Friday, January 31, 2014

Cheap and Easy Make-up Storage

This blog post contains referral links. However, this post is not sponsored by any company. I just like the products!

Maybe I'm having a midlife crisis--Completely inspired by my friend, Beth, who has a pretty cool fashion blog.

I have a new addiction...nail polish. Actually, it's really not a new addiction. I've always enjoyed painting my nails, but I'm really hard on polish. Even the "good stuff" would chip and peel off my nails. I decided to take Beth's advise and try Julep. The first box is free (you pay shipping).

I'm totally in love with this stuff! It really holds up and the colors are pretty great.

And I'm only slightly embarrassed that I now belong to a monthly nail polish club. I swear, I was only getting the free box!

As a result of me embracing the new me, I'm even wearing make-up on a regular basis.

Total midlife crisis material.

And, excellent opportunity to find a fun, easy and inexpensive way to store all my make-up and nail polish.

This small project cost $6. I plan on making a larger one for the nail polish but the store didn't have the right sized containers. They are available to order online for about $14.

Let's start with the basic materials:

Steel mesh silverware/utensil container
wire coat hanger(s)
wire cutter
spray paint

totally the wrong wire cutters LOL

First, cut the bottom part of the coat hanger off on both ends.

Slide it through the smell mesh holes, creating a bar across the container.

Using pliers, bend the hanger ends on each side of the container to secure the "bar."

The last step: Spray paint!

I attached to the wall with a couple of nails.

It was THAT easy.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Balsamic Braised Chicken

I want to thank everyone who commented and emailed their kind words about the posts from last week. It really touched me to know I'm not the only one who has battled negative thoughts about themselves. Knowing I'm not alone, really helps.

I'm slowly recovering from my surgery. My arm movements have been pretty limited, meaning I can't do basic chores around the house or even get a glass down from the lowest shelf of the upper cabinets.

 I had to enlist the help of the teenagers to get the Christmas stuff put away...this weekend! And, they decided the artificial tree in the foyer should be decorated for Valentine's day...which was their way of saying, they were completely done with putting away Christmas and were not taking apart a tree. I'm pretty lucky that this is the worst my kids do!

Yesterday morning, Punky Brewster and Danger Girl made muffins for breakfast. . . and Punky said they tasted so good because they were made with love.

Awesome, right?

More kid awesomeness happened today when Little B (who is now taller than The Boy, so not sure if we should even keep calling him Little B!) decided to teach Little Miss how to play chess. The afternoon progressed to Punky and Little Miss playing chess against each other. I wish I would have thought to take a picture.

Trust me, though, when a 4 year old and 7 year old play chess, it's cute.

You know what's not cute? Tossing dinner in the crockpot and forgetting to turn it on.

Thankfully, I had enough ingredients on hand to pull off an amazing Sunday dinner that looked a whole lot fancier than it was.

Food stylist I am not. Even less of one, since I had to have help getting the skillet on to the stove and I also can't reach the every day dishes, let alone the let's-take-a-pretty-picture-of-dinner-so-the-folks-on-the-internet-can-drool dishes.

This dish is super easy. Super yummy. Smells good, too.

Balsamic Braised Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder
2 T olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 C balsamic vinegar
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 t dried basil
1 t dried rosemary
2 t Italian seasoning

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Brown the onions and chicken in the skillet.

Pour tomatoes and balsamic vinegar over chicken and onions. Add seasonings. Simmer uncovered until the juices run clear, about 15-20 minutes.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Smile While You Shake It with Honey Bunches of Oats

This is a sponsored post in behalf of Post Honey Bunches of Oats. I received product compensation for this post. However, all opinions are mine.

When D was growing up, his mom never bought marshmallow sugar cereals. As a result, he now refuses to eat "healthy" cereal.

What's funny is that my kids ended up having a lot of sugar cereal, and now really do not like it at all! They prefer healthy cereals like Post's Honey Bunches of Oats. The strawberry variety is their hands down favorite. My favorite is the Greek Yogurt with Berries, especially because it so full of whole grains... more than 2/3 of the recommended daily amount. That's a big deal for me, since I'm trying to do the whole eat healthier to lose weight thing.

