Friday, December 5, 2014

KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway

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Who wants to win a KitchenAid mixer? You do, that's who!  Here is your chance.

KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway


Culinary Depot is giving away a free Kitchenaid Professional mixer to one lucky winner this month. With a retail value of $559, we’re giving away the Alfa KP600 Kitchenaid 6 qt Professional Mixer with Stainless Steel Bowl. Simply use the giveaway widget below to enter. Entry options include linking on Facebook, following on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, blogging about the giveaway, and more!




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas! Please Remember Your Local Food Pantry. {Giveaway}

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      I just shared about going to the Fabulous Food Show last weekend and it was great fun! We stuffed ourselves full of food truck goodness and partook of the generous samples from the booths. We will be spending the holidays with our extended family and enjoying lots and lots of good food. We are all so blessed.



     I know not everybody is as fortunate as we are. When people are going through a difficult time, one thing which can really help is knowing there is enough to eat. Last year I shared this article about ten things foodbanks won't ask for  on this blog post: Can you spare a square? What food pantries really need.

     Again, I'll tell you I think the items are better off donated straight to the local food pantry, since the local food pantry has to pay the food bank for items. I know it's less costly than buying at the store, but your donation straight to a food pantry avoids the middleman. We support the  Sharing Center  at St. Paul's in Sharon Center, which offers help to people in Medina County. Once a month, people can come in and shop the Sharing Center. 

     The Sharing Center is helped along by so many different sources. School food drives sometimes go straight to the sharing center. Every other Thursday night is their night for Panera Bread donations. Volunteers go pick up everything left at the end of the night from Panera. As a matter of fact, Panera Bread does a lot to help hungry people. You can even sell Panera Bread gift cards as a fundraiser for your non-profit organization! Now there's a fundraiser I can appreciate. Gift wrap and questionable candy? Not so much. You can learn more about all the ways Panera Bread helps at Panera Cares.

*this was not done as an advertisement. It's just me appreciating a company who gives so much where others opt to throw good food in the trash. 

    Sometimes the clients speak up about what they never see at this (or any other) place where they get free food. They don't see spices, not even salt and pepper. There is never sugar or flour. These are pantry staples for everyone, so there must be some reason for it. I just do not know what it is. Personal care items are sometimes unavailable or in low supply. Cream of anything soups are in high demand, but not often on the shelves. Rarely have I seen chocolate, crackers, or baby items, People appreciate toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, dish soap(!) and shampoo/conditioner. There are also no condiments. 

     I bet there's a place close to your house just like our Sharing Center. I bet they would be thrilled if you and some of your friends dropped off a few bags of stuff. Why not go out to lunch with your friends and then swing by with a donation? Calling ahead is good, of course, since these volunteer run places do not have paid staff - make sure someone will be there to take your donation. If you do not have time  you can always donate cash.


     Last weekend at The Fabulous Food Show we met these great students from John Carrol University who are doing their group project to help end hunger and homelessness. They started something called Coins For Cleveland.  They are partnered up with the Cleveland Food Bank. If you click this link right here you can make a donation. All of the money goes straight to the food bank, but the kids get the acknowledgement for the fundraising.  The page shows what your donation will do. For example, a $30 donation will buy 450 oranges or 150 pounds of pasta! That's your donation really going far! If you want to donate easy peasy on the internet, this is a great way to do it.

     Really, if you can do it, you will feel so great to know you have helped other people have a great holiday season. Now that I have implored you to do something for people, how about something for you? Because I was yapping about Panera Bread and everything they do to help, how about a $50 Panera Bread gift card for one of you?



     In addition to the Panera Bread gift card, my friend Ilene from Hippie Chick Granola has generously donated a $25 gift card for you for the best granola in the world. I have tried other granolas and they shouldn't even be called the same thing. Win it now, order and enjoy - you can thank me later, when you are addicted to this delicious stuff! I am a huge fan of the Kimberly blend because I love ginger. She has fantastic flavor combinations. You just can not go wrong.

     Who wants to win!?

