DIY Coffee Filter Wreath!

DSC_8886When we first decided to move to Kentucky, we had to make some decisions on what to take and what to leave behind.  That included Christmas decorations.  I didn’t have an obscene amount, but most of it I made myself.  With our lack of space in the trailer, the majority of my beloved decor had to find a new home.  I kept the ornaments and sentimental items, of course.

When I was sorting through it all and internally crying because I HATE letting go things I’ve spent time on, I remembered my coffee filter wreath.  I gently pulled the bag down from the closet (because these are rather fragile) and almost rage quit.  The bag, and the wreath inside, were ripped to shreds.  It was as if the culprit hated Christmas and everything it stood for; and maybe hated ME.

I immediately knew who the guilty parties were and neither wanted to look me in the eye.  Our two cats at the time, Olive and Mo, sat on my bed, darting glances back and forth to another.  To this day, I’m not entirely positive who actually did the deed, but knowing my cats, Mo put Olive up to it and Olive happily obliged.  Regardless, I couldn’t exactly punish them; not only would zero effs be given by them, but they honestly wouldn’t have any clue what they did.  I sighed and threw the wreath away, knowing that one day I’d have to make another.

Fast forward almost two years later…

Last year, I wasn’t feeling the holiday season at all.  I was depressed and struggling with the thought of not being with family.  This year, however, I was ready to decorate BEFORE Thanksgiving.  I held off though, for the sake of Eric.   He’s not exactly a Grinch, but if I force Christmas down his throat TOO early, he’s not a happy camper.  Best to play nice and compromise with my man. 🙂  That’s how we stay happily married.

I found the original instructions on Pinterest here: http://www.recapturedcharm.com/2011/12/coffee-filter-christmas-wreath.html

For my wreath, however, I modified it to my liking.  I used a white Styrofoam wreath, instead of green and doubled the amount of filters.  I wanted it was full as possible.  I also added lights to mine.

What you need:

1-White Styrofoam Wreath

2 packs-400 coffee filters

Hot glue gun/glue sticks

Scissors

1 1/2-2″ ribbon for hanging (I would suggest not using a wired ribbon)

100-mini lights; white wire

Masking tape

Various adornments

Cut the ribbon to your liking and attach the ends with a hot glue gun. Flatten each filter and then fold in half. Fold again and twist the end. Put a drop of hot glue on the end and attach to the wreath. Hold until cool. Continue along the wreath. You can either leave the back filter-free (as I did here, so it would lay flat against the curtain and not bulk out) or fill the wreath completely. When you’ve finished attaching the filters, lay your wreath down and trim any spots that are too long. At this point, you can add the lights.  I wanted clear lights, but multi-colored would look pretty too! Adding the lights was a bit tricky at first.   Using a bit of the masking tape, tape the female end of the light strand to the back of the wreath and wind it around the wreath, tucking the wire in to hide it.  I tried to even hide the lights themselves.  Add any adornments you wish, hang and enjoy!

Merry Christmas, friends!

My curly hair care routine

Curly hair, don’t care

Disclaimer:  I am not being paid or receiving any compensation from any entity in regards to the reviews/recommendations of the following products and/or methods.  These opinions are solely my own and do no represent the opinions or reviews of others.

From 2000-2004, I worked as a Receptionist/Shift Manager at a Supercuts in Boise, ID.  I LOVED that job!  My co-workers were the amazing (we would hang out fairly regularly outside of work and considered ourselves a little family away from our families), the customers, for the most part, were a lot of fun, the industry was a blast to work in and the best perk of the job?  Beauty products at cost with no shipping!  I paid less for professional hair care products than I would have paid if I bought drugstore products at full price.  Awesome, right?!

Due to a shift in management and a lot of changes that no longer worked for me, I chose to find work elsewhere.  This meant I had to start paying full price for professional products again.  Prior to leaving, I stocked up and was good for about six months.  After those six months, I found myself in a different lifestyle and financial change that basically halted my professional hair care product purchases.  I was a tad upset at this, but was it life altering?  No.  There are FAR worse things that can happen to a person than not being able to buy great product for their hair.

Over the course of the next decade, I continued my search for products that were almost comparable to the “good stuff”.  Unfortunately, all of these products were drugstore brands.  They were alright, but my curly hair just did not like any of it.

And then we got a Sally’s Beauty Supply in my area…

Around this time, WEN became insanely popular, what with it’s barrage of incessant infomercials.  My stepmother (whom I don’t actually think of as step, by the way.  She’s been in my life since I was very little and I love her as much as I love my biological mother) was using it at the time and swore by it.  I looked into it, but couldn’t justify spending that much on just cleanser and conditioner.  Also, I didn’t trust myself to remember when the charge was going to be taken out of my account.