The folks at Honey Bunches of Oats have teamed up with Domino Saints (they're an up-and-coming music duo) to create a really fun song and dance to get your morning shaking. I love the song! It's one of those that you can't help but move to. I'm totally dancing in my chair with the song playing in my head.

And while you're moving and shaking your Honey Bunches of Oats in to your bowl for breakfast (or in the case of my teens, a midnight snack), you can record yourself for a chance to win $500!

Entering is so easy!


Watch the Domino Saints "Smile While You Shake It" video

Upload your own 15 seconds of smiling, shaking, and dancing

Danger Girl was more than willing to help out with this and show off her pogo sticking skills! Check her out! 

And let me know which variety of Honey Bunches of Oats you love...and share your "Smile While You Shake It!" video!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Body Image Battle pt 3

This is part 3 of my Body Image discussion.

You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

When I started this journey, I didn't realize the impact all of this had on my emotionally. I hadn't really acknowledged my years of hating how I looked. I thought that becoming a mom and embracing the wonderful power my body had to grow a child was enough to overcome all those issues.

It wasn't.

But I didn't understand that until I decided to address the very real physical problems I was experiencing.

 My arms would fall asleep during the night if I slept on my back. The back pain had been getting worse. I developed a curve in my spine.
No amount of chiropractic was going to get to the root of my pains.

The day I decided to finally do something, I threw out my back and was in bed for two days. . .  after unloading the dryer and forgetting to put on my bra first. 

My first step was to start losing weight. It wasn't easy. It never is! I love food, so dieting doesn't really work for me. I had to stop snacking. And, I had to watch my portions. This also meant, I needed to address my ADD. One of the symptoms for me, is I don't really notice that I'm eating.

 After consulting with the nurse practitioner about what was happening in my life, she agreed that maybe it was time to treat the ADD. It wasn't just about the eating. I had also decided to go back to work part time as a substitute teacher. I needed help to manage my life. I've worked outside the home with and without being medicated for ADD...and life is just better for everyone when the ADD isn't making me run in 50 different directions.

The nurse practitioner and I also discussed a way to address my physical pain: Bilateral Reduction Mammoplasty aka Breast Reduction.

I went home that day...and did absolutely nothing. It took another two months before I finally called the plastic surgeon. During that time, I managed to lose 15 lbs!

15 lbs down...and the boobs are once again disguised by an interesting neckline

I met with the plastic surgeon in early December. I had dropped from a 36F to a 34G. What that means is that I lost two inches off my band size, but my overall breast volume did NOT change. The doctor took measurements and said I was definitely a candidate for reduction. I met with the insurance specialist and left the office with immediate approval from the insurance company and a surgery date.

The doctor told me, based on my build, I would probably end up a full C, possibly small D.

Like most patients, I told the doctor I planned to lose another 10 lbs before the surgery. I know he didn't believe me. But, by the end of December, I had hit my overall 25 lb weight loss!

And guess what happened to my bra size? I went from a 34G to a 32H. Once again, no change in actual volume.

I didn't have any idea of how much weight I actually lost until the day of the surgery. I just knew my pants were VERY loose and the dress I bought for after my surgery as a reward (it was snug in the top) actually fit....still snug in the bust, but I could get it zipped.

The doctor was surprised I had met my weight loss goal. I told him I hoped to lose another 15 lbs by the end of the year (I want to build muscle and tone up, so the overall number on the scale won't change much if things go right.) With this in mind, the doctor said he would probably adjust me to be a bit smaller.

After the surgery, the doctor said he barely got 560 grams out of each breast. This is the bare minimum for the insurance to cover things. What did that mean?My boobs were basically full of fatty tissue rather than muscle tissue.

