Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saving The Earth One Day At A Time

April 22nd is Earth Day!


Instead of celebrating our planet for just one day, please join me for the entire month in learning what you can do to take care of our environment.


Learn how to cut back, recycle, create your own cleaning products &
beauty products (minus the chemicals), eat organic, and how to "THINK GREEN" overall, to improve the quality of your life as well as the quality of your atmosphere.


Whether or not you believe that global warming is at work currently, the truth is we all use too many chemicals in our daily lives that have been proven to cause all types of allergies and diseases. Do this for yourself if not anything else!


Below is a test that I found in a book called
365 Ways To Live Green by Diane Gow McDilda.
Take the test to see if you are treading lightly on this planet or if you are leaving a heavy footprint.

How often do you recycle?

A) I am a recycling nut. I recycle everything I can; paper, aluminum, printer cartridges, you name it.

B) I recycle when it's convenient as long as it doesn't require any excessive thought or effort on my part.

C) I don't have the time or patience to recycle. I am a busy person.

Do you use recycled products?

A) I try to reduce what I need, but when I do have to make purchases, I opt for recycled products whenever possible.

B) If I remember to look for the recycle triangle logo, I will usually buy that product.

C) So that's what they're doing with all that stuff other people recycle?

How many of your appliances have the Energy Star Label?

A) Every single one of them that's available with the Energy Star label. I only buy products that are energy-efficient.

B) When I'm out shopping, I look for the Energy Star label. I try to purchase efficient appliances, but I won't sacrifice what I ultimately want.

C) I buy the appliances I want and need regardless of whether they're efficient. If there's an Energy Star label on one of my appliances, it's pure coincidence.

How much of your house is made from sustainable material?

A) My entire house is made of recycled or sustainable materials. In fact, it is LEED certified.

B) My house wasn't built using sustainable materials, but every time I renovate, I use sustainable and recycled materials.

C) I leave all the purchasing decisions to the builders. If they want to use sustainable or recycled materials, they can. It doesn't matter to me.

Do you use any form of renewable energy in your home?

A) I purchase renewable energy from the local utility that's generated from landfill gas.Otherwise, I'd have a windmill or solar cells.

B) I'm evaluating different options. My local utility just started a renewable energy option.

It costs a little more, but it's worth it. I'm also looking at adding solar cells to the house.

C) I think I heard something about the local utility using renewable energy, but I think it costs more, so I don't think I'll sign up for it.

What kind of gas mileage does your car get?

A) I don't own a car.

B) Fifty miles to the gallon, baby!

C) I'm not really sure, but I'm guessing about fifteen.

How often do you eliminate car trips?

A) I don't own a car. My primary means of transportation are my feet, my bike, and mass transit.

B) I try to eliminate at least one car trip a day by riding my bike or walking. I also try to carpool when car trips are really necessary.

C) My car is an extension of me. I wouldn't think of using any other kind of transportation.

How often do you eat meat?

A) I really don't eat meat. On rare occasions, I'll have a taste.

B) I eat it regularly, but I try to buy local meat raised organically.

C) I eat meat like Cookie Monster eats cookies.

What kind of seafood do you eat?

A) I rarely eat seafood, but when I do, it's usually clams or mussels.

B) I eat seafood every couple of weeks, and it's usually shrimp that's been caught in the wild or farmed in the US.

C) I love Atlantic halibut and flounder and eat it every chance I get.

What kind of pet do you have?

A) I got my two dogs from the local animal shelter. I got my cat from a purebred rescue group.

B) My dog came from the animal shelter, but I really wanted a purebred cat with papers, so I bought it from a breeder.

C) I checked, but my local animal shelter didn't have Amazon parrots, so I went online. I had a boa constrictor, but it got big so I let it go.

SCORING

For every A answer, give yourself 2 pts.

For every B answer, give yourself 1 pt.

For every C answer, no pts.

HOW BIG IS YOUR FOOTPRINT?

20-15 pts. You have a petite and delicate footprint. Earth needs more inhabitants like you!

14-9 pts. Your footprint shows potential. Just a few more eco-friendly acts and you'll be reducing your shoe size.

8-0 pts. Your footprint rivals that of Sasquatch. You are hereby challenged to stop stomping around on the planet!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Get Organized & Make Money

Kate's bear looks mighty lonely..... "Where has all the clutter gone?", he asks. "No one to keep me company on the floor."



