Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Highlights (and Lowlights) of 2013

So, if any of you have been following me for a while, you'll know that this has been a crazy year for our family.. I've experienced joy and extreme sadness. I've developed a closer relationship with my son. I've also developed a greater appreciation for my relationship with God. I've received support from multiple friends and family members, realizing who has truly been there for me during hard times. I've learned how to give and receive the power of forgiveness. But anyways, that is all wayyy too serious for me. Let's focus on highlights from my blog!

--I celebrated my year-long success of fitness and weight loss.
--I took FOUR airplane rides alone with a toddler to Sacramento, San Diego, and Salt Lake.
--My life was turned upside down by some very heartbreaking revelations from my husband.
--I tried an awesome internet service called Stitch Fix for the first, second, and third time.
--I picked up new hobbies: makeup and nails.
--We celebrated Carter's 3rd birthday.
--I had an unforgettable experience on a beach.
--We made the Christmas season magical.
--I ended a 7+ year streak of no vomiting.
--Graham learned an important lesson about attraction.
--My husband returned home after being separated for almost 8 months.
--AND, I got hit on by a male co-worker.

Anyways, hope you all had a great year. I pray that 2014 cannot be any worse than 2013.. It can only get better from here, right?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Advent Calendar Ideas for Toddlers

Growing up, my parents would buy one of those cheap advent calendars that had a piece of chocolate in each day.. which I loved, but there were five kids in our family, and only ONE chocolate per day. 5 kids.. 1 chocolate--> family fights over a tiny piece of crappy chocolate. I did like opening the tiny little doors every day, though.
                                                                   

So, I decided to do an activity-based permanent advent calendar for Carter this year. I thought that Carter is old enough to understand and enjoy the Christmas-related activities. I researched calendars from Pottery Barn Kids (I thought about making one myself, but let's face it.. I'm not crafty), and my mom ended up surprising us with a personalized one with our last name on it (I blacked the part out).


I looked up some activity ideas on various blogs via Pinterest, and I picked the most applicable ones for our family and Carter's age. If you've been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you likely have noticed I've been posting lots of pictures of our activities. I made sure to include Christ-related activities, such as telling the Nativity story, reading passages from Luke 2 telling the story of Christ's birth, or providing service to others. Some days in the calendar only held a small piece of candy (I used Dove's dark chocolate peppermint bark, which is fantastic), and some days had an activity and a piece of chocolate. Here are a list of our activities:

1) Read Luke 2:1-21 (we read this, and also did the story using an LDS felt story board)
2) Read Christmas books by the Christmas tree
3) Watch the Polar Express movie
4) Ride the Polar Express train
5) Make paper snowflakes
6) Make salt dough ornaments
7) Paint the ornaments
8) Make popcorn balls
9) Make reindeer food
10) Make chocolate dipped Oreo treats (I used candy cane Oreos with candy cane/peppermint candy melts--this didn't melt very smoothly and was pretty thick, so I was definitely use almond bark next time).
11) Go caroling and give Oreo cookie treats (we visited some single or widowed elderly ladies that we knew from church)
12) Go drive and see Christmas lights
13) Open 1 present early (this will be a Christmas story or Christmas pajamas)
14) See the movie Frozen in the theater
15) Make cookies for Santa
16) Read The Night Before Christmas
17) Play "guess the toy in the stocking"
18) Eat a picnic breakfast by the Christmas tree
19) Watch "Mr. Krueger's Christmas"
20) Fly to California (obviously this is specific to our Christmas vacation)
21) Decorate the Christmas tree
22) Make a gingerbread house
23) Call/Skype the grandparents and sing "Jingle Bells" with bells (they LOVED this)
24) Drink hot chocolate after dinner

Doing this calendar has absolutely made this time of the year magical for me (and Carter). I've loved doing these little projects and seeing Carter's face light up with all of the possibilities. Carter has LOVED doing this, and has asked to do the "Chwistmas cawenduh" every morning! I will definitely be doing this every year from now on, although I'll probably be changing some of the activities as Carter gets older.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Everyday Girl's Guide with YouTube Tutorials of Urban Decay's Naked 3 Palette

