Karma and Life Lessons

In life, you get back what you give.  Whether you believe that or not, I do.  And if I forget it, Karma is always there to remind me…

Keys and KarmaYesterday was a good day.  I have no major complaints.  Yes, there were hiccups through out the day (like the 2:30 phone call telling me that school was closing early because of severe weather and that there would be no after school care… and oh, leave work and come pick your kids up.)  It was a good day.

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes when you get asked a question and the answer is just to complicated to explain (or the answer is just none of someone else’s business), it’s sometimes easiest to just tell a little white lie to satisfy the question seeker’s curiosity.  Never anything that could cause problems, but just a little while lie.  “What did you do this weekend?”  “I cleaned house some, hung around, you know,,, nothing major.” … when what I really might have done was been apartment hunting or job searching.  There are just some things you aren’t ready to discuss, you know?

So, I had a few of these moments yesterday.  No biggie, nothing major.  I had no hangups about it through the afternoon.  I mean, everybody does it right?

And then I locked my keys in my car.

Thanks, Karma.

Newsflash!  It’s not nice to lie… <sigh> even if they are little white ones.  Since that little tidbit had clearly slipped my mind, Karma stepped in to give me a swift kick in the booty.  You had better believe that as soon as I realized what I had just done, every half-truth that has come out of my mouth in the recent past came flooding out of the recesses of my brain.  And as I stood in the light rain, using Google to find a locksmith, I was happy that the only kick in the booty Karma had delivered was my keys.

Oh, and the $150 locksmith bill to get my door open.

Posted in Life in General | 2 Comments

It Finally Feels Like Home… Things Are Coming Together!

Today’s update on my new apartment space is sponsored by Gold Peak Coffee.  Gold Peak Coffee sent me a few items to make my new home feel more like “home” and some additional compensation for my time.  All thoughts and opinions shared here are mine and mine alone. #SipOfHome

I'm Home - SipOfHome - Gold Peak CoffeeI’ve talked about it before, but one of the hardest transitions for me lately has been getting to the point where my apartment feels like home.  I haven’t lived in an apartment in 15 years.  I’ve always had a place that was “mine” and it was home.  Having lived in my last house for over 10 years, thinking of that house as home has been a hard habit to break.

IKEA Mirror Collage - Sip of Home  - Gold Peak Coffee #adI’ve spent that last few weeks taking some of my own advice and really working t make my apartment feel like home.  When I’m leaving a dinner date, I don’t want to say that I’m heading back to my apartment, I want to say that I’m heading home.  And I finally feel like I can do that.

I started by getting some more things up on the walls.  Buying art can be incredibly expensive, but there are short cuts.  The mirror arrangement I did on the wall behind the loveseat cost me less than $20, and the whole things can be put up with adhesive strips!  I’ll probably upload a template for the arrangement and info on where to get the mirrors sometime later this week.  It has a pretty big impact when you consider what size art you’ll get in most stores for $20.

Roses Flowers - SipOfHome Gold Peak Coffee HomeI talked about color once before.  Living within 4 white (or even off-white) walls feels institutional and definitely not the vision that is evoked with I think of home.  I’ve spent a lot of time finding way to bring in color and make home feel more homey.  Fresh flowers are a huge way to bring in some color (and smell!).  They also bring  little of the outdoors in, which helps with the next thing…

Sip of Home Gold Peak Coffee #adComfort  – Home is a place you are supposed to feel comfortable.  I want to be out having Gold Peak Coffee with my sister and the comfort of the warm cup make me think about home.  One of my favorite things to do at home is curl up in the corner of the couch with a warm cup of coffee and a blanket.  Something about holding a warm up in my hand, even in a restaurant, makes me think of home.  For me, that is comfort and comfort is home.

Apartment Bedroom - SipOfHome - Gold Peak CoffeePractice – You’re probably thinking I’m a little crazy.  What are you “practicing” to make your apartment feel like home?!  Easy… I’m practicing leaving “home”, talking about “home”, relating things to “home” and going “home”.  Fenway has certainly decided that this is home.

Gold Peak Coffee (formerly Georgia Coffee) connects you with the comforts of home, even when you’re out enjoying life.  It’s a comforting, warm way to start your day, or as I sometimes like to, end it. It’s also now available in several areas where it wasn’t before.  Check out Gold Peak Coffee to see where you can try out their amazing coffee, and join the convo on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #SipOfHome.

What are some of the things you like to do to make home feel like “home”?  Does a warm cup of coffee do the same thing for you that it does for me?

As a reminder, this post was sponsored by Gold Peak Coffee.  All opinions and commentary are my own.

