May 2, 2013

Recent Crafting Fun

I haven't posted much in the past few weeks.  We've been keeping very busy around here.  We are having some work done in the yard at our home.  I cannot wait to show the finished products.  

So when I haven't been writing, we've been crafting/cooking around here.  I think I mentioned that Ryan is currently obsessed with My Little Pony.  He and I watched a youtube video about My Little Pony cupcakes, and after that he just had to make some.  

Ours were a little different than the ones on the video.  Ours were inspired by the pony named Rainbow Dash. (Ryan's Favorite!)

We made Rainbow cupcakes from regular white boxed mix and some food coloring.  Other than leaving us with lots of dishes to clean it was easy and fun.  

We frosted them in light blue buttercream.

Not only were they cute, but they were delicious too.  And Ryan thought it was such a special day to eat My Little Pony Cupcakes.

Since the front yard was getting a bit of a facelift around here, I decided the wreath needed an upgrade too.  I really wanted to make something, but I didn't want to spend an arm and a leg doing it.  I also wanted it to be easy.
I found this tutorial here.  It shows how to make this really easy wreath.  The wire frame was less than $4 and the fabric was $13.  If you use coupons it will be less.  You just tie the fabric around the wire frame.  It took quite a while, but it was super easy so I didn't mind taking the time to do it.  Overall, I'm happy with how it came out.  

So that's what I've been up to.  How about you?  

May 1, 2013

Get Pin-Spired May

I cannot believe it is May already.  I'm so thankful for the warmth spring is brining.  Today I'm joining one of my favorite link-ups--Get Pin-spired.  This link up is to recreate some of your style pins on pinterest.  This link-up always helps me create new outfits using what's in my closet, and I need all the inspiration I can get.  This month I only have one to link up, but it was easy and cute.

Here is the pin.  (I couldn't figure how to embed the image this time.)

And here is my recreation.
Happy Wednesday!

I'm linking up:
 
And since it's Wednesday I'm linking here too:

pleated poppy

April 26, 2013

Soccer

Ryan had his first ever soccer game the other weekend.  He absolutely loved it.  It is so cute to watch him learning something new.  It's good for him to get his energy out and play with little friends too.  

They have little fields and play 4 V 4 for about 24 minutes each week.  It's nothing serious and just pure fun.  
 It's helping Ryan learn the rules of the game.

 So this is how he dribbles the ball down the field.
It may be the cutest thing ever.  
 I cannot help but smile when I watch him trying so hard and being so adorable.
 What a stud!
 Here he goes again.
 He looks like such a big boy here.  If he plays soccer when he's older, I am so going to have to compare this photo to one when he's a teenager.
 Can you see the little smirk on his face?  He's loving it!

So now that I posted all the photos, let me tell you two quick stories about soccer with Ryan.

The first week, Ryan (and all the kids) had a lot to learn about the basic rules of the game.  I'll never forget one of Ryan's first plays in the game.  The ball goes out of bounds over the goal line.  There is a field just behind the field we are on.  Everyone stops waiting for the referee to bring the ball back....everyone except for Ryan that is.  Ryan goes and gets the ball and starts dribbling it down the field....only it isn't the field they are playing on, it's the field behind theirs.  He dribbles it all the way down that field and shoots at the furthest net.  The poor kid was so happy.  Everyone was just looking at him.  He hadn't a clue that what he was doing wasn't the norm for the game.   He was proud and so was I, and it really was such a cute sight ;)

This past week at his second game I tried to explain to him that when the other team has the ball, you can try to take it away from them.  Ryan never tried though, even when he was the only one defending the goal.  After the game I asked him why he didn't try to take the ball away from the other team, and he said, "They're friends too, and they need to win sometimes."  I couldn't argue with that!

April 25, 2013

In Memory of Kindness

I know that everyone has heard enough of the events of last week in Boston, but I feel the need to write about what is on my heart and mind.

Yesterday was a day to honor the MIT Police Officer Sean Collier who was killed by the terrorists as they tried to continue their reign of terror over our city.  I don't want to focus on how Sean Collier died, and I certainly do not want to give any more attention to the criminals who hurt so many people.

But I cannot stop thinking about this young police officer.  He was 26 years old.  He had so much ahead of him.  His life was falling into place as he was living his dream of being a police officer.  He chose a career of service and protection to other people.  However, it wasn't just through his job in which he made his mark on our community.

