Friday, February 15, 2013

Favorite Things Friday: Ezra's Favorite Books

Ezra is now 3 and a half and loves to read.  Just like Mama.  He has tons of books.  They overflow out of the 2 shelf bookcase I've had since I was a kid.  Pretty sure my dad made it once upon a time.  Ezra wants 2-3 stories before bed every night, and these are a few of the ones he requests over and over.

I Love You Through and Through 
by Bernadette Rosetti Shustak - Illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church

I got this for Ezra on Valentine's Day 2011 and it's been a favorite ever since.  The illustrations are adorable, and Ezra insists they're pictures of him.  The words are simple and rhyme and he loves to "read" it to us by looking at the pictures.  

Llama Llama Red Pajama
by Anna Dewdney

I think it's a toddler prerequisite to love this book and to love Elmo.  This one is adorable, and Ezra loves when the Mama Llama gets upset and raises her voice at Llama llama.  He always gets a twinkle in his eye and looks at me when we get to that page.  I make it extra dramatic for him.  I think we have 3 copies of this book.  We had a hard cover that was a little cumbersome for reading with a wiggly toddler on your lap, so we found one at a second hand store in town that was a smaller soft cover.  Then we got a 2nd smaller one in the mail through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which is an amazing program through the United Way that sends kids a book each month until they're 5.

Ten Tiny Babies
by Karen Katz

This is a bedtime favorite.  The book starts with one baby and adds one per page until "all ten babies are fast asleep" at the end.  I've read this one so many times I could probably recite it aloud.  I even wrote an email to Karen Katz telling her now much Ezra loves the book.  I was shocked when she replied and thanked me for emailing her.  It was a really nice email reply that I could tell she wrote herself.  This book came from Ezra's great-grandma Peggy.  Do you remember this one, Grandma?  :)

Lost and Found
by Oliver Jeffers

Oh this book.  It is so adorable.  This one is a recent addition - I got it for Ezra this past Christmas - but it's become an instant favorite.  There's no denying Ezra loves penguins.  And this story is so simple, but it evokes emotion.  Ezra says "awww!" every time we read it to him.  The next time you're in a bookstore, look for it and read it.  It's so cute.  And the illustrations are out of this world.  I know a certain little boy who will probably getting another Oliver Jeffers book for his birthday.

Have you seen any books that we should add to our collection?  I'm a sucker for a good book.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Favorite Things Friday: Laundry Things

I love doing laundry.  For real.  No sarcasm.  I enjoy it.  Frank says I fill the loads too full.  I say he doesn't fill them full enough.  When we lived in an apartment and had to bring our laundry down 2 flights of stairs to the 3 washers and 3 dryers in our building of 27 apartments... didn't so much love it then.  But I did love the days when we would take 4 baskets to the laundromat and get all the laundry done at once.

Anyway, I enjoy doing laundry.  So, mostly I do the laundry at home.  Frank likes to cook, so he does most of the cooking.  It works for us.

Because of my affection for doing laundry, I have opinions on laundry products.

Here are a few things I like.
My favorite laundry baskets are these Sterilite ones from Target.  You could probably get them other places too, but I got mine at Target.  They're sturdy and heavy duty, so they can get pushed down stairs, dropped onto concrete and used as a "car" while filled with pillows, blankets, and a 3 year old.  They're about $10 a piece, but totally worth it.

I love these babies.  They're little beads that you add to the wash to make it smell good.  That's their entire purpose.  The bottle is like the size of a 20 ounce soda, and one bottle lasts me over a month.  You just put in how much you want... for me, that's enough to barely cover the bottom of the lid.  It makes the clothes smell delicious, but not too pungent.  There are a couple different scents, but this one is my favorite.  And with this stuff, I can just buy the Purex or whatever super cheap soap is on sale this week.  I used to buy Gain and Tide for the smell... but I don't have to anymore.  The only thing that drives me nuts is how "Unstopable" is misspelled.  There should be 2 p's.  But they probably did that to trademark the name.  Oh well, it's a silly thing and it doesn't have any effect on the product.