So, I'm doing something slightly different today. I'm giving a review for the new Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette. If you're not a makeup junkie like me, you may not be familiar with the big fuss over this palette. They've previously released two hugely popular palettes, which I've purchased over the past year, and this one recently came out in November. The 1st palette was bronze neutral shades, the 2nd was taupe cool-toned neutral shades, and the 3rd features rose-gold neutral shades. I know, I know.. like I need another eyeshadow, but these looked amazing. They said these shades would like good on a fair-skinned, blue-eyed gal like myself, so I went ahead and bought it for myself for my birthday. Sure, the price may seem high, but for 12 higher-end eyeshadows, the cost for each one ends up being $4.33 per eyeshadow, which is a great price for great quality (and long lasting--I've had the original Naked palette for almost a year, and I haven't even come close to using up to half of any shadow).

Disclaimer: I am no makeup expert. I do love everything related to beauty, especially makeup. I own several brands of makeup (MAC, Stila, Nars, Urban Decay, Tarte, Fresh, Bare Minerals, Benefit, Smashbox, etc), and I tend to buy more than I actually use. I am also not a creative person, so I rely on the creativity and expertise of others to help me out. So, that's why this is a guide for the everyday makeup girl like me.

This is what the palette looks like:

(I decided to use a stock photo from Sephora because my own swatches and photos turned out badly.)
                                              naked_3.jpg       

Some of my favorite shades include:

Liar:
Beautiful mauve-gold. Blends great and looks multi-dimensional.

Darkside:
This is a great rose-y taupe color. It blends amazingly and can help make a dramatic or more everyday look.

Blackheart:
This is a dramatic black matte with red sparkle. It helps make a gorgeous smokey eye. However, you must use this with a very light hand as the pigmentation is deep and the color will be placed where you put your brush. So, be careful when you use this and be ready to blend, blend, blend!

Some of my least favorite shades include:

Burnout
This one was a major disappointment for me. It's a great rose-champagne shimmery color. It looks beautiful in the pan and when swatched on my skin. However, the color payoff on my eyelid was not so great. I had to really pack it on to even get close to showing up. Also, it ended up looking a little orange-y on my lid. I've been trying a million different looks with this palette (everyone else on YouTube seems to love this shadow!), and I've been getting really frustrated when I have to use this shadow.. that's how much I dislike this shadow.

Buzz:
This is another great pink-rose color with glitter. However, it's not all it seems. Not only is there fallout from the glitter, but the color payoff isn't great on the eyelid. Check out my tips below for better application and color.

Dust:
A beautiful, light pink that is packed with chunky glitter. I don't mind glitter on my eyelids if it stays there. Chunky glitter on my face? Don't like that at all.

Pros to the Naked 3 palette: 

You can easily make a beautiful and soft work-appropriate look with these shades. The looks you can make can be very feminine and pretty. In my opinion, the Naked 2 palette smokey-eye looks can sometimes end up being a little aggressive or harsh. The shadows blend well and you can easily build up the color and intensity. They have included a couple of matte shadows (nooner and limit) that really help build dimension and depth of your eyes. The colors can also be appropriate for cool or warm skin. I've seen it described as both, depending on which shadows you use.

Cons to the Naked 3 palette:

Some of the colors I listed above didn't show up well on my lid. Also, depending on what colors you use and how you blend them, the eyelid can end up looking muddy without much defined color. The rose golds may also not look great on certain skin tones.

Some tips/tools I've been using to maximize the palette:

For Dust, the most glittery eyeshadow, I use Sephora's 12-hr waterproof jumbo liner in White as a base. When I apply Dust under my brow or in the inner corner, I apply some as a base, and it really picks up and emphasizes the light pink color and helps the glitter stick to my lid and inner corner.
                                                     SEPHORA COLLECTION - Jumbo Liner 12HR Wear Waterproof

Urban Decay's glittery eyeshadows often have a lot of fallout on my cheeks (I'm calling you out Sidecar, Toasted and Chopper in the Naked palettes, with Buzz and Dust from Naked 3), so I invested in a glitter eyeshadow primer from Too Faced to help them stick to my lids. I usually brush on my crease color, then apply this lightly to my lid if I'm using a glittery eyeshadow to the lid.