     First, I'm going to ask you a little favor. But it's fun, and I think you will enjoy it. Please watch this video:


     Thanks. Now, go ahead and enter this giveaway in the form below.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Fabulous Food Show, Cleveland Ohio

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Thanks to Justin over at In A Cents I won tickets to the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland last weekend. Thanks, Justin! We were not sure exactly what to expect, but we did know it would be a fun day full of one of our very favorite things - food! As we first walked in we saw this: 


One of the things that is so great about Micheal Symon, besides his fantastic food, is that he is a local boy who goes all out with his love of Cleveland. Everybody loves him. Good job, Michael, not getting too big for your britches.  I heard they rejected him being at the Fabulous Food Show last year because he was local and they were trying to prove they were not just a Cleveland show. I'm glad they got smart and brought him in. It would be like telling Lebron not to come to your basketball show.  


These kids were hanging out close to the beer. Ahem. 

On the left we have a Marine Corp chef and on the right we have a Navy Chef who worked in the White House. They were nice and more than willing to pose for a photo. 

One thing I noticed Saturday is that all the chefs walked around with a sense of pride. It was fun to see so many of them all in one place. 



There were booths selling products, like Vitamix.  The Vitamix crew definitely had one of the more energetic demonstrations. They seemed happy to be showing us how to use their mixers. 

I know this isn't the best photo, but I had to add it because the lobster ball was AMAZING! 
(From the Orange Truk)


Wholly Frijoles did not disappoint with their delicious chicken tacos. The Tequila lime chicken tacos with the mild sauce (it was still spicy enough) were delicious.



Yes, another taco truck. But let me explain:
Tacos! 
'nuff said.

Also, I had it on good authority that this guy makes the best tacos:
Hello, Damon, you are a taco genius!


 And he was even working both of the windows. Whatta guy! 
You can find Barrio Tacos in two locations; Tremont and Lakewood. 

I give their pork taco two thumbs up. I give their cilantro lime chicken taco an engagement ring.
Will you marry me, cilantro lime chicken taco from Barrio?

There were chefs doing demonstrations. Say hello to Brian Doyle of Sow Food.
He is a local chef down with the farm to table food. Yum! 



These kids stole the show for me. 
They are students from a local university using their project to help the homeless and the hungry.
 It was very touching to meet them.

There were copious amounts of samples. We were given the opportunity to taste everything from apples and pears to sausages and cakes. 

I would like to personally invite all the food trucks to come and park in my driveway and the driveways of my neighbors. No, I don't need to ask the neighbors. We've all got to eat, right?

Yet another reason we are lucky to live in Northeast Ohio. Thank you, Fabulous Food Show.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Good Luck With That!

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Hey kids! Daddy and I will be at the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland today.

Be good! 


 Some of the inmates will be running the asylum.

It should be okay, we're taking the bus with us.

I hope your Saturday is filled with promise. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

How To Waste Time Like a Pro

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     I just spent 25 minutes cleaning out the lint that got past the lint trap in my dryer. This event included taking all the paper towels off the roll so I could use it to extend the vacuum just an inch short of what was necessary for it to be useful. This also involved accordion-folding the now orphaned paper towels.

     I'm not sure which level of crazy this qualifies me for, but I am sure it probably increased my level of crazy. 

     If I was a better blogger there would be pictures. To be honest, I thought of it, but I'm lazy. 


     I have been preparing for the super-cold winter The Old Farmer's Almanac says we will have. But not by weatherproofing my house. I've been doing preparing by making sure I have enough supplies for baking. I've also watched 82 (and counting) episodes of Gilmore Girls in the past two weeks. I'm feeling super prepared for pretty much anything. As long as it doesn't involve weatherproofing or actual work. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This Is What Happens

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This is what happens when you tell the manager at our local Melting Pot restaurant that you want a puppy:



Three cheers to our sever, Dame, and the manager, Justin!

$100 Target Gift Card Giveaway

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Back2School-Target-Gift-Card-Giveaway

I am very excited to be teaming up with Holyjeans N' My Favorite Things, Thrifty Momma's Tips, and several other amazing bloggers to bring you this fun giveaway.  One lucky winner will receive a $100 Target Gift Card to help with #Back2School purchases. 

$100 will buy a lot of pencils and paper! Or 100 things from the dollar spot. Or anything else your heart desires.