Bought shelf dividers from The Container Store
($6 ea.) to contain Kate's clothing. Prior to this, they would tip over and become one big pile. Now I know where the pants are, the bibs, and the hats. I also use the fabric cubes to store socks and shoes.



Color coordinate the closet (lights to darks) and it will look neater! You can put outfits together a lot easier and faster.

The top of the self is separated into four categories. The clear bin
(also from The Container Store) stores all of Kate's age appropriate toys. I can see exactly where & what is in it.

The Winnie The Pooh box holds all of my baby's precious memories thus far, e.g. cards from friends & family, hospital cap & binky, birth certificate, hand & footprints, etc.

The Striped Box is a photo box for the 1st year of Kate's life.

The fourth section are scrapbooks and photo albums.

Easy to reach and easy to see.


Organize by size as well. Especially when you have babies, they outgrow things really fast and most parents have clothes for them from 0-12 months. Start with the current size 0-3 months and work your way up as they grow.



The changing table needs to be kept neat because that is where you spend a lot of time with your child. I always have my diapers and wipes handy. Inside the changing table, I keep Kate's blankets & quilts together on the bottom shelf and extra wipes and diapers on the top shelf. Don't forget to also create a bathing section with towels & lotions.


While organizing the closet, I removed all of Kate's 3-6 months clothing that she has outgrown and took them to a second hand store.



It's a great way to make some extra cash, during these challenging times, while eliminating clutter. Hold on only to clothes that are reminiscent of a tender moment, and dismiss the rest.



Certain consignment stores will pay you outright, while others, after your items have sold. Find out all the details before making a deal. Either way, it will not just sit in storage and collect dust. You can earn more money going this route than a garage sale.






Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kate Turns 6!!!

Kate turned 6 months old and not so crazy about Cheerios!!!! Loves baby food, especially green peas and beans, but not Cheerios. Everyone else loves Cheerios in our house, but not Kate.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Friends Make Tears Fade

Today, I woke up feeling down again.....experiencing a touch of depression....not sure why.......

It was wonderful to take a break last night. Today my dear friends were on a mission to console me and be present. My friend Mirela came by and we ate, drank wine, and had a heart to heart. It's always wonderful to know that someone cares enough to open up about their own life experiences in order to bring comfort to your own. It's not easy sharing deep emotions that makes us sometimes feel inadequate, but the best of friends will do that.

My friend Kat also called to chat and support me during this turbulent roller coaster ride. She too could relate and understands me better than most.....after all we've been friends for almost twenty years. We cried, we laughed, we connected soulfully.

At the end of my day, I was already feeling stronger at the reality that this was just a bump in the road. A bump that was created for me to experience fully and to learn and grow from it. Fran Drescher, from the Nanny, said it best on Oprah, "Sometimes the best gifts, come in the ugliest of packages."

I felt guilty about not being my cheerful self on the blog, but this too is LIFE! And I would not be true to myself or you, if I did not write about my downfalls as well as my accomplishments.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Snowed In Colorado

We got much needed moisture. Much needed rest. Much needed fun play outside.
I love how serene white the streets are after a snowfall. Ethan stayed home from school and Kurt came home early.

We made our "movie tent" again and watched Star Wars followed by a French Romantic Comedy called Priceless. It was so nice to be together and enjoy a day of solitude.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hold On Lyrics by Wilson Phillips

I listened to this song on the radio today and it so accurately portrayed how I am currently feeling. I realize its Wilson Phillips, for crying out loud, but these words had substance to me. I am in the slumps lately, because I have taken on more than I can chew and I need to go back to the basics. It's a running theme this week, so I apologize for the redundancy. But unfortunately, this is where I am at and I am done hiding it.