Today, I'm almost 2 weeks post op...I'm still very swollen and no idea on how small I'll actually be.  I've been holding bras up trying to guess LOL I think I'm probably going to be an average C cup. I haven't seen that size since fifth grade.

The photo in the green shirt is the day before surgery... Wearing a regular bra, not my favorite compression bras. The after was taken 5 days post op.

The Fancy outfit...The before photo was taken on our cruise back in March when I was about 28 lbs heavier AND wearing a compression bra. The after was taken today (12 days post op.)

In the grey t-shirt, I'm also wearing a compression bra. The photo was taken after I lost about 5 lbs. The after photo is 9 days post op.

These posts I've written over the past week have been part of my healing process. Physically, it's coming along, but the emotional healing will take time. I have to get used to an entirely new body shape! But it's so much more than that. Having the reduction didn't automatically change how I see myself. I still see flaws! I could point out so many in my after photos. But I'm hopeful. Now that I have addressed the physical pain, I can address the emotional pain.

I have had several people ask me about the surgery over the past two weeks. I've been honest with them: Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster. Be prepared to change how you think about yourself. And, physically? Think of the most uncomfortable, tightly fitting underwire bra in the world . . . and you have to wear it 24/7 for several weeks. Except you're not actually wearing an underwire's just the sutures. No lifting. Even a gallon of milk is too much. No raising your arms to get a cup off the bottom shelf of your cabinets.

The recovery has been very different and similar to my hysterectomy 3.5 years ago. The pain is different, but it's very much the same type of "I feel great and I can do this" only to find out you can't.

I definitely don't regret the decision...even if it brought out so many emotions I didn't know I had squished down inside!

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My Body Image Battle pt 2

This is the second part of my story. You can read the first part here.

Around the time I entered the attachment parenting movement, I came across a quote about appreciating our bodies as mothers. Every stretch mark and sagging breast shouting out to the world that we created life. That our bodies are nothing short of miracles.

And it's true.

Our bodies are amazing. Truly miraculous.

In July 1996, I became pregnant with my first child. I carried him for 33 weeks. I felt like a failure. I couldn't even keep my baby inside me properly.

I wasn't planning on breastfeeding at all. My breasts were my shame.

But part of me hoped that if I failed at pregnancy, I might be able to turn it around and succeed at breastfeeding.

The hospital gave me a double electric pump and instructions to pump every four hours during the day and to sleep at night. So I did.

And guess what happened? I pumped exactly as I was told and barely got any milk. I'd watch other mothers bring in bottles full of milk and I'd slink in with barely an ounce. So not only were my breasts huge, they were apparently, useless.

I'm stubborn, though. And I kept trying. My son seemed to nurse okay even though I didn't pump much. He grew well enough with our combination of pumping and nursing. I managed to nurse him for a full year! We weaned when I found I was pregnant again.

My mindset began to shift. I was determined to do it right this time. I was going to carry the pregnancy to term. And, I was going to breastfeed. No formula. No pumping. My much hated breasts were going to work. They were going to do their jobs. I could ignore how they looked and how I felt about them if I knew they were doing something positive.

Much to my surprise, I did carry my daughter to term. And, she never had formula. None of my children other than my first ever did!

I began attending La Leche League meetings. I sought groups on the internet that would help me embrace this beautiful me that was now a mother. I jumped in with both feet. I became a member of the Militant Breastfeeding Cult.

In the process, I became so obsessed with this empowerment, that I looked on women who didn't breastfeed with scorn. I referred to formula as "crap in a can."

Those bullies that teased me for my large breasts? I became one of them: looking down on women who weren't "women" enough to advocate for their child's basic right to breastmilk.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a huge advocate of breastfeeding. I'm a contributing editor for LLL's New Beginnings. But I understand better now, that each woman has a story to tell. Each woman has a journey she takes through motherhood and her own battles. And it's my job as a "more experienced mother" to support women through this, no matter where they are on the path.

I'm supposed to do this, while battling my own body image issues.

It was a lot easier to do while I ignored them.