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Posted in Food, For the Home | 16 Comments

Until You’ve Walked A Mile… Back OFF The NICU Mom!

I’m not one to use my site, and yes – this is MY site – to rant.  I generally reserve that for my close personal friends, whom I bombard with incessant text messages until I get out whatever has grated on my nerves.  Today though, this is one you all need to hear.  BACK OFF THE NICU MOM.

The-Vintage-Modern-WifeThis is my friend Stephanie.  She lives in Texas and writes at The Vintage Modern Wife.  Have we met in person?  No.  “Then you don’t really know her and she’s not really your friend.”  Wrong.  I know more about her and what she’s been going through than most of the general population.  I know she’s a good person trying to make ends meet for her family.  I know her heart is bursting with joy and breaking with sadness, all at the same time, every minute of every day.  I know that Stephanie has cried herself to sleep more times in the last month than she has in her entire life.

Stephanie is a NICU mom.

Before Stephanie’s baby girl was born, she and her husband knew they were in for a hard road ahead.  Stephanie has shared much of what’s been going on her on Facebook page for The Vintage Modern Wife.  Her life for the last 6 week has been anything but a cake walk.  If you’ve never experienced having a child in the hospital with an illness (let alone a newborn) you can’t even begin to imagine.  She has even given up her job as a teacher so that she can spend as much time taking care of Addy as possible.

10610947_798402120201444_3347693390121073929_nLike most of us who blog as a source of income, whether it be full-time or supplemental, we take on sponsored post or stories from time to time.  Very often, these deals are set up pretty far in advance, though not always.  Some are quick little projects that pay little and some are more involved and pay a lot.  We take on projects… some because we love the concept, some because we need the income, some because working with a particular brand is just too good to pass up.

Stephanie took on a project with Lindt Chocolate – I did not work on this project, but I have bought the chocolate and it’s AMAZING!.  She spun her piece into a story about making friends in the NICU.  She spends A LOT of time there.

I publish 99% of the comments that come through on my site.  I generally don’t filter the mean ones out, so long as they aren’t filled with adult content or spam, up they go.  From time to time, I’ll get a comment that stings a little.  I try to let it roll off and move on.  Sometimes, there are comments that get under my skin and I just can’t shake them.  Today, that comment wasn’t on my site, but on Stephanie’s.

UntitledMaddie – I don’t know who in the H-E-doublehockeysticks you think you are, but you need to back OFF the NICU mom.

I’m not usually one to judge, at least I try not to be, but I will certainly pass judgement here.  Maddie, you’ve clearly never had a child in the hospital.  If you had, you’d know that the time you spend sitting, waiting, hoping… that time is time your mind races.  All of the horrible things that could go wrong for you, for you child and for the children of those around you.  In the silence, the time spent while babies are in surgery or otherwise where you can’t hold them, love on them, care for them… your mind swims with all of this awfulness.  Sometimes, you need to do something else.  And doing that something else, whether it’s a crossword puzzle or writing a sponsored post (by the way, NICU isn’t FREE!) that IS how you take care of your kid.

So, Maddie, you wanted attention?  (I mean, what other reason would there be for leaving a just spiteful comment like that…)  Now you have it.  You have the attention of everyone – EVERYONE who cares about Stephanie and baby Addy.  You have the attention of NICU moms everywhere.  I can guarantee you they will all be thinking about you tonight and hoping you never have the chance to see just how wrong you are.

#PinkNinja Addison ArmyFor those interested in showing support for Stephanie, Addison and their family, some of her blogging friends have put together a t-shirt sale.  The t-shirts are $25 and all proceeds go toward helping Stephanie and her family cover Addison’s medical expenses.  If you’d like to order a t-shirt, just click on the image above.  If you’d like to help in another way, feel free to reach out to me via email and we’ll figure it out!  jamie@mamamommymom.com

The response and amount of encouraging words for Stephanie has been amazing.  You guys don’t even know how much it means to Stephanie (and me!) to have you all comment here, on Facebook and everywhere else this has been shared.  You guys are amazing!

Posted in Blogging How To, Life in General, Parenting | 22 Comments

12 Boo-zey Drinks {Perfect Halloween Cocktails}

Halloween is one of the few times a year that adults get a free pass on acting like kids. We get to dress up, eat ungodly amounts of candy and Trick or Treat (with our kids, of course!). But when it comes to parties, we want our Halloween cocktails to be a little boo-zey.

12 Boozey Halloween Cocktails

There’s definitely something for everyone here.  Make one or make them all… there are definitely a few of these Halloween cocktails I want to try myself!  Click on the images below to check out the recipes, see more pictures, and check out other fantastic content on the sites mentioned below.

