Friday, November 30, 2007

Charitable Shopping

Yesterday I finished my shopping for our "adoptive" family. Every year for the past 4 years, we adopt a family in our town who has fallen on hard times. They sometimes are single moms, or families out of work, etc. The program is through the town's Community Services Council. Everyone in the family gets to make a wishlist and I buy all the things on their list (and extra stuff too).

This is the shopping I enjoy the most. More than for myself! I think about what it is like for them and get them things that they need but I love to get things that are just for fun too. Every year we have received a thank you card and it brings tears to my eyes. It is all anonymous, so they send the card to the CSC who forwards it to us.

Sometimes the list they make is so modest, this year for a little boy (age 6) he asked for a winter coat, gloves, new shoes, etc. Of course I bought a bunch of toys for him as well! The mom asked for a toaster, a suit for interviews, and several other kitchen items. I got her a suit at Ann Taylor. (They give sizes on the list)But I also got her a gift card at two clothing stores here in town. I also got a gift card for a day spa, I hope she enjoys that! The father (bless his heart) put on his list "nothing for me, just for my wife and kids" That just made me sob! I had a hard time getting things for him, I have a hard enough time buying for Mr.F! I bought some clothes, gift cards to Borders, Bobs, Kmart, grocery store, and the gas station but I wanted to get something fun too. Mr.F suggested an Ipod but what if they don't have a computer? I called CSC to see if they knew anything more about him so I could get something else and they said that he likes to fish. So I treked up to the newly opened Cabela's store and asked them for a top of the line fishing pole and some accessories. I think this will really be perfect. Can you tell I get really excited about this?

I do most of the shopping but we all get together as a family to wrap everything. While we do we talk about how important it is to help out and the real spirit of the season. I think this has really made an impact on E. Last spring as I was signing her up for a camp (it is a gardening camp) at a historical house in town and it is a bit pricey but it is the best camp she has ever been too. Anyway she suggested we donate a week at the camp for someone. I called CSC and they got in touch with someone who had a little girl and she got to go to this fantastic camp! And it was all E's idea. I was really proud.

It is so amazing how life turns out sometimes. It was only 7 years ago that I was the single mom and someone did this for me. Thats one of the reasons I do this now because I can come the tears...going to pick up the items and being so blown away that someone did that for me and my daughter. And on that Christmas morning I truly, truly believed in Santa again. I felt like I was a little girl again and the spirit and magic of Christmas of that morning has stayed with me and will forever.

I think this is a gift not only to the family but for us as well, we get so much enjoyment out of doing this. I also know of some families who adopt a family instead of exchanging gifts with each other (except for the children) That way each family picks one member of the adoptive family to shop for. I recommend if anyone is in the position to do this and if you have a similar program in your town, try it out. You will certainly believe in the magic of Christmas again.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tagged - 7 random or weird things about me

I've been tagged by Pinot and Pacifiers

First here are the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Weird/Random things about me:

1. I am obsessed with organizing, containers and labels. After grocery shopping I remove almost everything from its packaging and put it in its appropriate (and labeled) container. In all of our closets, everything has to go in its labeled section, I could go on...

2. I sleep with five pillows every night, one for my head, one to hug, one between my knees, one under my feet and one behind my back. I also have to sleep with a fan on every night all year long.

3. I named my 2nd daughter after my favorite clothing label (starts with L ends in Y...I think you know) My husband named her middle name after his favorite baseball teams stadium (Shea).

4. I became pregant at 22 and I was not married. The father left when E was three months old. I did not cry. But I cry at commercials, movies, greeting cards, etc.

5. He was gone for one year and then came back and tried to fight me for custody. I did not have money for an attorney so I represented myself againt his attorney and I WON. I worked harder on that than anything I have ever done and I was so proud. I think sometimes I should have become an attorney.

6. I drink at least 3-4 Vitamin Waters (Formula 50) every day.

7. Growing up my parents were hippies and we grew all our own food and my mom made all our clothes. My husband grew up with a live-in staff and received a trust fund at 25. When we first got together it was very Romeo and Juliet. His family did not like that I had a child. My parents were like "his father is 'the man' that we rebel against". We got married with only E there by a Justice of the Peace at a park. Our families have since accepted and now somewhat get along but I definately have MIL issues. Fortunatly FIL loves me and is very sweet.

