Five Favorites: the random version

So, let’s make this quick this week. Here are five random favorites:

1. Our new kitten, Jensen. We adopted him from our local pet shelter a few days ago.

I think it's safe to say he has settled in.

I think it’s safe to say he has settled in.

2. My new-to-me Garmin watch. I am trying to get back into running. I am not graceful and certainly not fast, but I’d like to improve. I was eyeing up some nicer models online but could not swing the price… and searched Craigslist on a whim. I found this bad boy and the heart rate strap in perfect condition for $70. **happy dance**


3. Our first cherry tomato this summer! I made my oldest wait to eat it until I took a picture. 🙂


4. My new August outfit from Fabletics. It makes me WANT to exercise so I can wear it!

I feel like a rock star in this. I'm not, but the feeling is what counts!!

I feel like a rock star in this. I’m not, but the feeling is what counts!!

5.  One of my favorite online shops, Twice, just launched their Android app. If you download it, you can receive 50% off your order! Idownloaded it on my phone yesterday and had to look… I got a whole lot of Ann Taylor – 2 dresses, 2 jeans, 2 tops – for $60. You guys, ONE of those dresses was $129 new and they are shipping it all to my door for $60 with free returns. I’ve been very impressed with their quality and customer service, and I adore that they give you measurements for garments – less room for error in sizing!


I’m linking up with Heather at Mama Knows, Honeychild today – thanks for visiting me!



Five favorites: new & exciting {to me} edition

So this might be random, but hey. I’m here. Linking up with Hallie and the girls.

1. My new Project Life organizer. I scoured Target this weekend and came home with nothing; went to St. Vinnie’s yesterday [with kids in tow *just before supper*, I should get a medal or something] and picked up this beauty for $4. Tons of space to store kits! Now I just need to make some divider tabs.



2. Speaking of – Project Life. I am so far behind in scrap booking (3 years!). I tried moving from paper to digital scrap booking and I found it… NOT easier AND not faster. So I’m jumping on the PL bandwagon. I think it’s going to be good. And, FYI, March is craft month so most crafting things are 40-50% and has a very good selection. I’ve been waiting on this box all week:

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Top-bottom: the UPS man was surprised to find me waiting on the porch waiting for that box!; 222 photos and not even all the ones I need to print; my new organizer starting to get filled up with cards but not even close to ‘organized’ yet

3. My new earrings. My birthday was on Sunday and you know what, if you don’t ask for what you want there is little hope you will get it. So as the kids and my husband were on the way out the door to shop for me, I whispered “pearl earrings” to my youngest. Daddy delivered:


4.  This moisturizer. Smells so pretty and makes my skin so soft. I wish it was cheaper. :/

Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet


5.   Baublebar – right now you can ‘spin the wheel’ for a discount. I got $10 off with no minimum purchase. They have some super sweet ring holders. I got this pretty one:

Swan Ring Tree


They have a rabbit and an elephant too!



5 Favorites: Mom time

Okay, so I know not all of you reading this are moms with small children. However, I think some of these things apply to any woman, so don’t click away just yet.

It’s Spring Break week here in central Wisconsin. My husband signed up for an annual conference a few weeks back, not realizing it fell right during the break… so he flew to Texas just as the break began while the girls clamored for some time with my parents, who like to host them for a night or two a few times a year (and treat them to all sorts of fun stuff that I wouldn’t, so it stands to reason that they pretty much rushed out the door without looking back). Though they see my parents frequently, they get sleepover time in on breaks and summers.

… All of a sudden it’s just me and the {sneezy, apparently allergic to something} cat. So what’s a lady to do?

1. Spend time on a hobby {bonus points if it’s something you have a hard time getting to do otherwise}. I crafted for several hours on Monday and Tuesday. I can and will make cards or other paper crafts when my girls are around, often on weekends; but it’s hard with frequent interruptions. My girls often want to create with me, which I love, but then I become supervisor and don’t get to finish my own projects. It was nice to be able to craft for as long as I wanted… and I donate a lot of my efforts to Operation Write Home (anyone can write notes of encouragement, and there’s coloring pages for kids to do. check it out!)

