Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shopping 101

Its back to school time again.

Time to shop for supplies, and for technology, for hardware and above all, for clothes.

I’m not a shopper when it comes to clothes.

I certainly used to be, but much has changed in the last two years and frankly I don’t have a lot of time to wander the malls and try things on at my whim.

So…I have developed a method that seems to work for me.

First of all, I admire the way that men shop. For men, its really all about the basics – the foundations of a wardrobe. They buy basic pieces – pants, shirts, jackets, shoes – in basically two or more of four clothing types – Work, casual, weekend, sports. They generally stick to basic colors, and easily mix-and matchable patterns. And I thought to myself – this is a miraculous way of thinking…its classic, its chic and it makes shopping a breeze.

Second of all, I read an article about models and music stars and it said that most of them, in their every-day lives, wear basic pieces that they buy in every available color that they mix and match when they are NOT being dressed by a stylist for an event or public appearance. Specifically, they talked about Faith Hill, who buys 10 white T-shirts at a time from the Gap and wears them over khakis or jeans with flats. And I thought to myself – this is a miraculous way of thinking…its classic, its chic and it makes shopping a breeze.

And out of these two schools of thought, my shopping style for myself and my “boys” has come to life.

Here is my personal method:

Know your style. Are you a Gap person? A Forever 21 person? Nordstrom? Ann Taylor? I find that even if you like to shop in say, Gap, if you venture to Ann Taylor, you will often by a Gap-style item. It helps to know your style, because some stores you can just avoid all-together. This changes as we transition to new places and phases in life.

Pick a few stores that are “your” stores – at least for right now. Try to keep the number to 4 plus a shoe store and/or accessory store. Consider your style, your budget and the convenience factor for getting there. Knowing a store really well helps you determine if a price “on sale” is really a sale price. If you are a “stalker” you know if a price is good or bad in a store and can buy when it is either necessary or least expensive for you. It also helps you to get clothing in color families that work well together. Ann Taylor tends to stick to certain color saturations. It’s a definition of the style of Ann Taylor. Shopping there consistently gives you the best shot at getting separates that actually look like they were meant to go together, even from one season to the next.

Determine which brands fit you, no matter what you put on, and which do not. When you shop, stay focused on the brands that are cut to fit you – this sort of transcends style. I find that AB studio pants are always cut wide enough in the hip ,long enough but not too long, and narrow enough in the waist for my body. I can buy virtually any style of pant in this brand and it will fit. I find that Liz Claiborne shirts consistently have the right length and enough room in the shoulders (I have broad shoulders) to fit my body.

Determine which fabrics you just don’t like. Avoid them. I don’t even pick 100% cotton, 100% linen or 100% wool clothing up off of a rack. I don’t like how they feel. I don’t like that they require extra care. I don’t like that they make my life harder, instead of easier.

Figure out your absolutely-not’s in the style department. For ME, some examples are tight sleeves, crew neck t-shirts, horizontal stripes and super deep neck-lines. Don’t even take them in the dressing room. It’s a waste of time.

Dress in solid colors or patterns that can be worn with a number of items you plan to buy or are already in your closet. My theory on a closet is that any item you pick out of your closet should match at least 1/3 of the rest of it. It is EVER so much easier when everything is mix-n-match solids. I even mix-n-match my suits, people. I buy a suit, but I don’t necessarily wear the suit all together at the same time.

Think BLEND not MATCH when shopping. Certainly, if you are buying suits, you want a jacket and a bottom (or two) to match exactly. Suits are worn in certain environments and the matching component is key in those environments. But honestly, if the hue and saturation are appropriately balanced, you do not have to find the same exact lavender of your shirt in shoes and earrings. An appropriate purple or gray would do just fine.

Remember that the dressing room is your friend. Take as many things as you want to into the dressing room. Take it ALL into the dressing room. Its worth the half hour spent in the room to leave the store with the things that are right for you that you will wear.

If you like an item in black, try it on in every color they have. Buy as many as you can afford at one time. Different colored fabrics often drape differently or size up differently. And you never know, especially during sale time, if that size 10 in brown will be there when you come back to the rack to get it because you liked the size 10 in black so much in the dressing room. My habit is to buy an item in as many colors as they have that I can find to fit me. I know if I like something enough to buy one of them, I like it enough to have two or more. This helps with the mix-n-match.

Remember that not everything is the same size, even if it SAYS it’s the same size. Take 2 of the same size AND the same color into the dressing room with you. I usually take at least one of the next size up, also. Unless you have grossly mis-judged your size (like you can’t even button the pants in that size), you should try on EVERY item you take into the dressing room. One of them may be just big enough or just small enough to be your perfect fit. I read somewhere that clothing sizes in the same fabric for the same size can differ as much as one full size. That makes taking more than one item of the same size into a dressing room essential.