                                                    Too Faced - Shadow Insurance Glitter Glue Glitter Bonding Eye Shadow Primer

I've also been trying out applying eyeshadows wet on the lid, using MAC's Fix+. I get a little eyeshadow on a flat brush, spray Fix on my hand, then I dab the brush on the liquid. Then, I apply it to my lid. I find that this helps increase the color payout with lighter colors, especially with the shade Buzz.
                                                         Fix +

The eyeliners that I am partial to with these looks include:

Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero
Bare Mineral's Round the Clock Waterproof Eyeliner in Midnight and 8 PM
MAC's Eye Pencil in Coffee
Stila's Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Black
*You can also easily use Blackheart eyeshadow as liner.
*Urban Decay also offers a double ended liner made specifically for each Naked palette in Darkside and Blackheart, but I haven't tried it.

Tutorials:

So, I've been searching out tutorials in blogs and YouTube videos, and writing down the shadows they use, where and how they apply the shadows, and their methods. I've decided to put them all in one place for easy access. Plus, there's a million of them available, and some of the tutorials online don't produce very good looks (trust me--I've tried a good number). I've also separated them by daytime and night-time looks. Just an FYI, I sometimes wear more dramatic looks for work that some people may not be comfortable wearing in the day. I am not one for the "no makeup look". I figure, why the heck am I putting on eyeshadow to make it look like I'm not wearing anything? I've also personally tested all of these looks and liked them enough to share. I've weeded through these as well, and didn't post the tutorials that had nearly identical looks. I will continue adding more of the links to tutorials as I keep finding and testing out more looks!

These are my favorite daytime look tutorials using the Naked 3 palette:

Soft and Smokey by MakeupByTiffanyD
Daytime Smokey Eye by Megan McTaggart (this may be more dramatic for some of you)
Easy Eye by Urban Decay
Bright and Smoked Eyes by Sona Gasparian
Soft Rose Day Look by xsparkage
Bright Look by sarahsloveaffair (this is one my favorites--really pretty and brightens your eyes!)
Simple, Coppery Eye by metaldiamondsfur (this is for those days when you don't have a lot of time to blend)
Day-to-Night Look by pursebuzz
Soft, Shimmery Look by GlammyMommy89
Everyday Smokey Rose Look by Buttaripple
Winter Spice Look by FromInsideMyCloset
Matte Eyes by Megan McTaggart
Soft and Flirty by ShadesofKassie
Romantic Rose Gold Eyes by hubombshell254
Daytime Romance by HeatherReallyHearts

These are my favorite night-time dramatic look tutorials using the Naked 3 palette:

Blackheart Look by Phyrra
Dark, Smokey Eye by Keiko Lynn
Winged Rose-Gold Eye by GlamJackie (you obviously wouldn't have to wing it out as much)
Black and Taupe Smokey Eye by CoffeeBreakwithDani
Dramatic, Holiday Look by Megan McTaggart
Rose-bronze Smokey Eye by Amber Cherie
Soft and Smokey Eye by Tarababyz
Valentine's Day Eye by macshadowcombos (my new favorite--it's even appropriate for day)


I plan on typing up a step-by-step list of every single look using these tutorials, like I previously did with the 1st and 2nd palettes, but I'm trying every single one of the looks that I've recorded, so it may take me a couple of weeks until I've tried all of the looks. Plus, there are new tutorials posted daily on YouTube using this palette, so I'll be struggling to keep up. I've even been putting on eyeshadow before bed so I can try out all of the looks. I did such a terrible one last night that I removed it immediately after. Let's just say that glittery shades are not meant to be blended people. And, don't trust every makeup "guru" on YouTube. That's why I've put together this guide for people like you (and me) who aren't possibly creative enough to think of a million different ways to wear eyeshadow, but want to try new and fun looks that have been tried and tested by a non-professional (i.e. me).

**UPDATE**

I now have Word files available with 24 different looks using each of the three Naked palettes. Please leave a comment below with your e-mail or e-mail me at shewi128 (at) hotmail (dot) com for a copy of any of the three.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Time to turn the page..

So, this single mom, married but separated, chapter of my life is over.

Graham is moving back tomorrow.

He is enrolled back in school up here. He is looking for full and/or part-time work in the evenings or nights. Carter will only be going to daycare part-time (about 2.5 hours per day for preschool) and will be staying with Graham for the rest of the time. This will help us save money, especially if Graham is able to work in the evenings.