*Giveaway ends July 24th at 11:59pm CT.  Open to US and Canadian residents, ages 18+. Excludes Quebec. Only one entrant per household, per address. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Chances of winning depends solely on amount of total entries. Enter using the giveaway form below. Good luck!
Disclosure: All thoughts and opinions are at the discretion of this writer and may not be the same as your own. This contest is in no way associated with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest or any other social media network. This disclosure is done in accordance with the FTC 10 FCR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For questions, comments, or to have your product featured on Holyjeans N’ My Favorite Things, email Amy at pnppowell09@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Few More Favorite Things

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     Sometimes I run across things I really enjoy and it's always heartbreaking to not be able to find them again. In this day of the internet, sometimes you can find things again. I find this awesome - and heart mending. 

     One of the heart-mending things I have discovered is Blue Bell ice cream. In Ohio. Oh yes! Outback Steakhouse uses Blue Bell ice cream. And one time when the manager visited our table I told him how wonderful it was to have a taste of it in Ohio. He offered to let me order it from them. You have to order the big three? three and a half? gallon size. But who cares!? It's Blue Bell Ice Cream! And the cost is quite reasonable for the amount of ice cream you are getting. I think it's $25.

     Alternatively, you can get Blue Bell to ship straight to your house at the price of $129 for four half gallons. If Homemade Vanilla is what you want, your local Outback Steakhouse manager is your new BFF, saving you literally hundreds of dollars on ice cream! 

     Another heart-mending thing is Dunroven House Direct. Our little town had this amazing Ace Hardware which carried great quality stuff. One of the things it carried was really nice tea towels. I require a certain kind of towel in the kitchen, and most towels you can buy just don't cut it. Even Williams-Sonoma towels, when you buy an assorted package, are only half okay. One kind is great, but the other kind gets wonky when you wash it. No bueno. These are lovely and stay nice forever. Their prices are fantastic and there is never a shipping charge. 

     Speaking of frozen treats, have you ever tried Talenti? They make these ahhh-mazing gelatos and sorbettos. They even have pops now. Oh my gosh, I already knew I was in love with the rich tastes of their many flavors. Then this happened: 


          Unassuming, no? 

     But wait until you taste it! There are not sufficient words to describe the experience. You will just have to try it for yourself. I've always been a fan of the Roman Raspberry, Lisbon Lemon, Caramel Cookie Crunch,  and their Caramel Apple Pie is so good I'm tempted to use words like 'Amaze-balls', but I really don't talk like that. You're welcome. I see they are selling some of their flavors in quarts now, too! (Yes, this is exciting for me.) I hope they make their way to places I shop, soon. They have a lot more delicious flavors. I'm sure you will find one/s you love. 

*Their containers are great for saving, too. We have used them for everything from storing a pint of paint to carrying individual cupcakes to very special people. 

     You know what would probably go great with some of this Talenti? I think the Tahitian Vanilla would be complemented greatly by Ilene's "Granola so Great I would share it with God - if I could." Hippie Chick Granola is what all granola should taste like, but no other granola does taste like. You're welcome.

     Reminder: Don't forget the seven places you should be shopping online.


     One more heart-mending thing: About a year and a half ago I lost my wedding rings. They fell right off my hand during the course of a day and we never did find them. My husband replaced them recently with something just as amazing! A part of me will always be looking out of the corner of my eye for those rings, but I think I wont cry over them again. (Unless I do, because who can understand why we are overcome with tears sometimes?) 

Friday, May 30, 2014

I Wish

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   I wish to blink and fast forward to this evening. I want to sleep for a nanosecond and wake to be sitting with my husband, children, and little dogs. I want to bypass the work and wait, and just get to the good stuff. 

   Do you ever feel like this?  The past few weeks have been so full of life and events and people coming and going that I feel like I've been in one of those revolving doors which have, thankfully, fallen out of esteem. They still have them in big government buildings in Downtown Cleveland. Immigrants and their citizen sponsors beware. For me it has been 
  • Kids graduating; Out of school. 
  • Kids orientating: Into College. 
  • Kids moving: Out of apartments. 
  • Kids moving: Out of the state. 
  • Taking people to airports: Out of the house. 
  • Picking up people from airports: Into the house. 
  • Someone died: Out of this world, Into another. 
  • Dogs wanting walks: In/Out. 
  • Furniture: In/Out.
  •  Major purchases: In/Old stuff: Out.   
  • etc
     My mind? I might be out of it.