The more I hear about Sean Collier, the more I realize how much the world lost the day he was taken.  Even as a young college student Sean Collier donated money to The Jimmy Fund on a regular basis.   When he saw a woman crying in a local restaurant, his first thought was that he wanted to help that woman.  I am sure you can find the heartwarming stories that his family has shared on the internet if you want to know more.

Sean lived his life making a difference in the lives of those around him.  He didn't do it for the attention though.  In fact, you would never have heard about these little acts that Sean Collier did on a regular basis if he hadn't tragically and senselessly had his life taken.  And my guess is that Sean Collier was fine that.  He just wanted to help others.

If there is one bright spot that can come from so much sadness, let it be Sean Collier setting an example for the rest of us to follow.  Let's remember how he cared for others and wanted to make positive changes.  It's sometimes the small and simple acts that we do for others that make big statements.  Sean's life is a testament to how simply caring can make a huge impact on so many other people.  I never met Sean Collier, but I want to remember him by trying spread the kindness he showed in his life everyday.  I can only hope that the darkness of all this tragedy will lead to more light shining in this world.  

April 24, 2013

Taco Melts

I found a new recipe that has quickly become a favorite in my house.  I first saw it from Betty Crocker's Dinner Made Easy e-mails.  I adapted it slightly.  Here are the details:

Ingredients
1 Package Grands Biscuits (you can use the low fat ones if you like)
1 lb. ground turkey or beef cooked and seasoned with taco seasoning as directed on seasoning
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
1 jar salsa
sour cream or greek yogurt for dipping if desired.

Make the taco meat as directed by the seasoning package.

Press each biscuits flat into a roughly 6" circles on a greased baking sheet.

Scoop some of the taco meat into the center of the flat biscuit.  Add a tablespoon of salsa and a sprinkling of cheese.  Fold the biscuit over filling and press to seal the edges.

Bake 375 for about 12 minutes.

Use remaining salsa for dipping.  I like to use greek yogurt (or sour cream) for dipping too.

 It's the same idea as a pizza pocket but made with taco ingredients.

Just a couple notes:
You could probably add some corn in with the taco meat.
Don't worry if the edges don't completely seal.  As the biscuit puffs up and cooks it seems to make a good seal by itself.  I've never had an issue with the filling spilling out.
These are surprisingly filling.  I hope you enjoy!

April 17, 2013

What He Said...

I saw this clip of Stephen Colbert and his response to the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.  I thought it was heartwarming, especially since I am from Massachusetts.  It points to the resiliency of the city and its people.  While there is so much sadness about the events Monday, I leave you with a slightly lighthearted view of why Boston is so strong.

  

April 15, 2013

10 Months

I don't know how Leah is already 10 months. She is looking so much like a little girl now. Even in public people don't really think of her as a baby anymore.

She still has 7 teeth. She still Army crawls everywhere and has become very fast at it. She is pulling up to stand whenever she has an opportunity. She can climb up half a staircase, but only with someone ready to catch her of course. She definitely is a mover, which means I'm in trouble in these coming weeks.
 In the evening she only wants be held by her momma. If Pat even make an attempt to hold her for me she pushes him away and grabs tighter to my shoulder. Poor Pat.
 You wouldn't know by looking at her that she isn't the best eater. She often doesn't finish the baby food and has learned the fun of dropping the finger foods off the highchair for the dogs. She still nurses well though.
Her favorite game lately is one we made up tossing a stuffed ball around with the boys. I love hearing the three of them laughing together. It is like a dream.
 She is very determined just like her brothers.  Some may call it stubborn.  She's also sensitive.  If Pat says no to her, even in a very gentle tone, she will burst into tears that could melt your heart.  I think she's learning to wrap him around her little finger and always get what she wants.
 I love when she laughs.  She gives a real belly laugh.  She is a silly and fun-loving little girl.
As much as I hate these precious moments to fly by, I can at least say that each day is even better than the one before with my little girl.

April 12, 2013

Friday Randoms

Just after I wrote this post about being overwhelmed and feeling like Pat isn't home enough to keep the household running smoothly with me, Pat arrived home from work to tell me that he'll be away for 7 weeks this summer.  Yes, yes, I know it's better than a deployment, but this was supposed to be a job assignment that gave lots of family time.  In reality, not so much.  I'm not too upset, because I expected him to be gone for a month this summer, so it's only 3 additional weeks.  I cannot say how thankful I am to be living near family now though.  Pat's long absences are getting hard for the kids.  Sean really took Pat's last trip hard, and it was only 2 weeks.

Poor Sammy, the pug.  Last night we took his bandage off and his nail seems to be infected.  He'll be making a trip back to the vet again today=my poor wallet.

