Maybe Matilda: September 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Daily Deals Boutique Craft Site + Giveaway!

I’m pretty excited about today’s post . . . perhaps you recall me mentioning every now and again The Bungalow Boutique in Heber, Utah? It’s an adorable little shop owned by my mama, filled with all sorts of amazing items from unique contemporary home décor to handmade goods created by local crafters to trendy boutique clothing. It’s such a fun place to shop, but since it’s a small, local boutique, 99% of you out there reading this will probably never get a chance to visit. And that’s awfully sad for you, because I know what you’re missing out on.

That’s why the topic of today’s post is so exciting: in addition to the good ol’ brick and mortar boutique, the Bungalow is opening an online discount website,  BB Daily Deals, which will feature great items from the store at special discounted prices!

BB Daily Deals’ setup is simple: just sign up with your email address, click the link in the automatic confirmation email you receive from the site to complete your signup, and start shopping. You’ll receive 2 emails per week (don’t worry about overwhelming, obnoxious daily or multiple daily emails!) featuring a trendy new deeply discounted item from The Bungalow Boutique. All sorts of great items will be featured, from cute boutique clothing and accessories to seasonal home décor to adorable kitchen items . . . I’m really excited about all the fun deals you’ll find there.

The first deal will be featured a week from today (Monday, October 1st) so head over and sign up so you don’t miss a thing! Since the featured items will be marked down from their original prices, they will only be available in limited quantities, and you won’t want to miss them.

To whet your appetite, perhaps you’d like to see some of the goodies lined up to be sold at a special discount over the first few weeks? I’m happy to oblige.

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Some of the items featured will include metal cowgirl jewelry, handmade key fobs in bright and cheery fabrics, adorable embellished cleaning gloves, and my own crochet flower headbands . . . all marked down from their normal in-store prices.

And one of my favorite items lined up to be sold in the weeks to come is available for one of you to win today!

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I looooove these adorable picture frames! (Sorry, precious baby photos not included in giveaway prize package.)

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One winner will receive this cute set of picture frames to have and to hold, as long as you both shall live. I’m loving the dainty metal lace around the edges and the distressed finish—so trendy and fun and great for just about any home décor style. This frame set is a $60 value that will be sold at an awesome discount in a few weeks on the daily deals site, but one of you will get them early for FREE. Yay!

Here’s how you can enter to win a set of photo frames:

1. Pop over to BB Daily Deals and enter your email address in the signup box on the home page to be notified of new deals. ***IMPORTANT: You MUST confirm your email address via the link in the confirmation email you will receive from the site to be entered to win! If you don’t confirm, you won’t get any emails from the site and, hence, won’t receive an email notifying you if you’re the winner!***

2. Like The Bungalow Boutique facebook page!

That’s it! No comments on this post are necessary to tell me that you fulfilled these steps . . . winners will be chosen directly from the BB Daily Deals confirmed email list. (And in case you are protective of your email address, it will not be passed around or shared with other sites—we hate unwanted emails, too.)

Good luck and happy shopping!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

5 Dinner Winners

I love trying new dinner recipes. So much, in fact, that I only repeat dinners if they are beyond amazing, because I’d rather try something new than re-make something that’s merely okay or pretty good. Here are some dinner winners that I’ve made recently that have earned a highly-coveted position on my ‘repeatable dinner’ list by being quick to make, delicious, and family- and budget-friendly:

Kung Pao Ramen Noodles from Mel’s Kitchen Café

Any recipe that starts out with a few packets of Ramen is sure to be a favorite for Forrest. But this was very adult-friendly, too . . . it’s flavorful and delicious, plus it’s quick and simple and very inexpensive to pull together. It’s going down in history as a new family favorite over here.

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Peanut Butter Syrup from Our Best Bites

Breakfast for dinner is always a hit at our house, and these pancakes were wildly tasty. I almost didn’t bother making the peanut butter syrup (this off-putting and very challenging portion of the recipe includes a daunting list of 2 ingredients and the exhausting effort of mixing those 2 ingredients together), but oh it was delicious. I could have (read: did) slurped it alone. Yum.

Taco Pizza from Newly Woodwards

I’m having blogja vu with this one—maybe I’ve mentioned this recipe already?—but we love and regularly repeat this recipe for Taco Pizza, a knockoff of a popular dish at Happy Joe’s, a Midwest institution that we, sadly, never visited in the years we lived in Iowa, mostly because I thought Taco Pizza just sounded obnoxious (be tacos or be pizza, do not be both). But I humbly renounce my snobby monogamistic recipe ways and with open arms welcome this bicurious dish to my dinner table. It’s delicious and different.

