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Posts Tagged ‘fun things’

In discussing my new phone case the other day, I realize that I have made a few recent purchases that I feel equally delighted about. 

  • A New Bra: I am pretty much down to one bra that I wear. And, believe me, I wear it as infrequently as possible. Most days, I live in a sports bra. But sometimes I do need to wrangle the ladies into something that’s not athletic wear. I have some bras that kind of fit, and then the one bra that MOSTLY fits. But I finally broke down and bought a bra that actually fits. It’s SO NICE to have a bra that fits. Why is this a lesson I must re-learn every few years???
image from Nordstrom.com | Not really the most aesthetically pleasing of bras, but it’ll do.
  • A Stripey Dress: I don’t see my exact dress available at Loft anymore, but oh my goodness do I love it. I love how the top has horizontal stripes and the skirt has vertical stripes, I love how it nips in at the waist and is nice and flowy through the skirt, and I love the length. I think it’s super easy to dress up for evening and also it’s casual enough that it works for daytime. What may be skewing my love for this dress is that I wore it for the first time over the weekend and got not one but TWO compliments on it. One from a friend, which is always nice, but also one from a complete stranger who called to me across the street that she LOVED my dress and WHERE could she find it. That’ll make a gal’s ego soar, I tell you. (It’s also a good reminder to me that I should give in to the impulse to compliment strangers on things. Usually I stuff it down out of fear that they will think I am a weird weirdo, but probably they will be delighted as I was.)
image from postmark.com

  • A Line-a-Day Journal: I have never been a person who journals; I am not good with consistency. (I cannot tell you how many journals I have received as gifts over the years – if you are a writer-y type person, it is a very easy gift for people to buy for you. But I would always – ALWAYS – either a) write diligently in them for less than a week and then give up forever or b) be too worried about marring their perfect unblemished insides and never write so much as an exclamation point in them.) But a friend recently told me how much he was enjoying his new line-a-day journal, and I thought, hmm. Why not give it a try? A line a day seems doable, even for me. I have been keeping up with it for more than two months now and I really love it. There’s no pressure with it, really. Some days I write something stupid like, “It was hot.” And some days I have to write in teeny-tiny letters to cram all my thoughts into the tiny space. I am also kind of looking forward to next year when I circle around to where I started and I can read what I was doing at that same time a year before. 

I think a line-a-day journal is a perfect option for non-journalers and I really love the one I decided to buy. I DID have to get over my own personal hurdle of “you can only begin a journal on January 1.” That is purely, in this case, because the journal is labeled by month. So, it says AUGUST at the top of the page, currently, and then there are little spaces where you can write in the year and the date (and I have been putting in the day of the week under the date as well). Possibly, if that is a hurdle you cannot leap, and I would not blame you ONE BIT if it is insurmountable, you could find a journal that has no monthly labels. Or you could buy this one and save it until January 1. OR you could throw caution to the wind and begin on a day in the middle of the week in the middle of the month!!!! I am lightheaded with the wildness of that suggestion. But the one I have is so pretty, I am urging you to consider wild things nonetheless.

image from amazon.com
  • A Flowy Tank: I have gone a little wild this summer, ordering things from Loft. Their clothes are exactly what I want to wear and they are so summery and cute. But the T-shirts and tank tops are a little boxy for my taste. Seriously. I thought they were cute when I bought them, and so I kept them. And then after the first washing, they seem to have ALL shrunk vertically and I hate them all. What a waster! Yet, I continue to crave tank tops. I finally got fed up and ordered a LONG tank top from amazon and I really love it. It is nice and long – I like to cover the buttular region when possible – and it is flowy. I like the little knotted detail in the front. I can create a similar effect by knotting my t-shirts myself, but I find that the little knot tail is always escaping from where I carefully tucked it under the hem of my shirt and I don’t love that. The fabric of this shirt is nice, too. Definitely synthetic if that’s something you avoid, but it has a nice weight and a small amount of stretch that I find very pleasing.
image from amazon.com
  • Some Useful Parenting Books: In a nod to yesterday’s post, I have been reading a couple of really good books about parenting lately. Usually, the parenting books I read make me feel bad about myself and my (lack of) parenting ability. (I do not need a book to help me along that path.) But these books, so far, have been easy to read and positive and full of good, useful, actionable advice and completely free of judgement. Your results may vary, of course, but I wholeheartedly recommend both:

Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen by Michelle Icard

image from amazon.com | I love this book so much that I want to read everything Michelle Icard has ever written and to invite her into my home to give me one-on-one coaching.