I know this pain
Why do lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don't ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?
Chorus:
Some day somebodys gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don't you know?
Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things'll go your way
Hold on for one more day
You could sustain
Or are you comfortable with the pain?
You've got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess
Lettin your worries pass you by
Don't you think its worth your time
To change your mind?
(chorus)
I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and
Break free the chains
Yeah I know that there is pain
But you hold on for one more day and you
Break free, break from the chains
Some day somebodys gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry
Don't you know?
Don't you know things can change
Thingsll go your way
If you hold on for one more day yeah
If you hold on
Don't you know things can change
Thingsll go your way
If you hold on for one more day,
If you hold on
Can you hold on
Hold on baby
Wont you tell me now
Hold on for one more day cause
Its gonna go your way
Don't you know things can change
Thingsll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Cant you change it this time
Make up your mind
Hold on
Hold on Baby
Hold on

Monday, March 23, 2009

THE BAKE SALE

Saturday was our big day at the HS Bake Sale. Thank you Sasha for waking up at 6AM to come over and watch the kids.

The day started at 8AM and went through to 4PM. My good friend Joni helped me set up and sell cookies for the first half of the day. She also baked batches of Fabulous Rosewater Sugar Cookies and Gingersnaps. You can check out her website at http://www.rosewaterbakery.com/ .

This is the tray of sugar cookies that I made for my most dedicated cheerleader & sponsor Debbie for her Prom Dress Sale that she was holding at a different location. I was relieved to have them turn out after many trials and errors. Learn, learn, learn. Without errors there would be few successes.

Our menu included: cupcakes, gingersnap cookies (just like grandma used to make), chocolate chip cookies, lemon-honey drop cookies, double chocolate brownie cookies, pecan sandies, and rosewater sugar cookies. Our best sellers were the sugar cookies and the lemon cookies. A HUGE THANKS to Shelli and Vicky for contributing the beautiful packaging.


Throughout the day we had meaningful conversations and got a smile on our faces from this adorable little baby girl who fell asleep in her mommy's cart. Too cute!!
We also met a mom who's daughter was a cancer survivor for four years. Her daughter was born with a tumor in her spine but did not get detected until she was 9 years old and it weighed 2 lbs. They removed it and thankfully she is in full remission. Meeting the MOM was an inspiration and it made all the work we put into the sale that much more purposeful.



Thank you also to Kat & Paul for helping with the booth in the afternoon. Their energy and humor was so helpful half way through the day.


The lady they are speaking with creates digital scrapbooks (beautiful work) with her daughter. You can view their work at http://www.nanasstorybooking.com/ . Her grandson was diagnosed with spinal bifida which led her daughter to sell all of her scrap booking materials and start her own company. As you can imagine, their medical bills are astronomical even with insurance. Her son is almost 1 and his ankles are so weak that he is unable to walk. The braces alone cost them $1500 and they last only for 5-6 weeks.


We spoke and will try to raise some funds for them too.


Overall, we did not raise enough money to reach our goal. We made $200 (we are still $300 short of meeting our $1000 goal), but the experience and networking was priceless.





Dawn Wells Peeling Potatoes

My girlfriend Shannon e-mailed this to me and it must be shared. Please view on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4W0qIPJmoo. You will never waste your time with a potato peeler again. Check it out!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Cure Is Human Contact

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail about the "hugging saint" Amma. (Click on name for a full bio) I saw her story on The Sunday Morning Show last year and was inspired by her simple gesture that got so much attention. It goes to show how as human beings all we really need sometimes is a genuine hug to express love.

Mother Theresa traveled the world conveying unconditional love to millions. I keep her book "In The Heart Of The World" by my desk as a reminder of the power of human compassion.

The other day we were walking along the sidewalk and Lance grabbed my hand for no particular reason. Not because we were crossing the street or because I asked him too, just because. It felt wonderful! I looked down and saw his tiny hand in mine and it put a smile on my face and warm waves through my heart.

Ethan too will occasionally just give me a heartfelt kiss and tells me he loves me, and at that very moment, I can conquer the world.

Married couples all too often stop holding hands, kissing, or hugging. It is imperative to do at least one if not all every day to keep the relationship happy. Words are not enough. Human connection happens through touch.

Today, take the time and make contact with those who mean a lot to you. It will instantly brighten your day and yours. Make it a daily habit.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Christian The Lion

I saw this video for the first time on Oprah this past Friday. It touched my heart and made me cry. Please take the time to click on this link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjWtRYaxmWM and watch it on You Tube. I promise you too will be moved by it. Pure love doesn't have a form.

Tubing In Breckenridge

Today, mother nature was calling, " Come out to play".




The boys love tubing on in Breckenridge.






Kate and Daddy were supportive spectators.