2. Grooming. I always apologize to my stylist for calling and saying, “so, I need an appointment tomorrow because I have a sitter then…”. Luckily, she’s pretty flexible and can almost always squeeze me in. I have longer hair so I tend to space out appointments to every 8-10 weeks and then I feel better about paying more for a haircut – I’ve had one too many $10 places give me a bad cut.  Bonus – I decided to splurge and get a brow wax. Hey, my birthday’s in a few days. I’m now going to be staring down FORTY. How did THAT happen??

3. Bonus grooming – something you don’t normally do for yourself. I went for my first ever manicure. I wanted something spring-y and close to the Pantone color of the year. I wouldn’t go to the same nail girl (what DO you call her?) again, because she didn’t get great coverage on a handful of nails, I love the end result and hope it lasts a full two weeks. Consider a facial, waxing, heck even a free makeup consult. There’s a local boutique here that gives you a free facial mask with a consult, so you get to try their skincare as well as the makeup. There are lots of inexpensive options, too – consider a new lipstick or nail polish. Rimmel has a 60-second polish that’s only $1.50 and comes in lots of pretty shades!


4. find a pretty version of something you have just for you. I don’t drink often, but on New Year’s we went to dinner with friends and family and the restaurant offered a complimentary glass of champagne. This stuff tastes like cream soda and it’s yours for the low, low price of $5.99 at your grocer. I went on a scavenger hunt and found myself a pretty champagne flute for $1.49 at Goodwill. It’s the little things.


bonus clearance flowers from the grocery store!


so good. so cheap.

5. Tackle that thing that you always put off for later. Whether it’s deep cleaning the fridge or organizing the linen closet or finally tackling that dreaded paper clutter pile (<– that’s me, right there), finishing that dreaded task will make you feel all kinds of invincible, if the hair or nails didn’t already do it. 🙂

P.S. Now on Facebookgo like The Sparkle Within and leave me your link so I can follow you, too! 🙂

Linking up with Hallie and the girls at Moxie Wife!


Five favorites – the weird tips edition

Here’s day 3 of my efforts to post every day this week with all of the others at the Conversion Diary linkup!

In the past few months I’ve had a few conversations that ended up with the other person saying, “Huh… really?” to an idea I shared. Some of these might seem odd, but they work:

1. Vicks on the feet – if you start to feel that telltale tickle in your throat that tells you a cold is coming on, slather the soles of your feet with Vicks vapo rub and cover with thick socks. You must put it on before you are fully sick. I don’t quite understand why, but it seems to ease or [sometimes] completely eliminate colds before they take hold.

2. If your back is breaking out, check your conditioner.  I don’t remember where I heard this tip – it’s been years! – but for a while I struggled with bacne (back breakouts). Nothing seemed to help until I read a tip that you should always make sure to wash your back after rinsing your conditioner. You know, all that lovely moisturizing stuff that you want to stick to your hair can actually clog your pores. As long as I’ve made sure to rinse and then wash after, I’ve had no problems. Loofahs on a stick for the win! 🙂

3. To clean eggs off a pan, soak in COLD water. It’s so counter-intuitive to soak something in cold water, but it takes eggs off a pan like magic!

4. To prevent illness, brush your teeth after returning home from work/school. [This one came from a pediatrician specializing in infectious disease.] About 4 years ago, one of my SIL’s told me that he three kids were having a difficult winter with frequent illnesses. She asked the ped at one point what she could do, and his response was to make sure they brushed and used mouthwash after returning home from school.  The good oral hygiene habits are a huge plus, too!

5. Hairspray will remove ink on clothing.  I learned this one when I was only a pre-teen and it has come in handy so many times.

=Linking up with Hallie at Moxie Wife!



Five Favorites – sick and tired edition

As I type this I am listening to the ‘winter weather advisory’ on the radio. The latest report is that after midnight, we will have freezing rain and sleet turning to snow by morning, with expected snowfall of 6-12″. <big sigh> You know, I do prefer snowy to frigid-freeze-your-face weather, but still. This winter is HARD.

So. This is the “I’m sick and tired” 5 Favorites edition.

1. A couple of weeks ago a blogger (sorry, I have forgotten who!) mentioned buying fresh flowers to cheer yourself up. Target clearance for the win:


2. This stuff from my February Birchbox, Benefit “it’s potent” eye cream. It actually does seem to help fade dark circles:


3. I found a great deal on Living Social today (also, 6% cash back through Ebates!) for a large photo canvas. We got a great shot of us after a sledding session using my husband’s phone propped in the car door and a timer. I can’t wait to see it on our wall! Snow can be fun. Really.