Blood of Vampires at Eggs and Herbs
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Blood and Bones at Brit + Co
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Martini Trio at The Sunshine Party Studio
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Halloween Pumpkin Punch at FreutCake
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Halloween Sangria at Recipe Girl
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Hocus Pocus Fizz at Doughmesstic
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Midnight Stalker at DailyNoff
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The Jack-o-Lantern at Hostess with the Mostess
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Spiderella at A Healthy Life For Me
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Vampire’s Dream at Ezra Pound Cake
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Vampire’s Kiss at Raining Hot Coupons
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Posted in Food, Party Ideas, Recipes | 9 Comments

Chalkboard Kitchen Conversion Chart Printable

If you’re looking for cute kitchen decor, or if you’re new to cooking and need a reference, kitchen conversion chart printables are widely available around the internet.  Given their popularity, it seemed only fitting that I offer one here.

Black Chalkboard Kitchen Conversions

I try to keep my printables clean and uncluttered, so I hope you like this one.  To download the full resolution file, just click here.  Right click on the image once it opens and “save as” to where ever on your computer you like.  With the chalkboard background, I recommend printing on a heavier paper, like cardstock.

Have something you’d like to see as a printable?  Let me know!  I’m always looking for ideas of things I can provide to you guys.  I’m happy to take on special projects.

Good luck in the kitchen!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Turn A Brown Paper Bag Into A Trick-Or-Treat Bag #EarlyLearnersAcademy

What feels like forever ago, my friends at Elmer’s sent me a tool box full of Elmer’s products and basic crafting supplies for my little ones to free-range with (we’re huge fans of free-range art.)  Instead of telling her what to do with the contents, I simply turned my 7 year old loose.  What did she do?  She turned a brown paper bag and some strips of construction paper into a Trick-Or-Treat Bag.

Trick-Or-Treat Bag #EarlyLearnersAcademyCraft supplies you can never go wrong with?  Paper and glue.  I’ve been making stuff out of paper and glue since before I even remember.  I know there’s a box somewhere of who knows what that I made back in elementary school… likely a whole lot of glue and paper projects.  I have a box of the same for each of the kids.  We run through both paper and glue here like there’s a never ending supply.

Elmers #EarlyLearnersAcademy Trick-Or-Treat BagThe products Elmer’s sent us were from their line for younger children.  Both Cullen and Addison we able to open the glues easier than with the traditional packaging we’re all used to seeing.  The bulkier shape and size makes easier work for little fingers.  When I set the kids loose with a project like this, I want to know that they can do it on their own, with little to no help from me.  That includes having to run to their aid to open things for them.

Elmer's Crafting Trick-Or-Treat BagThe only advice I gave Addy during this project was to lay her work out before she started gluing anything down.  She picked her own design, she picked her own glue, she even asked if I had green paper to use for a stem.

Halloween Trick-Or-Treat BagIt’s a good thing she rarely minds being the subject of my photographic endeavors.  Pumpkin in place, glue drying… time for finishing touches!  Those creatures kind of look like butterflies to me, but I am assured that they are bats.  I offered black construction paper, but apparently she prefers mixed medium art.

In the end, a super cute project for a super cute girl.  One that she is happy with and that I can be happy with knowing she flexed her creative muscles!

If your kids Trick-Or-Treat, what do they carry to collect their candy in?

Posted in Crafts | 10 Comments

Domestic Violence, Financial Abuse and The Purple Purse Challenge

Today’s post is sponsored by The Allstate Foundation’s The Purple Purse Challenge and MomSelect.  Opinions shared are my own.

While two-thirds of Americans believe domestic violence is a serious problem, just over 1 in 3 have ever talked about it.

Let that sink in for a minute.  First, that means that the other third of the population either doesn’t think domestic violence is a serious problem, or they just don’t care either way.  Second, that means that only half of the people who acknowledge the problem will ever talk about it.  Today, we’re going to talk about it.

Here are some domestic violence facts for you:

Financial Abuse The Purple Purse Challenge

Those are scary numbers.

I have personally watched friends struggle through Financial Abuse.  Financial Abuse is just as effective in controlling an abused victim as a lock and key.  Ruined credit?  Can’t get an apartment.  Harassed at work?  Bye-bye job.  When you have no money and no way to leave, what choice do you have other than to stay?

Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has invested more than $40 million across the country to help Domestic Violence survivors regain control of their finances and break free from abuse.  This is where the Purple Purse Challenge comes into play.  You can help ensure Domestic Violence survivors – likely someone you know, whether you’re aware of it or not – by joining the Purple Purse Challenge and help a non-profit local to you gain much needed funding to help stop the cycle.  Please take a moment to go learn about The Purple Purse Challenge and what you can do to help those in your community who are suffering through Domestic Violence.