     There have been causes for celebration and concern. There have been unexpected guests and long-awaited arrivals and planned departures, along with "I-never-saw-it-coming" ins and outs. 

     I have fallen in love with, of all things, granola, for heaven's sake. (Nobody who knows me could have seen this coming!)  

     We had high school graduate number five this year. Five!  FIVE! 

     I planted a raised bed garden. Sort of. Well, I did. In a kiddie swimming pool. So if I fail miserably it was not $200 worth of  lumber and materials. If I succeed, which I think I will, we will have a LOT of tomatoes this summer, and our own peppers.  I forgot that I was going to try to plant cucumbers, too. We'll see how it all goes. Maybe I still will. 

     We actually have grass! It's been a long, long road to this, let me tell you. One place where our builder was just terrible was the 'upgraded lawn' we got. It's all rocks, mostly from construction. On top of that they took all the topsoil away and then gave back a fraction of it. A very, very, VERY small fraction. I've seeded and feeded (poetic license, okay?) and fertilized some more. Finally we have actual grass instead of just soybeans and clover. Yes, soybeans. This must have been a soybean field. If you  had seen my yard yesterday morning?  You would be as certain as I am about it. 

     Tonight we will all sit under our roof and talk and laugh. Maybe we'll even play a game or two. Mostly, though, I will look around the room and be so happy for everyone in it. For what we share together, for who we are together.  For everything. 

     Now I'm off to do the working and waiting/driving part. I'm going to claim my husband at the airport after going to the butcher and the farm market. I'm going to enjoy the sunshine as it sparkles off my ring while I drive. (I was a distracted driver way before everyone else got that way because of phones.) I am going to sing along to whatever Sirius radio decides to play me on their First Wave channel. I am going to herd my people home and then sit around enjoying them. I hope your weekend is filled with your wishes come true. 


     


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Question

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Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The people in heaven, do they long for us the way we long for them?

With broken hearts and everything?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Thought Wrong!

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What I thought I was buying: Potato bread.

What I actually bought: Oatmeal bread. 

Not the same. Mama's not happy.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How do you feel about that nap someone just suggested?

2 Comments
Suck: When you are four.

Rock: When you are over 24.

What In The World Is She Doing?

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I decided to change the name of my blog. Honestly, I have been considering it for years. That isn't even really accurate. I have known for years I wanted to change it but kept putting it off because doing stuff is hard. You know what I mean.

Then, recently, a lot of people have asked opinions about changing stuff (blog names, and other stuff) and my advice is always "If you are going to change it do it now, so you can start to recover whatever losses occur because of it as soon as possible." Makes sense, right?

After giving this wonderful advice half a dozen times lately I realized I should possibly take my own advice. 

My husband has called me Velezita for as long as I can remember and I really like it. I also like a simple, one word name instead of the very long "If You Could See What I See". I started my blog to write about travels: Cities, museums, restaurants, hotels, operas, plays, ballets, shops, castles, train rides, movies, etc. Since then it has become a place where I write about whatever catches my fancy. 

Now my blog is more about me and my perspective. Also, when I first started writing I was writing more for myself than anyone else. Maybe I still am?  I never planned on having a comment from anyone.   Now I love them! I never thought I would write about building a house, but I have. 

When I named my blog so long ago, in November of 2006(!) I didn't think about the name all that much. It was more of an item which had to be filled in before I could get started. I plan to bring all of my blogs officially in to this one blog. 

I have officially bought the domain Velezita.com and thought I would have it fixed to work seamlessly by now, but it has not happened yet.  I followed the directions precisely and it's still not working. I do not know if it's an issue of waiting the possible 48 hours my hosting site says it could take, or if I have made a mistake somewhere along the line. I'm not sure how I will ever know, since I can not imagine actually waiting the 48 hours. 

