Thursday, September 19, 2013

What Are We Reading? - 9.19.13

This week, we found a real steal at a local baby shop we didn't know existed. Three great board books for only $6 total! To properly honor our bargain hunting skills, we've been reading them to Norah all week. The verdict is still out on whether she is as in love with our thrifty find as we are.

It is actually three story collections, including Bedtime Hugs, Read Me a Story and Mother Goose. Norah is still rough with her books, so this is a happy middle between a book with only pictures and an actual story book.


As for me, I've been gettin' my learn on with some books about The Tudor Dynasty. The books I've finished recently have all been historical fiction, but I thought it was a good place to start. Especially since I knew nothing about this time period. With historical fiction, it's hard to tell which statements are true, so I supplemented with a podcast to find out. And boy, oh boy, does Ms. Gregory take a lot of liberties to make her story juicy! All in all, they're definitely entertaining. When I'm finished all the books in the series, I plan to check out a documentary or a non-fiction book where I can put it all together.

Dad has been finishing up the Song of Ice and Fire series, so "Shh!", don't spoil it! I can't wait until he finishes so I can get rid of the constant fear of accidentally revealing a plot point he hasn't read about yet!

Happy Reading!

Items Mentioned in Today's Post
The Constant Princess - Philippa Gregory
The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five by George R.R. Martin
The History Chicks - podcast: Teeny Tiny Tudor Tutorial | Tudor Grandmothers | Katherine of Aragon | Anne Boleyn | Last Four Wives of Henry VIII

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tidy Tuesday: The Wonders of White Vinegar

I want to take a moment to talk about my favorite household cleaner: white vinegar!

This stuff can be used to clean everything. Floors, counters, glass, you name it.

Here's a roundup of items you can clean. Most are things that you've probably not cleaned in quite awhile. I'm slowly making my way through the list and I'll post in the upcoming weeks about my progress. So far, I've done my washing machine and coffee machine.

Top Loader Washing Machine
Coffee Machine and Carafe
Shower, Tile Grout and Sink
What have you used vinegar to clean?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Reclaiming Your Exercise Routine With a Toddler in Tow

This week, I've been trying to reclaim my running routine. As anyone who exercises knows, motivation is key to getting in a workout. Having a toddler to take care of is often my motivation for NOT exercising. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I'm trying new ways to spend time with her, and exercise at the same time. So far, it's gone better than expected.

In order to get my priorities back in order, I had to start with my head instead of my body. Yeah, it's hard to take care of a baby and work out, but then I started thinking about the future. I owe it to Norah to exercise. Exercising leads to a healthier me. A healthier me means I will live longer and be able to be there for her.

Then she starts screaming and all those flowery thoughts go out the window. She gets upset when I'm out of the room or if I put her in a playpen, so using the treadmill is out. She can't stand it when I'm in the room but not paying attention to her, so even using hand weights or bands is hard.

Now that the daylight is lasting longer, I've found that the only thing I can do with this little bugger is take her out with me on a jog. The first thing we do when we get home is have play time. That seems to satiate her need for "mommy time". After about fifteen minutes, I strap her into the stroller and we're off. Usually she has a terrible time in the stroller because she hates being strapped in, but the faster movement must be soothing to her because she tends to doze off. Once that happens, I can really focus on the run.

Sure, it may be hard to get in a work out EVERY day, but right now I'm settling on three times a week. Norah is a bad napper, so this new technique works for both of us. She gets her cranks out, and I get my exercise on.

Any other tips on how to get a workout in would be appreciated!

In case anyone is interested, to get back into running, I'm using the Couch to 5k plan. I'm also planning on running this at the end of the summer so that I have some sort of goal to work towards!

September 22 - Run the Cape May Vineyard!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

DIY No-Sew Birthday Bunting

Norah turned one on March 19. That following weekend we had her big birthday bash. Many of her family and friends turned out for the occasion and I did most of the decorating DIY style (exception: tablecloths, balloons, birthday hat) because I love when our parties are unique.

The theme of the party, as you may remember from the invitation, was "Under the Sea/Octopus" with hot pink, purple and blue as accent colors.

I saw a tutorial for no-sew bunting and knew this was right up my alley. You can check out all the details at The Eclectic Owl, but this is the basic idea:

  1. Cut out triangles as the base of the bunting.
  2. Cut circles to house each letter - make sure they fit inside the triangles!
  3. Choose your favorite font - in my case I used Sailor since that was one of the fonts I used on the invitations - and print letters large enough so they will sit perfectly inside the circles you just cut in Step 2.
  4. Trace the letters onto the felt and cut out.
  5. Glue the letters onto the circles and then circles onto the triangles.
  6. Attach each completed letter/circle/triangle set to the ribbon you will use to hang the bunting.
  7. Let dry for about 10 minutes and hang.

A close up of one of the letters

Pretty simple, huh?

I was running behind schedule and I didn't do the glueing until 10 minutes before people arrived, but the no-sew technique made it quick and easy.

If you are interested in sewing a more durable bunting that you can re-use, try this tutorial at Penny Carnival.

Happy (no) sewing!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Reflection on the Boston Marathon

Yesterday, a very terrible thing happened in Boston.  Not only were two people killed, but many were injured.  Many of these injured were people who were, just minutes earlier, completing a 26 mile run.
As disturbing and sad as it is, events like this really make you appreciate those who step up in times of need. 

When I left work last night and got into my car, I heard the news of the bombs that went off in Boston.  My local NPR station was streaming the coverage by the Boston NPR affiliate. At that time, all they knew was that two people were dead and about one hundred injured. Soon a report rolled in that one of the people killed was an eight year old boy.  Next the station went "on the scene" to the near by hospitals. Reporters stated that it was still a bit chaotic, but they received word that many of the injuries were amputations.  

The marathon was still in progress when the bombs went off. People who trained for months in order to complete this 26 mile run were crossing the finish line. I've never completed a marathon, but even after I trained and ran my first 5k, I felt a tremendous amount of pride and accomplishment. A feeling I'm sure many of these people felt. Sure, they were tired, dehydrated and maybe had an ankle sprain, but they did it! Then, suddenly, none of that mattered anymore. They needed help.

And that's when the reports detailing the first responders started to come in. While most people were trying to get away as fast as they could, a sea of green vested police officers, EMTs and even doctors rushed directly into the bomb blast to help people. They tore down barricades like salmon swimming against the stream, even before they knew exactly what was going on.

So when I think about how sad it is that someone did this, I try to think about the good.  It's not fair that an eight year old's life was cut short yesterday, that another person was killed and many injured. It's sad that people who were, just moments before, completing an amazing athletic feat, may now be double amputees. In fact, thinking about this stuff makes me feel a whole range of emotions: sadness, rage, anger, defeat. But try to restore faith in the human race and remember all those people who didn't think about anything but running towards the disaster and helping anyone they could.

If you know one, thank a first responder today! Also give your little ones a hug and appreciate every moment you have with them!

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Boston. It's one of my favorite cities to visit, and I know the people of Boston will get through this.

*Due to the graphic nature of most of the photos, I won't be posting any here. However, if you are interested, there is an excellent collection of shots at's Big Picture Blog.