The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud, PhD, and Ned Johnson

image from amazon.com | I originally checked this out from the library and found it so useful that I bought my own copy.
  • A Night Oil: You have heard me wax poetic for years about my regular face oil. But a few years ago, I got a sample of the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate and I loved it. So when it went on sale during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, I got a bottle. I love the very light rose scent it has and I love the way it feels. Is it doing anything for my forehead wrinkles? Not so that it is obvious to the naked eye, but perhaps it is working some magic under the scenes.
image from Nordstrom.com
  • A New Favorite Board Game: We ended up getting Carla A Ticket to Ride for her birthday and we have played it together as a family and I LOVE IT. All the rave reviews are true. It is fun and interesting. And from a mom perspective, I like that it requires some math and a lot of thinking ahead and strategizing. Plus, a little soupcon of geography. 
image from amazon.com

Have you made any recent purchases that you love?

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In response to my recent Road Trip! post, several people mentioned snacks – a couple offered specifics; others were more general.

But it made me realize that I am Very Eager to discuss Road Trip! snacks. 

When I was a kid, my dad would buy rolls of Necco Wafers and hand them around. We had to take the wafer we were offered, so there was always the immense danger of getting the licorice flavored one. He was also a big fan of Planters Heat Peanuts. My mom, I seem to remember, perhaps incorrectly, enjoyed things like Chex Mix. 

For me, a Road Trip! is all about the chips. Aside from tortilla chips (which I eat occasionally), I hardly ever buy chips. This is because I LOVE chips and will eat an entire bag in one sitting. So chips are a real treat for me, and that’s my go-to snack for Road Trips. My favorites are Barbecue LaysMiss Vickie’s Jalapeno, and Doritos Salsa Verde, the latter being a variety I don’t see in gas stations that often anymore. 

I have also recently become… well, obsessed isn’t the right word for it. Infatuated with? Yes. I have recently become infatuated with Skinnypop, despite the irritating name. My daughter got me into it; I think parents often buy individual bags of Skinnypop for birthday party snacks, and maybe they offer Skinnypop as one of the snacks at school; I’m not quite sure about anything that goes on in my kid’s life when I’m not around. Anyway, she liked Skinnypop first and asked for it enough that I ended up trying it. Now we buy it by the giant package at Costco. I love it. Don’t get me wrong – I would much prefer a giant bowl of freshly popped popcorn drenched – drenched – in butter, but Skinnypop is really quite delicious. So I might consider adding it to my Road Trip! snack repertoire.

While I am much more interested in salty things than in sweet things, sometimes the best chaser for a bag of spicy chips is a bag of Twizzler Nibs. Or maybe a Milky Way Midnight bar. 

And I rarely ever drink soda these days, but I do love a nice frosty bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. 

I may or may not indulge in my traditional Road Trip! snacks on this particular Road Trip!. They are not, as you might have already intuited, keto friendly. But my husband has already decided that he is NOT sticking to keto while we are on our trip, and that makes it much harder for me to stick to it. 

If I stick to it, though, I will survive by eating copious amounts of Zero Sugar York Peppermint Patties and Zero Sugar Reese’s Miniature Cups which Swistle has been recommending for a long time and I just recently tried. They are SO GOOD and do not taste like keto food; they taste like treats.