There you have it. Sometime in the near future you should be able to come to my blog via this link! Yes, this is silly since if you are reading this you are already here, but I never claimed I was not silly. 

Pray for me, I'm going to need it. I can already tell since the start of this has gone so horribly wrong. I will get it conquered and I will get it the way I want it to be. It will take longer than I ever imagined. I've started already, so there is no turning back now. 

p.s. It's Monday. What more appropriate day to wake up and find something not working as planned? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why You Should Stop Reading Blogs

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      How many times have we all heard the old adage "Comparison is the thief of joy"?  Yet, here we are. On the internet. Reading blogs, scanning Pinterest, joining facebook groups. We look for ways to make things better, to improve. We read about a nice lady who just creates these effortlessly (to us) beautiful murals, or pieces of furniture, or has DIY ideas and execution beyond what we had imagined. Yet, she's just like us! Simple, sweet, down to earth. She's not high on her own power. We can be just. like. her. Right?

     Wrong. 

     I mean,  maybe we can sew and staple and paint and caulk and clean and plant and teach and do all the things she has done. Maybe. But so what? Because in a minute we are going on to the next blog and the next amazingly talented lady. We want to be just like her, too. Maybe not exactly. Maybe she has a nose ring and we would never. Or maybe she has no nose ring and we would never, ever remove our nose ring! But we want to be the exact same perfect amount of clever and creative and amazing. Then, what do we do? 

     We hop right over to the next blog and the next woman we want to be just like. 

     The thing is, friends, none of the amazing women we admire are all of this. Yet we expect ourselves to be all of it. We just want to be calm and soothing with the vision and eye and talent of Marion, with the DIY expertise of Sarah and we want to build a duplex and our own furniture with a Kreg Jig like Ana and take photos and tell stories just like Tamara and be well-rounded and loving and have a heart like Ilene. Plus, we want to bake/garden/have a talk show like Martha (except we'll do it even better!) and we're going to be cowgirls who homeschool while shooting amateur photography and cooking for our television show while rejuvenating an old abandoned building to turn it into God-knows-what with a deli like Ree.(whew!) And of course we'll do it while scouring craigslist for Portals to Downton Abbey while being as witty, down-to-earth, and stunningly graceful as Victoria. Right? Right?

     (None of these women are all of these things.)

     I haven't even mentioned how we're going to do it all in our pristine mansions while eating a healthy diet, exercising a lot without ever putting strain on our perfect bodies, smelling great and having the perfect hair teeth and skin. And guess what else!?!?

     WE. ARE. GOING. TO. BLOG. ABOUT. IT!

     On our professional looking blog we coded ourselves. 

     How insane is this? 

     Lucky for me, I'm not anywhere close to perfect. You don't have to stop reading my blog for fear of comparing yourself to me. But old me? Me in my twenties? Me in my twenties thought all I needed was a nice house and a new car and this many dollars and guess what? My life would be perfect and I would never feel stress again!

     We keep telling ourselves lies we don't even realize are lies. 

   Parts of our house are always a mess. Because we are us and we have five children and two dogs and we are enjoying ourselves and enjoying each other. Our priorities are: Watching Downton Abbey, napping, healthy debate, and doing dishes. In that order. If we don't do the dishes now, they will still be there in the morning and so what? 

     Every project I start gets anywhere from 2% to 90% complete and then, eh, I'm done. I have lots of these ideas so great you just could not begin to believe... and I don't always get them to look anything like I had envisioned. I can't cut triangles. How many points will all of this deduct from my final score?

     At the end of my life will I wish I had caulked just one more window? Will I long to scour the shower? I'm not saying we should stop growing or striving to be better versions of ourselves. I'm merely suggesting we remind ourselves who we are. We can't be all the things. 