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4. Every time I’ve wanted to bathe lately I first have to move 8 Barbies, 3 dolls, purse soap, some jewelry and random stuff that the girls think they need to bathe. Sorry, kids, the fun has ended. Mommy is reclaiming the bathtub with some clearance things from Target. Your toys can get a bin and you’ll be required to pick everything up and MOVE it or lose it. (Long, long overdue, I know.)

Current bath shot: DSCF3679

Stay tuned for the new look!

5. We have been finding ways to encourage our girls lately to be courageous; this is particularly difficult for one of our children. We’ve adopted this song as our family song. 🙂 I know it has to be stuck in their heads by now – it’s certainly on repeat in mine!

Linking up with Moxie Wife/Fountains of Home!



5 Favorites – the things Flylady taught me

I started using the Flylady approach back in the day, when I was working, before we were expecting our first child. I had relaxed my housekeeping standards and let the clutter build and Flylady really helped me get on track. In fact, in the past year or so, my husband suggested I go back to Flylady….

FlyLady cartoon

I no longer subscribe to the Flylady emails and I’ve found I work best with a mix of cleaning/organizational methods, but here are my top five tricks, all of which came from Flylady:

1. Get dressed to shoes in the morning. Now, I don’t wear shoes in my house so I cheat at this a bit, but the rest sets the foundation. I get dressed. I put on makeup. I fix my hair (or wear a hat. let’s be real here). I put on jewelry, most days. I honestly shudder a little (a little, and only because it so doesn’t work for me) when I see friends proclaiming on Facebook that they haven’t gotten out of pj’s all day. Now, if I’m sick, that is one thing. And days when my kids are sick I will often wear yoga pants or similar because hello, kids and sick and mess!, but yoga pants and pajama pants are not clothing. I only wear exercise wear to the gym. I am focused in clothes, not in jammies.

2. Follow the 30 second rule – i.e., if a task will take you less than 30 seconds, DO IT. That piece of trash on the floor? Pick it up. A dish needs to go to the dishwasher? Rinse and shove it in. Don’t procrastinate on the little things because then it’s not 10 little things, it’s 100 and that’s too overwhelming.

3. Break tasks into chunks to make them manageable. The biggest lesson I learned is that a task I often think will take HOURS actually takes less than an hour; it’s just my anticipatory dread. Cleaning my office won’t actually take me 3 hours, but it does take 3 focused 15 minute chunks throughout a day. So much easier!

4. Do routine decluttering rounds – Flylady calls these ‘the 27 fling boogie.’ I’ve adapted them for my girls as ‘picking up boogies’ – I usually ask for 5 minutes and they bargain me down to 3, but they’ve learned that they can often get it done in 3 if we are all helping and we stay focused the whole time. It’s much easier if mommy is there to keep them on track as well. I do the decluttering ones myself for the rest of the house, though as I manage clutter, I am more faithful about decluttering as I clean and organize and the boogies are very infrequent, as I don’t need them.

5. Shine your sink and make your bed every day. It’s true what they say… A made bed makes a messy bedroom look halfway clean. A clean sink makes the kitchen look neater. Plus, when the job is halfway done, I’ll often finish the whole room, and then I feel much better!

And a bonus #6… if you are any type of crafter and you haven’t yet checked out Blitsy… what are you waiting for? I am a paper crafter and I don’t often use deal sites because I find they carry cheaper brands or the stuff that didn’t sell well in the stores – but that is not the case here! I swear I don’t work for them. I got FABULOUS new Technique Tuesday stamps today for a steal. A STEAL! So in case you want to check it out… go!

Linking up with Hallie at 5 favorites/moxie wife today!

5 Favorites – gratitude and a giveaway

1. I wanted to make a gratitude journal to start off the year but it wasn’t high enough on the priority list. yes, my word for the year is FOCUS. I’m trying, I really am. SO. Now I am ready and have the time and thank you Pinterest, I wasted time searching and then just did what I imagined in the first place – I covered a composition notebook. However, Pinterest did give me the idea to make it a family journal. Love that. 🙂 I also got the idea to use washi tape on the page edges – I think I will do that to either separate pages by family member or by month!

our family gratitude journal. I really like how it turned out!

our family gratitude journal. I really like how it turned out!