If you or someone you know are a victim of Domestic Violence of any kind, don’t wait to call for help.  Reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).  It can be the difference in life and death.

With the statistics being what they are, how many of you have been or know someone who has been affected by Domestic Violence?

Posted in Health/Wellness, Life in General | Leave a comment

1 Rotisserie Chicken, 2 Meals, Spend Less Than $25

Have I mentioned how I like quick meals?  These may not be ready in 10 minutes, but picking up a store bought rotisserie chicken surely speeds up the process.  Invest $25, about 30 minutes and you’ll have dinner for 4 for 2 nights.

Recipes Using Rotisserie ChickenMost grocery stores have rotisserie chickens ready to go every day at dinner time.  If you want something fresh and “whole” but don’t want to spend a ton of time on prep or cooking, grabbing a rotisserie chicken is a great shortcut.  Even when 4 of us were eating, we never at the whole chicken the first night.  Don’t pitch the left overs though!  That’s tomorrow night’s dinner!

Repurpose Rotisserie ChickenFor meal one, we’re making roasted veggies and serving the chicken as is.  The kids always take the legs and the breast are usually big enough that 1 and a half will feed two adults.

Roasting VegetablesYou can use just about any combo of veggies, but I prefer to stay away from potatoes or anything that you wouldn’t eat raw.  I don’t want to spend 45 minutes roasting veggies.  Mushrooms, baby carrots, broccolini and radishes were what looked good to me.  If you’ve never grilled or roasted a radish, you should give it a try.  The flavor completely changes.  They are amazing!

Oven Roast VeggiesThere is absolutely no measuring in either of these meals!  Use your eyes and you’ll be fine.  For the veggies, they all go in a mixing bowl (after being rinsed) and I add a few tablespoons of olive oil and a good chug of balsamic vinegar.  For seasoning, you can go as simple as salt and pepper or add some Italian herbs. Toss it all together and pour it in a baking dish.  It hits the oven for about 20 minutes at 425 degrees.

Rotisserie Chicken with Over Roast Veggies As you can see, the balsamic caramelizes a bit and gets a nice sweet and tangy flavor going.  It’s a great compliment to the simple flavor of the chicken.

While your veggies are roasting, you have plenty of time to completely prep your second meal.  My chicken salad, which I happen to think is killer, is a family favorite.  (It’s also a great way to use leftover turkey from those upcoming holiday meals!)  You want to pick clean that chicken.  Both thighs, the half breast that’s left plus any breast meat hanging onto the bones from the other side.  Wing meat works great here too.  Leave no meat behind!  It’s faster than you think… you’ll have the chicken picked clean in under 5 minutes.

Chicken Salad IngredientsIn my chicken salad, I use chopped chicken, diced apple, chopped celery, sliced grapes, a few sliced green onions, salt, pepper and mayo.  Mix it all up, adjust your mayo and seasonings until you’re happy with the consistency and flavor, then store it in an air tight container in the fridge for tomorrow.  I like to add pecans to mine just before serving.

Rotisserie Chicken SaladIf you catch the things you need on sale, you can make both of these for WAY under $25.  I paid full price for most of my ingredients and still came out at roughly $23.  If you don’t want chicken two nights back to back, easy enough… hold off on your chicken salad ingredients, but still pick that chicken clean.  Toss the meat into a freezer bag and into the cold it goes.  You can pull it out a day ahead and prep your chicken salad for another day.

Do you have any favorite shortcuts you take when cooking?  The rotisserie chicken is one of my favorite shortcuts, but I know there are other great shortcuts too.  Share your secrets with the rest of us in the comments!

Posted in Food, Recipes | 8 Comments

Making An Apartment Feel More Like Home

Today’s post is sponsored by Acorn Influence and it’s advertiser, SC Johnson.  That just means that I get a little something for writing a unique article that readers can enjoy and that SC Johnson can stand behind.  If you’re living in an apartment or missing an old home, I hope you find it useful.

Make Your Apartment Feel More Like HomeIf you’ve somehow missed that I’ve left behind my home of over 10 years for a small apartment in another city, I’ll wait while you catch up…  Change is hard.  It’s hard leaving behind things that don’t fit in my new place or things that needed to stay behind at the house for one reason or another.  The first night in my apartment, the only time it felt like home was when my kids were bouncing off the walls and my Border Collie was pushing on my arm, begging me to throw a toy.  Once everyone settled down for the night, it was lonely and strange.  I was missing my stuff, I was missing my home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m also exciting about starting over, starting fresh.  Still, I want my apartment to feel like home – preferably sooner rather than later.  I’ve put together a few tips for making an apartment feel more like home.  They’ve helped me and if you’ve just moved or are moving in the future, they may help you too.