     I challenge you today to be yourself. Whoever that may be. Let me know how it goes! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Let's Talk About Venezuela

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     Venezuela is going through a crisis right now. There are problems:

  • There are shortages of things like toilet paper, chicken, milk, Harina Pan, a corn flour, which is THE staple in Venezuela, cooking oil and pretty much anything imported.  Since they have to rely heavily on imports, it is a huge problem. 
  • The government controls the media. Newspapers and television stations which refused to align with the government were shut down. They not only control the political rhetoric, they control how much of which music radio stations may play. Just this week they took away the cameras and equipment of CNN at gunpoint. They just thought they were being robbed, at first. Since then, CNN has been told they are going to be removed from the air in Venezuela if they do not 'rectify' their coverage. Update: CNN has now been told they can stay, with the threat of being kicked out again. 
  • The government is controls the internet. They have used this control to block access to websites people use to get news the government doesn't want them to see. They even blocked twitter so people could not use it to get out news. They cut the internet to a town where the protests are huge. 
  • The government has threatened to stop the delivery of gasoline to areas where protests are happening. They have done this in one city already. 
  • The government announced today that if you are involved in the peaceful protests called "Marchas" (Marches) your passport will be suspended for five years. 
  • Jan 22, 2003 the government enacted an exchange control. This means the citizens are not allowed to exchange their currency for foreign currency. It's been in effect now for 11 years. Imagine if you need to import goods to run your little business, or even your family, and you are not allowed to do so because you can not get the currency you need. 
  • The crime rate is higher than most of us can understand. In this country of nearly 30 million people there were nearly 28,000 murders last year. That's a little over one murder per 1100 people. Per Year. People are so used to being robbed at gunpoint that they hardly seem phased by it. 
  • Inflation is a beast. It was 56% last year. It's difficult to get a grip on this reality. 
  • Medications are scarce. So scarce that President Maduro took to twitter recently to announce he had secured enough medication to last approximately four months.  
     This is where I realize I could do a ton more bullet points and still not even hit all the crucial areas. It is so difficult to understand the how and why, and so simple at the same time. 

     Don't think it could not happen to us. I believe it could happen anywhere. Pray for Venezuela. It's going to take some kind of miracle to get them out of this mess and back on track. It is economy, safety, and a government which can't control it. They are trying, but they are trying with a heavy hand and oppression. In my opinion, it's not the best way to motivate good people. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

How I Tamed The Laundry Beast

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Which part of laundry do you hate the most? 
  • sorting 
  • washing
  • drying
  • sorting (again)
  • folding
  • hanging
  • putting away
     I think most of us would agree the actual washing and drying is the easy part. Sure, we all have our own beliefs about how much of which washing agents to use. Some soften in the washer and some in the dryer. Some of us wash nearly every load in cold water and some use hot and warm water frequently. Most of us agree, though, that laundry is a time-suck of a chore we wish we could avoid completely. I've had discussions throughout my life where I have touted the merits of disposable clothing. Which mother hasn't secretly wished she could just toss those soccer socks in the trash and produce new ones? 

     A few years ago I started changing the whole way I do laundry. I declared the laundry chute off limits except for towels. Each of the kids got two hampers. These go in their room. That's ten hampers for the kids! My husband and I share two hampers. Each pair of hampers works simply; one is for light clothes, the other for dark clothes. When a hamper is full, it gets brought to the laundry room and I wash it. I haven't had to sort kid's clothes in years. And it has been life changing, I promise you. Not only do I not have to sit and sort clothes before and after washing them, but I never have to hold up an item and ask "Whose is this?" I don't have a basket full of stuff nobody will claim. Clothes aren't going to the wrong rooms. 

     It's been a sweet, sweet thing. I kick myself for not knowing this would be a better way to do things years sooner. When you know better, you do better.  How do you deal with laundry at your house? Enlighten me further, please. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Filling In The Holes

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     I follow a lot of blogs on facebook. I do it mainly for them, because they want followers. There are a handful of blogs I actually allow to show in my facebook feed. Those are the blogs I want to make sure I do not miss. They are people who create something I find beautiful every time. Every single one of these women fills a hole in my heart I did not even know existed. 

     It could be the way Ilene makes me feel as if we've been the best of friends since third grade.

      Or, it could be the way every single one of Tamara's photos touches my heart. Also, read her "How I Met Your Father" story. The girl can convey anything. 

     My friend Carolyn and her mixture of sweet and sassy is always fun. She's like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. 

     Then there is Sarah, who can do anything. She has both great ideas and execution.  

     Marion can move mountains in her home. She even has her own paint (and more) line now! 

