makeup brush. I didn't find it as effective when applied this way. Instead, I just grab a pinch of powder and rub it on when my skin is still dewy after a shower.
  • It seems to work best when I shower in the morning and put it on immediately after. If I shower at night and then just wash up before applying in the morning, it's not nearly as effective.
  • Antiperspirant: This is a deodorant replacement, not antiperspirant. I certainly don't think I'm sweating any more than with deodorant, but deodorant never slowed down sweat for me anyway.
  • More to come! I'm planning to experiment with making my own deodorant(!), so I'll keep you posted.
And, guess what? I even have a special bonus for all of you! (Cause I know you're all oh-so-interested in my scent-scapades!) So, I kinda went crazy looking up homemade remedies and concoctions that day. One of the related recommendations I found was to spray straight vinegar on the armpits of your clothes (the smelly ones, from your pre-baking soda days) before throwing them in the washer to completely clean away any trace of odor. Works! You'll notice there's still a vinegar smell when you take your clothes out of the washer, but by the time they come out of the dryer--so fresh and so clean!

Be on the lookout, I'm hoping to share much more successful homemade goodness soon!

The 365 Project: Day 112

The highly anticipated bump update.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 111

Fresh squeezed OJ. Oranges from the in-laws tree. Fresh squeezed by the hubba bubba. Good stuff!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 110

We officially have ALL our tiles for the master bath! It was a decision months in the making (this time Raf was the slow one, not me!), but we're both pretty excited about it. The tiles above are small 2x4" subways--they'll go on the shower walls, floor to ceiling. The itty bitties below will go on the floor of the shower.
These babies were, of course, the most expensive tile in the store. But they're almost exactly what I was looking for, so you gotta do what you gotta do for a vision! I was looking for a standard sized subway in white marble (3x6"), but they are nowhere to be found (seriously, we looked!) And the good news, once we came to terms with these little guys, is that at least they're on square foot sheets, so they should go up much faster than laying individual tiles.

Now we just need to figure out how the heck to lay tile and we'll be good to go!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 109

I finally got to work chopping down all those dreadful weeds this weekend. Some were taller than me. Literally. You'll find the Before shots above, and the After shots below.
Now we just need to finish digging up the roots of all those horrible creatures, and see if we can't amend the soil a bit to prepare it for planting. And get rid of the grassy weeds that took over our fabulous brick path. Ick.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 108

The neighbor brought this over about 3 minutes after hearing I was pregnant. OH how I love a hand-me-down!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 107

Guess who (finally) has a new couch?! We still have the daily fight over the corner, but it's already 100 times better. YAY!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 106

Dinner. Ok, let's be honest. In the words of Pam from The Office: First Dinner.

Yummie Smoothie recipe here. Made this one sans protein powder, with frozen raspberries. The only issue with smoothies is that they always involve me having to purchase bananas. At least this recipe only takes half of one. I found an article about a banana farm in the Santa Barbara area, but it looks like it's been shut down for a number of years. :(

Friday, April 16, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 105

The big flower bush on the back fence came down. Must begin pruning. Now.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 103

Shower tile samples arrived. Don't think we're really a fan of either. But I do think Raf is finally nudging closer to settling on the ones we found in San Jose months ago. (Cross your fingers!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 102

Testing a new Iced Tea system. Simple, genius idea found on Angry Chicken to conserve fridge space, and have the ability to have multiple flavors of tea on hand at all times. Basically, just make super concentrated versions of your favorite flavors in small containers, then add plenty of water to a slosh of the concentrate when it comes time to drink. Love it!

Update: Need to make it stronger next time; 4 tea bags is not enough to be considered concentrate!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Money Smarts

Considering all our ever-changing life situations, I've been having lots of conversations with friends about money lately. It occurred to me that it's time that I share our money management secret with Blogland.

Ok, so it's not such a secret. In fact, if you've had a financial conversation with me anytime in the last 6 years, you've probably heard all about it.

Back in the days when he was still a Californian, my friend Leon gave us a copy of David Bach's book, Smart Couples Finish Rich, which had been given to him by his mom. Raf and I were early in living together at the time and had a couple road trips planned to San Luis Obispo.