Please excuse the terrible quality of this picture.  It was taken using my phone.  Any guesses?  Yep, it's a laundry chute.  I had NO IDEA how much we would love this baby.  It's in the hallway right outside the bathroom and the 3 upstairs bedrooms.  It is so handy.  Frank and I even said if we ever build a house, it will definitely have a laundry chute.  It's only as thick as the wall, so we have to carefully feed our jeans in from the feet and slide them down, same for towels and anything else bulky, but it sure beats lugging piles of dirty laundry down stairs.  Not to mention the fact that we don't need to have a laundry basket in our room or Ezra's for dirty laundry to bring downstairs.  It's wonderful.

Don't worry, this isn't a picture of our laundry...  but the final thing I like about our laundry situation is how we sort it.  We tried several ways before coming to a solution that seems to work for us.  We each have a laundry basket in the laundry room plus one for towels and sheets.  One of Lenon's chores every day is to sort the clothes from the laundry chute into our baskets.  We've found that once we have our dirty laundry sorted by person it's much easier to locate things.  Say I'm doing a load of jeans... I can grab a pair or 2 of jeans from each basket and know everyone has a pair, rather than having to look at size tags or dig through one massive laundry pile.  Also, we always know when someone needs clothes.  If Ezra's basket is full, I toss in a load of just his stuff, which makes it really easy when it comes to folding and putting away.  It works for us and we like it.

I've found a few recipes for making my own laundry soap.  I'm tempted to try it.  Most of them have little or no scent, which is find thanks to those Unstopables, and the cost difference is amazing.  Maybe when we run out of laundry soap I'll make some of my own.  If I do, I'll try it for a while and do a review and let you know how it goes.

Do you have any tricks or tips for laundry?


Friday, January 25, 2013

Favorite Things Friday: Some Blogs I Read

Probably a dozen times a day I start a sentence, "On this blog I read..." or "I read on a blog..."  I say it so much that Frank just smiles and nods, because he's so used to it.  (Or sometimes it's, "I found this idea on Pinterest...")

Anyway, I decided to make a short list of my favorite blogs.  Ones I check and read religiously.  Ones that are so good I'd be really sad if they decided to stop blogging.  So in no particular order, here are my top 4 favorite blogs:

Young House Love is a home improvement blog.  John and Sherry, the adorable couple who write it, are so completely normal.  Plus funny.  They post several times a week and give real, usable information about projects they're doing.  They're so inspiring.  For real.

Raising Colorado is a real life blog.  Zakary, the lovely and hilarious woman who writes it, shares stories about her kids, shares recipes, and other funny things.  I've been known to read entire posts aloud to Frank because she's so funny.

Make It And Love It

Make It and Love It is a crafty blog.  Ashley is a mother of 3, two girls and one boy.  It's so refreshing to have a craft blogger be a mother of a boy.  There are SO many blogs with pictures and patterns and ideas for girls, and significantly less so for boys.  She has amazing ideas and has tutorials on almost everything she makes.  It's a total time suck though... you'll find yourself clicking on tons of links, because you'll be saying, "Ooo!  Look at this idea!"  Trust me.

E Tells Tales is written by Elizabeth.  She's a teacher and a mother and an Etsy phenomenon.  She makes the most beautiful crib bedding I've ever seen.  Her blog is updates of her life as a teacher and mother and a tutorial or two thrown in there.  Her writing style is so easy to read.  I look forward to every post.

I hope you take a few minutes to read a post or two.  They're truly my favorite.

Do you know of any blogs I should read?  If so, please share!


P.S.  I have strep throat and have been struggling to stay awake once I get home from work.  It's really wiping me out.  So that's my excuse for not posting more this week.  I'm in the midst of writing up 4 book reviews, so look for one this weekend.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I've been trying to write down silly things Ezra says, because I know I'll forget them.  Frank and I still talk about some of the funny things Lenon used to say, but I know we don't remember them all.