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder from AllRecipes

I love and regularly crave this tasty, slightly spicy, mega-delicious soup. I’ve made it dozens of times (a true rarity for any dish in my house), and recommend the following simple changes:

- make 1 or 2 cups of white rice while you’re working on the soup and toss it in before serving . . . it adds a little much-needed substance to make this feel like more of a hearty meal.

- if you’re feeling real crazy (WOOOO, I KNOW I AM!), swap out the chicken for tilapia. I tried it once, simply because I had tilapia in the freezer that I didn’t know what to do with, and now I actually prefer it that way and haven’t made it with chicken since. And I’m not a fish lover, so don’t worry about it being too intensely fishy.

Thai Curry from Everyday Reading

This dish has the most delicious Thai coconut flavor, and it’s a fantastic recipe to have on hand because it’s so easily adaptable. Whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand work perfectly, so I love making it when I have random veggie odds and ends in my fridge that I don’t have a plan for. Personally, I prefer it with less (or no) fish sauce, but either way, this recipe is scrumptious. We rarely have leftovers of this one.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

A Non-Decorator's Fall Vignette + Autumn Harvest


This post brought to you by Glade Fall Collection. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've mentioned before that I don't really decorate for holidays. It's not that I dislike holiday decorations or anything, I've just never really had the essential combo that seems to go into seasonal decor: money + inspiration + holiday spirit (+ optional elementary-school aged kids). I guess I'm grinchy. But autumn is my favorite season, and since we're in our own house for the first time ever, I've had a change of heart . . . I wanted to do at least a little something for our first season in our first house. I'm still missing almost all of the components for my holiday decorating equation (no money, no inspiration, very little holiday spirit except excitement over pumpkin bread), so this is the best I could do. Having never decorated for just about anything ever, though, I'm inordinately pleased with my little fall vignette.

I made the hurricanes using Chelsea of Two Twenty-One's thrifty hurricane tutorial, and the little pumpkins and gourds were post-autumn markdowns at Walmart a few years ago that I picked up for ten cents apiece (and--ready?--they've been in a box ever since. THAT is how grinchy I am. I even bought seasonal decorations, then put them in a box and abandoned them for years). All the elements for the hurricanes were from Dollar Tree and Walmart, so she's not kidding with the thrifty title. All things considered, the most expensive part of this display was the candy corn. Not bad, and very pleasing to a cheapskate like me. (Although, be warned: I've been told by a reliable snitch source who tried to sneak candy out of the display that it now tastes like candle wax.) There are actually a few more items I was planning/hoping to add to my vignette, but to be honest, I think I'm too cheap and lazy to pull it all together, so I may just channel that money/energy toward Christmas decorations in a few months. So, for now, and for what is just about my first attempt at holiday decor ever, this is a pretty big triumph for me. The crowd goes wild!

One little item that helped bring the autumn-y spirit into our home (despite the 80+ weather we're still having) is the last little member of the vignette . . . the candle off to the right. I was sent the Autumn Harvest candle from the Glade Fall Collection (available at Walmart) and tossed it into my little fall area . . . I give that scent a hearty and enthusiastic two thumbs up. You know how most fall/winter scents smell mostly like cinnamon, or ginger, or just spices in general? So it basically smells like you're constantly brewing up a batch of hot cider? Well, I love that smell, don't get me wrong, but this Autumn Harvest scent is very different from those. It has a touch of that spice scent you normally get in fall but there's also kind of an earthy, smokey scent in there, too, and I love it. Very different from anything I've used before, but such a nice change from what I tend to gravitate towards. Their fall collection also includes a Rosemary Sage scent that I'm very curious about . . . it sounds just weird enough to potentially be amazing. Anyway, there's a coupon available at Walmart for $1.50 off two Glade Fall Collection products if you'd like to try out the Autumn Harvest scent that I know and love or any of the others.
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Growing Out a Pixie Cut, One Year Later

As promised, an update to my 6-month pixie cut grow-out post! You can find the original post, which shows my first 6 months of pixie growth, right HERE. It’s now been a little over a year since I decided to grow out my pixie cut, so hopefully this will give you an idea of what to expect if you’re starting to grow out your hair (or maybe give you a little confidence boost if you’re tempted to try a pixie cut but are scared of the grow-out afterwards!).