(I have yet to find keto chips I like. I tried the Quest Chili Lime chips, which were WONDERFULLY crunchy and had a nice chili lime flavor. But the chili lime flavor, though strong, was not strong enough to disguise the flavor of the chips themselves which I find to be oddly bitter.)

Speaking of my husband: I feel like I should KNOW what kind of Road Trip! snacks are his favorite. But I… have no idea. Maybe he doesn’t have one or two repeat snacks that he always eats? Maybe he goes for a wide variety? Maybe I am so hyperfocused on my own snacking that I become completely oblivious to those around me? I am not sure. Honestly, I don’t even know what I would buy for him if he sent me into the gas station with instructions to pick him out a snack. Some.. Sun Chips? That seems like the wrong answer. 

My daughter LOVES snacks and LOVES treats, so you know she is going to have many, many requests. If I were to choose something for her, I’d probably pick a trifecta of Cheetos or Cheez-Its, something weird (like a plunger shaped lollipop that you dip into a toilet bowl filled with sugar – yes, this is something she purchased with her own money recently), and something sweet. She likes most (all???) sweets, so I’m not even sure what I would choose for her, but I think she would probably like it.

Now, I have been speaking mainly of gas station treats. But Road Trips! are an opportunity to eat fun fast food, too. If you like fast food. I don’t particularly care for it, I have to say. So usually I vote for Arby’s so I can at least order curly fries. When I was a kid, Subway was our fast food stop of choice, and I do enjoy a six inch Spicy Italian sub on whole wheat with no cheese, plenty of spicy mustard. I don’t know if I would enjoy it quite as much now. But I suppose we will have a chance to find out! 

So now it is your turn! Tell me, in detail, your FAVORITE Road Trip! snacks – sweet, savory, and any other category. 

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It is a blustery Friday. Carla is at school, my in-laws have all headed home. Teriyaki chicken breasts are cooking in the crockpot. My house is quiet, except for the wind bumping up against the windows. I have laundry to do and flyers to fold and a few groceries yet to put away, but I am in a Very Good Mood. 

Here are some of the things that are contributing to my pleasant mood today.

1. Spring Springing Up. Earlier this week, Carla and I saw the first popcorn tree of the season. (I think the trees we refer to as “popcorn tress” are really Bartlett pear trees.) Most of the other trees in our area are still skeletal, with only the tiniest buds appearing on their branches. So it was delightful to see the frothy blooms, bright and happy against the persistent gloom of our very rainy April. That was Saturday, maybe? Today, I noticed that that single blooming scout has been joined by an array of blossoms. Cherry trees! Magnolias! Forsythia! It is really and truly spring. Also, one of the houses in our neighborhood bought and installed one of those enormous house-sized skeletons last Halloween. They have kept the skeleton up since October, and simply decorate it for the season. It is currently wearing pink garland and bunny ears, which delights me to no end. 

I feel compelled to tell you that I did not take this photo, I pulled it off of Canva.

2. Spring Flowers. My regular grocery store had a disappointing array of flowers this week. The tulips were all already on the far side of blooming, and were $8.99 besides. But I went to Trader Joe’s this morning and found lots and lots of tulips (for $4.99 a bunch!) and a bouquet of calla lilies (also $4.99!) to buy. Yay!

3. Tiny Tomato Plant. Speaking of Trader Joe’s, the last time I was there, I bought this little tomato plant on a whim. It is bringing me so much joy! Firstly, it has SO MANY tomatoes already growing! Plus, it keeps blooming with more and more little yellow flowers that will grow into their own fruit someday soon. My niece was obsessed with the plant, checking it daily, asking if the tomatoes were ripe enough to pick and eat. I wish I had been able to capture her little earnest, hopeful voice saying, “Aunt Suz? I really think this one is ripe now.” She and Carla both LOVE finding and eating a ripe tomato. So fun! Each plant was $9.99 and I should have bought more than one. Like… five of them.

Do not worry – the tomato does not live on the piano. I simply set it there because that was the only spot in the house that was getting decent light. Please ignore how filthy the planter is. Sheesh.