At this point, I decided to do some research on the “no-poo” vs. “low-poo” methods.  Essentially, these methods boil down to the following:

  • Eliminating as much Sulfate from your hair as possible.  Sulfate is an additive in your cleansing and conditioning products to create lather.  Our hair itself doesn’t need a lather at all.  In fact, the lathering does a lot more damage to your locks than you might think.  Some of the damage caused by Sulfates are dry hair and scalp, itchy scalp and have the potential to worsen dandruff and eczema, as well as other scalp issues.  They can also be a contributing factor to hair loss as well as chemically-treated treated color loss and fading.*  Sulfates=bad!
  • Curly hair needs to BREATHE! It also needs a lot of moisture, especially at the ends.  If you use products that contain a lot of Sulfate, it can clog up the hair shaft and cuticle, which stops your hairs natural oils from traveling to the ends and slowing hair growth.
  • To help the natural oils get to the ends, try using only a boar-bristle brush, like this one.  Brush your hair daily from root to end to keep the oils moving. This is the one I purchased and I love it!
    Boar Bristle Brush

    Boar Bristle Brush

    http://www.sallybeauty.com/paddle-brush/SBS-234603,default,pd.html#q=boar+bristle+brush&prefn1=subBrand&prefv1=HTSLKY&start=3

  • “No-poo” is exactly how it sounds-NO shampooing!  You might give your hair a healthy scrub using all-natural products with baking soda and vinegar (the baking soda is the cleanser you make into a paste and only apply to your scalp, while the vinegar acts as the conditioner in which you apply to the ends and comb through with a wide tooth comb.  I have done this method and, while it DOES work, I just couldn’t continue doing it.  Now I do this about once a month) every couple of months.  In the meantime? A lukewarm scrub with water and A LOT of brushing is about all you do using the “no-poo” method.
  • With “low-poo”, you use a sulfate-free cleanser and conditioner about 2-3 times a week, along with daily brushings and limited heat.

For myself, I knew I couldn’t do “no-poo”.  The “low-poo” though; I could tackle that.  With both methods, I kept reading about the “transition”.  The change your hair and scalp will go through for about 2-3 weeks when you go from shampooing every day with sulfate-laden products to only cleansing a limited amount of times per week and using sulfate-free.  Before I get into what products I use and when, let me say this:  STICK WITH IT!  Those 2-3 weeks are HORRID!  I cannot tell you how many times I thought to myself, “You can’t do this.  Your hair is DISGUSTING!”  And it was…..it was wretched!  Oily, stuck to my scalp, limp locks; just a hot mess!  After those three weeks, however, I could tell a noticeable difference and so could other people.  The curls were a lot tighter and softer and the frizz was minimal.  Also, during the transition period, I tried to use as little heat as possible, which I think helped.  I only used a hair dryer about once or twice a week and never used a flat iron.  Air dry was the way to go.

After deciding on “low-poo”, I started looking for sulfate-free cleansers at Sally’s and found their “Hair One” line.  Reviews claimed it was almost, if not better, than WEN.  I trekked myself down to the shop and started shopping!

You’ve already seen the brush I use, but another trick in my hair arsenal is they type of comb I use.  I NEVER brush my hair wet.  That is soooooo bad for your hair and if you do that, on behalf of your beautiful tresses, I am BEGGING you to stop!  A wide tooth comb is the best way to go.  The reason for this is because it doesn’t pull on your hair and allows your natural curls to spring back to life.  It also eliminates most tangles (provided you get regular haircuts).   This is the one I use; it’s awesome and only a few bucks!

The comb

The cleanser that I use is Hair One’s Cleanser and Conditioner for Curly Hair.  This is also available for dry hair and color-treated hair.  Since I use a weekly masque and daily leave-in conditioner (those are coming up) and don’t color my hair, the curly formula is what I like.  To use this, I make sure my hair is thoroughly soaked and put five pumps of shampoo in my palm.  I apply this to the top of my scalp and scrub.  Three more pumps of cleanser in my hand and this gets scrubbed into the middle scalp and scrub.  Lastly,  four MORE pumps of cleanser are applied to the nape of my neck and again, scrub.  I use my fingers, but you can use the comb as well (this is where the hook comes in handy, because you can hang it off your shower cubby) to comb this through the rest of your hair from scalp to end.  After doing the rest of my shower routine, the very last thing I do is rinse.  I recommend allowing the cleanser to sit for at least 10-15 minutes.  I only cleanse my hair 2-3 times a week, by the way.  This gives your scalp and hair a chance to keep your natural oils, without stripping them from constant washing.  Note: It may seem like I use a lot, but I only have to buy cleanser about once a month.  This bottle goes a VERY long way.  You can also get this in a liter.