At about 4-ish months in, I had asked my hairdresser to cut it into an A-line shape (shorter, stacked layers in the back with longer layers and side-swept bangs in the front). I think this was a really good haircut to grow with—the neck/mullet area of a pixie cut grows in far too fast and the front layers around the face take a longer time to catch up, so an A-line cut really helped keep the back under control to allow the front to grow in. It does feel a bit slow since the back view of your head doesn’t change a whole lot in those first 6 or so months, but I think we all know that a mullet is not the answer, and unfortunately that IS how a pixie grows in if you aren’t diligent about cutting off the neck layer. I really enjoyed this short A-line cut and would definitely get this haircut again someday—I thought it was cute and fun, it’s easy to style, and looks really good with hats/headbands/clips when you want a little variety.

By about 7-8 months post-pixie (with regular mullet trims every 6-ish weeks), my hair looked like this:

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Still growing into that A-line shape from a few months before, but it was getting long enough that the back layer (which you can barely see, I’m sorry for not taking better pictures) was starting to be able to grow in at the same pace as the front, so it looked like it was a part of the style and not a mudflap or, as my hairdresser liked to call it, ‘that awful duck tail.’

We had family photos taken in April, which was about 9 months into my grow-out. I already shared these pictures in this post, but they give you a better look at the length/style than my not-so-stellar phone shots do . . .

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Now we’re getting to the point where real life started to get  awfully busy—vacations, house-hunting, a constantly teething toddler, a sister’s hospital stay, then buying and renovating and moving into our new house—so I unfortunately don’t have many pictures between 9 months and today (about 14 months). I was actually kind of surprised to not be able to find any pictures of myself for 4-ish months (none that showed my hair, at least), but this awkward mirror cellie selfie about 10-11 months in is the best I can find—you can kind of see that it’s finally reached collar length, and is long enough to barely brush my shoulders (which felt bizarre after a few years of very short hair that was nowhere near shoulder-brushing length):

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(All of these pictures so far have been of that same A-line haircut I got at about 3-4 months into my grow-out . . . the hairdresser I had been going to, and loved, pulled a disappearing act [she left her job at the salon and they of course wouldn’t tell me where she went or her cell phone number so I could follow her like the creepy stalker I am], and I went about 6 months without a trim before I finally caved and went somewhere new. Is it just me, or is finding a hairdresser you love practically the mission impossible of a dull housewife’s life?)

And this brings us to today. I’m a bit late posting an update—I’m actually a little over a year into my grow-out now (about 14 months), but what can I say. I wasn’t even that great at taking a monthly picture when I was pregnant, for pete’s sake. I’m certainly not going to be on top of taking a monthly hair picture.

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I like it best a little wavy, like that picture above, but I suppose straight is probably better for this post’s purposes.

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I finally got a haircut a month ago, and the hairdresser started to even out the A-line (shorten the front layers so they’re about the same length as the back). She wanted to take it shorter than I was willing to go, because there are a few spots that still haven’t caught up with the rest. Do you remember in my last grow-out post, I mentioned a ‘hole’ in the side where the shortest layer of the pixie, right above my ear, had been? Well, that spot is still a bit shorter than the rest—see, in these profile shots, where there’s a shorter spot right around my ears? My hairdresser said we really ought to take it all up to that short layer so it can grow in evenly, but I couldn’t do it. I’ve been growing it out for too long to lose like 3 inches all in one go. That shorter spot doesn’t bother me, so I’m just ignoring it for now. I think it’ll work itself out over a few months of regular trims.

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There you have it. One year of hair growth, from a pixie to a shoulder-length bob. All in all, it’s been fun. I was really nervous about growing out that very short haircut—I expected month after month of awkward-looking hair that never really looked quite right—but there were actually only a few weeks early on when I didn’t like the way it looked, and it didn’t take as long as I expected to look like an actual style instead of awkward grow-out hair.

Care for a handy dandy kinda-cheesy collage? Cue flashback music.

pixie growth collage

Now, I’ll try to answer a few questions that I get occasionally on my previous post. Bear in mind that I am NOT a professional hairstylist, and I don’t know a lot about hair care or growth or styling or anything. I just enjoy experimenting with it.