The Rocky Mountains are truly breathtaking during the Winter!



Just steep enough for some major fun.

Wait for me bro!



Gotta work to have fun!



It's always worth it once you get to the top :)

Preparing For A Bake Sale

This week, I will let you peek into my daily prep work for the
Cookies For Kids Cancer Bake sale to take place on Saturday. The Goal is: 50-60 dozen cookies, 25-32 cupcakes, and 25-32 bar cookies.













These are my chocolate chip & double-chocolate brownie cookies (click on name for recipe link), that I have frozen into little balls. After making the dough (this applies to drop cookies only):

1) shape dough into balls (using a 2 oz. ice cream scoop)
2) place the balls uncovered onto a parchment lined cookie sheet
3) place cookie sheet in the freezer and allow to freeze for approximately 10 mins.
4) remove balls from cookie sheet
5) place into zip lock bags with date, name, quantity, and cooking instructions
6) place bags back into freezer until you are ready to bake cookies

This allows you to prep in advance and not get caught up at the last minute.





















I also pre-made my sugar cookie dough, which I will shape into dresses, shoes, and purses, for my sponsor who is donating prom dresses. The sugar cookies only last for 3 days at room temperature, so I will wait to bake & decorate them on Thursday night.

Happy Baking Everyone!!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wilton Class: My First Cake


Last night was my second Wilton Class! We finally had the opportunity to make our first cake and learn some techniques. I am obsessed with leaves. That's why there is a leaf border around my cake.

The class has turned into more than I ever expected. I am making lots of new friends, a woman from India, two stay-at-home moms, and a teenage girl who is attending culinary school. Our passion for baking is the one common thread that unites us. Every single cake is unique because of its creator. It helps us get out of our box and acknowledge different ways of accomplishing a similar goal.

It is a fun, relaxing, and therapeutic two hours for me. I came home energized and excited about the next class. Finding a hobby can do wonders!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cookies for Kids Cancer - Update

We have managed to raise $443 thus far on a P/T basis. I slowed down due to a Spring Fair coming up in ten days. I have claimed a booth (sponsored by one of Kurt's generous clients), where there will be 130 vendors present. In addition we will be receiving a shout-out from a local radio station by donating a few cookies to the crew. I have recruited enthusiastic and talented volunteers.

I am overwhelmed and praying that we can pull this one off. It has huge potential, but can be a total disaster if I am not completely prepared. Needless to say, my friends and I will be doing a ton of baking. My husband is prepared to deal with my chaotic ways. I am convinced that I thrive on adrenaline, otherwise I would not sign up for such an event, unless I was living in a mansion with a gourmet kitchen.

Keep your fingers crossed for us. If we can raise a substantial amount of money for Cookies for Kids Cancer what a fulfilling reward. We need to protect our most fragile assets.

Monday, March 9, 2009

BULK SHOP WITH FRIENDS

During this dire economy, I have been trying to come up with different solutions for cutting back and making the most out of our household income. One solution my girlfriends and I came up with is Bulk Shopping together.

Costco and Sam's Club offer some great deals, but do I really need 24 rolls of toilet paper right away? Do I have $200 to spend this particular weekend? No, I don't.

My friend and I made our lists, shopped together, and then split our purchases. The other advantage was, that we kept each other from buying unnecessary items out of temptation, and in the end its a lot more fun shopping with a girlfriend. Our total bill was $191 and divided by two, we spent under $100/each on groceries that will last at least two weeks. Grand slam! It felt good!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Create A Home Theater







Ethan & Lance really wanted to go to the movies after school today. Instead of the movie theater we created our own at home and watched
Wall-E!!

Best part......MOM did not have to worry about the kids staying quite, not leaving their seats, falling asleep, wanting to go home before the movie's over, because we were in the comfort of our own home. They loved it and want to keep the tent up all weekend long. Even Dad got in on the action after work...reminded him of his childhood.









Instead of Popcorn, we had homemade brownies :) In the end we probably saved $30 and it was a much more comfortable and pleasant experience.


DO TRY THIS AT HOME!!!