Now, I tag Happy Homemaker, Preppy Mama, Third Coast Preppy, Tickled Pink, Tickled Pink Talk, One Fabulous Mom and Magnolias, Marriage and Manhattan.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

more shopping

Rain Gear for the girls. These will be Christmas gifts. The green coat is for L the pink for E.

The nightgowns they will get before Christmas so they can wear them Christmas Eve. The robes and slippers will probably be gifts. I got their names on the robes, so I think they will like that. All Lands End stuff.

Homemade Cleaning Products

This is how I make my cleaning products. Even though I put a lot of lavender in the surface spray it can still smell a bit vinegar-y but it fades in about 15 minutes. I started when E was a baby and I couldn't bear the thought of her crawling on the floor that was cleaned with harmful chemicals. I asked my mom and she said you always clean your floors with vinegar and water when you have little children crawling on them. I had no idea. She told me how to make my own cleaning products and how it was how her mother and grandmother always cleaned. I've tried different recipes but these work the best for me. I think some may be from Martha Stewart. Of course I make pretty labels for all my bottles and Mr.F thinks its very funny.






On My Christmas List...

This amazing destination spa is literally less than 5 miles from my home. Even just looking at their website is relaxing! So I am adding this at the top of my Christmas list...a week here would be perfect!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Loving now...

Mrs. Meyer's Gingerbread Holiday Clean-Up Kit. The mild dishsoap smells SO delicious I didn't even mind handwashing after Thanksgiving, which I had to do a lot of. I do NOT put any of my china or flatware or stemware in the dishwasher. The room fragrance really does make it smell as if you are baking...I wish it lasted a little longer though. The counter spray works well and also just smells great.

I like to buy Mrs. Meyers seasonal cleaning kits when they come out. I do not like cleaning products that smell like chemicals. I even make my own and I scent them with essential oils, usually lavendar, lemon or eucalyptus. I can list how I make them if anyone is interested. It is very simple. I do have a cleaning service that comes once a week on Mondays, but anyone with children knows that just doesn't cut it!

Shop, Shop and more Shopping!

Thats pretty much what I did this weekend and today! I didn't go on Friday because thats when we decorate for Christmas. But Saturday Mr.F and I went to the most adorable toystore and bought lots of gifts for the girls. E was at a birthday party and L was at my mothers house. This is my favorite toystore and I usually buy all children's birthday gifts here. They always have exactly what I am looking for. We also went out to lunch here which is in the same shopping center as the toystore. We were very glad to get a lot of the girls Santa gifts done. The only thing left really is the Wii game system which Mr.F is going to pick up after work this week. I don't really know much about these things. He's very excited about it though. It's more for E and him then L. I also ordered E's American Girl doll and some clothes and accessories.

I am so excited about this. It is her first one and she finally wants one this year. I have asked her for the past few years and she never wanted one. So now for her birthday I am planning a trip here should be lots of fun!
Sunday we took the girls to the Westfarms Mall and the Rainforest Cafe. I pretty much finished up my shopping for family and friends there except for a few more things I can order online. Although you always think you're done and then you think of some more great ideas, right?
Today after pilates, L and I went to a friends for a playdate and lunch...turkey soup (I didn't mention that I had that last night for dinner). She is taking a much needed nap and I have just finished some more shopping online!

I bought these ornaments for the girls tree

I had planned on getting them for a friend but I think my friend will get more use out of this serving platter and plates:

And after browsing sale items, I couldn't resist a little something to remind me that summer will be here in just a few months (I know winter hasn't even started, but I am a summer girl!)

I bought the beach blanket AND the umbrella! Good thing Mr.F is used to us girls and all our pink and green!
I also picked up this suit for E:

and this one for L:

How great is it that they had my girls sizes (and on sale of course!)
Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ow...that looks like it hurts