Many mornings start with the boys squabbling.  The other morning though the boys were perfect angels watching the ipad.  Would you believe me if I told you they were watching My Little Pony?  They definitely were.

Leah is pulling up to stand all the time now.  I'm so not ready for this.  I hate the phase where the kids are learning to be mobile because it usually means that there will also be falls.    
The other night I made lasagna.  I love making and of course eating lasagna, but the kids sometimes don't like to eat "messy" foods.  Thankfully that night it was a hit.
And I mean a hit with everyone!  You can tell she liked it if it's all over her face.  When she isn't into a food she just won't touch it at all.
I've been so thankful for the warm weather.  Some days on the way home from school we stop at the playground around the corner from our house.  The boys love it, and Leah and I enjoy the fresh air too.

Looking at these pictures I feel so lucky for this beautiful family.  I just want to soak up all this precious time with my kids.  I have been so truly blessed.  

Happy Weekend!    

April 11, 2013

1934 Cadillac

Since it is Thursday, I thought I'd do a little throwback post from my wedding.  The timing is pretty good too because tomorrow marks 10 years ago that Pat and I got engaged.  

I got married fairly young.  Pat and I were both 22 and had graduated college less than a month before our wedding.  It was obviously before the days of planning a wedding on Pinterest.  I had never really thought about planning my wedding.  In fact my knowledge of anything wedding related was limited.  I had hardly even attended weddings at this point.  We were the first kids from our families and friends to get married.  I really didn't know what I was doing when I was planning all the details.  I was pretty easy to please with everything because I didn't really know what I wanted to begin with.  

However, there was one big splurge that I really wanted, and I was so lucky that my parents gave in for this extravagance because it is a part of the wedding that I won't forget.  When we were looking at limousines, I saw that one company had a 1934 Cadillac as an option.  I'm not a car girl, but the classic beauty and vintage detail was exactly what I wanted for my wedding day.  We were already getting a limo to transport the wedding party, so this would be extra money.  My parents were already so generously paying for our wedding, and I felt terrible to ask them for anything more.  My parents knew how much I wanted this car to be at my wedding though, so they decided to go for it.  It was a beautiful car, and it allowed me and Pat to sneak a quiet moment together on the way to the reception.   



Despite my apathy toward many of the choices during planning, this was one that really represented me.  It was one of my favorite details from my wedding.  Thank you again, Mom and Dad, not only for the 1934 Cadillac but also for a beautiful and very special wedding day.    

April 10, 2013

WIWW: Spring is Here

Sunday things started to finally warm up around here (Monday and Tuesday have been glorious too!)  Since the temps are finally rising, I found the opportunity to pull this beautiful blouse out of my closet.  I've been waiting to wear it for months now.

 And my handsome boy wanted to get in on the photos.  I cannot think of a better accessory.
Blouse--Kikilarue.com HERE
Pants--Lands' End HERE
Flats--Target (old)
I am so happy that Spring is here.  Happy Wednesday!

Linking up:
pleated poppy

SACOS

April 8, 2013

Weekend Recap and Vent Session

We had a really nice weekend. Although since Pat had to work Saturday day, it kind of felt like a one day weekend.  And of course we had plans for that one day.

Sunday we attended mass at our new church.  If I'm being honest, I will confess it's been a while since we went to church mostly because it's been hard to get the kids to sit through it.  Our new church is fairly small inside, and unfortunately there is no crying room.  The boys are finally able to sit quiet and still through most of the mass, and right now Leah is young enough to get away with some talking during the service.  However, I can see that pretty soon she's going to be the one making attending difficult.  I am so happy that we were able go as a family though.

After church we were meeting Pat's friend at the local zoo.  It is a very small zoo in our town/city.  Although it is small and only has a few exhibits, I think we will be getting a lot of use out of our membership.  Inside the zoo there is a splash pad for the summer.  I cannot wait till it is warm enough for that.

Because it is still cold here many of the animals weren't out, but the boys loved it none the less.  Check out these two meerkats.  Meerkats always remind me of the prairie dogs we loved to watch in Oklahoma.

Oh wait, now there are three!

And if that isn't the prettiest little bird/owl I've ever seen, I don't know what is.

After the zoo we headed out to Friendly's for lunch.  All the boys love going there, especially my hubby.  