Over the course of these trips, we read the book aloud together, including many breaks to chat about our personal opinions, money values we'd been taught growing up (intentional or not), our individual and joint goals, and how we were going to proceed with the book's recommendations.

I'm so thankful to have read this simple, solid guide with Raf. We immediately started setting financial and life goals together--traveling, owning a home, saving for retirement, building a security net. One by one, we've met milestones and celebrated accomplishments together. And each year, we continue to build, re-prioritize, and keep looking forward.

I'd have to say that reading this book together is one of the most powerful and important moves we made early in our relationship. Those in-depth conversations we had in the car opened the lines of communication to be able to comfortably talk about money--one of the most difficult topics all couples wrestle with. We still disagree on priorities, strategies, and goals regularly. But the point is--we're TALKING about it! We're working together. And eventually, we tend to reach a compromise.

I realized this week how grateful I am to Leon for passing along this gift. I hope that by sharing our experience here that it may lead a few of you to pick up this book as well, and read it with your partner. (And for all the single ladies, there's also Smart Women Finish Rich.) You can have a used copy of either delivered for the bargain basement price of $4, post shipping, via Amazon.

As you probably know, Raf and I love to talk to other couples about money management, planning, etc. We love sharing ideas, hearing others' approaches and goals, etc. So if you're looking for a study group, hit us up! :) Happy Financial Planning, friends!

The 365 Project: Day 101

Our new master bath floor tiles arrived! YAY!!! I {heart} them.

Chicken, Rice & Veggie Bake

Trying our hand at yet another classic. We're trying to build an arsenal of simple weeknight meals to pull from. I figure once the baby arrives I could go one of two ways. Either I'll turn into a Domestic Goddess, maintain a pristinely clean home and master new gourmet meals around every corner. Or, I'll be endlessly exhausted and way too highly entertained by our new bundle to give a patoot about anything domestic other than motherhood. Hmm..which sounds more like me?

This is what we pieced together from various recipes and suggestions:

Chicken, Rice & Veggie Bake

2 boneless chicken breasts, uncooked, cut into bite-sized chunks
1c white rice, uncooked
16 oz bag frozen mixed veggies
1 small can condensed cream of mushroom soup
handful fresh sliced mushrooms
1c water
1/2c milk

salt
pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
cajun seasoning

Throw the chunked chicken in the bottom of a baking dish. Mix all other ingredients in a bowl. Spread mixture on top of the chicken. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until the rice is cooked.

I would suggest checking it around 50 minutes, then every 5-10 minutes until it's good. I pulled it out at 1 hour, mixed it up, and the rice was still a little crunchy. But then when I took it out 15 minutes later, it was mushy. Gotta find that happy medium!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Highlights

Some goodness from a reasonably quiet weekend...
Catch up lunch with some of the retired ACS crew, Mavis, Kara and Melissa.
And I finally got to meet Kara's fam, Leland and baby Maddy. SO CUTE!
Raf's back to baking. YAY! I told him that Julia's boyfriend, Chris, started making bread, so I think he felt the need to stay on top of his skills to maintain the master bread maker reputation. :)
How good does that look?!?! (Tastes better, btw.)
Little bit of sewing.
Little bit of Bumble.
And look! The Hub installed a new fan in the living room.It looks so nice! Especially because it's one less hole in the ceiling. Yay!

The 365 Project: Day 100

The 100th day of the year just so happens to also be the the birthday of the most fabulous mom in all the land. (Mine, of course!)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!! Love you!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 99

With as messy as the house is, you'd think I'd been on a crafting binge. Unfortunately not the case. I have finished a few small BumbleDesigns orders in the last week though.
I set my timer for 30 minutes to get this crafting chaos cleaned up. It took me 50. Boo. Need to work on my cleaning speed!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 98

Finally catching up on some cardmaking.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 97

A lone flower on the big ole Christmas Cactus out back.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The 365 Project: Day 96

More backyard goodness. These fabulous, fragrant flowers are growing on a huge bush in the back. This, like all bushes in our yard, have absolutely exploded in size. And it's crammed with buds!