Products I use: I’ve never in my life used professional salon products up until this past year. I figured this was as good a time as any to splurge on some quality stuff to make my grow-out a little more enjoyable. And since I was a complete newbie to professional products and had no idea what to look for, what was worth spending on, and what wasn’t necessary, I took the easy way out and just bought everything that Kate of The Small Thing’s Blog  says she uses on a daily basis (you can find her favorite product list here).

My thoughts on her product recommendations: I loved the Kenra 25 hairspray. I can’t say enough good things about it. When my can ran out, I stupidly bought a cheaper brand to replace it (I wanted to see if I could really notice a difference or if I was just being wooed by the fancy Kenra name and price tag), and have hated my new hairspray. I’m really looking forward to my current can running out so I can restock with the Kenra 25. I also really liked the Aquage Uplifting Foam and did the same thing—tried another, cheaper brand when it ran out to see if I could tell a difference, and now I’m looking forward to going back to Aquage. I like the Redken Body Full shampoo and conditioner—it makes my hair very soft and shiny—but I honestly haven’t noticed that it does much to help with body. I like it and have enjoyed using it, but I’m not really sure that it does all it claims to. It could be that I’m just not experienced enough to notice a difference. Same with the Extreme CAT—I haven’t noticed any change by using it (although this product might not be necessary for me—I don’t color my hair and I don’t use heat on it every day, so I probably don’t have a lot of damage that needs to be repaired). 

A thought on dry shampoo: I mentioned in my last post that I only wash my hair every 3 or 4 days (still true), and use dry shampoo in between to keep it looking fresh. I get the occasional question of what dry shampoo I like and would recommend. Honestly, any of them. I’ve tried probably half a dozen different brands (from cheap drugstore brands to mid-level ones [haven’t tried a fancy salon brand dry shampoo yet]) and have been equally pleased with all of them. I’m not sure this is a product worth splurging on (although, not having splurged on a salon version yet, I guess that might not be completely fair for me to say). I’ve tried Suave, Dove, Batiste, Beyond the Zone, and quite a few others than I’m forgetting now, and I’ve thought they all got the job done equally well. The only real difference I’ve noticed is scent, so I guess I wouldn’t recommend one brand in particular, but rather would just recommend you find a scent you like.

Styling: Guys, I have no idea. I’ve never been great at styling my hair, but I’m getting better. Once again, I’ve found Kate’s tutorials helpful. I get the best results for a straight hairstyle when I blow dry it upside down and use a flat iron just on the pieces that are unruly (I’ve noticed that, for me at least, if I use the flat iron everywhere, my hair just ends up completely flat and no amount of teasing or hairspray helps add any volume). And for the wavy hairstyle pictured earlier, I also blow dry upside down until just the roots are dry, then let the ends dry naturally and use a flat iron or curling iron to add a few loose waves throughout the top layer. I can usually manage to get 3-ish days out of each with the help of some dry shampoo and redoing a curl or two (or straightening a piece or two) each day.

And, as I mentioned in the previous post, I still love hats and headbands for awkward stages or bad hair days. I really don’t think daily heat styling is a great idea if you can avoid it, and you’ll get to keep more of your growth if you keep your hair healthy and strong, so I would recommend stretching it out a day or two or three between washing and styling if you possibly can. Hats and headwraps/earwarmers help a lot. I happen to make some very cute ones if you’re searching.

Here’s to many happy hair days!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Our DIY Kitchen Makeover

I keep waiting to share our renovation/redesign photos because I’ve only wanted to show our house all finished and perfect and completely decorated. But after a cold, hard look at the facts, I’m going to have to accept that at our current pace, our house will be ‘finished’ in, oh, 8-12 years. So despite a lack of décor and finishing touches, I’m going to start sharing it anyway. Just don’t leave nasty comments about how empty or unlived-in or undecorated it looks, okay? Actually, don’t leave nasty comments at all, about anything, I think that would be best.

I’ll start out with the room that is the most finished so far—the kitchen. As a reminder, here’s how the kitchen/dining area looked when we bought the house:

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Honestly, I didn’t think it was all that terrible. The cabinets were in pretty good shape (although I’m not crazy about oak and have always wanted white cabinets), but the countertop was cracked and peeling (not to mention baby blue) and the floor was a very cheap laminate that was really showing its age and was starting to bubble up and split apart. It wasn’t a bad kitchen to start with, but I saw a lot of room for improvement and updates.

Without further ado, behold the new-and-improved kitchen today:

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How’s that for a big change?!