     If you want to read a blog where you laugh the whole time and totally relate you can't miss Victoria

     Katbiggie, also. She started this, which is very close to my own feelings. 

     There are sometimes blogs I did not get to know well, but still get on the facebook feeds because they touch me somehow. I wait and see what they do. Yesterday, one of the wait and see bloggers, Franchesca, wrote this. And if you know me at all, you know it spoke to my heart. Deeply. What else she did, though, was even more magical. She linked to this piece Ann wrote. It's the best thing I have read in a long, long time. There were tears. Then, through a cracking voice, I read some of it to my husband. I'll give some of it to you, but really, go read the whole thing.

We married wrong.
Don’t buy what anybody else is selling:  Everyone always marry wrong.
Because what’s wrong in the world is always us.
Marriage and love and time, these are the enormous forces that inevitably chisel and change us into strangers. The springs sag. Mattresses sigh. Marriage changes us into strangers who have to meet again and introduce each other to love.

     I'm not even saying this is the best part.  It's a part.


     I've been a little melancholy lately. Some people would blame the dark days of winter, or the bitter cold, or the epic amount of snow we have had, but I am not convinced it has anything to do with winter weather. I think it's more to do with migraines and low thyroid and just needing some quiet time. I grew up an only child. Maybe it has something to do with the need for solitude? My mom had five siblings and she has always needed her time alone. My grandmother is the same. Maybe it's built into our DNA, the need to be undisturbed. I need to be able to sit and not have anyone bump the table, bed, or chair. With five kids, a husband, and two little dogs sometimes just sitting undisturbed is an impossible thing. 


     Another thing I have been lately is grateful. I feel like prayers have been heard and answered. God always sends me answers in two. Two people at the door, two people on the phone... it's pairs of people he sends to show me he has not forsaken me. He has not forsaken my family. He's heard me and said everything is going to be alright. Not perfect or easy, no.  

     One thing has happened by way more than twos this year. The people I have found online, who I can really relate to? They have come pouring in at warp speed. People who I feel belong in my life. Bloggers who still blog to tell a story. Whether it's about a DIY project they did or something magical they did for their children, or a trip they took, they have shared their heart and I have enjoyed it. 

     Thank you for being great, thanks for caring. Thanks for reading. If you leave a comment, a million thanks. Like Erin said on twitter once: "Whenever I have zero comments and then I get one... I kind of want to make that first commenter cupcakes or something."

     

Friday, January 17, 2014

Calling All Amazing People!

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Wedged between two days of celebration, my daughter's birthday and New Years Eve, is the most difficult day of the year. The day of gone-too-soon. The day is bittersweet. Sweet for knowing a perfectly lovely person and getting to be in her light. Oh how it shines. Bitter because she is gone. I can not even say 'too soon' because there never could have been a good time. And yet it was too soon. Way too soon.

December 30th became this day for me in 2009.

It has changed every day since then for me. I can not get past the anxiety every time anyone leaves our house in a car. Obviously, most people leaving our house on any given day are leaving in cars. It annoys my son, because I think he feels like I should not have been so deeply hurt. The whole thing was terrible for him, and I wasn't strong and stoic like I think he wanted me to be - like I think he still wants me to be.

I bring up Victoria too much. I do not bring her up enough. I am forever changed. I know this. I think about her mother, father, and brother every day. I do not reach out to them nearly enough. I feel silly in their company, not because they have been anything but lovely, but because I do not feel lovely enough. I feel unworthy. I feel like I do not know the right things to say. Or even worse. I feel like I always know how to say the wrong things. Like sitting with Ethan at the viewing and laughing at something completely wonderfully silly he did and saying "Oh Ethan, you're going to be a great uncle!" Yes folks, that's me. If there's a completely absurd, insensitive, downright stupid thing to say? I will think of it and say it. Then I will feel immediately embarrassed and ashamed.

Because she is gone I go out into the world trying to spread some of the joy and kindness she gave to the world. I smile at everyone. I hold doors for whoever chooses to walk through them. I choose to let people go ahead of me in lines. I pass out compliments like I am throwing candy at a parade. I let people out into traffic. (even those people, because they deserve kindness too) I try to do little things to brighten the day for people. Maybe it will be the only nice thing anybody does for them or says to them the whole day?

