Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Flippin Sweet Halloween

We've haven't done a family themed Halloween for years and years, and so I thought our rendition of the cast of Napoleon Dynamite was blog-worthy:

My neighbor is Jewish and doesn't celebrate Christmas, but goes all out for Halloween.  I asked her to take our picture and she was disappointed that I wasn't dressed up. I obviously need to up my fashion game if she thinks side pony tails and hip packs are normal for me.
I posted these on FB and my mother was so concerned about my daughter's attitude that she called her. She didn't read the t-shirt closely and thought she was just a disgruntled teenager in her PE clothes and didn't realize that she was just being the perfect Summer Wheatley. I made her shirt using the freezer paper technique btw.

 The Happy Couple
Pedro Sanchez was the only one that actually went trick-or-treating, and I was a little worried without the rest of us, he looked very racial insensitive.  I made his buckle and tie out of cardboard, shoe-lace, and tin foil.
 I was mostly able to throw this together from stuff we had around the house.  I only had to buy black hairspray, plain blue t-shirt, and 2 pair of glasses from the dollar store so it only cost $7 for all 5 of us.  It may not be my favorite movie, but it has been my favorite since we dressed up as Beauty and the Beast.

My big kids went to a party and my daughter bribed my son w/ the last cupcake if he'd dress up as Bert. She had the Mary Poppins costume from a few years ago. He would only agree if he could wear whatever shoes he wanted.  I think they were adorable.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

DE Chalk Paint Dresser

Several years ago I posted pics of my tween girl's bedroom.  Tween girl is now driving and wanted something a little more grown up.  She wanted to paint her dresser "grass green" and so I let her. (The color is grass stain from Lowe's)  She used the same techniques and chalk paint recipe from when I did my side tables. She has never painted anything before and I think she did an excellent job. 

One of these days we will get around to decorating the entire room and do some big reveal, but so far this is as far as we've gotten.

BTW: This dresser was mine when I was little and I think several of my sisters as well.  It started as a fake dark wood veneer.  Then my dad painted it white for my daughter, and now it's green.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back To School Candy Jar

 Hobby Lobby had all their jars on 50% off and so that inspired me wanted to do some back-to-school themed candy jars.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

DE (diatomaceous earth) Chalk Paint

I've been wanting to try chalk paint for years (hopefully the trend isn't over yet).  I found this recipe using DE on pinterest (I'd love to give credit, but it didn't link back). Since I had a 25 lb box of it sitting in my garage, I figured I'd give it a try. 

1/4 cup DE
8 Tb Water
1 paint sample (7.2 ounces) Valspar Mercer Blue

Mix the water and DE, then add the paint and stir with a plastic fork until smooth.  Paint.  Wait an hour and lightly sand with 220 sandpaper until smooth.  (Don't be scared-this took under 5 minutes)

Honestly it was fool proof and created a smooth buttery finish.

It ended up looking more gray than blue, so I mixed a little of my glaze with some turquoise craft paint, then it looked too blue, so I glazed it again with some Behr Espresso Bean. (Here's more detailed info about how I glaze).  

I still haven't gotten around to applying a layer of finishing wax.

I have no experience with other chalk paint, but I can't imagine any other kind working better.  DE can be found at any hardware or pool supply store.  (or beg some off a friend that has a pool) The original recipe suggested "food-grade", but I don't think it would have made a difference.
I forgot to take a "before", but I found it in a corner of a picture from Christmas morning). I actually got these at a garage sale about 7 years ago and painted them black. (BTW black furniture is not the best idea for someone who dusts as often as I do)


These tables make me silly happy!

I also painted a dresser and mirror for my daughter so stay tuned. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I Spent Way Too Much Time on This

We have left the military and have entered the civilian world. This means that my husband needs to market himself to drum up business so we can still eat on a regular basis.  

I have the recipe for the world's best chocolate chip cookies and so he asked me to make a few batches that he can leave at offices around Houston.  He also asked me to make them cute. I was inspired by this. (I got the gable box at Hobby Lobby for 99 cents.)