I am excited to move on to the next stage of my life. I am apprehensive and a little scared, but prepared for the worst (and the best).

I have learned so much about myself in the past 7.5 months. Apparently, I am much stronger than I know (and many people have told me or my family how strong they've always known me to be). I also have learned to be more patient and more selfless. When you have no other parent to cover for you, everything becomes about your child(ren).. I mean, assuming you're a good parent. I learned to quiet my own frustration and anger within myself, especially when Carter gets upset. I've learned how to have faith in a higher power (more so than I've ever had). I've learned how to pray with sincerity. I've learned to care less about what people think (this is a hard one to learn). I've learned that forgiveness is the greatest gift we have been given: from God for our own sins, a gift we give to others for offenses they've have committed against us, and to ourselves when we learn to let things so. And, I've learned that life often doesn't go the way you want it to. Life throws you curveballs sometimes, and you just have to learn how to deal with that.

Anyways, we are moving on.. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cook's Country Flavored Popcorn

So, I've taken some time off blogging, and now I'm randomly coming back with a popcorn recipe.. Yep, that is my life. I have hardly logged on to the computer at home over the past month, so that is my excuse. I even had a whole week to myself last week, where Carter was with Graham and his family in Portland.. and I still didn't even blog. I was feeling pretty lazy, I guess.

Anyways, I receive the Cook's Country magazines at home, because they have the recipes produced by America's Test Kitchen that I'd be most likely to use. In October, I received the issue that had the recipes and techniques for perfect stove-top popcorn. I stopped making microwaved popcorn a while ago, because I kept thinking about the chemicals in the bags. The old method I was using was kind of annoying, where I had to shake a large Dutch Oven over a burner until the popcorn was popped. This didn't guarantee that all of the kernels were popped, and some of them did burn at the bottom of the pan. So, I'd been looking for a better method to cook fresh popcorn with better results. This recipe performed amazingly, and the taste of the cinnamon one was enough to make us fight for popcorn out of the bowl. I just had to post the recipe because I'd feel ungrateful if I didn't.

Buttered Popcorn 

(Otherwise known as perfect stovetop popcorn)

Makes 14 cups

3 TB vegetable oil
½ cup popcorn kernels
2 TB unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp salt

1.       Heat oil and 3 kernels in large saucepan over medium-high heat until kernels pop. Remove pan from heat, add remaining kernels, cover, and let sit for 30 seconds.
2.      Return pan to medium-high heat. Continue to cook with lid slightly ajar until popping slows to about 2 seconds between pops. Transfer popcorn to large bowl. Add melted butter and toss to coat popcorn. Add salt and toss to combine. Serve.

Buttermilk Ranch Popcorn

Add 1 TB buttermilk powder, 1 TB chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tsp dried dill,1/4 tsp garlic powder, and ¼ tsp onion powder to salt.

Cinnamon-Malt Popcorn

Add 2 TB malted milk powder, 2 TB packed brown sugar, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon to salt.

Parmesan-Pepper Popcorn


Add ½ cup grated Parmesan and 2 tsp pepper to salt.

So far, our favorite was the cinnamon popcorn. Don't worry if you don't have the malted milk powder. We still ate it like candy.

Here's the pictures:

 Here are the 3 kernels starting out in the oil.

Here's the perfectly cooked popcorn.


Evidence that no kernels were left unpopped or burned.

                                                 
 The buttermilk ranch popcorn pre-chowdown. I used buttermilk powder and a dried ranch seasoning mix I made myself.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Obsessions

So, these are my latest obsessions (I mean, in case you were just dying to know)

1) The Kindle app on my phone. Holy cow, this is dangerous. At first, I didn't think I'd like reading a book on an electronic device, but it makes it quite handy and easy to read late at night in my bed.

