Sage Magazine - December Issue

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Fabric Coasters

by: Handmade by Hilani

These make great house warming, hostess and “pretty much anything” gifts. Get creative and use favorite sports themes or make one special to give Mom or Dad for their desk. Happy Sewing! ~ Hilani

What you’ll need: Fat Quarter Fabric (18”x18”) or 1/2 yard of fabric Stiff Interfacing Medium to Heavy weight (20” x 5”) Matching Thread Cutter/Ruler/Pins/Iron #14 Sewing Needle


Project time Start to Finish: Beginner: 1.5+ hours Intermediate: 1 hour Advance: 45-50 minutes

Step 1: Cut {8} 5” x 5” squares from your Fabric Material Step 2: Cut {4} 5” x 5” squares from Medium to Heavy weight interfacing

Hilani Ellis

I’m a sewaholic and love being creative. Outside of being a mom, wife, and friend . . . I create hand sewn items for all ages.


Step 3: Pin 2 Fabric squares right side together, with 1 interface square underneath. Do this to all cut fabric making for 4 pined coasters.



Step 4: Draw your sewing line with a pencil on the pinned side of each square. Use your clear ruler to mark 1/2 inch lines from edge to edge, all the way around like above (left photo). I find a pencil makes the best markings for me. You should have straight lines all the way around (right photo). These lines make the finished product straight.

Step 5: Set tension @ 6 or 7, Length Stitch @ 2 and begin to sew. Place needle on your line and follow your markings as best as possible. **Remember you’ll need to leave a 3 inch gap from your start stitch to your end stitch. This gap will give you the space you’ll need to turn the coaster ‘right-side’ out.

Step 6: Cutting of excess fabric and diagonal corners. Keep extra fabric at opening long, do not cut.

Step 7: Iron wrong side of fabric on cotton setting so to ‘loosen’ the fabric for ease of manipulating the fabric while turning right side out. Turn excess fabric from opening, inwards, and pin shut. Step 8: Return to the machine. Change Length Stitch to 3, keep Tension @ 6-7. Depending on what thread color you chose, find a spot on your material that best matches your thread color; start your stitch there. This will make your starting point less noticeable. Now give your coaster a finishing seam. First seam line, 1/4 of an inch from edge of material. Second seam line, 1/2 an inch from edge. If you follow your universal foot edge well, and your cut lines are good, you should be able to sew straight finishing lines. Having your initial sew line straight, makes the world of difference too with a finished product.

          Racheal Fountain 936-553-8522

DIYFramed Chalkboard by Jen Turner

Chalkboards have made a comeback in a big way. They make for fun, changeable art and I’ll show you how to make your own. What you’ll need: Frame 1/8 or 1/4 inch plywood 220 grit sandpaper (or power palm sander with 220 grit pad) Water-based primer (spray or painton) Chalkboard paint (found in the specialty paint section or craft stores) Foam trim roller or paint brush Measuring tape Hand saw or power saw (optional) Wood filler (optional) Small putty knife (optional) Staple gun with brads or staples (optional)

what I was going to do with it, but just had to have it. Seeing beautiful chalkboards in magazines and online gave me the inspiration I needed. If your frame has a wood backing, carefully remove it and use it as your painting surface. Skip to Step 3. If you’re lucky enough to find a frame with a canvas painting that you don’t mind painting over already in it, this project will be even easier. Carefully remove the canvas from the frame and skip to Step 5. Painting on glass or cardboard is not advisable. The paint will easily peel off the glass and cardboard will bubble or warp.

the picture and/or glass rested). This allows for ease of fit for the final assembly.

Step 2: Look at your plywood before cutting to ensure you have the most knot-free and smoothest part of the board. Cut the plywood to size, or as I did, have it cut at the home improvement store when you purchase it. (At my store, the first two cuts are free.) If you’re having it cut at the store, double check the measurements before you leave and save the extra cut pieces for other projects. When shopping for plywood, opt for “paint grade” plywood to save Step 1: Carefully measure the any extra steps preparing the paint back of the frame where the picture surface. I used birch. and/or glass used to be. Subtract Step 3: Prepare the painting surface. 1/8 inch on the length and width I’ve had this beautiful old frame for (as long as the front opening is more Large divots and imperfections will ages. I’d bought it without knowing than 1/8 inch different than where need to be filled with wood filler to