While E, L and I about to go deliver our breads on Wednesday evening, Mr.F decided that the landscapers did not blow every last leaf off the yard and he needed to "finish up." Does your hubby get a little nuts about this when you have company coming over? Oh and it was DARK out. Off us girls went and not even an hour later I get a call..."Um honey...I think you need to come home...I walked into a tree branch and well... its kind of stuck... in my eye." We rushed home and my poor Mr.F was in some serious pain. (I was envisioning a large branch sticking out of his head but this was not the case.) He did have a piece of wood stuck in there though. He tried to flush it out but no luck. Off to the ER we went. With the girls. On Thanksgiving Eve. Of course being the busiest travel day of the year (as well as the biggest drinking night, my husband informed me) the ER was packed. Fortunatly, we did not have to wait at all and they took my husband right back. They irrigated his eye for about 45 minutes and it still did not dislodge the piece. I have to say I was so impressed with the nurses and drs who were so sweet and kept bringing my girls toys and juice and cookies and even a blanket to play on the floor. Even the cleaning lady came over to clean the floor before putting the blanket down. Anyway...the Dr then tried to dislodge the piece with a q-tip. I know... it was really gross. Finally got it out but he scratched his cornea pretty badly. They gave him some numbing drops, pain medication and an antibiotic. Then they told him he had to go to the optometrist on Thanksgiving. Thankfully they then said it could wait until Friday morning.
Here is L playing "scary monster" in the ER. A lot of our time was occupied taking silly pictures with my phone.

Other than that, we all had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

I have had a few minutes off to have some relaxing time... been cooking/cleaning/preparing for a few days now. I would say I'm tired but I really love doing this. E is finishing up the tags for the breads and then we are off to deliver them. I ended up getting so much done that tomorrow will actually be quite calm. We will watch the parade while eating cinnamon buns like we do every year. Have a light brunch (Mr.F is making that) and then guests arrive at 2.

There are so many things I am thankful for and I don't have much time but here we go.

1. My husband. He is my best friend. I am more comfortable with him than anyone in the world. We get along so well and rarely disagree and if we do it lasts about 10 minutes before one of us says I'm so sorry, I hate fighting, I love you, I can't be mad. He treats me and always has as if I am a queen and our girls as princesses. He believes thats how women and girls should be treated. He spoils us beyond belief and loves to make us happy. He is hysterically funny and makes me laugh until I have tears streaming down my face. He is the best father and does bath time every night that he is home to do it. He always changed diapers and watching me breastfeed L made him so happy he would become teary. He is "step dad" to E but really is a dad to her, having raised her since she was 2. He is patient and kind and thoughtful. I fall more in love with him every day.

2. My girls. They are my joy, my inspiration and my love. E has become one of the most thoughtful, sensitive, caring girls and she makes me so proud. Her dedication to school and piano blow me away, when I was 8 I didn't care that much about anything! She is sweet and loving and so protective of her little sister. L has grown so quickly into such a spunky, fun, lovable 2 year old. Everywhere she goes she makes everyone smile. Her passion comes through in everything that she does. Her love of life inspires me daily.

3. My family. Mom, dad, sister and brother. They have always been there for me and support me in everything I do. I am so thankful that we all live so close and get together often.

4. My community. I am so fortunate to live in a small town where everyone helps and supports each other. There is so many wonderful opportunities for my children. We feel safe playing outside and have a wonderful school system. When I lived here as a young single mom, I was fortunate to benefit from the generosity of those in this town who helped me through hard times. Now I am fortunate to be able to give back and help others who are in need. It makes me so happy to be able to donate my time as well as money to help my community.

5. My friends. Oh my, through good times and bad, they are always there. For late night talks and early morning walks, for last minute shopping trips and laughing about high school skinny dips. Also for new friends and the many wonderful ways they brighten my days!

6. My faith. I am thankful for my Catholic upbringing and how it has helped shaped who I am.

There are so many things I am thankful and grateful for but today and tomorrow I will be thinking of these 6 things the most. I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, fun and safe Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weekend Fun

We had a blast at the game and UConn won! We were only cold when we were tailgating since Mr.F's season tickets are in the skybox. Here is our view

This is what I wore to the game:

After the game we picked up the girls who had a wonderful time with their Nana (my mom). At the craft fair E bought me these earings. I thought it was so sweet that she thought of me. And they are very pretty!

After Mass on Sunday E had CCD so Mr.F and I took L to the park for a bit. Then we took the girls to get their Christmas portrait done and they looked adorable. We then took them to see Bee Movie (in dresses and all!). Since we were out most of the day I didn't get a chance to make my Sunday dinner so we ended up getting takeout Chinese.

E is off from school all week for Thanksgiving break so today we went to the craft store and bought our Christmas card supplies. It has become a tradition that we all make our cards. It is a lot of fun. I'll post some pictures when we get some done.