2) Related to #1: Books. I've forgotten how amazing it is to read. I've always been a big reader. I love psychological thrillers, murder mysteries, horror stories, sometimes sci-fi, but no sappy crap. Blech. There's nothing worse than a love story. I don't mind them as movies (one of my favorite movies is "He's Just Not That Into You"), but not as books. They don't keep my attention. I also hate fantasy books. In sixth grade, my teacher was concerned I wasn't reading enough age-appropriate stories for my age (Whatever! I was reading Michael Crichton in 4th and 5th grade. I was also reading horror stories, too, but she didn't have to know that.), and recommended several fantasy stories for me to read. My mom picked some up for me, and the recommended story about mice as pirates or something held my attention for all of 10 pages. It was the same thing with "The Hobbit", which was on my Honors' English summer reading list in 10th grade. I did get introduced to "Ender's Game" on the same reading list, however, so it wasn't all for naught. Anyways, since I got the Kindle app, I've downloaded and read four books; three books in a week's time. My two favorites have been "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn (which I have read twice now) and "Doctor Sleep" by Stephen King (the sequel to "The Shining"). I loved both of these so much.. I would probably read Doctor Sleep again, too.

3) Birchbox. This is a mailed, potential monthly subscription box that provides 3-5 beauty products per month, depending on your own preferences and beauty concerns (skin, hair, nails, etc). You can sign up for one month at a time, or a yearly subscription. It was so fun getting one box with five products in them that they had chosen for me. I received spray hair detangler/conditioner, lip balm, microdermabrasion exfoliator, makeup foundation, and a lip/cheek stain. If you sign up, it's about $8-12/month.

This Month's Box

4) Fresh soap. Have any of you been in or seen a Lush store at the mall? I always wondered what the heck was in this store, as it looked kind of like a comic book place, or a kids' store. I heard about this soap called Demons in the Dark, and it blew me away. It's a fresh-smelling, minty soap that I've fallen in love with. Be ye forewarned: they will heavily try to upsell their products. They gave me a hand treatment, including a cleanser, exfoliant, and lotion, which were amazing, but super expensive. They're handmade, cruelty-free products, but I can't afford to spend $40/month on body products. I walked away with the soap and felt lucky.

5) Leapfrog learning videos. Carter received this one for his birthday, and has watched it nearly every day since. It's his obsession (obviously not mine), but it has taught him the sounds that the letters make. It's awesome.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stitch Fix Review #3

So, I decided to try Stitch Fix another time, especially due to my last success with my 2nd Fix. I did have some special requests, though, which included the following:

1) A light jacket, similar to this one:
neutrals & plum

2) Colored skinny jeans (a fall-appropriate color would be nice, like the one above).

3) A non-gold, brightly colored statement necklace, perhaps similar to this (I know this doesn't have a lot of color):
#black and #statement #necklace

However, this is what I got:

They now printed out all of the clothing items and the outfit ideas on one page, with the option of pulling them apart. I just wish they no longer annoyingly pinned these cards inside the clothes.

First: 19 Cooper Landon Front Pleat Short Sleeve Blouse


First of all, I love pleats, and I love the bright blue color. However, it was too short, a little too tight in the arms, and hung out straight from my boobs, making me look pregnant. If you can't tell by my face, I really didn't like it. Verdict: PASS

Second: Kensie Susanna Metallic Dot Crew Neck Sweater

If you look at my Pinterest clothing board, you'd notice that I have an unhealthy obsession with polka dots. However, this sweater didn't do it for me at all. The polka dots were slightly metallic, but were otherwise not noticeable. The sweater was also a little short. The sweater material was thin, scratchy, and cheap-feeling. It was also over $70. Verdict: PASS

Thirds: 41Hawthorn Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan

So, I know Stitch Fix couldn't possibly know this, but I hate open cardigans. They are not flattering on me and I just don't like the concept. Also, it was extremely long (like past my butt), which is extremely rare for me. However, I did like the color. Verdict: PASS

Fourth: 41Hawthorn Ivy Tab Sleeve V-Neck Blouse
Love, love LOVE this green color. It's more of an emerald green than it appears in this photo. It wasn't too loose, OR too tight in the shoulders/chest. Verdict: KEEP

Fifth: Peppermint Isabella Pleated Skirt

 Ok, so I hate these photos. Especially since you can see what a waist I DON'T have.. Anyways, pleats in the crotchal region = yuck. I have a couple of skirts that have a few pleats, but mostly at the bottom of the skirt, like this one:



Anyways, I really hated the skirt. Not flattering, a little too short, and the cheap, shiny, stretchy black polyester fabric definitely looked like something a referree would wear.. a sexy female referree, maybe.