Cleanser

Cleanser

When it comes to drying my hair, (depending on how lazy I am that day), I will either, lightly squeeze my hair with my towel or wrap it in a 100% cotton t-shirt.   The t-shirt wrap is the best as it allows the cotton to soak up the excess moisture but doesn’t wreak havoc on your curls.

Although the cleanser also has conditioning properties in it, it’s just not enough.  Instead of using a rinse out conditioner, I use a leave-in.  The one I’ve found works best for me, is Noodle Head Condition Your Curls.  A quarter-size amount is plenty.DSC_2793

With the leave-in conditioner still in my hand, I add a nickle-sized amount of One n’ Only Argan Oil.  I rub both in my palms and apply the combination to my ends only.  For those who like morrocan oil but it’s out of your budget, this is a fantastic substitute!

Argan Oil

Argan Oil

If I am going to be applying heat to my hair, at this point I will spray Beyond the Zone Smooth Criminal Hair Primer.  This acts as a heat protectant and keeps my curls from completing drying out.

Heat protector

Heat protector

If I’m going to style using my natural curls, my favorite product is Beyond the Zone Noodle Head Tame Your Curls Mousse.  Some people use a gel for their curls, but I’ve found gel makes my curls crunchy and I like mine soft. This is lightweight and a little is all you need!  I can usually go two months on one bottle.

Styling mousse

Styling mousse

Now, if I decide that I want to straighten or curl my hair instead of wearing my natural curls, I skip the mousse and use a dime-size amount of Beyond the Zone Smooth Criminal Blow Out Balm.  Seriously, do NOT go overboard with this!  Between the Argan Oil and the balm, your hair will be very soft, but if you use too much, your hair will be weighed down by too much product.  Again, to save myself time, when I am putting the leave-in conditioner and the oil in my hair, I add the balm to the mixture and apply it to my hair.  Since I don’t straighten it every day, this little bottle lasts me at least six months.  Maybe longer.

Blow out balm

Blow out balm

When it comes to styling tools, I use a hair dryer with a wide diffuser for my natural curls.  I also try to not touch the hair while it’s drying as the oil from your hands can cause your hair to frizz.  I like my hair a little on the wild side, so I just let it lie where it chooses.  Let’s be honest; curly hair has a mind of its own and trying to train it too much just makes it angry.

If I straighten it, I use a very wide round, ventilated brush to create volume and smooth the cuticle even more.  Again, this is the one I use.  http://www.sallybeauty.com/round-brush-collection/JLBERE23,default,pd.html#start=11

Round, ventilated brush

Round, ventilated brush

When it comes to curling with a wand or curling iron, prior to curling, I use a very light spray of Beyond the Zone Smooth Criminal Thermo-Protect Spray.  This helps protect from the intense heat even more and also helps set the curl.  If you curl your hair using heat, don’t comb or brush out the curl immediately.  Instead, let the curl cool completely.

Thermo-Protect Spray

Thermo-Protect Spray

To set my style, I like to use a small amount of hairspray using Beyond the Zone Final Take Super Sexy Shine and Hold.  Not only does this smell AMAZING, it also has a medium hold and adds shine.

Hairspray

Hairspray

Between the naturals oils of my scalp and the Argan Oil I also use, my scalp can create some build-up.  To keep my hair growing and healthy, I use Ion Healthy Scalp Solutions Healthy Scalp Shampoo, twice a month. It is Sulfate-Free and keeps my scalp squeaky clean!  Typically,  this bottle will last me about four months.

Clarifying shampoo

Clarifying shampoo

My hair is on the drier side and needs some extra moisture added about once a week.  If it’s extra humid, then I only need to use this twice a month, but the winter months require a weekly dose.  The product that I’ve found works best for me is Hair One Hair Masque with Olive Oil for Dry Hair.  A quarter-size is perfect and again, applied to my ends first and then combed through.  This also needs to sit for some time.  I purchase this about every three months.

Hair Masque

Hair Masque

Phew! We made it!  I know that was a lot to take in, but I’ve had great success with this for about two years now and I wanted to share it with others who might be frustrated with their natural curls or are considering switching to the “low-poo” technique.  If you’re on the fence about trying the Sulfate-Free cleanser and masque, Sally’s offers the Hair One products in trial sizes, which is great before you invest a good chunk of money into products you might hate.

All of the products you see here can be purchased at participating Sally Beauty Supply. Below are the links to each product. If you are not a beauty club member, I really recommend you sign up to receive the BC savings AND the monthly coupons each month if you spend $25 or more.  Those savings add up fast!