give the smoothest writing surface. Using a small putty knife and wood filler, fill in the imperfections, allow to dry and sand. Even paint grade plywood will have small burs and imperfections. (Small imperfections will be amplified when you apply the paint.) Once sanding is complete (and after every sanding), wipe with a damp, lint free cloth and let dry. Step 4: Apply one coat of water-based primer, allow to dry and sand (follow package directions). Step 5: Apply one coat of chalkboard paint. For a smoother surface, use a foam trim roller. I like the slight imperfections a paint brush provides and the brush allowed a thicker coat and more working time. *Use of “disposable” paintbrushes is not recommended. I’ve found they loose their bristles more often with the chalkboard paint due to it’s somewhat abrasive nature. **Pre-mixed chalkboard paint is available in limited colors. You can look online to find out how to make your own in the color of your choice. Step 6: After following the package directions for drying time and sanding, apply a second coat of chalkboard paint. (If you’re using a foam roller, a third coat may be necessary.) Allow to dry completely. Step 7: Assemble your chalkboard! Slide or place the dried chalkboard into the frame. For canvas and wood-backed frames, just reassemble it as you found it. If your frame had a cardboard insert (usually held in by staples, small nails or brads, or swivel clips) and the chalkboard and the cardboard will fit in the frame together, then reuse the cardboard. If none of this applies, simply attach the chalkboard to the back of the frame using a staple gun with staples or brads, ensuring the staples or brads aren’t too long and go through to the front of the frame. Step 8: Be creative and have fun!

DIY Drop-Face Drawer I had this little dresser that I’d wanted to use as my TV stand. The only problem was, the DVD player and the TV didn’t both fit on top. I didn’t want to use a larger piece of furniture because floor space was at a premium, so I moved the DVD player to a nearby bookshelf. But it was taking up valuable display space and the whole set up wasn’t particularly pretty to look at. Then it dawned on me, I’ll just hide the DVD player! I converted one of the top drawers to a drop-face, and now it has a new home. You will need: Drawer Pair of hidden cabinet hinges Screwdriver Measuring tape, ruler, or carpenter’s square Drill 1 1/2” hole saw or spade bit Step 1: Carefully remove sides, bottom and back of the drawer so all you have is the drawer face. Step 2: Follow the package directions and install the hinges. Step 3: Drill a hole in the back of the dresser for the cords. Step 4: Insert and install the DVD player (or other electronic device). That’s it! This project is as easy as the four steps above if your piece of furniture has a wood or plywood support “shelf” under the existing drawer. As with any electronic device, refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for clearance around the device to prevent overheating.

Jen Turner is a single mom of two amazing kids, an avid “junk hunter”, self-taught DIYer, and retired US Marine.

Gift Bag Ideas

by: The Hair Bow Company

Want cute Christmas gifts but hate wrapping? Try Bags! Here are a few adorable gift bags ideas: The first is probably our favorite idea ever! Our Christmas tutus are extremely popular and will coordinate well with all of your gift wrap. So why not get rid of the tissue paper and use a tutu instead? Grab your supplies. A gift bag, a tutu, a coordinating flower clip or bow. You’ll obviously need the gift at this point too.

This is seriously the easiest way to wrap a gift...ever! Put the gift in the bag, turn your tutu upside down and stick it in the bag. You may need to spread the waistband out around the gift so that it’ll lower into the bag easily. Then just clip the bow or flower on top the bag for a little extra pop!

More cute bag ideas

Flower Clip

White Marabou Puffs

Buy these adorable items and more at The Hair Bow Company

Memento Wine Cork

Ornament For years, I’ve made a tradition of saving wine corks from special occasions. I would write the date, friends’ names and a funny memory on the cork, and stash them away in a clear glass vase by the bar. After dumping them out one day and reminiscing about the good times, I decided to put the mementos front and center during the holidays! This simple memento wine cork ornament is easy to make and would make a perfect addition to a rustic trimmed tree.

Blog by Kayli Head

wire cutters large needle (or super tiny drill bit) 1.With a pair of wire cutters, push a needle all the way through the horizontal side of a wine cork. This can be kind of tough and takes a little strength. I used a picnic table for support, but you can also push this into carpet. If you prefer power tools, use a tiny drill bit.