I have to say, I was quite disappointed. I asked for three things, and I got NONE of them. I even had the same stylist as I did last time! However, they did provide me with some pretty colored tops, especially compared to the mostly black items I received last time. I don't completely fault them for not knowing that I hate open cardigans, but I am pissed off that they couldn't include one single item that I requested. I did have a $25 referral credit (ahem, feel free to use me as a referral), so that made my purchase cheaper and made me happier.

Anyways, I'm taking a break from the Fix for a while. I don't have the money to keep up regular boxes, especially with Christmas coming up. Maybe I'll try another box when spring arrives.

Here are my other Stitch Fix Reviews:

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Stitch Fix Teaser

So, I don't have time this weekend to post about Stitch Fix #3, but I just wanted to let you know that I received my 3rd Fix, and I was very disappointed. I've taken pictures and will post those later.

Just to give you a teaser quote, though, I received a piece of clothing that might work as a Halloween costume for a sexy female referee.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Six Months of Separation

So, it's been six months since my life has been turned upside down. Where are we now?

Well, Graham is still down in Portland. Now, he's living on and off with his grandparents to save on gas. He is attending Portland State, re-taking some of the classes he failed. He is working a couple of jobs, including janitorial work and working with Engineering for Kids. He is doing fairly well, but misses us terribly.

Carter is doing ok. He misses his dad a lot. He cries for daddy whenever I say no to what he wants. I have to say, "Sorry, Carter, I know you want an apple at 2:30 AM, but your daddy still wouldn't give you one even if mommy says no." (This for real happened two nights ago.) He also is going through a stage where he likes me to "hold him like a baby", and he'll even say "mama" like a baby.. It makes me a little sad, because I think this is one of the ways he is dealing with the separation.

I am doing ok. I've come to terms with what has happened, and what can happen. There is still fear, still a lack of trust, but I have hope. I have hope that people can change. I have hope that things will be ok in the end (wherever that may be). I have hope that we can build a better, more trusting relationship that is completely open about who we are and what we are. It is not going to be easy. It never will be. We are humans with many flaws and imperfections. With our faith in Jesus Christ, and some hard work, I think we can make it. And, if we don't.. at least we tried.

So, if things work out, Graham may move back home in January. There will be ground rules set: a job, a set school schedule, responsibilities at home, verification of activities, etc. Things have to fall back into place for this to work out (a job being the foremost responsibility), but this is our tentative plan. There are fall-back plans, so we'll see how things work out.

I know some people think I'm crazy. I know, it definitely feels that way at times. I can't believe that I've landed at this conclusion, especially when I look back at where I've come from.  When this first happened, I remember my mom telling me to pray, lots of praying. I distinctly remember saying, "But I don't want to pray about this, because I'm afraid of what the answer may be [i.e. forgiving Graham and trying to make it work]". But yes, I've prayed thousands of times of what I should do, and it has all ended the same way. I know that this is what God wants me to do, even though I have doubted it and even wanted to rebel against it.

However, in a marriage, don't we all take the good with the bad? We all put up with some sort of crap from our spouses.. it's just how much and what you're willing to deal with. Some women couldn't deal with what I've been dealt, and likewise I couldn't deal with what some other women deal with from their spouses.

Anyways, I'd appreciate your support in this matter, especially if I know you personally. I know what the risks are. Trust me. I've lived this. I've had nightmares. But, I don't need to hear you voicing those fears. This is my life, my decision, my marriage, and my family. Whatever happens, that remains to be seen. Either way, I'm seeing it out until the end.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Carter's 3rd Birthday

So, we celebrated Carter's 3rd birthday in a chill birthday party on Sunday. It was just us, Graham's family, and my sister. No games, no activities, just opening presents, eating cake, and watching Carter and his cousin play with all of Carter's new toys. Funny thing was.. I planned on making him a construction cake, but nothing else with a construction theme.. and pretty much all of the toys he received were construction-themed (a jackhammer, chainsaw, moving construction toys, etc.). Here are some pictures:

I used the red velvet layer cake recipe from America's Test Kitchen. Here's the recipe:



I used the no-bake Oreo Cheesecake filling and ganache from here (the recipes are made to fill and cover a 9 by 13 sheet cake, so there was lots of extra left over). It ended up working out really well doing this type of cake as it cracked when I was transferring it out of the pan to let it cool. So, I cut the other cake to match, crumbled the leftovers, and put them in the little truck. Carter absolutely loved it and kept asking to see his cake all afternoon.