Thank you for reading and I hope if you do try any or all of these products, you will be so kind as to leave a comment below as to what worked for you and what didn’t.  Please know all of the above is based from my own experiences and may not work for every one.  If you have any tips or suggestions of your own, please add them to the comments!  I look forward to hearing feedback from you!  As always, be sure to follow this blog, like the post and share with your friends!

Until next time….

Yours,

E/S/J

Product Links:

Comb: http://www.sallybeauty.com/shower-comb/SBS-680529,default,pd.html#q=wide+tooth+comb&start=2

Cleanser: http://www.sallybeauty.com/cleansing-conditioner/HARONE01,default,pd.html#prefn1=subBrand&prefv1=HARONE&brandLandingPage=true&start=2

Leave-In Conditioner: http://www.sallybeauty.com/Leave-in-conditioner/SBS-140736,default,pd.html#q=noodle+head&start=1

Argan Oil: http://www.sallybeauty.com/argan-oil/ONEONL16,default,pd.html#q=Argan+Oil&start=3

Hair Primer: http://www.sallybeauty.com/hair-primer/SBS-140204,default,pd.html#q=smooth+criminal&start=5

Blow out Balm: http://www.sallybeauty.com/blow-out-balm/SBS-140201,default,pd.html#q=smooth+criminal&start=6

Thermo Spray: http://www.sallybeauty.com/thermal-protection-spray/SBS-140202,default,pd.html#q=smooth+criminal&start=3

Hair Spray: http://www.sallybeauty.com/hair-spray/SBS-140017,default,pd.html#q=final+take&start=1

Clairfying Shampoo: http://www.sallybeauty.com/healthy-scalp-shampooo/SBS-302770,default,pd.html#q=healthy+scalp+shampoo&start=2

Hair Masque: http://www.sallybeauty.com/olive-oil-masque/SBS-737126,default,pd.html#prefn1=subBrand&prefv1=HARONE&brandLandingPage=true&start=8

Mousse: http://www.sallybeauty.com/Curl-Mousse/SBS-140738,default,pd.html#q=noodle+head&start=2

*Source: http://melissairene.hubpages.com/hub/Sulfates-Are-they-damaging-your-hair-Why-to-opt-for-a-sulfate-free-shampoo

The YUMMIEST Snickerdoodle treat in the history of ever

DSC_2750-2Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to bake.  I will bake anything; cookies, pie, cakes, bars, rolls, muffins; there is no baking discrimination in this house.   Well, except for cheesecake.  I don’t want to talk about it.  It haunts me still, nine years later and I have not had the sweet victory of redemption and doubt I ever will.  Yes, I am bitter and we shall move along…

😉

When it comes to what my favorite cookies are, it’s a toss up between chocolate chip and snickerdoodle.  After years of baking the tried-and-true chocolate chip recipe found on the back of all choco-chip bags, I found the best one via Pinterest (THAT recipe is for another day).  Since I had such success with that one, I decided that my mission was to find a mouthwatering snickerdoodle recipe.  And guurrrl, did I EVER!

(By the way, is that not the weirdest word?  As I type this, the grammar police of WordPress are telling me that is not a word with the obligatory red zig-zag below it.  Screw you, red zig and zag!  I will type as I see fit! You will not stifle the awesomeness that is the snickerdoodle!)

Cinnamon and sugar; can you really ever go wrong with that combination?  One of the BEST things about this recipe is you most likely have all of these ingredients just waiting for you in your kitchen.  Keep in mind, however, it does call for TWO, yes two, cups of tightly packed brown sugar.  That equals to a little more than half a bag.  Quite a bit for a batter that fills a 9″x13″ pan.

A couple of tips before baking:

  • The recipe recommends 25-30 minutes of baking time.  I did exactly 30 and they came out just a little too soft for my liking in the middle.  The next time I bake these, I will increase it about 10 minutes.  I have noticed that since moving to the south, my baking times HAVE jumped up about 5-10 minutes for almost everything.
  • I made more of the cinnamon/sugar topping than the recipe suggests, simply because I love that stuff! Bonus: If you have extra, pour the rest in a small container for cinnamon/sugar toast in the mornings!
  • This batter is THICK!  To ensure even baking and keep air bubbles from forming, pick up the pan and carefully tap the bottom on the counter a few times.  If using a glass dish, don’t drop it too hard for obvious reasons.  No treat is ever good enough for a trip to the hospital.  🙂
  • Don’t wait until they’re completely cooled before removing from the pan.  They cut very well when still warm (not FRESH out of the oven; maybe 15-20 minutes after) and are easy to remove.

So here you go, fellow bakers!  The best Snickerdoodle recipe you will ever taste!

http://www.myownsweetthyme.com/2010/04/secret-to-soft-snickerdoodles.html

Comment below if you tried these and let me know what you think!  And as always, give this post a like and follow our blog!