If you must buy trendy items vs. classics, do it on sale, in a color pallet that works with your existing wardrobe. Because next week, it will be something else all together that is “trendy” and your trendy item will begin to gether dust in your closet.

When purchasing clothing or shoes, think of use and time spent in the clothing. For example, I spend about 30 minutes max of any day in work out clothes. Therefore, work out clothing and shoes take up only about 5% of my total wardrobe. I spend 5 of 7 days at work and one day at church, so the work or nice casual clothing takes up the bulk of my wardrobe. I have very few pairs of shorts or “weekend” pants - I don’t spend a lot of time in them.

So there you have it.

Not glamorous, but highly practical. And it works for me. Maybe it will work for you too!

If not, just dis-regard.

HA!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another Layout

I think I'm getting the hang of this scrap-when-you-have-time process...a little here, a little there, and voila! a layout!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cupcakes and Layouts

Well...

This is the result of my cupcake adventure. I have to say that it was really very easy and they came out really nice. I'm thinking this will be a good thing to do for events and pot-lucks...Its impressive to see them all in one place!

Lets review: Here is the Crumbs and Doilies Pictures:



And here is mine:



Not bad, if I do say so myself. I added some yellow to my sprinkles collection for that sun-shiney effect. I made orange vanilla pound cake cupcakes with orange chream cheese frosting. They were subtle and really delish and not too sweet.

I've been doing a little scrapping...I finally finished this layout I started last week. LOVE the ghost letters. I used a Scenic Route arrow and traced it onto a transparency to make the "ghost arrow."





And finally, My Bits...This one is SO FUN...It took much longer than it should have, but I love how it turned out.





I'm off to play the Grocery Game!

Peace, y'all!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

THIS saddened me greatly. I have a quote on my wall from his now famous lecture:

...remember, the brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are NOT there to keep US out. The brick walls aare there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who DON'T want it badly enough. They're there to stop OTHER people.

THIS hit a little too close to home. (Don't worry...I made it through. But I am saddened and concerned for my fellow associates that didn't.)

I believe THIS is a law that is ludicrous. Now we are going to GOVERN how people eat? Do they really think that this law is going to do any good for those people out there who still think its ok to live on McDonalds?

Going to try my hand at something like THIS . I'll let you know how that goes.

Speaking of which, I found THIS wonderful sight for buying reasonably priced sprinkles and such. They have tons of choices and all for not too much money.

I'm considering THIS for my next cell phone purchase. The cost is reasonable, the plan is reasonable, but...do I NEED it? well...no...hence why I'm "considering" instead of showing you all my fabulous new purchase!

Looking forward to scrapbooking and having a little time with Scott and Jay this weekend.

Peace, ya'll!

Friday, July 25, 2008

How conservative are you?

Thanks to my friend April...

I've been trying to figure out which questions I answered that make my ethic's 75% liberal...




Your Political Profile:



Overall: 70% Conservative, 30% Liberal



Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal



Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal



Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal



Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal



Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Flash-cards, Jayden-style.

Mommy: What is this, Jay?

Jayden: Pin!

That’s right. It is colored pink. But what is it?

HAARRRR!!! (touching his hand to his chest)

That’s right. It’s a heart. Do you know what letter the word Heart starts with?

P! pah pah pah P!

Well…Pink starts with P. What letter does Heart start with?

WOOHOO!!! (throws hands up in the air)

Moving on because he’s already celebrating.

What are these, Jay?

Ba-bahs.

Basket balls!!! Should we count them?

YES! Wuuunn. Twoooo. Freee…Foh….Fife….Si….Seben…..A…..

That’s right!

An owange!

That’s right, they are orange.

WOO HOO!!! (throws hands up in the air)

One more…what color is this?

Bown ockgon.

Mommy raises eyebrows in surprise…

That’s right! It’s a brown octagon. Good job!

WOO HOO!!!! (throws hands up in the air)

Note to self: We will need new flash cards soon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Scrappin’ Weekend

Did a bit of scrapbooking, but only finished two layouts:





I’ve got another in the fire – the layout with my Hilton Head photos on it. I’m still working on how to journal that one…

By the way, I’ve taken my scrapblog down and instead I’m using Picasa Web Albums. You can see my “new” gallery over there------------>

Unfortunately, you won’t see a supply list for all of those layouts. I’ll begin adding a “comment” with a supply list as of “now.”

Enjoy!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Risk vs. Reward

We live our lives assessing how much of a return we've gotten on our investments.

If you are on the world’s system, that is a fine way to live. Review, assess, make a pros-vs-cons list and then step cautiously into a decision.

But if you have God…well…His system doesn’t work this way.

In God’s system, reviewing, assessing and making a pros-vs-cons list is all fine and dandy. The problem is that it only takes in to account what we see and can anticipate. And generally speaking, God is far beyond anything we can dream up in our wildest dreams, let alone anticipate in a particular situation.