You know, looking back and forth between those two pictures gives me the warm ‘n fuzzies. Let’s do it again, from another angle.

Before:

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And now!

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We’ve put a loooooooot of work into this room, and we were able to make most of the changes ourselves. We started by tearing out the old flooring (not just in this room, but throughout the entire house), and Jeff spent a few back-breaking days and nights replacing it with new wood laminate flooring. This wasn’t exactly a difficult task, according to Jeff (except for rooms with a lot of angles or closets to work into, which were kind of difficult), but it was time-consuming and very physically demanding. But the price to have the floor professionally installed would have been more than double the cost of the product itself, so it was an easy choice for us to do it ourselves (I’m using plurals pretty generously so far—I didn’t do a single thing to help with the flooring other than carrying planks around. Good work Jeff!). You can get a good look at the new floor in this picture:

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I have LOVED our new floors. They are rich and dark and really put up a convincing front—I would have thought they were real hardwood if I hadn’t chosen and paid for them myself. We got the flooring from McCoy’s in Lehi, Utah. I really wanted to stay under $2 per square foot on the floors (we don’t have a huge renovation budget to work with, and expensive laminate or real hardwood could have easily eaten up most of our budget) and, if you’ve ever shopped for flooring, you know that this is a tough goal to work with. I stumbled across McCoy’s website and am so glad I did. If you are looking for laminate flooring and like the look of this one, GET MOVING. This is the only laminate that McCoy’s carries (the bulk of their business is in carpet and cabinetry) and our timing just happened to be perfect—they’re eliminating laminate from their stock and are getting rid of what’s in the warehouse at a huge markdown, so we got this flooring for $1.25 per square foot for the entire first floor of our house, coming in at just about 50% of what we had expected the flooring budget to be! One of our neighbors came over and fell in love with our floors and decided to redo their first floor as well, and they got the same product from McCoy’s a few weeks after us, marked down to $0.99 per square foot. And this is good quality stuff—it was comparable in thickness, brand, and durability to the $3+/sq. ft. products at Lowe’s or Home Depot. So if you’re local and planning a renovation, I’d recommend you visit McCoy’s quickly—we bought ours 2 months ago, so for all I know, they could already be sold out. (By the way, they’re not compensating me to say any of this—they don’t even know who I am unless they happen to remember me as ‘that girl who was doing cartwheels over our flooring’—I’m just really happy with the price and quality and look of our new floors and want to share.)

While Jeff worked on the floors, I gave the cabinets a makeover. This wasn’t at all a difficult task, but it was, like the floors, rather time-consuming. Luckily, we had about 2 weeks between the closing date on the new house and our move-out date in our apartment, so we had the luxury of turning the new place into a complete construction zone with torn-up floors, knocked-out walls, wet paint, and empty, half-painted cabinets for a little while before we had to move in.

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It was pretty scary looking for those 2 weeks (and beyond). But even just a coat of primer on the cabinets gave me some hope for what the kitchen could look like when it was finished:

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I won’t go into too much detail about the cabinet painting process—there are hundreds of very detailed posts and articles about painting/refinishing cabinets elsewhere—I’ll just say that it isn’t hard, and if it’s something you want to attempt, you shouldn’t be scared of it. I am far from a professional painter/DIYer, and I managed just fine. We installed some new satin hardware on the cabinets and drawers (and actually still haven’t finished this—if you look closely at the full kitchen shots, you’ll see that some doors/drawers are still waiting for knobs) which I think make a big impact. We got the knobs and pulls from Home Depot.

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Next on our list was tackling those terrible countertops. We knocked out the baby blue counters ourselves (again, I’m using ‘we’ pretty generously here . . . I believe I stood around the corner and covered my ears while Jeff did the very loud dirty work) and lived for a few weeks with no counters at all (which is about as fun as it sounds) while we waited for the new ones to be delivered. This is the only piece of the kitchen makeover we didn’t do ourselves—we bought these countertops from Lowe’s and had them installed for us. The counters, like the floors, were a bit of a budget terror. As much as I would have loved granite countertops, they would have just about wiped our budget clean. I considered DIY butcher block or concrete countertops, but decided in the end to go with a laminate that made for a pretty compelling granite copycat. And I’ve been extremely happy with them—I think they are beautiful, and they don’t at all have the cheap, plasticky look that some laminate countertops have. We’ve even had a few friends and neighbors act surprised when we tell them they aren’t granite. Maybe they’re just being polite, but I think they are really lovely counters and I haven’t regretted our choice at all. We also tossed in a new stainless steel sink and faucet while the countertops were being changed. I think it looks great next to the silver knobs on the cabinets.