Yours,

E/S/J

Featured blog of the week!

With so many blogs out there, it’s pretty much impossible to look at every single one-and there are some great ones out there! I feel as a blogging community, it’s up to US to share some of our favorite blogs and writers to keep our readers interested and coming back for more.

Each week, I will post a link to a blog that I feel needs to be shared ’round the world.  It could be an up and coming new author, a foodie, a photographer, a cause, etc.  Whatever strikes my fancy at that moment.

This week, the featured blog is Simple2Something.  It is full of delicious recipes, a few DIY’s (all of which, are awesome!), the product line she sells, Rodan and a whole lot more.  The author has so many wonderful ideas, that I know thousands of people would find them useful.  Go check it out and be sure to enter your email to receive updates on her most current posts!

Click the link below:

http://simple2something.wordpress.com/

Yours,

E/S/J

Hello again and ooooohhhh something fun to do!

Okay, I give you permission to virtually slap me.  Again, with the disappearing act!  Life has been exactly what the title of this blog is called-CRAY CRAY!  Since moving to Kentucky in April, things have been, well, interesting.  Lots of up and downs and generally an emotional roller coaster.  We love living here, we are just going through some tough times right now, but I have hope.  I HAVE to have hope.  If I didn’t, I would probably go insane and I refuse to let a few bumps in the road overtake me.  No sir, no ma’am!

Going forward, I have decided to use this blog as a way to showcase what I do to keep myself busy since I’m not currently working, which leaves me to my own devices.  Scary, right?  If I haven’t already told you, I love all things crafty!  If I can make it myself, versus buying something at a store, I will do it in a heartbeat!  Pinterest and I are besties.  If you would like to follow my boards, please click on this link: http://www.pinterest.com/staciels1980/  Follow me and I will follow you back!

Since we’re speaking of DIY’s, I had a fun idea today.  J has a birthday party to go to this evening and I didn’t have any spare gift bags or cards lying around the house.  I also didn’t have time to go to a store and buy one.  Then I realized I had brown lunch sacks in the kitchen.  Her gift wasn’t big (I crocheted her a slouchy hat and fingerless glove set) and I figured I could make them fit.  I also have a Adobe Photoshop and a printer.  Why couldn’t I make my OWN personalized and unique gift bag?  Essentially, those non-descript bags are nothing more than Kraft paper; they can easily be printed on.

DSC_2740-2

Before I began creating the actual design, I had to tell Photoshop what size my printable was going to be.  Click on File—>New.  For your typical lunch bag, the width is 5 1/4″ and the length is 10 3/4″.  Also, be sure you are on “inches” and not “pixels”.  If you are using PS, make sure the dpi is set to 300 and the background is either set to white or transparent. I usually choose transparent, but that’s just a personal choice.

gb_tut1

Create new document. Image 1.

Now, to make certain the fold of the bag doesn’t cover up important design elements, create a new guide by going to view—>new guide.

gb_tut2

Creating new guide. Image 2.

A dialog box will pop up.  It’s going to ask you whether you want the guide to go horizontal or vertical; click on horizontal.  You should also see a “0”; this is asking you at what position you want the guide.  Keep it at “0” and select OK.

gb_tut3

New guide position. Image 3.

You should now see a light blue line across the top of your document.

gb_tut4

Guide at top of document. Image 4.

At this point, you will want to move this line down.  Select the move tool and click and drag the line down to 1 3/4″.  From this point on, ALL of your design elements will be BELOW this blue line.

gb_tut5

Guide moved to fold position. Image 5.

Once I was satisfied with my design, it was time to print.  Click on “File” and then “Print”.   You may notice the design is upside down.  The purpose for this was because my printer prints upside down.  I had to rotate the image 180 degrees.  Tip: To rotate image, click on Image—>Image Rotation—>180.  If needed (i.e. you need to print your document in Landscape versus Portrait orientation, you can also flip your documents 90 degrees, in both clockwise and counter clockwise directions.

gb_tut7

Image 6

NOTE:  Due to the differences amongst all printers, these next few steps may not follow.  I print on an Epson, so Epson users should be able to follow this exactly.  Canon, Lexmark, Brother, HP and other manufacturers will most likely have to use their owners manual to ensure accurate printing.  Having said that, almost all printers SHOULD have these capabilities. 

After clicking on “Print”, yet another one of those dialog boxes will appear.  Photoshop is now asking for EVEN more information!  Notice that your document size in printing is set to 11×8.5.  This is the default size and the one you will most often use.  We need to change that!  If we don’t, then your entire image will come out all wonky because PS thinks you wanted it printed on a much larger canvas than the document is designed for.  Easy fix!  Click on “Page Setup”.

gb_tut8

Prepping document to print. Image 7.