Here's the latest installment in Ezra-isms:

Dinosaur Rex

  • Pretty self explanatory.  This one means Tyrannosaurus Rex.  He first started saying this after watching the Toy Story movies.


  • Sandwich.  He's very deliberate with his enunciation.  


  • Submarine.  Did you have to take a second look at that one?  It's pretty close to submarine, except he swaps the b and the m.


  • This one means last.  He hardly says this anymore, but for a while it would make me giggle.  I know it's terrible, but I hardly correct him when he says things wrong.  It's just too cute.  And he eventually corrects himself.


  • Hood.  Like the hood on a coat.  He will tell us that he wants his "hoog" up when we go outside.

Chocolate milk and milk

  • This is when we make chocolate milk using chocolate syrup and milk.  For some reason he thinks the chocolate syrup is called chocolate milk.  But he also knows what actual chocolate milk is.  

Jack and the Beanstoff

  • Jack and the Beanstalk.  I found a Little Golden book 1972 version of Jack and the Beanstalk at a thrift store and it's quickly become one of his favorites.


  • This one is one of my favorites.  Tomorrow.  He's starting to really understand the concept that things can't always happen immediately.  But he still has zero concept of time.  So he'll ask us if we can do something "tomorrwhoa" instead of today and it makes me smile.

Hope these entertained you for a few minutes.  Someday I'll get him on video saying funny things and post it.  I never think of it until he's in bed though.  Oops.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Favorite Things Friday: Clever Ideas I've Found Online

Sometimes I see an idea and I wonder, "Wow, why didn't I think of that?"  Well, let's be honest, I see these ideas quite often and am sometimes embarrassed that I've been doing it another way that makes much less sense.

Here are a few things I've found online that I've actually used and I'd recommend.

Okay, so having long hair means shedding.  Shedding means hair all over the floor.  Embarrassing amounts of it.  (And why is it that hair is so gross once it's fallen out of your head?)  So my vacuum ends up getting tons of hair wrapped around the roller.  When I saw this idea I was like, "No way!" and then I immediately tried it.  No joke.  Immediately.  And it works like a charm.

Lamp shades get dusty.  Using a feather duster or paper towel on a lamp shade is for the birds.  It totally doesn't work.  But a sticky lint roller... yes, it wins.  Granted, it doesn't make the shade look brand new or anything, but it does take off the majority of the dust and fuzz off of it.

I always end up with either a ripped fingernail or frustration when I have to add a key to a keyring.  But almost everyone has one of these staple removers and using that bad boy to open up a keyring is genius.  

When I have a cold I always tend to have a pile of icky Kleenexes surrounding me, so this is so smart.  We almost always have an empty box somewhere in the house and it makes it much less icky and germy if they all end up shoved in a box rather than floating around the house or sitting on the couch.

I've had a paper clip cup at work that's been empty for like 4 years.  I've had bobby pins floating around on my desk and in the drawers for longer than that.  It's like the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups commercial... "You got peanut butter in my chocolate!"  "You got chocolate in my peanut butter!"  Anyway, the bobby pins met the paperclip cup and it's been butterflies and roses ever since.  I also have a travel Advil container (you know, the ones that are about the size of a chap stick?) that's filled with bobby pins in my purse.  In case you need a bobby pin ever... I'm your girl.

Well, that's my list of things.  I've seen tons more, but some don't really have an impact on me at this point - lots of them about when you own your house and we don't.  

Do you have any little cheats that you've been doing that you'd like to share?


Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review #1: Ten Tiny Breaths

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Dates Read:  December 26-27

Rating:  4.5 stars (out of 5)

Cost:  $2.99 (Kindle edition)

~ ~ ~

"Ten tiny breaths," my mother would say.  "Seize them, feel them, love them."

Twenty year old Kacey Cleary was left orphaned when a car accident kills her parents.  She and her younger sister, Livie, are sent to live with their aunt and uncle... yet the uncle proceeds to lose all their inheritance at the blackjack table and attempts to molest Livie.  To free themselves from the aunt and uncle who are doing a terrible job of raising them, Kacey and Livie escape to Miami and begin a new life.