2. When you’ve made a hole all the way through, remove the needle and push through beading wire. Thread on a pearl. Repeat process four Here’s what you’ll need: 4 to 5 wine corks (try to find times. ones with pretty designs) 3. When you’ve threaded 32 gauge beading wire all the corks and pearls on, pearls or beads large pendant, charm or crystal cut the wire (leaving 1.5 inches). Thread a large charm or crystal on the bottom and wrap the wire around the top several times for support. Try to use a charm that matches the theme of your wine corks. We bought our first home this year, so a large skeleton key made sense! 4. Make a loop at the top, add a pearl, and run the wire back through the hole. Wrap the wire around itself. And, there you have it! If you haven’t written on your wine corks like I have throughout the year, you have my permission to fake it! This would also make a wonderful gift paired with a bottle of wine at an ornament swap. Cheers!

In The


Chocolate Party Spoons by: Delicious Delicious Delicious

My original thinking with these beauties was that they would become the modern day Welsh Love Spoon. The one you’d actually like to receive on Valentine’s Day, as opposed to one of those outrageously over-priced and overwhelmingly useless, hideous, hand crafted, wooden goodfornothings. Those of you not in the same country as I am might not know what a Welsh Love Spoon is, and in this case, Google is your best friend. My timing is off though; I’ve been busy! Thus, I didn’t make them in time for Valentine’s Day, and they became Dessert One of Two at Rowanne’s Un-Birthday Party. (It’s a little-known, but fortunately often implemented rule that one must always have two desserts at an UnBirthday Party).

First of all, get yourself some spoons. I found these colored plastic ones in the kind of cheap shop that you love going into but wouldn’t want to be seen in. Have a hunt around to see what you can find.

Then, you’ll need some chocolate. I’m not a snob (honest!), but I do think you get what you pay for, so make it a chocolate that you actually feel comfortable eating. Nothing too expensive; you’ll be covering it with trashy sweets and sprinkles after all. I got these bars in Rome - I’m a sucker for pretty packaging.

While you melt the chocolate, either in the microwave, or over some simmering water, you need to make your spoons level so that when you pour in the liquid chocolate, it doesn’t spill. I simply propped them up using a copy of James Wong’s enlightening Grow Your Own Drugs. (Calm down: he’s talking about things like chamomile.) You could use anything suitable - the edge of a plate or chopping board, for example.

Then, spoon in some chocolate.

Then you simply go mad with whatever small sweets, silver balls and sprinkles you have. Jelly beans are a must - we all agreed they go nicely with the chocolate, however odd that may sound. If your sweets are chocolate themselves though, wait ten minutes before putting them onto the molten chocolate, just in case they also start melting. Serve, at parties, with gleeful abandon!

Delicious Delicious Delicious is a blog about food. More specifically, food made by me, Mr. P. That’s me, hiding behind some cupcakes. I am a twenty-something thirty-year-old (yuck!) Englishman living in Cardiff, South Wales, and am a borderline food obsessive. I love eating food, making food, growing food (weather permitting, of course - this is Wales after all) and writing about food.


I’m just mad for this one - it’s like a jeweled brooch!


Red Wine Cupcakes Most everyone enjoys Chocolate (and those that don’t need their heads checked, but that’s just my unsolicited opinion). Also, almost everyone can also find a Red Wine that they like (even if they don’t agree with those around them on what makes it good).

of the wine will be a nice subtle undertone to the cupcakes but will shine through more in the frosting, so be sure to use something that you like!

Why not enjoy these cupcakes as the end to a tasting party? You can have people bring their favorite cheese and a small tasting dish as well as a wine These Cupcakes combine the love of chocolate & tat goes along with that dish. Or you could do the research and supply everything (but the cost savings, wine. ease of planning on your part, and wide variety you For these Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes I figured the will have of a BYO is a pretty awesome Silver Lining Cupcake Winery wine would be a perfect pairing! to having others bring it). Cupcake Winery’s Red Velvet is a combination of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite It doesn’t matter if you decide to enjoy these “Red Sirah – which has all of the perfect elements to pair Red Wine Cupcakes” for a special event or just with chocolate! But, if you enjoy sweet fruits a great because cupcakes seem like a good idea – you (my wine would be a nice Blackberry or Strawberry Wine over 21 readers!) should plan to pick up a good – that would make this a very sweet variation but I bottle of red wine and get ready to enjoy some tasty can’t wait to try that!! No matter what, the flavor Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes!