1) Get stuff up on the walls.  It might seem like something that should be an after thought, but you’d be surprised how much the little things, the things that seem irrelevant, play into a place feeling like home.

When I made this piece (from pallet scraps) I had no idea where it would hang, but one of the first things I did the weekend I moved in was find it’s home and get it on the wall.  With all of the adhesive products on the market for hanging things, you don’t have to worry about finding the place things are going to stay forever and ever (that or filling your rented walls with a hundred nail holes), so stop worrying about finding the perfect place for everything and hang some of your favorite pieces, or even new ones.

2) Put out a welcome mat.  Maybe you don’t want guests knocking on your door, but at least your welcome mat will be there to welcome YOU home every day.  It’s also a way you can show a little personality outside of your apartment and mark your place as “yours”.

3) Embrace color where you can.  If you can paint walls, do it.  If you can’t, pull color out in other places… like your furniture, curtains or your floors (rugs!).

Y’all, when I found out my walls would be beige and tans, I knew the whole brown/tan sofa thing I’ve had going on for the last, of, 15 years wasn’t going to work.  I mean, I could’ve bought another boring, blah sofa and it would’ve been “fine” but it would’ve felt sterile and *blah*.  I don’t want home to feel *blah*.  So, when I set out shopping for furniture and found this blue little number at a resale shop, I took it.  It’s actually brand new… I had no idea that some resale shops sell new stuff too.  The greens in the pillows and the chair that matches will give me a perfect jumping off point for curtains and rugs, as well as little decor touches that will add to the color in the room.

Make Your Apartment Feel Like Home with Candles4) Don’t underestimate your sense of smell.  The nose knows!  While my new place smelled absolutely lovely when I moved in, it didn’t smell like home.  Home smells like food, stuff baking (sometimes like the dog – they don’t make a candle for that, do they?)  In the fall, my house always smelled like pumpkin or spices – sometimes both.  Lighting candles or using plug-ins or wax melts in scents that are familiar to you will make your space feel more homey.

5) Don’t spend more than you need to, but get things that will last.  Unless you’re moving into a college dorm, there is no reason that your whole place should be furnished from the “back to school” section at your local big box retailer.  If you buy an apartment full of furniture meant for a dorm room, that’s what your apartment is going to feel like.  Now, that’s not to say that $10 end tables from IKEA don’t have a place (I just picked up 2 last night myself) but they are a small piece of my furniture puzzle, not the whole thing.  If you can’t afford new, “real” furniture pieces, shop used!  There are tons of great resale shops and you can really have fun with yard sales or refinishing furniture too.

It feels more like home already, yes?  If you’ve moved from a house to an apartment or other short-term/rental situation, I’m sure you’ve been there too!  What tips or tricks do you have up your sleeve for making an apartment feel more like home?

Posted in Apartment Living, For the Home | 22 Comments

I Taught My Kids To Throw Clay

Life is messy, y’all.  Literally and metaphorically.  With all the packing and the moving in the last few weeks, I’ve unearthed things I’d forgotten about.  My kids hadn’t forgot about them, but I had.  Case and point, the plastic, battery operated pottery wheel the girl got for Christmas last year (thanks to whoever bought that little gem – it also included spin art.)

IMG_1213At some point in the “clean out the garage” phase of moving, the box that had been shoved behind a wheelbarrow was unearthed.  The requests started nearly immediately.  “When can we make pottery?  Can we make pottery today?  I want to get out the pottery wheel!”  I broke down over the weekend, gave up the fight, and chucked out the cash for some “D” batteries.  I didn’t have high hopes for this little project.

IMG_1219Having taken my fair share of Folk Art in high school, I actually know how to throw pottery on a wheel (electric or kick.)  I also know how hard it is to get a nice, finished piece when your first starting out – and that’s using nice clay and great tools.  This little plastic number?  It’s not my idea of a “great tool”.  You work with what you have though.

IMG_1215Our meager supplies netted us very little in the way of actual pottery.  What we did end up with was one heck of a mess, but two very happy, very proud children.  (Subsequently, we also ended up with a Border Collie sporting some clay in his fur – occupational hazard.)

photo(67)Yes, life is messy.  Sometimes messy is necessary and sometimes messy is fun.  Embrace the mess, don’t worry so much about the clean up that comes after, and enjoy life for what it is – an incredibly wonderful mess.

Posted in Crafts, Life in General | Leave a comment