In Miami she meets Trent Emerson who also recently moved into their apartment complex.  She feels an instant attraction, but he has baggage of his own.

~ ~ ~

This book was great.  It sucked me in from the start and I could hardly put it down.  I thought about it whenever I wasn't reading, and actually ended up going over my break time at work because it consumed me.  I ended up figuring out some of the details along the way, but the delivery was not how I expected it.  Kacey was likable even though she had a rough exterior.  Trent was equal parts intriguing and confusing.

There's buzz about the story continuing, and I'm really really excited about that.  This was a great book that I'd definitely recommend.  I didn't give it 5 stars, because it wasn't a "knock-your-socks-off" book, but it was really great.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Favorite Things Friday: My New Nerdy Glasses

Like I mentioned in my Goals for 2013 post, I decided that I needed a new look.  We have great insurance and every year I get new glasses...  I got my rimless glasses shortly after Ezra was born.  Then I got sunglasses the year after that, and a pair of cute (but terribly uncomfortable) purple frames the year after that.  I went in and had the purple ones adjusted a couple times, but they just didn't ever feel right.  Sad.  So, during all that time I've just been wearing the rimless ones, since I loved them... but they started falling apart.  The screws were coming loose all the time and I had to get one of those eyeglasses repair kits and fiddle with them a couple times a week so I wouldn't lose that teeny tiny screw.

It was time for new ones... and my vision insurance goes from January 1 through December 31 and was about to expire.  (I'm such a good procrastinator!)

So I went in and found some frames that are the exact opposite of rimless... they have thick plastic frames around the whole thing.  It's taken a little getting used to, but I'm surprised how easily I'm adjusting.

Anyway, here they are!

Do you love them?  I sure do.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Goals for 2013

Frank is a smart guy.  He decided that instead of a single grand (and usually incredibly hard to keep) resolution for the year he'd have 13 (smaller and more attainable) goals for 2013... and I totally copied him.

But he said he based his idea on my 30 before 30 thing (which I failed at miserably).  And really, I got the idea from reading other people's blogs, so whatever.

Anyway, here's my list.  I'm quite excited about it.

1.  Build something.

I'm not sure what I want to build, but possibly an upholstered headboard that I've wanted to build for almost 2 years now.  Or a microwave stand for our behemoth of a microwave.  See, we have a really tiny kitchen.  Like super tiny.  And almost no counter space.  So right now we have a dresser in the kitchen along one wall and it houses the crock pots, some baking dishes, and other whatnot, along with being the extra counter space needed for our microwave.  It sounds trashy, but it doesn't look trashy.  Regardless, that was not the plan I had for that dresser so we need something to replace it.  I've been looking all over creation for a semi-attractive alternative and have had zero luck so we've decided that we probably need to build something to house it.

2.  Read and review 52 books.

I clearly have no trouble reading books.  In fact, I got a Kindle Fire from my parents for Christmas and since I've had it (it actually arrived December 4) I've read 12 books.  I've been obsessed with it.  My previous Kindle stopped working in late summer last year and I was lost without it.  I think I only read like 4 actual paperback books in the 3 months I was without it, and 3 of them were the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series -- which was SO good.  But I couldn't keep up.  Paperbacks are so expensive and I couldn't read the cheap, self published books I'd gotten used to.  But anyway, all that is changed now that I have a Kindle again and instead of just reading books I'd like to start including a weekly review of a book I've read.  I've had lots of people ask me for recommendations, and honestly, I read so many books sometimes they run together.  So, be looking for a review this week sometime.  And I have one to make up for last week, so you might get a double-shot this week.

3.  New look.

I've had the same hairstyle for like 10 years.  I've had the same glasses for about 3 years.  I'm tired of both and I need a change.  Coincidentally, just today I went and picked up my new glasses.  I love them.  I'm officially on the "nerdy glasses" train.  They're taking some getting used to, since these have plastic frames all the way around the lenses and my previous glasses were rimless.  Nevertheless, I love them and I'm excited for them.