While it was a fun Sunday, it ended on a sour note. As I was putting Leah to bed, Pat came up and told me that Sammy, our pug, was on the deck and his foot was bleeding. I run down stairs, and sure enough it seems he has cracked his toe nail at the base of it. The last time this happened do you want to know how much it cost? $645. You can read about that time here. My stomach is in my throat thinking about it because I have been trying so hard to save money for a big house project we are planning, which just seem to be getting bigger and more expensive every day.
So Sammy will be going to the vet today.  And we still need to find a local vet.  I hope I can say this trip is much less expensive than the last one.
That brings me to my vent. I am feeling frustrated and overwhelmed lately. I keep telling this to my husband and he just isn't getting it. Right now I feel maxed out on the responsibilities I can handle. I am doing what I can, but I still feel like things are falling through the cracks. I am getting bitter because Pat never seems to be around. He works during the day. One night a week he has class.  Now work is also taking part (or sometimes all) of his weekends, and it seems whenever he isn't working he's trying to have a social life. The little things at home are not getting done, liking trimming Sammy's nails. When I bring this up I either get a nod of the head (which I consider a blow off) and nothing else or he'll say "tell me what I need to do". The problem is that I cannot keep track of it all. I think I've reached maximum capacity trying to hold it all together.  I cannot tell Pat what to do because I can't keep track of EVERYTHING, and I'm beginning to feel like a failure.

So that is how my Monday is beginning.  I guess it can only go up from here, right?

April 7, 2013

Clarifying and Updating My Opinion on Stitch Fix

If you saw my last post about my experience with Stitch Fix then you know I was a bit disappointed.  However, I do want to clarify a few things about that.

I think the idea behind Stitch Fix is incredible.  The combination of convenience and personalization is exactly what any shopper would appreciate.  I also think that overall the cost of Stitch Fix is pretty fair.  I understand that the business model has the additional cost of shipping (possibly both ways) that needs to be accounted for.  I would expect to see some of that represented in the price of items.  I do not expect to be finding a cheap deal through Stitch Fix, but rather quality clothing that truly works for me at a fair price.

My disappointment came when I found pieces from fixes on the internet from boutique stores for half the price.  I am willing to pay a few dollars more for the convenience and service, but there is a limit for me.  After realizing this, I lost some trust in the company and began to wondering if I was getting what I was paying for.  

However, this weekend I received an e-mail from Stitch Fix addressing the issues I raised in my blog.  I am impressed and humbled that the CEO took the time to address my concerns.  Since I raised my issues in a public manner, I think it is only fair to pass along some updated information to you here too.   This is what I learned:
With regard to the price discrepancies in the items I found online, I was told that they have adjusted the prices of the items that I pointed out in my blog and are looking into other items from that brand.  Most of the items they carry have a standard set price (MSRP) that most retailers follow.  Sometimes, however, the smaller brands do not provide that set price, which is what led to the pricing issue I encountered.  In addition, Stitch Fix watches the prices of the other main retailers and tries to match markdowns when possible.  Stitch Fix is doing its best to make sure that this does not happen again.  

I feel a lot better to know that it was not the intention of Stitch Fix to charge a high price on an item being sold elsewhere for less.  And I will say that in my research I have found that what I was told about a standard price among retails to be true for many of the brands Stitch Fix carries.  Here is an example:
Kut from the Kloth--polka dot chambray shirt
via
This shirt is the same brand as one I've seen in many fixes, and the above one is from Dillards.  At Dillards it is $68, which I believe is on par with Stitch Fix.

Has this information changed my opinion of Stitch Fix?  Somewhat.  I think it is commendable that they have adjusted their prices to be competitive.  After all, shopping through Stitch Fix you not only get clothes, but also an experience of trying on several items at home and styling them in different ways before buying.  If you can have that experience AND competitive pricing, then I do believe that it is a good deal.  Will I try Stitch Fix again?  Possibly.  I will not write them off just yet, but I will still comparison shop.  My money is too important to me to be wasteful with it.  Over all, I guess I wanted to share that despite a bad experience, I absolutely think Stitch Fix is on the right path.  A company that takes the time to read a little blog like mine and address the concerns I raised in a post is a company that values its customers and obviously provides good customer service by wanting to make sure the customer is happy.  

April 6, 2013

Why I Won't Be Doing Stitch Fix Again

I'm not usually one to throw a company under the bus, and I was raised that if I don't have anything nice to say that I shouldn't say anything at all.  Today, I'm going to give you my honest opinion on Stitch Fix because I would want someone to be honest with me before I spent money that I didn't need to.

As you know I tried out stitch fix a few weeks ago and posted about how my first fix was a bust, but I had high hopes for the next one.  Well, I received the second one.  The second one was better than the first, but I found some major flaws in the whole Stitch Fix business.  Here are the problems I see and how I would tell Stitch Fix to improve.