Carter ate his whole piece! There was nothing left of the cake. Super rich, but totally delicious.

Anyways, that's it for now. We are off to Utah tomorrow for a 4-day vacation to visit family. I'm not super excited to fly with Carter by myself, but I'm excited to have a few well-deserved days off.

Oh, and here's my guy on his actual birthday morning with special birthday waffles.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Choices, choices..

So, I am off work for Columbus Day today. My daycare is closed, so I had to take the day off work to be home with Little Dude. Anyways, I'm exhausted, and I was deciding on if I should take a nap right now or not, and I thought about my poor little blog that's been neglected. My blog won out, for a short period of time, at least.

So yeah, Carter was sick this weekend. I mean like SICK sick. Like, throwing up every hour from 2:30 AM to 7:30 PM from early Sunday morning to Sunday evening. Like, couldn't even keep down water or Pedialyte. It was AWFUL. Luckily, Graham was here to help. Carter was such a trooper, though.. The last time he puked, he was fine and was even picking up his toys less than 5 minutes later. When I throw up once (not 3-5 times every hour), I am out for the count. Carter was just awesome, and you wouldn't be able to tell he was sick (unless you saw the picture on Facebook where he fell asleep on Graham's lap--he never does that). Graham brought his Engineering for Kids Legos stuff from work, which have motion sensors and propellers, which make things move. I posted a video on Instagram with a drumming Lego monkey. Carter seriously was entertained for two-and-a-half hours, which is unheard of for our very active child!

Other updates in my life. Things are going well for me at work. I am giving a nutrition support lecture at the hospital next Monday (the day before Carter's birthday, yikes). I also was chosen as to become a super-user for our new electronic medical record system that's coming next summer. I get to attend training for two days next month. I am a little stressed out right now because I am working Saturday, Carter's birthday party with family is on Sunday, my lecture is on Monday, Carter's birthday is on Tuesday, and we are flying out to Utah on Thursday. And then, it's Halloween and it's all downhill until Christmas from there. I'm still bummed that I have to work Thanksgiving this year (my first one alone), but I'm sure I can get an invite from someone here. Also, I am already planning out Christmas activities for me and Carter. He's finally starting to understand Christmas and family traditions, so I'm trying to think of fun things to do that he can remember. We are riding the Polar Express Train when we visit Sacramento, so he's starting to get excited for that.

I am loving this fall weather right now--it is a beautiful, clear, chilly day in the Northwest, and it's just perfect today.

Next time I blog, it'll probably be about Carter's birthday. This is what I'm thinking of doing for his 3rd birthday:

Super cute!! Chocolate Oreo Construction Cake - from @Barbara Acosta Acosta Schieving {Barbara Bakes}
Oreo Construction Cake



Funfetti Waffles

I'll probably be posting more pictures and videos on Facebook or Instagram (user Shewi128) before I blog, so check me out there.

Anyways, about that nap...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stitch Fix Review #2

So everyone, I decided to do Stitch Fix again.. I wanted to give it another try to see if they could open more horizon a little bit. Pretty much, I only buy clothes from Banana Republic, LOFT, and Nordstrom (if they're lucky), so I've been in a rut. Also, someone used my referral ID from my blog (THANK YOU whoever you are!), so I had $25 in clothes credit to use.

Anyways, I linked my Pinterest clothing board to my style profile, and they took my requests to heart. They totally rocked my Fix! So, here's my review of my 2nd Fix. And, just so you all know what life is really like for me, after I tried on all my pretty clothes, took a million pictures, and started blogging, do you know what I look like? I am eating Sloppy Joes with my fingers at my computer desk, wearing old Wal-Mart green pajama capris with my BYU sweatshirt, trying to type while Carter watches Cars downstairs (don't judge--the kid loves the line "turn your lights on, your moron!" Oh, and at least we've weaned him off Talladega Nights), AND my pajama pants are now stained by Sloppy Joes. Classy.
Warning: a majority of these pictures are selfies taken with my iPhone in my bathroom. Honestly, they're better than my freaking webcam, which is terrible. Until Carter grows up and learns how to use my Canon Rebel, this is all I can get. And, can I just say how easy iCloud makes transferring photos from my phone onto my blog/computer? Amazing.