4. Strawberries and Mascarpone. While I realize I am skating very close to turning this post into an ode to Trader Joe’s, I was enraptured by their produce section this morning. In particular, they had beautiful looking strawberries. I grabbed two packages along with some mascarpone cheese. One of my family’s favorite summer desserts is strawberries and mascarpone. You add some honey to the mascarpone cheese, whisk it up, and dollop it on top of cut fresh strawberries. I skip the honey these days and I find the whole thing just as satisfying and summery. 

5. Kirkland Brand Prosecco Rose. This is my current favorite fun drink. I buy it for the ridiculously inexpensive price of $6.99 a bottle at my local Costco. It’s tasty. (Please note I am not a wine connoisseur, so I’m not saying it’s GOOD, just that I like the taste, which is really what matters when a person is drinking a beverage.) And IT’S PINK. A pink drink is automatically fun. Well, unless it’s Pepto Bismol or some sort of antibiotic, but that doesn’t really count as a “drink,” even though you drink it. I am getting off track. This sparkly drink makes any random evening into something that feels cheerful and celebratory.

I realize this is not a champagne flute or coupe, but I have to wash those by hand and this glass goes in the dishwasher.

And we have reason to celebrate (with more than cheap bubbly): my mother-in-law is in remission! We are all so happy and relieved. I know the prospect of the cancer remaining or having spread was weighing heavily on my in-laws minds and this is just the BEST news. A big part of the reason they were visiting this time was to see her oncologist surgeon, and do a bunch of tests and scans. I am really glad we could be their home base while they underwent this ordeal. Her good news was the perfect note to end their visit on.

Hoping you have a wonderful weekend, and if you are celebrating Passover or Easter, that you enjoy your holiday, and that if you aren’t participating in any holiday that you find SOMETHING to celebrate and a pink drink to toast with.

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My mom was visiting over Christmas and I was getting the table ready for dinner, filling water glasses, swooping bread into the bread basket, moving salt and pepper shakers from the counter to the table. You know. 

As I was filling up my mother’s glass with water from the fridge, she said, “I’m not a nice person.”

I was SHOCKED. Shocked. That she would say such a thing, of course. But that she would announce it like this, while we were all milling about in the kitchen before sitting down to eat. 

“What?!” I said. “That’s not true!”

She looked at me with confusion. Then realization dawned.

“I just meant I don’t want ice in my water,” she clarified. “I’m not an ICE person.”

Oh. 

This has since become family code for little misunderstandings. My husband out of nowhere says Carla is not allowed in the basement… but really he said she’s being loud in the basement. Once we clear up that confusion, one of us will say, “I’m not a nice person.” 

Or maybe my husband offers to bring me a snack, but I tell him I’m not in the mood for popcorn… when he brings me popcorn anyway, I will say, “I’m not a nice person.”

That kind of thing.

We have several little code words and phrases,  none of which would make sense to anyone beyond the two of us. Even Carla, I think, is a little perplexed by some of the little inside jokes. 

We were reading a book to her the other night, for instance, and my husband mispronounced the word “candelabra.” 

This is something he and I do automatically, any time it comes up, after watching an episode of The Amazing Race many many years ago in which a contestant mispronounced the word. (Can-DELL-uh-brah.) I don’t know why it struck us as so notable then (it’s not an intuitive word!), or why it’s something that’s had such staying power. 

The other thing we say all the time is, “Just switching things up.” This is something we say in response to someone – including one of us – doing something baffling. Like, why did you Venmo the old babysitter instead of the swim instructor? Just switching things up. Why did that person choose to turn left at a red light? They’re obviously just switching things up. That kind of thing. 

This derives from a road trip we went on with friends a million years ago. Our friend was driving the other car in our group, and he kept passing us on the freeway… and then slowing down so drastically that we had to pass him. When we reached our destination, my husband asked him why he didn’t maintain a constant speed and he shrugged and said, “I just like to switch things up.” It has stuck with us ever since. 