While we were at the craft store (Michaels) I found a pink tree but E said it was to bright. So we settled on a white feather tree for the playroom which we decorated with pink and green since that matches the room. It looks pretty cute. We'll probably put more ornaments on when we do our Christmas decorating on Friday.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Favorite Children's Books

My first tag! How fun! I have been tagged by One Fabulous Mom to list my children's favorite books. Oh my there are so many.

I'll start with L.
Right now she is very into princesses so she loves this and any book about princesses.

We also still read this every night (and have since she was born)

Paper Parade is a book that was actually given to E when L was born but L wants us to read it just about every day.

She also loves any Dr. Suess book and the Baby Einstein books.

E is a very good reader and started reading at 4. She LOVES books and reads all the time.

She read all of the Harry Potter books

She is also making her way through a set of Illustrated Classics that she received as a gift.

One of her favorite books is The Secret Garden

In kindergarten, first and second grade she read all the Junie B. Jones books

as well as The Boxcar Children series

and the Magic Tree House series.

Every night E reads to all of us a story from this children's Bible

Both my girls like the Little Critters books by Mercer Mayer as well as poetry books, currently we are reading from A Family of Poems

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fabulous Flowers and Football

A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending an event planning class with Preston Bailey in NYC. He is a celebrity event planner and his events are beyond fabulous. If you get a chance, check out his blog (on the right) and his website. Its amazing how he transforms spaces. His class was so inspiring and I was fortunate enough to get a chance to talk to him for a while after the class about my own venture here in Litchfield County.
This morning I have been planning my table for Thanksgiving and was just browsing the web for inspirations. I am thinking of doing something different this year instead of the traditional fall colors. I'll let you know what I come up with.
The girls were picked up by their Nana this morning to attend a craft fair, festival of trees and teddy bear picnic tea. Mr.F and I are almost on our way out the door to the UConn game. Should be fun but COLD. I made a ton of food yesterday for tailgating (I get into it with football shaped cookies and all). Mr.F is loading up the car. So we are off! Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving Outfits

The girls will be wearing this:

I love to have them either wear the same dress or match for special occasions.

I am pretty sure I will wear this:

Mr.F will most likely wear this

The shirt matches the girls dresses better in person than it shows in the pictures. I like when we all somewhat match but that shade of purple just isn't a color for me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving Menu

I have finalized my menu for Thanksgiving. I usually have this done a lot earlier but time just got away from me. My parents are bringing hors d'oerves and my sister is bringing dessert, apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake (plus something extra for the children). Little brother gets to bring the wine and beer! So here it is.

Roasted Squash Soup with Chestnut Puree

Watercress, Endive and Pear Salad

Perfect Roast Turkey

Herb and Apple Stuffing

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

Green Beans with Glazed Shallots and Lemon

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Honey Butter

Cranberry Relish with Ginger

I'd love to hear what everyone else is making or bringing to their Thanksgiving! This is one of my favorite days of the year. My daughters also help me make different kinds of breads to give to family that we will not be seeing on Thanksgiving as well as neighbors and friends. I used to make all the breads from scratch but now we just buy the quick bread mixes. There are so many good ones and we just add some extras to make them more homemade. We put orange rind in the cranberry breads and apples in the cinnamon breads, etc. Its a lot of fun. We make special labels and deliver them Wednesday night so people can enjoy them with their meal on Thursday. I'll post later what we will all be wearing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

oh no she didn't

My sweet little L is now down for her nap, and I am officially hooked on this blogging. Anyway, after bringing E to the dentist this morning, dropping her off at school, I stopped at the market to pick up a couple things. While going down the dairy aisle, L saw a lady picking up some yogurts. They happen to be E's favorite so L yelled out, "hey dat lady is taking E's yoggies!" She smiled at my L as I explained that everyone can buy those, they don't belong to us until they are in our home. This didn't seem to satisfy her and as we walked away, my sweet, darling L muttered (not to quietly) "stupid lady". I literally stopped dead in my tracks, look of horror on my face. Please don't get the impression that I think I or my family is "perfect". But my older daughter is and always has been very quiet and shy and I never have had to deal with this type of child who apparantly just says whatever she thinks. without hesitation. Of course after I left the store I called Mr.F who actually started I was on the verge of tears. I know. I need to lighten up. But we try very hard to watch what we say in front of our girls, and I think we do a pretty good job. I think its from Spongebob. I don't even let L watch that usually but of course E sometimes puts it on in the playroom. They say stupid on spongebob right? that must be it.

little girls and their curls

(Picture removed)

This is my L, yes she is wearing a crown, yes she wears it backwards because "dats how it supposto be!" She also wears her princess dresses everyday, all of them. I just wanted to show off her curls. I LOVE her curls. I have very straight hair, as does E. But L got her fathers curls, which I was hoping she would!