Here are my box contents. 1 skirt, 2 blouses, 1 blazer, and 1 silver statement necklace. Not too much color, but I can easily add color (aka, my cardigan collection).

Outfit #1: 41Hawthorn Rectangle Cluster Statement Necklace, as well as the Lasome Jay Houndstooth Printed Skirt (green sweater and blue button-up blouse by Banana Republic)


Verdict: LOVE love love this necklace! Totally me! Skirt--loved it too! It had an elastic waistband, and it wasn't a pencil skirt, but it still worked for me. It didn't give me muffin top at all, which is surprising. Anyways, I'm pretty sure I can easily use both of these pieces in my work and casual wardrobe.

Outfits #2 and 3: Collective Concepts Rilo Arrow Print Shoulder Stud Blouse (ankle pants from Banana Republic and pencil skirt from LOFT)

 I was really trying to show the arrow studs on the shoulder in this one..
I don't have a full-length mirror in the house, so I found Carter's counter stool to make me a little taller and show off my legs outfit.

Verdict: It was a little tight in the arms and chest, but I had to keep it, especially when I saw it with my pencil skirt.

Outfits #4 and 5: Renee C Rossi Polka Dot Print Neck-Tie Blouse (with pants from Banana Republic and skirt from Ann Taylor)

 Showing a back view. Um, these pants are a little tight.. yikes. Why, yes, I do wear bright pink pants to work! I figured after all the crap that happened this summer, I may as well wear happy clothes even if I'm not happy.

I was actually looking for a cream and black shirt to go with this emerald/turquoise pencil skirt, and this top definitely came in handy. It's like they read my mind!

Verdict: Keeper, although, again, it's a little tight in chest/shoulders. However, I do not care. A cream shirt with polka dots and a neck tie? Hellz yes. Ok, so maybe that statement isn't really me, but the shirt is.

Outfit #6: 41Hawthorn Toshi Contrast Detail Blazer
 I wish these pictures could fully illustrate my discomfort! I'm only smiling because I'm laughing.
Where's Chris Farley when you need him? "Fat guy in a little coat..." Also, in this last picture, that is not an eyebrow piercing, but actually dirt on my mirror. I included it for humor's sake.

Verdict: Pass, although I wish I could keep it. Blazers are good in theory, but for a girl like me with broad shoulders, bigger arms, and a full ribcage and chest, they don't often work.

In summary, this was an awesome Stitch Fix. My wallet will have to take a break for a while, but I will be back! Oh, and don't forget, if you want to try Stitch Fix, use my referral link.

Here are my other Stitch Fix Reviews:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Another fitness update

If you can read the time stamp on this blog update, you'll see that I am up wayyy too late on a weeknight. But, Carter is at his grandparents' house, I don't have work tomorrow, and I drank 2 cans of Diet Pepsi after 9 PM. That was a bad choice...

Anyways, as I have made clear in previous blogs, I've been working out steadily for about 18 months now. The only barrier was the viral death barfing experience I had last month, which sidelined me for about 5 days. My weight loss has maintained around 21-24 pounds, and I haven't noticed any major changes in getting smaller. However, my muscles have definitely gotten tighter, especially in my shoulders and chest.

Since I've been working out in public, I've had to invest in more workout clothes. My old cheerleading short shorts weren't appropriate (major crotch shot), so I found Gap's athletic clothing line, Athleta, which is amazing. I also found out the hard way that bangs are not workout-friendly, so I found this awesome headband line called "Sweaty Bands", which have changed my life. I now call them magic bands because they magically stay on my head throughout my whole workout, which hasn't been possible with any other headband until now.

So, here are some updated pictures of me:

I wish I was thinner, but I am way better off now than I was even last summer. Ugh, broad shoulders...


And me with a better close-up of the headband:
I think I need more of these headbands.

Choosing Design Features for our Lexar Home

Remember my list of wants/needs for our dream home with Lexar Homes? Well, after that was taken care of, there were a couple of design fe...