Cake Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes 1 box Chocolate Cake Mix (I used Devils Food) necessary ingredients for the Cake Mix, but using red wine where the water is called for Red Wine

Frosting This frosting will barely make enough for the cupcakes so either plan to go a little on the light side or double this frosting 1/2 cup Butter 1/2 cup vegetable shortening 3 cups powdered sugar 1/4 cup red wine reduction 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1 tablespoon milk Take about 2 cups of Red Wine and bring to a boil until reduced by half. Allow to come back to room temperature. Mix the cake according to the box mix using the reduced wine. Line the Cupcake Pan with liners and bake according to package directions & allow to cool completely.

Teacher by Day, Chef by Night Blog 20-something living in North-East Pennsylvania. Blogger, when not searching for recipes, thinking about food, or cooking & photographing my cooking (or everything around me) I enjoy teaching (computer technology to upper elementary students), spending time (outside whenever possible) with my dogs, enjoying a good book, keeping fit (still working on finding some sort of exercise that I actually like though), being with my friends & family‌.. After moving into my own place I truly started experimenting in the kitchen (and yes I now feed my parents a lot more than I ever did when I lived in their house). Summer vacations are my time to truly experiment in the kitchen but I strive to make each and every meal I make worth my time that I spend making & eating it!

Mac – n – Cheese… Something so easy, so normal, yet so delicious! If you still have some late summer peppers overflowing your refrigerator (or if you are craving a way to switch up your macaroni) then I have the solution for you! Before the 1st Frost of the Season my Fabulous Fiance picked every last pepper (and I think we did have a peck of them) so we were in need of finding uses for them. Lucky for us (and you) Oh My Veggies posted the most delicious Roasted Pepper recipe. For this recipe you can roast your own peppers or buy them from the store – either way, enjoy! Prep time: 30 mins Cook time: 20 mins Total time: 50 mins Serves: 2 – 6


1-2 poblano peppers 2½ c. milk ¼ c. flour 5 oz. shredded cheddar cheese, divided 4 oz. shredded Monterrey jack cheese, divided 6 c. cooked whole-wheat elbow macaroni (about 3 c.dry) ½ c. panko (or regular) 1 tbsp. olive oil 1/8 tsp. salt (plus more, to taste) 1/8 tsp. pepper 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro


Turn on broiler. Place poblano peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and broil for about 10 minutes or until skin is blistered and starting to blacken, turning halfway through. Place peppers in zip-top bag for 5 minutes. Remove from bag and peel; discard stems, seeds and ribs. Chop peppers and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Combine milk and flour in a large saucepan over high heat, whisking constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 5-8 minutes, continuing to whisk frequently. Remove from heat. Add 4 ounces of cheddar cheese and 3 ounces of Monterrey jack cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in macaroni, poblano peppers, and salt to taste.

Put mac & cheese into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray (or individual dishes). In a small bowl, stir together panko, olive oil, salt and pepper. Top ramekins with reserved cheese and then panko. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until panko is golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Roasted Pepper Mac n Cheese by “Teacher by day, Chef by Night” & “Oh My Veggies”

12 days of C Winter Wonderland Martini Walking in a Winter Wonderland has a whole new meaning when paired with this cocktail. You might be inspired to get frisky in the snow… Ingredients: 2 oz Van Gogh Vanilla Vodka 1 oz White crème de cacao 2 oz White chocolate liqueur 1 oz Cream ½ Teaspoon of coconut flakes 1 White chocolate wafer stick Directions: Add the vanilla vodka, white chocolate liqueur, crème de cacao and cream into a shaker and shake over ice. Strain martini into a martini glass and add half a teaspoon of coconut flakes. Stir martini gently with white chocolate wafer stick to create a blizzard!

Spiced Caramel Apple Martini The Appletini created quite a stir when it was first introduced, but Kara Newman, author of Spice & Ice, put her twist on the apple martini with a little holiday cheer: Ingredients: 2 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur 1 oz Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka 2-1/2 oz Apple cider 1 dash lemon juice Directions: Rim martini glass with agave syrup and crumbled gingersnap cookies at set aside. Add liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into martini glass.


by “Single Minded Women”

Eggnog Martini This holiday classic cocktail is sure to warm your core. We suggest keeping a spare carton of eggnog in the fridge for when your friends want more… Ingredients: 2 1-2 oz Eggnog 1 oz Van Gogh Vanilla Vodka ¾ oz Amaretto Directions: Combine ingredients in shaker and shake over ice. Strain into chilled martini glass. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon.