I attached a little pocket so he can insert his business cards.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What I'm Reading -While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

We absolutely feel that we are where we are supposed to be and we have a fabulous house and my husband loves his new job.  I really should have nothing to complain about except for the fact MOVING SUCKS!

One day feeling a little lonely and completely overwhelmed at my attempts for my house to stop looking like an audition for Hoarders, my daughter brought in a package from Amazon.

My friend Suzanne, knows that a great read is just good for the soul and sent me a book. (How blessed am I to have her as a friend?)

If you need a fun summer read, check it out:

The  British concierge of  "The Alexander", a luxury apartment building in Atlanta, organizes weekly screenings of Downton Abbey to promote community spirit. These screenings provide the framework for a story filled with unlikely friendships, southern charm and snark, romance, and personal triumphs.  

UPDATE:  Since writing this post, I went and signed up for a library card and check out a few more books by the same author.  I then pulled out my sewing machine for the first time in months.  It was just to tailor a pair of pants, but I feel both are big steps in getting settled and returning to my trophy wife self.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Vintage Balloon Dress

eshakti asked me to pick a product to review.  I had been eyeing this Balloon Shirt Dress for a few weeks and am so excited that it is actually hanging in my closet.  It is that perfect summer dress that you can dress up or down, has a cool vintage vibe and even figure flattering.
 It even has Pockets!
 I've already blogged a few times about this company and my daughter and I own seven dresses (including her prom dress).  We have been impressed with the quality and fast delivery on all seven. My favorite thing about this company is that they allow you the option  of customizing sleeve length, neckline, and hemline, so you can get the dress exactly the way you want it. We have about a decade to even start thinking about weddings, but I think it would be a perfect company to use to look for bridesmaid dresses.

eshakti, fall, autumn, plusfashion, colorblock dress, plus size dress, petite fashion, womens clothing, online shopping, plus apparel, bridesmaids dresses, fall2013, affordable clothing, dresses with pockets, custom clothing, customized apparel, spring
(and $25 off your first order)

BTW: My yard did not suddenly get lush a green, we have moved to Houston.  Stay tuned for some posts about our new place.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Do You Pay for Grades????

I was never paid for good grades, but lately I've considered starting paying my kids for good grades and so I've been doing a little research on the subject, but I can only find opinions and no any solid statistics.

It seems like people against it feel it may add fuel to the entitlement mentality that plagues our society.  People for it feel it teaches kids that hard works equals rewards.

My husband and I are considering it as a way to teach our kids financial responsibility and hopefully motivate our less motivated kids to try a little harder in school. Our allowance system has been as amazing tool to keep the house clean, so I'm hoping this might boost the kids GPA..

So what has been your experience?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

$20.84 Prom Dress

 Most prom dresses looked cheap in every sense of the word.    Anything in our price range ($150) that wasn't made out of cheap polyester and that her dad and I would feel comfortable sending her out wearing with a boy looked a little "mother-of-the-bride" than prom. 

We were thrilled when we found this dress here.  She told me she felt so glamorous and beautiful all night. (I know my opinion my be a little biased, but seriously she is gorgeous) 

We found it here at  I've talked before how much I love this site (and have bought 5 dresses between the 2 of us that we love and I am buying this one next as soon as it comes back in stock).
 You can customize sleeves, hems, and necklines, but we thought this one was adorable as is. 

