Friday, December 30, 2011

Right this moment...

Every year, in the lull that follows the craziness of Christmas, I have to remind myself It's all over... you can relax, Shannon. The holiday has come and gone. Don't worry about those gifts I still have to mail -- they'll make it eventually. Don't worry that my Christmas tree is still up even though lots of over-achievers on Facebook are making me feel worse because they've already taken down their tree and lights and have changed the station on Pandora and cleaned out all the Christmasy scents from their wickless candle warmers. And for some reason, sometimes that pre-Christmas anxiety lingers with me. I have a hard time sitting idle, always feeling like I should be doing something, anything other than what I'm doing right now because whatever I'm doing right now is a giant waste of time, right? Perhaps it's the excessive amounts of caffeine I've been consuming piping in, too.

And right now, that anxiety is clinging to me tighter than all those holiday snacks I shouldn't have eaten. We are making another major move soon, going back to old friends, leaving behind new ones, and reuniting with family. Packing gives me even more anxiety. I feel the desperate need to purge, to get rid of anything at all that seems redundant and wasteful... Hell, sometimes I'm half-tempted to just walk away from all of it and start completely over (except for my vintage dresses... and my stone bakeware... and my sewing machine... and our original nine-foot church pew...).

But then I found a box of Bentley's Reserve Praline Pecan popcorn in the cabinet that my Auntie Barb sent... and I put the boy down for a nap... and I chose to leave the house quiet save for a ticking clock above the fridge. And slowly, as I sat down with a glass of water, the popcorn and the quiet (save for small popcorn crunches...Mmmmmm...), I started to type and I started to feel better. So here is the post-Christmas "chaos" that really isn't that loud and really isn't that bad...


What I am stepping around. And it doesn't hurt that bad to step on felt food anyway.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Finner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I grew up eating well. Translation: everything was cooked with butter, cream, salt and sugar. My mom made yummy food and cut no corners. I wish I could blame my sweet tooth on her, but I know that's just in my genes (I keep blaming those poor little guys, don't I?). My dad's got a pretty big sweet tooth, too. It's amazing that I wasn't a chubby kid, too. However, I've chosen to do things a little differently with my son. I've even had some friends refer to me as The Sugar Nazi. I guess I'm just of the belief that my son has his whole life to eat junk... I'd just like him to not do this before all of his teeth have come in. ;)

With that, that doesn't mean he doesn't have sugar, salt or yummity-yumm-yumms in his diet here or there. Here are a few ways we "cheat" or cut corners so that he can still enjoy a sweet treat or a meal without jeopardizing his teeth, health and habits:

  • Vanilla Milk
    • Starbucks has these yummy little organic milk cartons from Horizon that are chocolate or vanilla flavored in a convenient little box that Finn very quickly figured out how to delightfully squeeze/squirt/spray all over both himself, me and the car seat. One cup of this is 150 calories and 22 grams of sugar, made from low fat milk. Because Finn is still under 24 months, he still gets whole milk. I've figured out that mixing a half packet of Truvia and 2-3 drops of vanilla extract result in the same thing that Horizon offers, only with zero sugar and the same amount of calories. We treat this as a special drink, just like we would something from Starbucks, meaning he doesn't get it very often.
  • Annie's Bunny Snacks
    • These little gems just fell into my cart at Target. I mean, like, several boxes of them. ;) I just don't know how it happened! We are fans of the Bunny Grahams, Cheddar Bunnies and Bunny Graham Friends. These range from 130-150 calories per serving, which means almost 30 little bunnies in my mouth (I think Finn thinks he can fit that many in his mouth at once, too.). These are comparable to Teddy Grahams, but are made with organic ingredients and have just a little less sugar. According to my sister (after throwing a handful in her mouth),"... those things are the bomb-dot-com!"
  • Celery Salt
    • I am convinced this stuff is magic. I had some in my cabinet from a weekend of Bloody Mary's, and decided to one day sprinkle some on a medley concoction I was throwing together for Finn's lunch. And the kid ate it up. I think he would have licked the bowl out if he knew to. I add less than 1/16 of a teaspoon to tomatoes, black beans, avocado, rice and green onions. Not only does celery salt have no calories, but it has less than 25 mg of sodium in that quantity. Now the Bloody Mary's it was originally intended for... they have a little more... wonder if I have any tomato juice...
  • Reduced Sodium and Sugar Free Alternatives
    • With America sort of becoming more health conscious in the mainstream food market, there are more options now for items that have not only less fat, but reduced sodium and no sugar (made with sugar substitutes). This includes string cheese, crackers and snack cookies. There are a variety out there, so you just have to look for these designators on the box.
Like I said, we still have some lapses (especially if Finn and dad are alone... Finn now recognizes the Chips Ahoy package and says "cukie!" -- BUSTED, Rob). And I definitely want to know what other mamas out there are doing/did with their man cubs to get them to eat and eat well... Holla 'atcher momma!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mount Trente