Let me guess?  Another dialog box?  Excellent! If these don’t pop up, then PS is having an attitude and you will need to restart it.  That is bad.  Dialog box-Good!  Anyways….moving right along….

Make sure you have the “Text & Image” button clicked.   Again this is personal preference, but I have “Print Preview” checked in “Print Options”, simply because, I want to see if everything is lined up correctly before I commit to printing.  Ink is expensive and I HATE wasting it!

For “Type”, this is your paper type.  I just use ‘Plain Paper”.  You’re not printing on anything special and the ink won’t bleed through, so this setting is fine.

gb_tut9

Printing Preferences. Image 8.

Now, for the “Size”.  Click on the drop-down arrow and select “User Defined”.  A box will appear (surprise, surprise) and the printer commands are now asking specifically what size you need to have printed.  Since your default printer size is 11×8.5, you should see that it says, 850 and 1100.  Change the 850 to 525 and the 1100 to 1075.  BONUS:  If you plan on making these in the future, save yourself some time and save this size.  Give the size a name (I named it Lunch Bag) and clicked on “Save”.  The next time you go to print one of these darling little bags, all you will have to do is click on the drop-down menu in the step above and you should see your named size.  (pic below.  Image 10)

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Inputting correct print size. Image 9.

gb_tut11

Image 10

At this point, everything is just about done.  One very important step to check is if your “Orientation” is set to “Portrait”.  This is crucial as the document is printing vertically instead of horizontally.  If you have “Landscape” clicked, your image will print the wrong direction.

Portrait Orientation. Image 11.

Portrait Orientation. Image 11.

After all of the above steps are done, go ahead and click “OK”.  The next box you will see should look like the image below.  Be sure that under “Position”, “Center Image” is checked and under “Scaled Print Size”, “Scale to Fit Media” is also checked.  One thing to note….You will see a bunch of mumbo jumbo under “Color Management”.  Unless you have a color calibrated monitor and specific color settings, you won’t need to mess with any of these functions.  Simply ignore them.  There’s nothing to see there.  😉 

Final print box.  Image 12.

Final print box. Image 12.

If you followed the above directions, you are set to FINALLY hit that “Print” button!

Congratulations on your first decorative, unique and personalized gift bag!  These would be great to print out for your kids in bulk for their lunches every day.  They can also be used in gifts for teachers, nurses, secret santa gifts, Valentines Day, goody bags at Birthday parties, bridal shower gifts….the possibilities are endless! Get creative and please post your beautiful designs and what you used them for in the comments below!

Yours,

E/S/J

Did we actually move? Yes, we did!!! Part 1

Oh, readers, how I’ve failed you.  In the hub-bub (yes, I said THAT) of the move, I tried my best to blog.  Pretty sure I get a big fat “F” in that department!  I completely underestimated how physically, emotionally and mentally draining moving across the country would actually be.  Every day brought us something new, some good, some bad, and try as I might, at the end of the day, I just couldn’t gather my thoughts enough to compose a sentence that made sense.  Although in hindsight, that might have made for an interesting read….

Let me start from the beginning…..

March 31st:  E and I left early to do our final food shopping for the trip and pick up the trailer.  In our planning stages, one of the first things we decided to do to save money was to buy drinks, snacks, breakfast items and sandwich fixin’s for the road.  For the record, if you plan to do something like this in your family, I highly recommend it!  We only spent money on gas and dinners.  After shopping for, what was probably our last time, at the Hermiston Safeway, we hightailed it to the U-Haul rental location.  Confirmed the reservation with the attendant, he showed us which trailer we were renting aaaaaaannnd…E and I got a tad concerned.  That’s a lie; we were freaking out!  For some reason, we had visually imagined the 5’x8′ trailer was the 6’x12′.  Um. NO!!!  One wouldn’t think the size difference would be a big deal, but, oh ma’am (or sir), it WAS!  As were hooking it up, all I could think was, “There is NO way all of our meager belongings will fit in this little space.”  Turns out, I was right.  But we will get to that later. 

The U-Haul trailer

                                    See? Tiny!

After a tumultuous drive home (E and I bickered allllll the way home about if this was going to work or not, because I felt like the trailer itself was putting too much weight on the car.  E just wanted me to shut up.  He didn’t say that, but I know darn good and well he was thinking it.  How, you ask?  Because my inner calm self was telling me the same thing; my panicked self has a tendency to override calm self), we had the final boxes to pack.  Even though we sold more than half of our belongings in the yard sale, we still had quite a few boxes to go. 