Spicy Ginger Man Every single woman needs a spicy man to heat up her holiday season. Try this one: Ingredients: 1 oz Vanilla Vodka 1 oz Hazelnut liqueur 1/2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps 2 oz Ginger Beer Cinnamon stick Directions: Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake over ice. Pour over ice into a rocks glass & garnish with Cinnamon stick.

Candy Cane Lane Take a stroll candy cane lane with this minty cocktail: Ingredients: 2 1-2 oz Van Gogh Blue vodka 1 oz White crème de menthe 1/2 oz Peppermint schnapps Cream Splash of Grenadine Peppermint candy for garnish Directions: Add a dash of grenadine into the bottom of a chilled martini glass and set aside. Pour the rest of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into the glass with grenadine to create a “swirl” effect. Garnish with peppermint candy.

Turtle Doves Day six brings turtle doves and we suggest you make a batch of these cocktails to go along with the flock. Ingredients: 2 oz Van Gogh Vanilla Vodka 2 oz Hazelnut liqueur 1 oz Amaretto 1-1/2 oz Cream Directions: Rim martini glass with cinnamon and sugar crystals and set aside. Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into the martini glass.

Berry Merry Xmas Want a little fruit with your vodka? No problem. Embrace your guilty pleasures with this berry-licious cocktail. (We’ll even allow you to count it as your ‘fruit’ portion for the day). Ingredients: 1-1/2 oz Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka 1/2 oz Triple Sec 1/2 oz Peach Schnapps 1 oz Cranberry Juice 1 oz Club Soda Directions: Add all ingredients into a shaker and shake over ice. Pour into a martini glass or on the rocks.

Kringle Kocoa Get comfy under the mistletoe after mixing up a cup of this cocktail creation. Even Kris Kringle would approve this bit of holiday cheer. Ingredients: 2 oz Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka 4 oz Hot Chocolate 3 Roasted marshmallows on a small skewer Directions: Pour Van Gogh Chocolate Vodka and hot chocolate into a mug and garnish with roasted marshmallows on a skewer.

Café Caramel We give thanks this season for the Café Caramel, created by Rene Matos, Beverage Director, NYC Marriott Marquis. Ingredients: 2-1/2 oz Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka 1/2 oz Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka 1/4 oz House-made caramel sauce 1 oz Vanilla ice cream, softened Garnished with a cholive Directions: Add all ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously to ensure the caramel is well blended. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with a cholive.

Star of Night What’s a more appropriate way to appreciate the night sky than with a champagne cocktail? This holiday martini will put the spark in your starry night. Ingredients: 4 oz. Pommery Pink POP Champagne 1 oz. Van Gogh Açai-Blueberry Vodka Directions: Pour chilled Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry vodka into a flute. Top with Pommery Pink POP and garnish with a star fruit.

Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Dessert Shots Think cheesecake with half the calories! These delicious liquid cheesecakes were created by Celebrity Chef, Jon Ashton. Ingredients: 1 can (14 oz) Pumpkin, chilled 3 oz Reduced-fat cream cheese 6 oz Low fat vanilla yogurt 1 Cup low fat milk 1/4 Cup Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka 1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon 1/8 Teaspoon nutmeg 6 Teaspoons graham cracker crumbs, optional Directions: Place all ingredients (except graham cracker crumbs) in a blender and blend until silky. Pour into shot glasses and top each serving with a teaspoon of graham cracker crumbs.

Reindeer Tracks Rudolph’s nose won’t the only one shining bright after one of these frosty martinis: Ingredients: 2 oz Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka 1 oz Hazelnut Liqueur 1/2 oz Crème de Cacao Splash of Cream 2 Chocolate cookie wafers Directions: Rim a martini glass with crushed up chocolate cookie crumbs and set aside. Shake Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka, hazelnut liqueur, Crème de Cacao and cream over ice and pour into the martini glass. Dust top with more chocolate cookie crumbs.