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Well, it looks like I will do anything to procrastinate doing actual tasks that I actually need to complete: folding laundry, making a meal plan for the week, wrapping presents, cleaning the menorah.

But right now my procrastination is manifesting in an Urgent Need for a tree skirt, so I am dragging you along with me. 

(I can afford to procrastinate a little, I think, because we were very productive this weekend and some of the Christmas panic has been assuaged. ALL gifts have been ordered. My niece’s and sister-in-law’s gifts have been wrapped, boxed, and mailed. The caramels arrived and are ready to be tucked in with other gifts and mailed to family. I procured some wintry stamps for my holiday cards (otters playing in the snow!). My husband inexplicably printed out only one sheet of address labels for our holiday cards [EDITED TO ADD: there was a printer issue! the printer refused to print any more labels after the first sheet] but I have stuffed, stamped, addressed and sealed all the cards going to those addresses. Plus, I made long-overdue hair appointments for myself and Carla, which was another thing to cross off the list.)

This is a glimpse of my kitchen table right now. Cards and caramels! What could be better?

(Now that I mentioned the haircuts, I have a question/fret: I will take a card with a cash gift in it to my hairdresser, but what do I do for the person cutting Carla’s hair? I *think* but do not know for sure that it’s a hairdresser I’ve used before, but maybe it is a brand new person? I should just bring a cash gift to her either way, right? This reminds me that I need to make a hair appointment for my husband and remind him to take a gift to his hairdresser as well.) 

Okay, back to the Christmas tree skirting issue. 

One of the things I have loved about living in this house is that we have room for a real live Christmas tree. We always had a live tree when I was growing up, so there’s some nostalgia involved. But I also love the piney smell, and I love walking up and down aisles of trees with my husband and daughter, looking for the exact right tree to welcome into our home. 

Of course, there are disadvantages to a live tree. Pine needles everywhere is the big one. Having to remember to water the thing every day is another. And I am constantly worried about fire; I am guessing that Christmas tree fires occur when a tree is put too close to a heat source, or when it’s underwatered and the lights are left on overnight, or other reasons I am not considering. I assume that they don’t randomly burst into flames. Yet it is one of my big sources of anxiety at Christmastime, and when January arrives I am VERY EAGER to get that bundle of tinder out of my house and onto the curb.

For my husband, live Christmas trees come with two major pain points: 1. Wrestling the tree into the stand, which is primarily his job; I help, but not a lot. 2. Putting on the Christmas lights. For some reason, he hates the adding of the Christmas lights with a fiery passion. I have tried to remove this task from his responsibility, and I am SURE that I have dressed the tree in lights by myself for the past several years. But I do it in a more haphazard way than he does (he is METHODICAL and NEAT) and that makes him grumpy, and it makes me grumpy to try to do something to alleviate pain for someone and to have that someone tell me I’m doing it wrong. 

So for the past few years, we have been strongly considering getting an artificial tree instead. This has been my husband’s thing; despite the shortcomings, I prefer a live tree. And I have been agreeable about getting an artificial tree, but have taken a bystander role in the process. And year after year, the sales bypass us, and we get a live tree instead. 

NOT THIS YEAR.

This year, we bought an artificial tree. It was… very expensive. One of my demands, should we get an artificial tree, was that it look as real as possible. So we got a pricey version that claims to be very realistic. One of my husband’s demands was that it come pre-lit, so we got that feature as well. 

We got it on a good sale, at least compared to its listed “everyday” price, but it was still… much more than I care to spend on anything, especially something I don’t want. But we are also paying for decreased grumpiness. I hope. I can imagine that setting up the thing will come with its own gripes and grumbles. 

My other demand was that we spring for a new Christmas tree skirt. No way are we going to have an unclothed Christmas tree, flaunting its naked stand for all the world to see. The old skirt was a circle of red felt that cost maybe $5 at Target a decade or so ago. Over the years, it had gotten very pilly and the Velcro clasps no longer worked quite as well. It was very good at catching excess pine needles and that’s the most I can say for it. 