Since we were going be pulling a trailer that was eventually going to weight almost more than our car, I basically “stalked” the weather reports for the upcoming days.  “Panicked Stacie” started rearing her ugly head, yet again.  Report after report said nothing but wind, rain, snow and sleet.  FABULOUS!  Exactly the kind of traveling conditions one desires on a move such as this, but we didn’t have the luxury of delaying the move by a few days or a week; the rental agreement for the trailer was for only 7 days so, like it or not, we had to hit the road the next day.  Sleep did not come easy that night.

April 1st: Moving day!  First of all, let me just say E is a trailer-packing G.E.N.I.U.S!  I have no idea how he managed to cram as much as he did in that thing, but lo and behold, we only had to leave a few boxes and some furniture, behind.  The only thing I can attribute to his packing abilities are the hours of Tetris he played as a child.  Well, and adult, too.  I’d be lying if I said otherwise.  The man is a gamer, through and through.  The majority of our goodbyes were behind us; the only one we had left was my MIL (mother-in-law).  This goodbye was going to be the toughest for J; her grandmother raised her from birth until she was 5,  which was when I came into her life.  We laughed.  We cried.  We ripped the band-aid and left.  I will be honest;  walking out of that house made me cry.  It makes me tear up as I type this.  Was it a great house?  Not really, but lots of love was shared there.  That’s the home we made our lives into a real family. So many memories left in those walls.  We made it ours and that’s what made it wonderful. 

First stop?  Boise, Idaho!  For those of you who are unfamiliar with that drive, it starts off fine.  Nice, flat roads.  Until you get on the eastern side of Pendelton, OR.  Then you hit Cabbage Hill.  According to Wikipedia, “The Cabbage Hill grade east of Pendleton is a 6% grade, with several hairpin curves in both directions and a separation between directions of almost 2 miles” .  When we’re not towing a big a** trailer, this hill is not fun.  Even though our Ford has a V6 in it, she just does not like it.

Cabbage Hill

Cabbage Hill. One of the “tamer” curves, yet still nasty!  Photo courtesy of: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/4627205

It took us an hour going 45-55 mph in the middle lane, but we finally made it over the Blue Mountains.  That was our first test of many.  I would just like to say that, for those of you Ford haters, don’t hate on the 2006 Taurus.  She was a BEAST on this trip and has behaved amazingly after what we put her through.  J named her Barbara (not sure why) and Barbara is quite the lady.  We are much more gentle with her now.  😉

We arrived in the BOI around 5:30 p.m. After much debate, my family and I decided to have meet for dinner at Sizzler.  Goodness, I had forgotten how good that place is!  The salad bar alone is a meal in itself!  Sadly, only one brother and my sister and their families could come, since my two other brothers live quite a distance away.  One in Canada and the other in Iowa.  It was fun, lots of laughs and we enjoyed our time together.  Who knows when we will get to see them next.  I have to laugh, though;  we got to Sizzler around 6 p.m. and didn’t leave until after 9.  Those poor employees.  My family has a tendency to shut places down, simply because we have so much fun when we get together and tend to overstay our welcome.  LOL!

We said our goodbyes and headed back to my parent’s house for some much needed shut-eye.  E did all of the driving (for the entire trip, I might add.  He’s my hero!) and was beyond exhausted.  It was then that J had a bit of a meltdown.  Between having to say goodbye to her grandmother and then to my family, whom she loves and they adore her, it was just too much.  Our hearts broke at watching her sob uncontrollably.  She’s such a positive child and generally looks on the bright side of things, but that night, every doubt she had about this move, rose to the surface and she could only focus on the bad “what-if’s”.  We all tried calming her down, but nothing worked.   I couldn’t take it any longer so we gave her some Advil and a few Melatonin.  It worked and after about a half hour, she was down for the count!  Thank the Lord, because her emotions were going to make her hyperventilate!

Well, readers, I am going to pause here for now.  I will do my best to add to the story in the next few days. 

Until we meet again…

 

Yours,

E/S/J

 

 

Day 1 and done!

April 6, 2014 was our first official 24 hours in our new town. We arrived in Guston at 5 pm on the 5th but we were so busy settling in and meeting L and N for the first time, that we didn’t really get the opportunity to really let it sink in that we were here. Truth be told, we are still trying to get our belongings in order and figure out a routine that will work for us all, including L and N.

One of mine and E’s main concerns is not impeding on our friends since they were so kind to open up their home to us; especially their new home! They have only been in their new house for a few weeks and here we come, barging in. 🙂 L and N are two of the most gracious and wonderful people we have had the privilege of knowing and love them already. I am sure we will all have moments where we drive each other crazy but E, J and I will just retreat to our rooms to give them their space.