It's been four years. I realize I can not do it myself, but I can do my part. You are all pretty amazing people. I know this because I pretty much know everyone who reads my little blog. I'm asking for your help.

Would you help me this year? Help me shine some more light on people? I know that alone, I can never do enough to make up for this one amazing young lady. But if you could help me, by doing even just one more little kindness every day? We could brighten things up a bit, right? What things do you do? What things will you do this year?


Monday, December 23, 2013

Can You Spare a Square? What Food Pantries Really Need.

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Christmas is just two days away! How did this happen so fast? My mother asked me, just this week "What happened to December tenth through the Nineteenth?" No, she's not a crackhead. I think she spent that time sewing quilts for some of the little cousins. But really, It feels the same to me - as if someone had grabbed a giant straw and sucked a big chunk of days right out of our month. Here I sit two days before Christmas, with gifts yet to buy. I have not sent out Christmas cards. My cousin said mine was usually the first one they got. She wonders what happened to me. I explained that I used to make them myself and I would start in the summer. Now I buy them, and I can never find some I like so I refuse to buy any and I end up with nothing. At this point, should I even bother with them?

This is not at all what I came here to talk about today. My mother posted a link to this article on facebook this morning. I want to share it with all five of you who read my blog. Ten things food banks need but will not ask for.  It hit me because the shelves at our local food pantry were so bare last spring that Romeo's pizza organized the local high schools to do an emergency food drive. We live in a fairly affluent area. The most wealthy county in the state. Even so, we have more and more people at the Sharing Center  at St. Paul's in Sharon Center all the time. 

From the list in this article I can tell you I have never seen spices at the Sharing Center. Sometimes we have a rogue packet or ten of taco seasoning, but nothing beyond that. I have never seen even salt and pepper. I never even thought about it, honestly. Feminine products? I don't think I have ever seen them, either. Believe it or not, I have never seen crackers or tortillas, but everyone does love them. I've seen baby formula one time. Ditto baby food. Not much of that is donated. I assumed it was because there are other programs, like Women, Infants, Children? We get a lot of canned pears and peaches along with pineapple. If there is cream-of-anything soup? It's a big hit. Not a lot of it gets donated. Before a holiday there will be 'holiday' items like a turkey breast or a small ham. I don't know if there always is, but they do try. Boxes of stuffing mix and instant potatoes and cranberry sauce, etc. 

Toiletries? This is always the area which makes me feel terrible. When a person is asking for a $1 package of toilet paper and you have to point to the little tag on the shelf which says "1-2 people  -  1 roll" and open a package and take out a single roll and hand it to them? It's humiliating. For both of you. Proctor & Gamble, are you reading this? No? Dangit. Kimberly Clark? Anyone? Hi mom! Hi Tamara & Ilene! If there is laundry detergent, people always choose it as one of the two personal items (per family) they are allowed. Dog food? Cat food? These are very important items as well. I wish I could remember which pet someone was talking about last time when they said "There is never anything for..." was it birds? I honestly can't remember. But it hurts. 

So I guess what I'm saying is this: If you are so inclined, I would love for you to find out which little local food pantry is close to you and donate straight to them. Not the food bank - because the little local pantries have to buy from the food bank. Donate straight to your local place. Take some case of special treats. Or spend an extra $36 at Sam's Club or Costco and take them a couple of giant packages of Charmin. Use coupons to get wicked good deals and deliver toothpaste, toothbrushes, laundry detergent. Go fancy and drop off some fabric softener. Or break the mold and take a case of crackers. Round up a few neighbors or friends, or if you are super desperate, even family members(!) and drop off a load of stuff. 

If you do? Thank you! You just made life better for a handful of families! If you can not do it right now, that's okay. Some day, though, you'll find a long lost $20 in your jeans and you can go drop off 20 packages of Dollar Tree toilet paper. Someone will be thankful for it. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rocking Maggie

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Some days my heart bursts with love and joy. 

Have you ever seen anything sweeter than Maggie the little Shih Tzu on a rocking horse?