As you know I wasn't happy with my first fix.  Two basic problems existed in that fix:  1.) I specifically requested an item they had posted on instagram and they didn't send it and 2.) I really do not think they had looked at the Pinterest board I provided for inspiration of what I was looking for.    

Solution:  1.)  If someone requests an item and you are unable to send it, include a little note that you were out of their size (or whatever), and provide an alternative item that they may like in it's place.  This was not done for my first fix.  I was just left wondering if they had even read my request.
2.)  Since stitch fix asks for your Pinterest board for inspiration, maybe adding a note about including an item because it was similar to one you pinned would make the customer feel like you really were a personal stylist and not just shoving items in a box.
As a side note on this, I've read that some people have received notes like I am suggesting above, however, nothing was ever commented on in my fixes.    

I realize that the personal notes would take a bit more time, but it is supposed to be a Personal Styling service.  Let's add a little bit more personalization, Stitch Fix.

So on to my second fix.  The first problem was there were only 4 items in my box, but five were listed on the receipt.  That wasn't a huge deal because I am a totally believer that accidents happen.  But for me the MAJOR issue that I had with the second fix is some items Stitch Fix uses are available elsewhere at HALF the price.  Upon realizing this, I decided I cannot trust Stitch Fix.  Here, let me give you an example:

This shirt was in my second fix--Everly Pleated Sleeveless Polka Dot Blouse.

via 
Cute, right?  I would have been impressed with this item if I hadn't googled it and found it online.
Stitch Fix price $68.  The same exact item can be purchased HERE for $34.  And that is not a sale price.  After realizing the price markup, I felt like Stitch Fix isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Another example that I found was this blouse that I've seen in other people's fixes--Everly Bird Print Blouse.
via 
I'm not sure what Stitch Fix was charging for this item, but I can guarantee that it was more than you will pay if you buy it HERE for $34.

Those are just two examples.  I am pretty sure there are more out there.  

Solution:  My advice to Stitch Fix is that they need to stick with labels created just for their use--like their 41 Hawthorn line is I think.  People may be willing to pay the higher prices for the Stitch Fix items if that is the only way to get them.  And I do realize that the business model for Stitch Fix has an increased cost, but I'm not going to pay that extra cost if I can buy the same item elsewhere.  It's called comparison shopping, Stitch Fix.  Your making your company look bad and customers are losing trust in you when they realize they are paying way more money than necessary for the clothing.  

So if any of you blog readers are still enjoying getting fixes, my recommendation is to always google the brands to make sure you aren't paying too much.  Hopefully soon Stitch Fix will move to exclusive brands so that customers won't feel cheated when paying the Stitch Fix price.  

***Update to this post found HERE***

April 5, 2013

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

I am so happy it is that time again.  I've linked up with the Ultimate Blog Party from 5minutesformom.com for a couple years now.  In fact is is through linking up that I've found some of my favorite blog friends that I completely connect with.

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

So if you are new here, let me fill you in quickly.  I'm Shelly.  I'm a wife, mother, dog lover, coffee drinker, occasional crafter, and I enjoy cooking and baking. 

My husband and I met in college. We've been married almost 9 years ago.  We got married young, and it was before the days of Pinterest.  (Gasp!  How does one plan anything without Pinterest?!?!)

If you didn't guess it from the picture of our wedding, my husband is in the Army.  We gone through three deployments and have lived in OK and TN, but recently we've been blessed with the opportunity to move back to New England where we can live near family.  We bought our dream home this fall....don't let the phrase "dream home" confuse you though.  It's not huge or grand, but it is what we always wanted.  My husband and I have had quite a journey together already, but there is no one else I would want to experience the ups and downs with.  He is my other half.  

Together we have three beautiful children.  My heart is so full, and I feel complete.  We have two boys and one baby girl.  Ryan is 5, Sean is 3, and Leah is 9 months old.  These kids are so sweet, stubborn, and absolutely full of personality.  I am a stay at home mom, and I feel like I have the best job in the world.  That isn't to say that there aren't hard days.  


One of the biggest struggle for me with motherhood is being patient.  It is something I am constantly working on, hence the name of my blog.  Some days are better than others.  

What you'll find on my blog is regular tales about motherhood, funny stories about our days, random thoughts from a sleep deprived mom, occasional fashion and beauty posts, and of course pictures.  I love connecting with other bloggers, so I hope you'll say hello and stay a while.  

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