They are always running great promotions-currently is a a buy 2 get one free and $25 of your first purchase.
 FYI my mother bought one, but didn't like the way it fit and she said it was hassle free to return it.
 (Full disclosure-I have signed up to be an affiliate for and  get a commission when you click to the site from my blog-and I greatly appreciate it when you do)

eshakti, fall, autumn, plusfashion, colorblock dress, plus size dress, petite fashion, womens clothing, online shopping, plus apparel, bridesmaids dresses, fall2013, affordable clothing, dresses with pockets, custom clothing, customized apparel, spring

Monday, May 12, 2014

DIY Glitter Prom Shoes

Several years ago, my daughter found a pair of gold glitter stilettos at Ross for $9.99.  I could think of no practical reason to buy them so we didn't, but she has been fantasizing about them ever since.  
We searched all over town for a pair, but could only find them online and she really wanted to try them on first. We found a pair of "comfort plus" at Payless and a few tutorials on Pinterest, so we thought we'd give it a try. I figured they would either be fabulous or I would be out $29.99.

Step 1: Cover the heal w/ painter's tape.
 Step 2: Mix Modge Podge with glitter and paint on the shoe. It was very thick-about like mud.

Step 3: Apply as many coats as needed (here's a pic after the first coat) and let dry between coats. I waited about an hour after the first coat and overnight after the second coat.  I did 3 coats and then covered the entire shoe with a coat of Modge Podge.

I usually hate glitter because it gets everywhere and I told my kid she wasn't allowed to wear them in the house. Shockingly, once the shoes were dry, the glitter was like one solid sheet and didn't flake off. 

There were a few cracks, that I might touch up before she wears them again, but they held up pretty well- even after 8 hours of dancing. 

Stay-tuned for more prom posts-this is the closest I'll ever get to being a fairy-godmother.

UPDATE: Touched them up w/ a little more glitter and Modge Podge and they're good as new.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sweet 16 Princess Party

My baby girl turned 16 a few weeks ago.  The girl lived in princess dresses for the first half of her life, and so she thought it would be fun to invite all her friends over and celebrate her birthday princess style.  She asked them to all wear pajamas and we found some cheap tiaras at Hobby Lobby.
For the most part, we limited the decorations to a few balloons and streamers, but we did make a draw-bridge for the front door.  I found the idea here.

 Princes Leia Rolls
I kinda made these up and mixed onion, garlic, spinach, and cream cheese and spread it on tortillas.
 Ariel's Oysters
  My 13 year old son actually pitched in and made these.  We used mini-vanilla wafers, frosting, and yogurt raisins. Idea found here.

 Mulan's Pot Stickers

Princess Testers
This may be a weird party food, but my kid goes through bags of frozen peas every week.

Jassmine's Fatayer
I based these on a recipe I found here.  However, the original dough was WAY to sticky to I added  quite a bit more flour.  I also substituted feta cheese for cheddar and added some drained frozen spinach (they were delicious).

 Rapunzel's Braids
I doubled the dough for the fatayer and made some braids. I sprinkled them w/ Parmesan cheese and garlic salt.

12:01 am Cupcakes
It is just a box of pumpkin (catch my joke) cake mix w/ the easiest and yummiest cream cheese frosting (recipe here)

 The Beast's Rose
Tutorial Here
 The Evil Queen's Apples
Fairy God-mother's Wands
(dipped pretzels)

 Since she is no longer 4, the party didn't have a lot of structure.  Pretty much, I set out the food and then stayed out of the way.  However, we thought it would be super fun to play "Kiss the Frog".  We found the brightest lipstick possible, blindfolded them and had them give it their best shot.

 I don't know if I should be horrified or proud, but my kid planted a perfect smooch, right in the middle.
As per tradition, she blew out the candles on her pink lemonade cake. (recipe) Since it is an ice cream cake, you could even tie it into Frozen, but we are the only family in America that haven't seen it yet.

It was a super fun night and I declare it a success!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Standardized Test?

UPDATE: It's testing week again here in Texas and I thought I'd re-post this from last year:

It's standardized test week at all my kid's schools (maybe even the entire state of Texas).

I just got back from the elementary school and it is full of "Shh! We're Testing" signs.  Facebook is equally full of rants and snarky comments about the general unpleasantness of all things testing.

I haven't got any good hate mail lately, so I thought I'd share a little secret with you:

I think standardized testing is a good idea. 