And because I so appreciate you taking the time to read visit me, I am giving away one gratitude journal. See below to enter! (Please note: I will do my best to make yours in colors and a style that you like – it need not look anything like mine!)

2. The Overdrive system for lending e-books. Oh my gosh, I had have my Kindle touch for close to a year now and I have purchased so few books because I can borrow so many through my local library. Let’s just imagine that I have my library card number memorized… I love that they let you make a wish list (mine is a little long) and when I have a lot of space in my hold queue I go through my wish list and start placing holds.

3. This website – Really Reasonable Ribbon. Bonnie has excellent customer service and extremely reasonable prices on a large variety of ribbon. I use ribbon primarily for paper crafting, and I pretty much exclusively buy from her. She sends a sample with each order and your ribbon arrives tied with a sweet little bow (hello, second sample ribbon!). Go shop. In fact, the chevron ribbon on my gratitude journal is from RRR!

4.  This recipe – tangy pork roast. It’s SO GOOD. Oh my gosh. SO good. Do, however, double the sauce. I didn’t at first and it looked like it was getting a little dry, so I whipped up more quickly and added it partway through cooking.

5.  This book – Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. After our youngest had some medical issues and didn’t sleep well for a long, long, long time I had a hard time keeping up with everything that needed to be done.  Plus, once she started sleeping I realized how sleep deprived I truly had been and let’s be honest, I didn’t function all that well until I had several weeks of good sleep under my belt. It was a bad situation all around. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Crystal’s book and a lot of what she shared about goals, saying no to things, and making health a priority really resonated with me. I had already started making some changes when I read this book last fall and I’ve started some new habits as well. It’s good. I highly suggest reading it! (I was provided with a free copy but was not compensated in any other way, nor am I required to give a good review. I bought a hard copy with my own cash because I liked it so much.)

Linking up with Hallie @ Moxie Wife for 5 Favorites today!

Leave a comment for your chance to win, please, because apparently I cannot figure out Rafflecopter. I’ll pick a winner on Sunday, Feb. 2!



Five favorites on this winter day

We got at least 6 inches of snow today, if not 7 or 8.  So between the first day of my new exercise class “butts and guts” and the hours of shoveling… I’m beat! So, here are some pretty things:

1. These sheets. I have the best husband ever, who got us a set for Christmas. I am hoping they last for a long, long time… did you know that the best sheets are ones you need to iron, because the n0-wrinkle sheets contain polyester blends? My husband did his research. 🙂  And he SAYS they were a gift for me, but really… he pretty much told me to donate our old sheets.


2. This BB cream from Pond’s. I happened to sign up for free sample, which came with a foil packet large enough for 2 or 3 applications and a $1.50 coupon. I LOVE THIS STUFF. I was formerly using the Garnier bb cream, which gets accolades… but this one has a more matte finish and no scent. SOLD. OH – and this week I found some of the packages at my Target had a $5 coupon attached. Check it out!!


3. Until a few days ago we had a cheap plastic butter container that I found at a rummage sale. Since it’s so darn cold the butter was really hard – so, I put it on top of the toaster while I was toasting bread and thought, “I’ll just leave it there for a minute.” 3 minutes later the toast popped up and I had a nearly melted butter container. 😦  The one bright spot was that at least I didn’t ruin the toaster! I found a crock for 75 cents at Goodwill, so I bought it, but I’m really pining after this pretty red one. And on second thought, this might actually be a sugar jar. ?


4.  This mascara. i got it in my Birchbox a couple of months ago and finally tried it. Mascara in a flex tube – brilliant! I really, really like it – it doesn’t smudge or flake and the brush is nice and big. At the price, though, I’m really glad it came in a subscription box! (If you need more info about Birchbox, which is a monthly subscription box of health/beauty items, go here.)


5. This concealer. This came in my very first Birchbox in November of last year and was my first “I’ve got to buy the full size of this” purchase. The nice thing about Birchbox is that all products that ship in that month’s box (not just your box, all of them!) will ship for free, no matter what the cost.  And when we went to Puerto Rico just a few weeks later (10th anniversary trip!), we happened across a Benefit vending machine while walking through our terminal in JFK in New York. Clearly, I live in middle of nowhere as makeup in vending machines is a new concept for me…

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Linking up with Hallie at Moxie Wife for 5 Favorites!