God is looking for obedience. And not just begrudging obedience. He is looking for the obedience of a willing heart.

God promises to reward obedience. It says in Isaiah 1:19: If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.

But here is the caveat: God often asks us to do things that are crazy in the world’s system.

We like our God in a box, don’t we? We like to think that God has the rules of social interaction, economic success and common sense in mind when He asks us to do something.

And what we fail to see time and time again is that when we walk out our faith according to the worlds rules, we miss God.

We miss Him. We miss God because we think, “SURELY God’s would never ask me to do THAT!”

I know its really scary for some people to see in print that God “asks” us to do something. Just so we are clear, I don’t literally hear God speak to me from the sky. I’ve never had Him write His message in a neon sign along the freeway. He’s never drawn me any pictures in the fog on my window or left little notes in my morning e-mail.

He just puts stuff on my heart.

How do I know its God stuff?

Well…for starters, its not stuff that I would normally come up with on my own. And then it becomes a persistent thought that I cannot get out of my head or feeling in my gut that I have to follow.

For me, at least, these are tell-tale signs. One, because I’m rational to a fault and rely heavily on what I see and know. And, two, because I am a person of tremendous focus and if I don’t want to think about something, I don’t think about it. So, these “out there” thoughts that won’t leave me are not like me.

As with all things that involve humans, I could be listening to God and being obedient in His will, but there is no guarantee that other parties involved are doing the same.

The risk in such a situation is high. I might be asked do something that is way outside of socially acceptable behavior, or at least outside of my comfort zone.

Being who I am, feel excessively exposed when I put myself out there…what if I look like a fool? Or a stalker? What if I appear needy? What if I get zero back on my investment? What if I’m ostracized?

What if? Good question. All these worries and fears, while nice in a worldy sense, don’t exactly set me up to see God move in a mighty way through me. In fact, they just keep God in the box I’ve created for Him.

Maybe God doesn’t move in the way we hope and expect because we cannot think of Him outside the box we’ve built to contain Him.

Maybe God doesn’t move in the way we hope and expect because WE don’t move the way HE hopes and expects.

Maybe.

Let me tell you a great story.

I met a woman over the phone a few weeks ago. She was working for a volunteer organization doing background checks and I was listed as a reference on a volunteer’s application. We had a nice conversation about women’s Bible Study groups and some of the wonderful women we know. At the end of the conversation, she asked if she could call me again as she was embarking on leadership of a Bible study and thought perhaps we could share ideas and prayers.

I didn’t hear from her, but kept her number just in case.

A few days ago, I got a random thought “you should call her.” Because it would be socially odd for me to call her, out of the blue, I pushed the thought aside. Over the next couple of days, the idea I should call her entered my mind repeatedly. Each time I would flip open my planner, it would open to the page that had her number attached on a sticky.

Driving home one evening, the feeling was so strong that I fished my planner out of my bag while sitting at a stop light and flipped it open to find the number. And, of course, the planner opened to the exact page that had her number on a sticky.

I called.

She was right in the middle of a prayer to God to send her encouragement in a surprising way, a way she didn’t expect. An then here I was on the phone, asking her if I could pray with her, talking about some of her fears and anxieties.

Huh...a phone call. A simple phone call. And BOTH of us were reassured that God is good and right and that He has the desire to answer our prayers and meet our needs.

Through a phone call, He showed Himself mighty to her...and to me.

On the other side, I have put myself out there countless times to people. I probably have one time out of ten that it seems to actually work out. I usually feel like a complete idiot when the attempt fails. I probably look like an idiot too.

Which, I suppose, is the point, isn’t it?

His ways are not my ways…


Hmmmmmmmm….

Peace ya’ll!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Jay-speak

Recent phone conversastion with the boy. (Don't ask me why he suddenly started talking on the phone to me, but now, all of a sudden, he has plenty to say.)

Hi, Mommy! How you?

Hey buddy, how are you?

(silence)

Did you have raisin toast for breakfast?

mmmm-hmmmmm! ainin toat! An eelios an milt!

Raisin toast and Cheerios and milk. Wow, that’s a lot for breakfast. What are you doing?

I on cah-shiss an I on

(Daddy says, "He put his car shoes on himself")

You put your car shoes on yourself?

mmmm-hmmmmm!

Great job, buddy!!! That’s so cool!

mmmm-hmmmmm!. I coe-lore an mee-mout an donal an daisee

What? You’re watching Micky and Donald and Daisy?

mmmm-hmmmmm!…I what bags laugh.

You’re watching Bugs Life?

mmmm-hmmmmm!…I what mee-mout.

You’re watching Mickey Mouse?

(Daddy says, “He’s coloring in his Mickey Mouse color book.”)