I don't think it's a perfect system but here are 2 main reasons I approve:

1.  Being a military family we move a lot (6 schools so far) and standardized tests are a good way for me to evaluate and compare schools in an unfamiliar area. 

2.  My child could bring home straight A's all year long, but these tests show me that they actually learned what they were supposed to learn. 

3. I do not have a problem with my kids learning how to take tests. I expect my kids to go to college. They will need to take test to gain admittance and take many more while they are there. (I don't want them spending an inordinate amount of time on this).

Of course, I think far too much time and money is wasted on these things.  Here's how I would improve things:

Expense: Normally, I am against big federal government, but I think it would make more sense to develop one standardized test each year instead of 50 different ones. 

Time: My kids will each endure 2 solid days of testing-which is simply too long.  I think there should be 30-60 minute tests in each of the following areas: reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. They could even do one a day for a week.

Fairness: I think most states have allowances for kid's with special needs or learning disabilities, but if not, they should. 

Relevance: Tests should be given the last week or so of school. There's still 2 months of school left. 

Pressure: These tests are not testing our kids.  They are testing the schools. I tell my kids to do their best, but their performance on tests will have no impact whatsoever on their future lives.  In my kid's school they are not used for promotion, and I do not believe that tests like these should ever be used as the sole reason to hold a kid back a grade.

Rant away blogland and tell me that I'm wrong.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What I'm Reading: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

It is my turn to host book club and I picked Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Auggie Pullman reminds me of my own boys, he is smart and funny and in love with all things Star Wars. However, he was born with some severe facial deformities. After years of homeschooling, his parents decide that he is ready for main stream school and enroll him in the 5th grade at Beecher Prep.  

I don't think they are making a movie, but here's the trailer for the book:

Given the heavy subject matter, it is surprisingly uplifting, thought provoking and even funny. It is also one of those rare books that both kids and adults will love and you will all be better people for reading it. 5 enthusiastic stars

Here are some of my favorite parts:
"Here's what I think: the only reason I'm not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way." (3)

"When given the choice between being right or being kind. Choose kind." (49)

"the waiter brings over the menus and i notice his expression the moment he lays eyes on august. but i pretend not to notice. i guess we're all pretending not to notice things tonight...i look at olivia and she smiles at me. she knows. she sees the waiter's face.  she sees my tics. olivia is a girl who sees everything." (191)

"Anyway, it's not that I care that people react to me.  Like I've said a gazillion times: I'm used to that by now.  I don't let it bother me.  It's like when you go outside and it's drizzling a little. You don't put on boots for a drizzle.  You don't even ope you umbrella.  You walk through it and barely notice your hair getting wet.

But when it's a huge gym full of parents, the drizzle becomes like this total hurricane.  Everyone's eyes hit you like a wall of water."(207)

In case you want to use it for your bookclub:

Discussion questions found here:

The author answers FAQ Here:

Auggie Pullman is obsessed w/ Star Wars and if my house wasn't on the market and I had any excess energy, it would have been super fun to have Star Wars themed treats. Here are some food ideas for a b-day party a few years back.

UPDATE:  Book club was amazing.  My daughter calls it my monthly mom party and she is right.   We had a great discussion and ended the evening w/ us all sharing our precepts.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I'm moving to Houston!

After 10 years of military life, we are going civilian and heading to Houston!

I have been crazy busy doing lots of unblogworthy chores getting my house ready to put on the market. I've been taking lots of pics and so I thought I'd share them with you. Here are some of my favorite rooms in my house.

 (I taped a sign to this wall offering to paint over it)

The idea of trying to keep the house clean with the kids home for Spring Break sounded worse than spending 18 hours in the car, so we headed to Universal Studios. (I heart all things Potter).  While we were gone we had 7 showings, with mostly positive feedback.  I know it is ridiculous, but I take anything remotely negative very negatively.  

My husband says it is just a building, what do you think?

Also do you find pictures and other personal items distracting when you look at homes?