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(Weird as this seems to me, the baby blue countertops continued up onto that deep windowsill. I haven’t decided yet what to put there instead, so it’s just plywood covered with dead leaves from my sickly ornamental pepper plant for now while I make up my mind.)

We painted the walls a light, silvery gray—Valspar Comet Dust—throughout most of the house. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d choose this color if I were starting over again. While it looks beautiful in the upstairs of the house where there is less natural light (I love it in Forrest’s bedroom and bathroom and in the upstairs hallway!), the downstairs of our house is SO bright with SO many windows that the wall color gets a bit washed out. But since our 20+ foot high ceilings make painting a HUGE endeavor, the very light gray walls are definitely sticking around for a while. And they’re fine—I like the color, I just wish now that I had gone a bit darker. Oh well.

Last but not least, the finishing touch, the cherry and hot fudge and whipped cream on top of the kitchen makeover that pulls it all together, are the stunning new light fixtures. Did you notice them?

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You might remember that I entered the Barn Light Electric online giveaway contest shortly after we closed on our house. I never in a million years would have dreamed that I’d be a contender, but I won! I’m still in shock, and I stare in wonder at these beauteous light fixtures every day. This Saddlebred Pendant (which I cannot for my life find on their site now, I’m sorry for the lack of link) is a huge improvement over the previous fixture, a dinky little gold chandelier:

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And I chose the Raven Chandelier for our dining area:

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It makes for a great change from this monster:

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And I love the new look when you enter the house—here’s the view from the front door when we bought the house:

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And here’s the view from the front door now (including a peek of our staircase makeover):

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I’m getting the warm ‘n fuzzies again just looking at that ‘after’ shot. A million thank yous to Barn Light Electric for the gorgeous new fixtures—they give the place so much character and charm! Since this is really a rather cookie-cutter, builder standard house, I LOVE that these new fixtures give it a little bit of old-fashioned style.

On the to-do list for the kitchen/dining are to install a backsplash (we have it picked out [it’s propped up next to the stove in the pictures above] but just need to work up the courage to tackle it), install trim above the cabinets, and infuse some more color with décor, wall art, etc. I’m contemplating a colorful kitchen table makeover . . . we’ll see. And perhaps some bright, cheerful valances/Roman shades for the bay window.

Until next time. Thanks for stopping by.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Shop Sale and Various Items of Newsage

(You know, newsage? Not new-sage, but news-age, as in, “I wanted to share a few various items of newsage”? I know, just click away, I never have any idea what I’m talking about. <—see? Told you.)

Item Numero Uno:

I decided to have a fall kickoff sale in my shop! Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, and it just so happens to be the perfect time for you to start thinking about what winter hat you (or your little munchkin) will be wearing in the chilly weather. And I just so happen to make many awfully cute ones.
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(Clockwise from the big one: Baby Bear Hat, Slouch Hat, Flower Beanie, Owl Hat, Headwrap, Cluster Cowl)

Pop into my shop, take a gander, decide what you could use this fall/winter, and use coupon code FALLKICKOFF at checkout for 25% off. That coupon code is good for THIS WEEKEND ONLY, so don’t drag your feet if you’ve got your eye on something!

(That coupon code can be used on any purchase from my shop, so feel free to use it on a pattern purchase if you’d like to crochet something yourself. And, as always, I love doing custom work, so shoot me an email [maybematildaquilts at gmail.com] if you have a style in mind that I’m not currently offering and I’ll let you know if it’s a possibility for me to recreate. And don’t feel limited to the colors in pictures—I’ve got a big old yarn stash of colors to choose from, and I’m always happy to go shopping to find the color you’d like if I don’t already have it!)

Item Numero Dos:

My friend Chelsea over at Two Twenty-One has started a new business venture—photo editing for the shots you love that require a little help to make them shine. Just look at what she did with this formerly lackluster photo of me and my sister from last fall’s visit to the pumpkin patch:



Nicely done, Chelsea! Click on over here if you’re interested in seeing what she can do to help your photos out, too.

Item Numero Tres:

Did you know I’m famous? (That’s okay, neither did I.) My husband informed me this morning that my pixie growout post is the top google hit (is that the right terminology?) for the search words “grow out pixie cut.” I guess this explains why I’m still getting comments on that post, 6 months after writing it. 