It is that time of year again. The holidays, when people gather and spend time with those they love, who they might not get to see regularly. Growing up my parents were Buddhist, but it was never forced on us. We celebrated “Christmas” which was just presents under a plastic tree, but only because as kids, they didn’t want us to feel left out when we came back to school from the holiday break. I didn’t really know what it was or what it was about, just about presents. We sang the songs at school, but it really had no meaning to me. I just liked the decorations, the music and how everyone around me was happy. Now that I am an adult and Christmas is not really strictly a religious holiday, I can choose to celebrate it. My holiday however is Friendsmas, not Christmas! I like to have many of my friends over on the 23rd (so that I wouldn’t take them away from their families Miemo Khamvongsa lives in Northern Virginia, on the eve). It really all depends on what day is on the outskirts of our nation’s capitol. convenient for me to cook a feast and decorate the She is a graphic designer, wanderlust, house. I put up mistletoe, turn the tv on the Yule Log and food enthusiast. channel (complete with crackle and pop sounds), and string lights all around. Not only that, I put up my Friendsmas tree and wrap fake presents to put We get real caught up in our day to day lives, and underneath the tree so it doesn’t look so empty. sometimes we don’t make enough time for those that have a place in our hearts. I am so happy to just have Why fake presents, you ask? I am weird about gifts. I people over, feed them and spend time with them don’t really give them, nor do I expect to receive them. over any materialistic present. Friendsmas is a great I appreciate the gesture, but I can buy what I need and way to gather my friends and show them how much want. As for giving gifts, they are usually surprises, so they mean to me. what if they person doesn’t like it? Or already has one? Things just get complicated. I prefer to cook you Friendsmas Food and Drink Ideas: a meal, because to me, food is love. This is why I am HOT BOURBON APPLE CIDER inviting my friends over, just to spend time with them, (Shutterbean has a recipe) and feed them. I see how pressured and stressed people MULLED WINES get about gift giving for the holidays, and I refuse to go HOT CHOCOLATE HAPPY HOUR anywhere except the grocery store after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. Shoppers are CRAZY. And (Different kinds of cocoa, milk, and add-ons such as crushed candy canes, marshmallows, I wouldn’t think any less of you if you didn’t think whipped cream, caramels etc.) about getting me something for this holiday season. CHILIS, SOUPS, BISQUES Decorate your own tree/gingerbread man cookies To me the holiday season is about ending the year FINGER FOODS on a good note. To make sure that the people you care about know that you appreciate and love them. (Time to put all your pinterest boards to good use!)



& beauty

Feel like a real princess in this lovely dress! Fitted in all the right places, and a print you can’t take your eyes off of. MINUET: Once Upon A Time Dress BUY NOW $80.99

We all loved this style in a top and now that its here in a dress we couldn’t be any happier! Chiffon overlay that is fully lined with a hidden elastic waist band

Happily Ever After Dress: Light Peach BUY NOW $43.99

We all know that no one does chevron like Everly, so when this top walked through our doors we were all jumping with joy! The cutest details on the sleeves and a fit you can’t beat make this top irresistible! EVERLY: Joy For Chevron Top BUY NOW $44.99

Treat yourself to something not only comfy but super cute! This sweater is one of our favorite pieces from the color scheme, to the fit, and our favorite part... The silver stitching! Oversized and oh-so-adorable you will want to wear this everyday! The First Snowfall Sweater: Jade/Baby Pink BUY NOW $54.99

These jeans are SO CUTE! Very Shimmery in person and the perfect fit! Love To Love Shimmer Jeans: Silver BUY NOW $45.99

Give your outfit that extra oomph with this perfect fur vest! Soft, fitted, and guaranteed to keep you warm. Your Inner Diva Fur Vest: Tan BUY NOW $51.99

We are obsessed with these shorts! Straight sequins with a true to size fit, and the prettiest rose gold color! Paired with tights, and boots can make this a fall friendly outfit.

Make Me Proud Shorts: Rose Gold BUY NOW $38.99

Y I D Makeup


Blog by: Jillee from One Good Thing If you’ve read my blog lately…you’ll know I’m kind of on a “homemade” kick. Not necessarily homemade cookies, cakes and buns….but more along the lines of cleaning supplies, beauty products, etc. I haven’t gone off the deep end and started making my own dishes or shoes or anything like that (of course, never say never!) but more and more I find myself looking for alternatives to the high-priced, over-packaged, chemical-filled stuff. Sure it’s economical, sure it’s the “green” thing to do…but quite frankly…I love the feeling of accomplishment and “sticking it to the big corporations” that market this stuff more. :-) One thing I still buy and use are those disposable make-up remover cleansing cloths. I really dislike washing my eye makeup off in the sink with soap and water. It’s just a messy proposition and I usually end up getting soap in my eyes and melted make up all over the sink, the counter and my white towels!