I ignored them many ways. I tried to get fit. I lost weight. I spent two hours a day, five days a week at the gym. I dropped three dress sizes. I looked in the mirror and still hated myself. I was an eating disorder waiting to happen.

In 2009, I gave birth to my sixth child. The delivery was hard. She probably should have been a c-section.  I trusted that my body would know what to do. I ended up separating my pelvis. I was a powerful woman...who appreciated what her body could do, but hated how it looked.

I felt like the Genie from Aladdin "Phenomenal cosmic powers....itty bitty living space." Except there wasn't anything itty bitty on my body.

Over the years, as my breasts increased in size, so did my physical pain. Migraines and back aches were common. I'd fall asleep and wake up in the middle of the night on my back, with my hands numb. I began sleeping on the couch so I could rest at just the right angle to avoid pain. Eventually, I developed a curve in my spine.

And I started to hate my breasts because of the pain. . .

To Be Continued in Part 3. . .

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Body Image Battle pt 1

I've written this post about fifty times in my head. Trying to figure out the best words and even wondering if I should write it at all.

In the end, it all boils down to my insecurities. And, over the next few days, I'm really going to putting all my insecurities out there. Or at least the root of them.

You see, I've always hated my body.

Hated it.

I'm not sure whether the issues started because of childhood trauma or because I was "the first girl in my grade" to develop. You never want to be one of the first girls. And you don't want to be the last girl, either.

My family's poverty didn't help. On top of being "that girl" who had more curves, I also had the "special lunch card" that let the cafeteria workers (and all the other kids) know I got free lunch or free milk.

I withdrew into myself. Not that I was outspoken. I learned to hide. I never raised my hand. I didn't let the teachers know I knew the answer. I could keep up with the "smart kids" in the gifted classes, but the teacher wouldn't know it because my hand never went up. I didn't contribute. I didn't understand the social nuances or the jokes the other kids made. To this day, I am still embarrassed by incidents that happened in grade school due to being so unaware. I am still haunted by the teasing and the taunts from junior high and grade school. The nicknames. The pranks. The shame.

So I hid. I hid myself in my writing. And I hid my body under layers and layers of clothes.

On a recent interaction with a friend from junior high, she commented that she was always "the biggest" of our group of friends. She was wrong. I was bigger. I just hid it. People just thought I was heavy.

Once I got to college, I tried out wearing clothes that fit better, but old habits die hard.

Looking back from twenty years later, first I have to question the hair. But it was the 90s and I think we all have certain hair regrets from the 90s. I also look back and see all my flaws. I see how I wore shapeless things to disguise my shape. You wouldn't know it from the picture, I weighed less than 100 lbs.

Over the years, I learned the value of turning in just the right way to hide my arms. The right amount of layering to make sure I blended in. Or even using props to hide myself...

 Here I am, just a week after giving birth to my second child. The baby and dark clothing meant to hide my postpartum body.

And this...this is what I looked like when my oldest was only 4 months old.

Do you see it finally? What I have been trying to hide all these years? It was made exponentially worse by being a nursing mother. In this picture, I am a size 6...on the bottom at least. On the top, I was wearing an 18.

Over the years, it hadn't gotten better. Most friends, when discussing bra size were shocked when I shared mine.

 After my second baby was born, I wore a 38H. I had no idea about proper bra fitting at the time.  I had no idea that the middle portion of the bra between the cups was supposed to fit flat against your chest. The 38H is just what I could find that fit. The volume was 38H but the band size wasn't correct. Knowing what I wore at my most recent fitting and being about 30 lbs heavier, I was probably closer to a 30L.

Not wearing a proper bra perpetuated my body image issues. My breasts hung low, hiding any shape I had. I looked in my pictures and all I saw were boobs. No middle. Just giant boobs.

I was sure every person who met me first noticed my boobs. I heard the whispers. It wasn't in my head. I was "The mom with the gigantic boobs."

I tried to lose weight, but it didn't help. No sooner did I lose weight, than I found myself pregnant again.