I am the middle sister of two beautiful ladies who are both in completely different stages of life from me. My younger sister is in her budding twenties; my older sister is... well, she's older than me. I'll just say she's looking phenomenal. I've lately been considering my cool factor; do I look older than I am or younger? Or just right? Do I wear too much brown and black? Was that bitching, hip dance move my sister tried to show me called the "stinky leg?" Or was it the "swanky leg..." I don't know why it matters, but lately it's been creeping into my mind... because I'll be 30 soon. I mean, very soon. But I have decided that 30 is going to kick ass.

As I've said before, I'm okay with the genes I was bestowed but with this new decade opening up for me, I've decided to make my resolutions fall into that time frame instead of on January 1st:

  • Take better care of my skin.
    • As I've said before, I'm a cheapy-cheaperton out of necessity, habit and intrigue. I've been reading lately about all kinds of wonder products that will help "reverse" aging or at least slow it down, but they are crazy expensive! So I've found some old-fashioned (natural and cheap!) alternatives such as using baking soda as a gentle and natural exfoliant. According to, just dip your fingertips into baking soda after foaming them up with your favorite cleanser. Work it into your face and neck. Do this everyday. I subscribe to Goop's newsletter (written by Gwyneth Paltrow), and a recent one had an obvious tip: put facial moisturizer on the back of your neck, too. This keeps the skin on your neck tighter, making your neck look younger.
  • Don't give up on grad school.
    • I love being a student. If it was up to me, I'd be a lifetime student. I worked on the upper portion of my undergraduate degree as a distance student with the University of Colorado, so I know I have the self discipline for that kind of program again. I just have to keep looking for the right program...
  • Better organization for my sewing.
    • I am notorious for forgetting what kinds of materials I have or forgetting that I used something up, only to get home all excited to start something and find that I'm missing that one crucial thing. We are moving into a new house in about a month that will hopefully allow some extra room for me to have a project room. I would really like to find an old card catalog like this one:

    • Sigh... I wouldn't mind that dress form either...
  • Pay better attention to everyone who loves me.
    • Now, I know that sounds kind of corny. But whatever. I mean it. I used to be so good about sending birthday cards, calling people, writing letters, making post cards. My good friend, Maggie, and I used to send this one box back and forth to each other, and would just add something to the outside of the box. The mail carriers knew who it was going to (benefit of a small town), and would comment on the newest additions to the box. I also have some really important kids that are growing up too fast, both in Nebraska and in the U.K. that deserve more of my attention.
  • Climb a 14er with my husband.
    • Now, this will by far be the hardest of my personal challenges for Year #30. Rob has climbed several of the 14,000'+ mountains in Colorado, and every time he comes back he talks about how difficult it was and how he'll never climb another one... but then the itch creeps back in, I guess, and the next thing I know I'm dropping him off at yet another trail head at 4:00 am. I'm sure I'll huff and puff my way up, but it will be pretty incredible to do not only for myself, but to do with my husband. Here's a snap shot he sent from this summer from the top of Mount Democrat, while we were apart for a month:

[And just because I'm on the subject of said husband... here's a good one to share:]

So, these resolutions aren't really about feeling better about turning 30 on the outside or about being "older," but are instead about getting to a place of more calm, with more enjoyment and more results.

How are you all going to handle this next year??

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Upcycle Yours!

This morning I woke up before the sun came up, at 5:24 to be precise. My brain was dreaming about sewing, patterns and colors, and it was building a pattern in my head for a present for someone... and then that stupid pattern woke me up. I have been sewingsewingsewing for the last six weeks, and the last three even more. I'm madly trying to finish up my Christmas projects, which I have been taking pictures of to post after Christmas (can't spoil the fun!).

In the meantime, my younger, hipper, cooler sister was visiting over Thanksgiving and we did A LOT of thrifting. We went to St. Vincent's, Nearly New, Montana Vintage Clothing and Montana Rescue Mission. I hope to post a picture soon of the amazing dress Kati found at Montana Vintage Clothing, but I also found a fun pair of olive green Gap slacks that have a black stripe down the side. Kati talked me into getting them by convincing me that this was a recent trend, and so I turned them into my latest pair of skinny jeans:

I am really getting into "upcycling," which is turning something you would otherwise throw away into something new. For those of you on Pinterest, a major upcycling craze right now is turning an old sweater into leg warmers that peep out from the top of your boots. I made my first pair of these yesterday! I'll post pictures after I hem them. 

Have any of you upcycled something? What's on your Christmas project list?
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