Well, this google news (plus the reminder of my Beiber hair offered by the photo above) makes me think that the pixie growout post desperately needs an update—the first post covered pictures, growth, and general Beiberocity for the first 6 months of grow-out, and I’ve now passed a year of pixie growth, so you can expect an update to that post soon. I apologize sincerely if you have been anxiously sitting at your computer for these past 6 months, refreshing my blog every minute whilst sweating and biting your nails as you eagerly awaited an update. To appease you until I can take proper hair pictures, enjoy this shot taken yesterday with a severely webcam-obsessed Forrest that includes my head and, unavoidably, hair and hence is semi-related to this item of newsage without actually being informative or helpful at all. (Translation: I feel the need to redeem my naughty child’s reputation after my last post and this picture ought to do the trick.)
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(See, I told you he was cute at home. Now if he could just keep this up when we leave the house, we’d be all set.)

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meltdown at Walmart

I could write for days about how difficult Forrest has been lately, but I’ll try to keep this post under control. The terrible twos have descended with unimaginable ferocity and I am very quickly losing whatever meager trace of sanity I once possessed. He actually isn’t too outrageous at home—although he is definitely way more assertive and cranky and mood-swingy than ever before, he still has plenty of his once-typical sweet, cuddly, precious moments at home—but leaving the house with him is always an absolute disaster. Any shopping trip, any drive, even walks to the park now end with sobbing tantrums on the ground, or him sprinting away from me at top toddler speed, or me getting smacked repeatedly in the face while he screams at the top of his lungs, or usually all of the above. It’s a delight. Despite my best efforts to try and teach him how to behave, what to do and what not to do, and even my shameless use of flat-out bribery, nothing has worked so far, and I dread leaving the house with him now. He’s a bit of a drama queen (NO IDEA WHERE HE GOT THAT FROM), and at the first hint of something not going his way (like me not allowing him to rip clothes from their hangers, or empty an entire bin of apples at the grocery store, or sample six bags of candy while we shop, or race a few quick laps around the store), his entire world comes to a screeching halt. And while I’m so glad that he’s still (usually) pleasant at home, and I would certainly prefer that he is well-behaved at home rather than in public (if I had to choose just one), and I love that little stinker to pieces, that doesn’t make the necessary, horrifying outings any easier.

In short: I am that mom at the grocery store. The one that you, with your cart full of cherubic well-behaved children whose halos provide a nice sparkly sheen with which I may view my own child’s demonic possession, shake your head at and wonder why she can’t control her little gremlin.

Well, instead of the whiny autobiography I could write on this topic (which would include such chapter titles as What The Hell Have I Gotten Myself Into?, Selling Your Naughty Boy on the Black Market, and Exorcism For Toddlers), I’ll just share with you one recent outing that sums up our experiences and his unfortunate temperament transformation pretty nicely. I’ve already emailed this horror story to quite a few people, and left an abbreviated version as a comment on a few others’ blogs, so if I’ve already regaled you with my tale of misery and woe, I’m sorry. Go find something happier to read. Preferably from a mother of cherubs.

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I should know better by now than to even try to take Forrest out with me to run errands or go shopping, but every now and then, I just don’t have a choice. Food must be purchased, oil must be changed, and sometimes daddy just isn’t around when I need to leave the house. So a few weeks ago, against my better judgment, I wrote out my shopping list, packed Forrest up in the car, and we headed to Walmart.

I had a game plan to try and keep things civil and humane: new toddler apps had been downloaded to my phone, I had packed a juice cup and a few small toys, and I headed straight to the candy aisle when we arrived to let him pick a treat to eat while we shopped. For probably five minutes, there was peace. It was wonderful. He sat in the cart, he played on my phone, he nibbled Raisinets. For five beautiful minutes, I was the mom with the angel baby. I’ve missed that feeling.