Careers

What do you want to be when you grow up? A firefighter, a teacher, a hairdresser, an entrepeneur, a doctor, a lawyer, or just plain happy? I am 34 and am still trying to figure it out. For now I enjoy being a Happy Mommy!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 4: Living With Less

Today, the biggest challenge was telling Lance "No" to eating out, because we were gone all day long. I have to make sure we eat well before we leave the house, and that I am constantly carrying snacks in my diaper bag.

No waste...eating all the food in the refrigerator before my next shopping trip.

Saving plastic wrap....usually I will take plastic wrap off a container, plate, etc. and throw it away. Today, if the plastic wrap was covering cookies or vegetables, I took it off and placed it back in my drawer for the next use.

Air dried my hair. Again, we have been lucky to have such beautiful weather, which allowed me to do this. Don't tell my husband, he's a hairdresser!




Cake Decorating

I am so excited about my Wilton Cake Decorating Classes. I had my first one tonight! This will be my one true creative outlet.


Move over Ace of Cakes, here comes Corn. The Duff & Corn Show....hmmmm has a nice ring to it.


Day 3: Living With Less

Yesterday, I cancelled my milk delivery. Yes, it's convenient but not worth the extra $2 per gallon per week. Saved myself $360 for the year.

I now wash my dish sponges in the dishwasher for longer usage.

I promise to live with less ingredients in my life. What does that mean? I am ridding myself of items that list ingredients I do not understand. Coloring, corn syrup, etc. out!!!!! All natural from now on. I deserve it and so does my family.

Managed a 10 min shower.....2 mins. longer than Oprah suggested...oh well, I'm not perfect :)

Still living with less TV, computer, and lighting. Let the Sun shine the rest of the year!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kate Eats Her First Meal











Yea, Kate had her first taste of real food. How fun! Poor thing has only known Formula for the first 5 months of her life. She has now graduated to carrots and loved it. Her appetite is ravenous. I have never seen a child so ready to leap out of her chair straight onto the spoon

I cannot wait to go out to a gourmet restaurant with her and eat Foie Gras.

I am relishing all the "firsts" again. I do not want to miss a single moment.

Keep a journal for your children. Unfortunately, we are not always able to remember all these precious moments off the top of our heads, even though I swore to myself that I would. Viewing old footage of themselves, as well as, narrating entries that I made in their individual diaries, allows them to feel special because someone took the time to appreciate their milestones.






Day 2: Living With Less

Today, I worked hard on unplugging everything that was not being put to use. I unplugged all the television sets, the garage door at the end of the day, my toaster and coffee maker, and my iron.

The thermostat has been off all day.....then again it was 75 degrees today :)

I did go out and spend money, but it was for groceries only and I stayed within my budget.

I returned my library book and DVDs on time to avoid unnecessary charges.

I only use the computer once in the morning and once at night, versus throughout the day.

No laundry today....yippee!!!



Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 1: Living With Less

Today was Day 1 of Oprah's Challenge. Last night I had my thermostat set at 70 degrees. Oprah suggested 69 degrees but I have a 5 month old and I couldn't do that to her. Thank goodness that its warm here at the moment.

The boys were not allowed to watch television and they had to eat everything on their plate.....no waste. Ethan became suspicious and asked me, "Mom, does this have something to do with Oprah?" I could not stop laughing as I was nodding "yes". He then asked me to call Oprah and ask her if it would be OK for him to watch his show. When I said "no", then he suggested that we cancel her show.

I made sure not to let the water run as I rinsed my dishes. I filled up my sink with a little bit of water and rinsed them that way. My mother-in-law has been doing it that way for years, but I finally caught on.My dishwasher was filled to the rim before I turned it on.

Did not spend a dime.

The toughest challenge was using cloth instead of paper towels. Unfortunately, I have been using paper towels for so long that I do not own kitchen towels only ones for Christmas. I had no choice but to consume what I already bought.

Overall, the kids and I did pretty well. We even made play-dough the old fashioned way....flour, salt, cream of tartar, and water. Now, we can play with it all week long at no extra charge.

We are living during uncertain times. Look around and see what it is that you can cut down on.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

UPDATES

Cookies for Kid's Cancer Update: $366.00

Ethan has his first loose tooth

Kate turned 5 months old

I am taking Oprah Winfrey's "What would you dare to live without?" challenge

My friends and I are going to start saving money as of this month on......the goal is at least $190 every two weeks. We are cutting back on expenses and helping each other stay honest and frugal.
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