Inspirational Words

 

I’m reciting this to my kids every day from now on.  One of my favorites, by one of my favorite poets.

Raising Eyebrows

lily collins_eyebrows

via Lily Collins is basically the queen of the full-eyebrow trend

The full eyebrow trend makes me so happy.  So, so happy.

As you can see from this picture of me in 10th grade, full eyebrows are kind of my thing.  I got them from my Dad.  Thanks, Dad.

my eyebrows

#TBT to when my eyebrows were OUT. OF. CONTROL. And my cheeks were too.

Full eyebrows were not AT ALL the thing when I was in high school.  Back in my sophomore year in 1995, these were the eyebrows you wanted:

drew barrymore skinny browsSuper skinny, penciled-on eyebrows.  Which, clearly, I did not have.  Oh, the waxing and the plucking I endured in pursuit of these eyebrows.

So it is an irony not lost on me that after spending most of my life trying to tame my crazy eyebrows into submission, I am now at a point where I have to fill them in or they look too sparse.

I still have to wax them too, though, because they don’t grow where they’re SUPPOSED to grow.  Of course.

I bought a few eyebrow products recently that I really like.  Thanks to these two products, I have full eyebrows, but not caterpillars-crawling-across-my-forehead, Bert-from-Sesame-Street eyebrows. Which is a good thing.

I’m grateful that full eyebrows are back in style.  It makes my life easier for sure–far fewer waxing appointments, less time plucking, and two minutes of filling-in-and-gelling in the mornings.  It also bodes well for B, who inherited my significant eyebrows (sorry, B, but at least they’re in style now!).

I hope this natural look sticks around for a while (or, you know, forever).

Meal Planning

photo(2)

I go in fits and starts with planning meals in advance.  Sometimes I get on a really good roll and plan a week or two out, and sometimes I am scrambling around at 4:30PM trying to figure out what we’re eating for dinner that night.

I know there are some people who plan WAY far out—a month of meals all decided in advance.  That’s impressive, but not at all realistic for me.  My ideal situation is when I get about 7-10 days planned out.  It takes all the pressure off on a daily basis because I already know what I’m cooking that night.  It’s flexible so if something comes up, I can sub one night for another easily.  And it really makes grocery shopping MUCH easier: I make my shopping list based on the meals I have planned, so I am never short an important ingredient at the last minute, and I don’t overspend by just buying a bunch of random stuff and just hoping I can throw something good together with whatever I’ve got.

Right now I’m in a good meal planning groove and I’m determined to keep my momentum going.  I have meals planned through the end of this week and up to Monday of next week.  I usually grocery shop on Mondays, so as long as I sit down one night before then and plan out next week’s meals, I shouldn’t have any problem keeping this up.

Here’s the plan for the next few nights:

Tonight: Kung Pao Chicken (using the recipe from Wegmans but subbing in chicken for shrimp because it’s what I have)

kung pao

Thurs: Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup (Simple, fast, and everyone’s happy!)

Fri: Miso salmon, steamed broccoli, bread (We eat salmon pretty regularly, but this is my favorite way to prepare it.)

miso salmonSat: Dinner out with friends

Sun: Golden chili (I don’t know where we got this recipe, but this is my favorite chili.  It has both sweet and hot Italian sausage, chickpeas, and corn in it.  When Matt makes it this weekend, I’ll get some pictures and post the recipe soon.)

Mon: Bierocks with salad (I think this is a German dish—it’s fresh bread stuffed with meat and veggies.  So yummy, so warm and comforting.  And this is my favorite bread recipe, hands down.)

bierocks

I’ve been using my new day planner from Sugar Paper LA (which I LOOOOOOOVVVVEEEE) to help me get more organized.  I’m using it for meal-planning, blog-post planning, and keeping track of all of our schedules.  I’m an analog girl when it comes to stuff like this—the phone will probably never replace my hand-written lists.

Do you meal plan?  Share some of your favorite recipes!

Frozen

183-IMG_3484

There’s something about an open-air ice skating rink that’s just more exciting than an indoor rink.

We took the kids skating in Central Park just before Thanksgiving and had so much fun.  They’ve been asking to go skating again every week since then, so over winter break we drove into DC to check out the outdoor rink at the National Sculpture Garden.

Who am I to deny them?  Plus, I love skating.  And field trips into the city.

117-IMG_3418

Downtown, we met my cousin and her family, who were visiting for Christmas.  They have two little girls the same age as B and G.  We see them twice a year—once at Christmas and once in the summer—and each time B gets together with her cousins, it’s like they never missed a day.  I love these little peas in a pod.