Then: tragedy. He looked up from the phone. He noticed that we were in public. In a store. A store that contained shelves. Shelves fully stocked with items that would be so fun  to pull down. A mad scramble to exit the cart ensued. My phone, with its brand new toddler apps, was forgotten (thrown at me, actually). The Raisinets were dumped. In a moment of foolish hopefulness, I thought, ‘Maybe he’ll just walk alongside the cart! That’s okay!’ Such naïve stupidity. He sprinted for some shelves and started pulling things down—sprinted to another family’s cart and tried to push it around—dashed toward the exit to make an escape—so I snatched him and tried to stuff his flailing limbs back into the cart seat, all while he was screeching like a banshee, clawing at my face and hair, and pumping his legs as hard as possible so I couldn’t stick them back in the cart. I tried the time-honored “Fine, lay there on the floor, I’ll just keep shopping without you” technique without success. I tried the “Okay, I’ll let you pick another treat if you’ll just sit in the cart and eat it!” and ended up having to buy an opened, yet rejected, bag of cookies.  I tried the kind and understanding, “I know this is tough for you, let’s cuddle real quick and sing a song together” method. The phone and juice and treats were useless, as were the cars and toys I had in my purse. There is no cure for full meltdown mode.

So I did the only thing I could do—crammed him into the cart, buckled him in, and tried to finish my shopping as quickly as I could. I raced through aisles, frantically searching for everything I needed, my anxiety rising with each shriek and scream and slap and booger-covered hand smacking me from the cart. Pre-toddler, I wouldn’t have imagined that a mere child could have the energy to continue screaming and flailing and hitting at maximum capacity for an entire 40-minute shopping trip. Now I know. Forrest’s endurance knows no limit. There was not a single moment of quiet or calm as we made our way through the store. He screamed and cried and drooled and hit and kicked the whole way through.

(Photo from a different, much tamer and more successful shopping trip. Only a mild tantrum that day.)

I’d like to take a moment to say a virtual thank you to the kindly grandmother who stopped to say something encouraging as she passed us in the baking aisle. As I got more and more frazzled and upset, it was extremely uplifting to have someone stop to say something nice—I don’t even remember what she said, exactly, just something understanding that made me feel slightly less embarrassed of the situation—so thank you, kind stranger.

I’d also like to take a moment to give a virtual smack down to the multiple strangers who seemed to think that a better response to a mother who is obviously distressed and embarrassed and upset about her child’s public meltdown is an eyeroll, or the shaking of their head in her direction, or a whispered comment to a shopping companion accompanied by hateful glaring. Did they really think I was enjoying myself? That his screaming brought me joy? That I had some simple, surefire solution to a full blown temper tantrum and was just saving it for later? Shame on you. Shame on you for thinking that you are better than me; that your parenting techniques would work when mine haven’t; that you, with your 3 seconds of observation, know the answers for me and my child; for assuming that I am a bad mother because I have a difficult kid; and for judging my worth on a moment’s glance in the grocery store.

Needless to say, by the time I had found everything on my list and made my way to the checkout line, I was completely distressed. Some people seem to be able to handle their kids’ outbursts with patience and calm. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. I wish I could detach myself from the situation and just get things done without getting upset myself, but I can’t—I get stressed and panicky and embarrassed and angry, and the multiple eyerolls and shaking heads from judgmental strangers sure doesn’t help. A tantrum that, at home, would have been a mere annoyance becomes a completely shattering loss of my parenting self-esteem in public. I wish I didn’t care what strangers thought of me, but I remember looking at those moms before I had a child and wondering what was wrong with them and their kids, why they couldn’t just teach their child to be good, what they must be doing wrong to have such a naughty child. And I know that is exactly what other moms are now thinking about me.

So, we’re in the checkout line. Forrest is still screaming and crying, I am at my wit’s end, we’ve been peeked at and whispered about and glared at through the entire trip, the children behind us in line are asking their mom what is wrong with the baby in my cart, and I’m ready to just sink into the floor and disappear. And the cheerful checkout girl takes one look at snot-covered, flailing, screeching Forrest and says, “It must be somebody’s naptime!”

I don’t know why that was the last straw for me. She was trying to be nice, make a stressful situation a little lighter for everyone. Good for her for not being visibly annoyed at me like everyone else was. But for some reason, that was it for me. I started crying. Right there in the checkout line at Walmart, I broke down and started crying and, in my typical, rational, nurturing motherly fashion, wailed, “He’s ALWAYS like this!” Which, of course, isn’t even close to true, but after 40 minutes of public meltdown, it sure felt true. The poor checkout girl did the only sensible thing: focused very intently on ringing up my items and avoided eye contact throughout the rest of my transaction while I sniffled and Forrest screamed and I tried to discreetly wipe my tears and blow my nose (as if anyone hadn’t yet noticed the sobbing duo in the checkout line).

Once we got back in the car, Forrest laughed the whole way home.

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