OH! You’re COLORING Mickey Mouse!

mmmm-hmmmmm!


Indeed...

Peace, everyone!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Scrap goodness

I managed to create one two-pager and one single pager this weekend.

Its been nice that the boy plays on his own more...I usually get 15 minutes here and there, sometimes as long as an hour, depending upon how close to nap time we are.

I follow a process for this kind of broken scrapping so that I always know where I left off in my creation. My process: choose pictures, choose papers, arrange the photos in a way that is appealing to me (usually with the aid of a sketch), do the foundation of the layout with photos, choose some embellishments, adhere everything and then layer more goodies if it seems appropriate.

Some or all of these items can be handled on my kitchen counter if Jay just isn't being patient with me being in my office (he's gated out of my office, for the safety and welfare of my supplies, not to mention my sanity.)

I cannot stress enough how much sketches have been helping me. It makes laying my foundation SO MUCH EASIER!

To find sketches, I have SEVERAL sites I visit (you can see them under SCRAPALICOUS over there -------------------------------------->

As well as Donna's book:



Becky's books:





and this new little goodie:



At any rate, I find the sketch that appeals to me and then I tweak it...for example, the first layout was a Becky sketch that I modified to work for my photos.

The second was from a sketch I did of a layout in a magazine, and then I twisted it on an angle.

And in both cases, I didn't search long to find a sketch that appealed to me. It never seems to take long to find my inspiration this way.





Peace, y'all!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

I realize today is a day to celebrate - for fun, fireworks, friends and food.

But its also a day to celebrate our freedom, the day to celebrate our Independence as a nation.

And freedom isn't free...from the dawn of our nation, soldiers and militia have given over their lives to protect those who want to practice freedom.

Never Forget

Let us never forget that our independence was purchased with the blood of men.

And whether you agree with the thinking of the people in power who send these men and women into the places of the earth that most of the rest of us would never go, support our soldiers. They do it because they love our country and what it stands for. They do it for honor. The do it so we can continue to celebrate freedom, here and the world over.

Praise Jesus for our freedom.

And for the soldiers who have been willing to lay down their lives for the greater good since the birth of our nation.

Peace, y'all!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I got nothing….

So…for days on end I’ve managed a post a day…

Some of them are full of pictures, but a post a day is a post a day, right?

But today…I got nothing…

I’m tired from an average of 5 hours of sleep a night. (Jay is still occasionally challenged by the “if its dark we sleep” concept)

I’ve had my brain sucked out by work these last two weeks. (I enjoy my job…but sometimes, as with all jobs, it just sucks all the juice out of my brain cells. Come on, you know what that’s like!)

I’m stiff and sore from a new work out (I tried having a ballet dancer’s physique without the exercise. It just not working for me! So…I’ve resorted to exercise! CURSES!)

And I have a nagging sensation that there have been more withdraws from my emotional bank account than deposits into it…which…if you follow my no-brain-cell-juice-logic means I’m currently in possession of an overdrawn emotional-bank-account. (Hey…just for reference, because I have your attention…it is literally impossible to make a single deposit into the emotional bank account every month or so and hope it will cover the many withdraws that are made…especially if the withdrawing has been going on for years. If you want more details on that, the Emotional Bank Account concept is from Steven Covey’s 7 habits books.)

I feel a bit depressed...although, that COULD be because I’m tired, brain-juice-less, stiff and overdrawn…hmmm…At any rate, my husband says I’m not depressed, so, while I feel like I might be just a little, I guess I must not be in reality.

Seriously, people, if it weren’t for coffee, I’d be in a coma.

Alas, there IS coffee (OH, PRAISE YOU JESUS!!!)...and fully caffeinated sweet tea…so here I am, typing away on my little blog telling you all how little I have to say.

OH…and I did send you to Steven Covey…that’s worth something, I suppose.

Peace (and caffeine) to you all!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Little Scrapping


I had some time to do a couple of layouts over the weekend...

Praises to nap-time for giving me enough free time in one place:

This one I actually did on my Scrapbook Saturday a couple of weeks ago...



This one is my "starter" layout to help me get my groove back. Most of the supplies came from my Paper Posies May kit.



And this one has a very special bookworm from Samantha Widlund who has a wonderful little ebay shop called Sticker Girl Studios



The latter two are both modifications on sketches I found here:



I CERTAINLY have more mojo than time, though...I could have gone on for hours and hours, but the Bug was having NONE of it!

Maybe for the 4th I'll be able to get more done.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hello, Mommy?

Yes, he is talking to me (Daddy took these).

I'm asking him what he's having for lunch.

I'm asking him what he did this morning.

I'm asking him if he's been a good boy.

I'm asking him if he's going to color.

He doesn't answer me.

He doesn't actually talk on the phone at all.

He just listens...

And breathes heavy.





Peace, y'all!