So I am on the hunt for a new Christmas tree skirt, and I am humbled by both the multitude of options available to me and by the wide range of pricing options. I want a tree skirt I like, but – let’s be frank – a tree skirt’s duty is to provide a cushy little bed for gifts and to disguise the ugly base of the tree. It doesn’t NEED to be anything special. But it should be more special than circle of felt.(Spending $200+ on a tree skirt, which you absolutely CAN DO, is a Startling Expense TM Swistle for me.) 

I love this one from Target – I am partial to navy as a color. But… the rest of the Christmas décor is mainly red and white, so it seems a mismatch. And while I am tempted to re-do the entire décor theme to match, I am not so tempted as to actually expend the time/money required to make that a reality. While we are citing this skirt’s negatives, it is $45, which seems quite pricey for something that will be invisible for most of its work life. Also, it is made of linen, which makes me concerned it might require ironing, and I DO NOT IRON.

image from target.com

This burlap skirt with snowflakes seems much better, price-wise ($15.99 as of this writing). It’s simple and unobjectionable. It doesn’t make my heart sing, or anything, but how much work are we expecting a tree skirt to do?

image from amazon.com

Oh, this one with little reindeer around the perimeter is giving me a little happy jolt. It’s a little bit more — $22.99 as of this writing – but it’s very charming. And I could do the plain burlap or there’s a version with the field in red as well. Both are so cute and I love the little reindeer.

image from amazon.com

This red one with snowflakes is quite nice. And the description claims that it’s double layered and “durable.” Plus, boasts the description, “Easy to use, no need tedious operation, install in a minute.” Are other tree skirts… difficult to use?

image from amazon.com

I find this plaid skirt quite appealing. Although the white trim makes me a little nervous. Though… if we no longer have to worry about watering the tree or dealing with pine needle shed, maybe it won’t get as dirty as I’m envisioning? I am also wishing that Target would get on board with photographing the tree skirt in action.

image from target.com

Also pleasing, and also with worrisome white trim, is this version that says Merry Christmas. I like the way  it looks… but I don’t know if I like the words. And some of the close-up photos make it look like it could be too similar to my old red felt. 

image from amazon.com

I rather like this knitted tree skirt – the material looks a little more elegant than the felt, and I do like the reindeer. But it does say “Christmas” on it; not merry Christmas, just “Christmas,” which is a little joyless. Wait. Am I to read it as “deery Christmas”? I don’t know.

image from amazon.com

This quilted tree skirt is very simple and very lovely and I like the deep almost burgundy of the red, but oh dear – it looks like the smallest costs $79; that, I think, is above my personal tree-skirt spending limit.

image from balsamhill.com

Did you know there was such a thing as a tree collar? I did not, until I began this search. This burlap version is very simple and clean. Do I like the tassels? I don’t know. Why are they yellow? 

image from amazon.com

Oh! This red-with-reindeer tree collar is very festive! 

image from amazon.com

I very much like the look of this woven tree collar. But I do not care for the price. 

image from balsamhill.com

This wooden tree collar is very charming – I like it the best, I think – but it’s nearly $90 and it’s a lie, so I’m not going to be getting it for my particular tree.

image from amazon.com

I like this red metal tree collar quite a lot, and it’s currently on sale for an amount I could possibly be persuaded to spend ($51.50 down from $69). Something to think about, perhaps until the sale ends and it falls more firmly into the realm of “too expensive.”

image from potterybarn.com

I am also wondering if one needs a tree skirt in addition to a tree collar… in which case, I’ll stick with the tree skirt alone, thank you. 

After adding photos to this post, I went and put the burlap-with-reindeer tree skirt, as well as the same one but in red, in my amazon cart. It just gives me a happy little flutter! I will run it past my husband, make sure he doesn’t hate it, but I think it’s the one!!! All that’s left is to decide between burlap and red.

If you have a Christmas tree, what, if anything, do you do in terms of tree skirting?

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