The clothes I wore didn't help. Spending 16 years without a break either pregnant and or nursing didn't help. I still hated my body. I tried to accept who I was and the shape God had blessed me with. God made me beautiful, right? My mom told me that. My wonderful husband told me that. They were supposed to tell me I was beautiful, you know?

Then why didn't I believe it? What was wrong with me that I could only see the flaws?

For some reason, I still associated with bullies. None that I could see in person; just ones on the internet. I posted on message boards searching for acceptance. Maybe, just maybe if I could find people who didn't know me in person who liked me anyway, it would be better. Writing this, I have come to realize I understand the mind of a teenager on the internet better than someone my age should. I've been there--subject to cyberbullying because I published harmless pictures of myself and found instead of support, ridicule. Fat. Lazy. Ugly. Stupid.

It led to more depression and anxiety. More self-hate. I tried to do more-- to be super mom. Not only super mom, I wanted to be super crunchy hippie mom. Home birth, home school, breastfeeding, anti-circumcision, cloth diapering, super mom. Why? Because these women celebrated their bodies. They accepted themselves. They thought they were beautiful. And I thought if I did all those things, then I'd think I was beautiful, too.

But I didn't. I still hated my body.

Something needed to change.

To Be Continued in Part 2...

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Girl Scout Cookie recipe round up

January is here and that means Girl Scout cookies are just around the corner. Leelee's best friend sells cookies. I call her my little drug dealer. Because let's face it, girl scout cookies are an addictive drug. Why else would we pay such a high cost for so few cookies? Especially when there are some very convincing knock-offs  made by little elves in trees that cost a lot less money?

To help with the addiction, I've rounded up some great recipes that involve those delicious girl scout cookies! And if you want even more, be sure to follow my Girl Scout Cookie board on Pinterest

I was surprised to find so many different things to do with the girl scout cookies or had those special girl scout cookie flavors...Everything from Milkshakes to Muddy Buddies to Puddings and Cheesecake!

What's your favorite cookie? Mine is the Do Si Do. What's weird is I don't really like NutterButter cookies. It has to be the Do Si Do. My second favorite is Samoas. D prefers Thin Mints.

Girl Scout Cookie Shakes by Your Home Based Mom

Samoas Chex Mix by I Heart Eating

Thin Mint Puppy Chow by Your Cup of Cake

Copy Cat Samoas recipe by Cooking Classy

Homemade DoSiDos by Frugal Antics

Homemade Tagalongs by The Spiffy Cookie

Homemade Trefoils (shortbread) by Eat My Shortbread

Samoa Cookie Brownies by Pink Cake Plate

No Bake Vegan Thin Mints by Averie Cooks

Samoas Cookie Cups by The Domestic Rebel

Girl Scout Cookie Cream Cups by Brit + Co

Tagalong Brownie Cookie Bars by Jasey's Crazy Daisy

Thin Mint Cookie Butter by The Kitchen Paper

Samoas Cookie dip by Live Love Pasta

Tagalong Stuffed DoSiDo Brownie Cups by The Nonpareil Baker

Tagalong Rice Krispy Treats by Mallow and Co

Thin Mint Cookie Dough Truffles by Something Swanky

Thin Mint Cupcakes by Inside BruCrew Life

Girl Scout Cookie Banana Pudding by The Wowie

Samoa Cookie Bread Pudding by LaJolla Mom

Samoa Cookie Bites by Happy Food, Healthy Life

Thin mint Brownies by Sweat Pea's Kitchen 

Crock Pot Tagalongs Mini Cakes by Repeat Crafter Me

Tagalong Waffle Cookies by Yums and Loves

Thin Mint Oven Strudels by Picky Palate

Samoas Brownie Parfait by Country Cleaver

Girl Scout Cookie Fudge by Dine and Dish

Thin Mint Cheesecake by Sunny Tuesday

Girl Scout Cookie Cheesecakes by Sugar Derby

Thin Mint Fudge by Kristin's Knook

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