123-IMG_3424

No trip to the National Mall would be complete for my kids without lunch at their #1 favorite restaurant in the whole world: The Atrium Cafe in the Museum of Natural History.  Seriously, you would think this was a 5-star restaurant rather than a cafeteria-style cafe the way my kids talk about it.  But it does have good food—much of which is organic and locally sourced—so we went there for lunch before our skating adventure.

229-DSC_2446

We also spent some time strolling the Sculpture Gardens and getting coffees and hot chocolates.  Then at 4PM, we took to the ice.

154-IMG_3455 180-IMG_3481 190-IMG_3491 194-IMG_3495 195-IMG_3496 204-IMG_3505

The skating passes we bought were good for two hours, and we used every minute of our time.  As the sun set and the lights came up around the rink, it just got better.  Walking back to the car, B asked why we don’t go into the city more often, and I didn’t have a good answer.  I think we’ll have to put it on our adventure list for this year.

As I’m looking through these pics, I realize that Matt isn’t in any of them because he was manning the camera the whole time.  We need to do a better job of getting him in these shots to prove he was really there!

Moving Abroad: Prepping the House

Since finding out we’d be moving, we’ve been getting the house ready to be rented.  While it’s mostly fine, we realized upon looking around more critically that we were living with little things that would need to be fixed before the house was rent-ready.   I think we’d stop noticing some of the minor stuff–the master bathroom needs a coat of paint, the upstairs trim needs to be freshened up with white, the doorbell cap is broken and needs to be replaced.  Little things.  Fairly easy to fix.

And then we were living with things we (I) hate and wanted to change, but either couldn’t justify the expense, or we’d decided to hold off until we saved enough money to REALLY redo things.  Replacing the upstairs carpet, for example.  Major update.  Not easy or inexpensive.  But necessary before we can rent the house.

We bought our house eight years ago from a retired couple.  They had wall-to-wall white carpet in every room except the kitchen and front hall.  Do you know what white carpet looks like after 8 years, 4 kids, a cat, and a dog?  Basically like garbage.  Worn out garbage covered in stains.

We replaced the downstairs carpet with hardwood floors years ago, but had left the upstairs carpet alone.  Although I’d been wanting to replace it for a while, it just hadn’t happened.  We waffled between re-carpeting and going with hardwoods.  We also knew that we eventually want to put an addition on the house above the garage, so we didn’t want to spend a lot on new flooring upstairs just to redo it a few years down the line.  And so we just kept steam cleaning it periodically and discussing our options.

But with the new plan—renting the house when we move—new carpet upstairs became the only feasible solution—and a priority.

I called a few places to get estimates.  A week before Christmas, the final company came to give their pricing and offered us 10% off the cost, plus they would waive all the fees if we would have the carpet installed the next day.  It seems the week before Christmas is slow in the carpet installation business, so they’ll really cut you a deal if you get new carpets then.

Which is why we spent all evening one week before Christmas moving everything off bookcases, dressers, and out of closets in all three bedrooms upstairs.  We brought everything downstairs and stacked it all in the den.  It was a LOT of stuff.  And hard work, actually.  And it made a huge, ugly, chaotic mess in the center of my house.

But, in the end, it was a blessing in disguise, because the only things that went BACK up into the bedrooms are things we plan to move with us overseas.  We purged all those stacks and boxes before moving anything back up, and we have SO MUCH LESS CLUTTER up there now.  We would never have done all that quickly and thoroughly if we weren’t getting the carpets done, so even though it was a ton of work, it was well worth it in the end.

Several HUGE items checked off the To-Do list, plus brand new clean carpet for the holidays.  Winning!

Leggings Are Not Pants

Matt got me two pair of fleece-lined leggings for Christmas this year.  These ones, to be precise.

After wearing them, to be honest, I no longer understand the need for any other type of pants.  They are the most comfortable things EVAH.  And they’re cable knit.  So, so adorbs.

BUT, as we all know…

LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS.

Here’s the thing…I am totally happy to wear these fleece-lined cable knit beauties around the house.  But I can’t go out in them.  My legs are neither long nor particularly lean and I’ve always had more than my fair share of junk in my trunk.  Plus, even if you ARE tall and skinny, it’s hard to pull off leggings without a longer top.  I mean, I suppose I could wear Spanx, but that really takes away the whole comfort factor.

So if I want to wear these out, I need to come up with some cute outfits that are also appropriate for leaving the house (i.e. my butt is covered).  And really, I want to wear these leggings always because they’re so comfy, so I really need to find a way to wear them out.

I pinned a few options I think are cute, and I’m looking through my closet and trying to get a little more creative with what I have.  I’m now on the lookout for a fun tribal-print swing cardigan.

I’d love this one, but it’s slightly out of my price range.

FFN_IMAGE_51512399|FFN_SET_60083179

Until I find the right one, I’ll guess I’ll just settle for lounging around the house in the world’s best pants.