Ahhhh, Kentucky, how you have stolen my heart already! From your rolling green hills, to your southern country charm, to your extremely nice locals; I love it all! The area is so simple to navigate through and yet reminds me of a decent sized city.

Tomorrow, J starts her first day at her new school. Super exciting and busy day!

Well, I am going to make this post short and call it a night because this girl is tired! Until next time, readers…

Yours,

E/S/J

Love you too….

steves_sticker

My brother is so wonderful

I am the daughter of a mechanic, therefore, I should know how to change my oil, but I don’t.  He tried to teach me back in my “I-will-never-need-to-know-this-stuff-and-you-don’t-know-anything,-Dad” days, but I refused to listen.  I regret that.  Not just because I feel like it’s a skill every girl needs to have (and they do!), but because those are bonding moments I won’t be able to get back.  Yes, he could teach me at this age, but soon, we will be over 2,000 miles apart and logistically, that won’t work.

Anyway…..let me get to the purpose of this post.  I had a “squirrel” moment; forgive me.  🙂  Since I am not car mechanic savvy, my amazing little brother, Stephen, is my car guru.  True to his giving nature, he offered to give my car a little look-over before we embark on this LOOOOOOONG drive ahead of us in 6 days.

After changing the oil, filters and topping off every other fluid in the car, he gave it an “okay” and told me he put a sticker on the windshield for when we will need to change it again.  I didn’t think anything of it.  Until last night on my way home from work.

Halfway home, I looked up to the left and saw this.  It was like someone opened the floodgates, because I went from a duet with Beyonce’s “Partition” to full on sobbing in zero to 10.  The reality of not being able to just stop by mom’s and visit whenever I want anymore hit me like a semi.

I think that’s the going to be the hardest part of this move.  Everything else I can work with;  the distance?  That’s going to be a killer!  I am a fairly emotional person and know I will have many, many days, especially early on, where homesickness will overwhelm me and I will be lost in a sea of tears for hours.

We are still moving.  Nothing has changed.  But I am starting to get sad, because I know the “see you laters” are coming up and I am just not looking forward to those, to be honest.  All I know is, thank God for modern technology because I don’t think I could do this without Skype, emails, Facebook, texting, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

To my brother…..I love you.  Thank you for putting that little note on my window.  I’m not taking it off and whenever I feel sad, I am going to look at it to get me through.

 

Yours,

E/S/J

 

10 Days to go and feel so blessed

Image

10 Days.  Wow.  When we first decided to move, we counted how many days we had and I believe we were at 67.  Those first 57 seemed to take FOREVER to go by and then BAM! Here we are!  All I say is, “Stacie, you better be ready because the next 9 are going to fly by!”

For those who follow me on Facebook, you already know about my trepidation the week or so.  For those who don’t, well, let’s just say I’m scared s***less, for lack of a better.  I’m sure there is a better word for it, actually, but that’s what I’m using.  😉

Sleepless nights, when I can sleep I am plagued by nightmares of all sorts of traveling horrors, anxiety through the roof, cold sweats, the WORKS.   Even had a few minor panic attacks here and there.  This is all normal, right?

I posted my troubles on FB, asking for prayers for, not only a safe trip, but also for peace and calm.  Obviously, I know our family and friends love us, but I was wholly unprepared for the amount of love they showed and the prayers we received!  We are truly so fortunate to have so many amazing people in our lives.  I just don’t have the words to thank them enough.

After talking to my Dad and Mom in Boise and Mom praying with me over the phone, in addition to the FB love, my anxiety is at a minimum now.  And you know what?  That’s great ‘cuz ain’t nobody got time for dat!

 

1st box down. Many, many more to go

Obviously, this is where my packing priorities lie

Started the dreaded packing this weekend.  It was, however, short lived as I ran out of newspaper about ten minutes in.  Wah, wah….

As I start looking around the house, I realize just how much STUFF we have.  It’s overwhelming.  I am not a pack rat in any way, but it sure doesn’t take long for a family of three on a budget to accumulate a lot of crap.  I suppose the good thing about moving across the country is the opportunity to get rid of things you have no intention of using in the near future.

So here’s my plan:

One room at a time, two times a week.  Trash can at the ready.  Quick decisions about what to keep, toss, donate and sell.  No longer than 30 seconds on each item.  Boxes prepped, newspaper (yes, I will be ready next time!) and tape nearby.  Ideally, I would like to be 90% done three days before we leave.  Live minimally the last 72 hours.  Oh!  And the best part about THIS move?! I won’t have to clean it before we leave! HALLELU!  Should I? Maybe, but I don’t think my in-laws will care too much. At least, I hope not.  Hehehe..

Til next time readers…

Yours,

E/S/J