Playing Dress Up?

Yesterday E received her school pictures (they came out adorable). I can remember my third grade picture and it was so awkward. You know that stage where you go from being cute to ummmm... not so cute until you get to high school and you get the braces off and start doing your hair and thinking your a supermodel? But I'm sure my mom thought I was still cute. And so here I am looking at her picture and being so proud that SHE is not in that awkward phase and is still adorable. But my post here is not about how freakin adorable my child is...because that would just go on for way to long. Its about the class picture. It seems that I am the only parent in my child's class who had her dress up for picture day. There she is in the front row (because thats where they put the cute ones...not short!) with her button down peter pan colored shirt, jumper, tights and mary janes and matching bow in her hair. Not to dressy but perfectly appropriate right? Well out of the ten girls in her class, only ONE other girl wore a skirt. The rest had on jeans, t-shirts, just not "dressed up" clothes. I'm just wondering if anyone else who has school-age children dresses them up for picture day or if this is a thing of the past? My daughter happens to have very conservative tastes and since her best friend went to private school this year, she has been dressing almost everyday in a sort of "uniform" which I love (she really wants to go there...Mr.F and I are thinking of it for next year or starting in middle school). She has never worn jeans to school, or even tshirts so I know I am a bit more conservative with what she wears daily but I would have thought on picture day more kids would have been dressed up. NOT in hannah montanna tees and such. BTW, most of the moms around here dress outstanding. They just don't dress up their kids I guess. But maybe its just me and I am just playing dress up? Oh well...I love it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bday Cake

Here is my version of the Meatloaf Cake that I made last night for Mr.F's bday dinner...I have to say it looks better in person than in the picture.
My kids like meatloaf anyway and this they just think this is fantastic. E has requested that I make meatloaf muffins and frost them with mashed potatoes so she can bring them to school for lunch. Which I can't believe I hadn't thought of she got a slice of the "cake" to bring in for lunch. BTW, I just use my own meatloaf & mashed potato recipe, but the idea was all Martha's.

Monday, November 12, 2007

any opinions?

I'm about to purchase this book for myself as well as some friends/family for Christmas. Does anyone have this or have any opinions on it? I'm always looking for ways to get my 2 year old to eat more veggies. My 8 year old actually prefers veggies over sweets so its never been an issue but my 2 year old actually wakes up in the morning asking for chocolate! I think this started with Halloween... But she has never been a veggie lover. Of course I would prefer her to eat whole veggies but right now its more important that she actually eats them in any way. I already puree tons of veggies and put them in the broth when I make chicken noodle soup (her current fave). So I think this book will give me some other good ideas along those lines.

Happy Birthday!

Today is Mr.F's Birthday! So of course we had a very busy weekend because in our house we celebrate Birthday Weekends, not just one day! Started with breakfast in bed on Saturday morning...this is the greatest idea (I got in from the book Essentially Lilly) Hire someone to come to your house early to make breakfast and serve it to you in bed! Fortunatly we have a friend who owns a catering company so I asked her to do it. I'm not so sure about a stranger seeing me in my bed! After that Mr.F wanted to go to some electronics place? So I went into Marshalls next door with the girls and picked up this coat
I know it is last fall but I loved it then and I still love it now! Plus at Marshalls it was only $230!!!!
For dinner on Saturday night we went here
one of our favorites. This is what I wore:

The food was wonderful, as always. Mr.F and I always have a blast when we go out. After dinner we met some friends for drinks. It was good to see everyone!
After Mass on Sunday, we took the girls to the bakery for treats. In the afternoon we went to my MILs for cake for Mr.F and for her bday as hers was last week. Then a quiet evening at home watching the Amazing Race and Desperate Housewives during which I enjoyed my mini creme brule that I got at the bakery. YUM.
This morning I had my pilates class and came home to a clean house (the service comes mon. mornings)which I just recently switched from Fridays. I think I like starting the week with a clean house. Although I end up cleaning again on Fridays because otherwise I'll do it on the weekends (which I do not enjoy).
We will continue the bday celebration tonight, with this cake
I made it last year for him and he loved it, so he requested it again for this year.
Hope everyone had a great weekend!