4.  Find my niche.

I really want to make some decisions on an Etsy shop.  There are so many things I like doing and so many hobbies I've started.  I have boxes of beads and stuff to make jewelry.  I have tons of fabric.  I have a love of thrifting.  I need to decide which direction I want to go and go there.

5.  Blog at least twice a week.

This one should be easy.  I want to continue with my Favorite Things Friday, my thrifting posts, and have a book review once a week, plus do updates on the kids (I have a stash of cute Ezraisms), and other stuff... so, this one should be easy.  We'll see.

6.  New camera.

I'd like to save for, buy, and learn to use a new camera this year.  I have my eye on this one.  It's gotten great reviews (thanks for making me a researcher, Dad!).  But it's pretty expensive.  I'm already setting money aside for it.  Hopefully we won't have to use that money for something else.

7.  An overnight away with Frank.

I wanted to do this in my 30 before 30 list, but it didn't happen.  This year, Frank and I decided that we are going up to Minneapolis to hit IKEA for my birthday.  That involves a 3.5 hour drive and an overnight stay.  We are also going to see if we can fit in some live music while we're up there.  All depends on who is in town.  We're keeping our ears open.

8.  Make some original art.

I'm going to create a gallery wall in our living room and I'd like to have pictures of our family, things that are important to us, some art work, etc included in it.  And years ago I loved to paint.  So it makes sense to create some original art rather than buying something from someone else.  I'm excited to get working on it.

9.  Enjoy some live music.

This one is something Frank and I are both excited about.  There are lots of opportunities to hear live music in Sioux Falls, but in the last couple years we haven't done much of it.  We vow this year to go to at least one concert this year, but hope to hit several.  With Saturday in the Park in Sioux City, and Jazzfest and Downtown Live in Sioux Falls, we shouldn't have any trouble penciling in one or all three of these things.

10.  Learn to knit.

I've wanted to learn to knit for a while now.  I found some tutorials online and some links to Youtube videos and I'm looking forward to getting started.

11.  Family pictures.

We haven't had family pictures taken since Ezra was like 18 months old.  It's time for new ones.  The end.

12.  Seriously consider writing a book.

I have written about a dozen story beginnings and never finished anything, but with the ability to self publish on Amazon, I'm thinking about working on an idea that I've had in my head for a few years.  It seems pretty easy to do -- I've done a little reading up on it.  We'll see how it goes.

13.  Purge and organize.  

This one goes without saying.  We have so much "stuff" and we need to get rid of some of it.  I plan on having at least 2 garage sales this year.  Last year was quite successful, and it felt good to mark things to sell and not mark them to deal with negotiations.  Toward the end of the last day I was giving stuff away, including a Spiderman comforter to a 7 year old boy who was so excited he almost cried.  Plus, with living in a smaller house, we don't have as many places to store things.  So they're getting out of here.

There's my list.  It's ambitious, but not overwhelming.  I have a good feeling about this list.

Stay tuned for updates!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Get With It and Follow Through

The title of this post says it all.  Those are my main goals for 2013.  They're pretty self explanatory.

Get With It

I need to do the things that grown ups do... make sure bills are paid on time, write thank you notes in a timely fashion, keep up on housework so we aren't scrambling when someone announces a surprise visit, etc.  They aren't hard things, but I need to stop using the excuse that I'm busy.  Everyone is busy.  Being busy doesn't make me special, it makes me normal.

Follow Through

This one is harder.  I have good intentions.  I really do.  But it's hard to complete things.  It reminds me of when Lenon was about six.  He was always forgetting things, mittens at school, picking up toys, brushing his teeth... but instead of saying he couldn't remember, he told us, "I'm just such a good forgetter!"  I feel like I'm such a good procrastinator.  But I want to work on it.  For real.  It feels so good to get things done and I really want to do better.

I'm going to be sharing some of my other goals for this year in subsequent posts.  Frank had a great idea to have not just one but thirteen goals this year.  And we are both being less ambitious and more real with our goals.

Do you have a resolution this year?