e! v i s n e Exp

Cut paper towel roll in half, add 4 cups warm water, 1-2 tablespoons Coconut Oil. (1-2 squirts of baby wash or your favorite face wash if you want, but it’s not necessary)

Removal Wipes Problem is…those makeup remover cloths are EXPEN$IVE! Especially the big brand name ones like Neutrogena, Almay, Nivea or Physician’s Formula. So for quite awhile now I’ve been buying the cheapest, store brand ones. But ANOTHER problem is…the cheap ones are CHEAP for a reason. They aren’t as soft and/or moist as their more expensive rivals. The last couple of months I have started adding my own lotion to them before I use them and it’s been a HUGE improvement!

Makeup comes off much easier without unnecessary rubbing and pulling on your delicate eye skin…and it leaves your skin moisturized! Then I saw online how to make your own baby/makeup remover wipes with all-natural ingredients you probably already have around the house. (Well, I didn’t have any Coconut Oil around the house, but after reading about it I was convinced I NEEDED to get some.)

Coconut oil contains Lauric Acid, which has natural antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc properties.

Original instructions for wipes can be found:


Spoon Ring

Things you will need: Spoon (or fork) of your choosing - make SURE it is sterling silver Metal cutter, hacksaw, or jewelry saw File or sandpaper Dowel or ring mandrel Paper Pen Hammer or mallet (optional) Butane torch (optional) 1. The first thing you are going to want to do is to decide what type of ring you want to make. You can either make one that wraps up your finger (top image), or you can make one that wraps around itself (bottom image). The one you choose determines the length of the handle (longer for the one that wraps up your finger). For future reference, we’ll call the rings that wrap up your finger “type 1” and the kind that wrap around itself “type 2.”

Type 1

Type 2

2. Once you have picked out the type of ring to make, you then have to pick out your silverware of choice. To find mine, I just went to a local thrift store where I got these for around 10 cents each. When you do go buy your silverware, make sure it is sterling silver and not stainless steel (it will say on the back of the spoon). I didn’t realize this at first, so my first attempt (pictured below), was with a stainless steel fork, and let’s just say, it didn’t work too well. You’ll know it’s sterling silver if it says “900” or “925” on the back.

3. The next thing you will want to do is to measure your finger. One of the easiest ways to do this is by simply cutting a strip of paper, wrapping it around your finger, and marking where it overlaps. If you are making the type 2 ring, add an extra 1/4 in or so for the overlap. If you are making the type 1 ring, this step isn’t as crucial because you will just continue wrapping it until you’ve used all of the handle of your silverware.

4. For this next step you will need your saw or metal cutter. If you are making type 1, cut the handle right above the bowl. For type 2, cut the handle at whatever length you measured in Step 3.

5. File the cut end with either a metal file or a coarse grit sandpaper. Work your way down to a fine grit sand paper to get a super-smooth finish.

I’m Kirsten, the owner and designer behind Kirsten Danielle Design. To say I love beautiful homes would be an understatement, and my blog, “Through the Front Door,” will attest to that fact. Click below to follow along as I share my passion for design, DIY and fabulous home decor.


6. Now comes the fun (or frustrating!) part - bending the spoon. There are several ways to accomplish this. You can bend it around the dowel using shear force, you can hammer it around the dowel, or you can use a butane torch to heat it up before you bend it. I found this little butane torch for $7 at Home Depot. However, when I actually got the right kind of fork (sterling silver), I was able to bend it with just my hands. If you do use a hammer, I recommend wrapping some sort of cloth (a dishtowel folded in half works well) around the head of the hammer and securing it in place with a rubber band. This will help to protect the metal from scratches.


Our Labor of Love Designing a Fabulous Vintage Ranch Wedding (From the Ground Up)

It all started with a sunset four-wheeler ride through the middle of a hay pasture on my future husband’s family cattle ranch. The breathtaking wide-open space, breathing in the fresh Central Texas air was like a little piece of heaven on Earth. When he finally popped the question five years later, we both knew; “The Ranch” would be where we said, “I do.” And so the planning began. It was such a blank slate! A free venue, a place to build my dream wedding from the ground up, where we could celebrate our vows until the cows came home. (Literally.) Ten months later, the most incredible vintage country dream came to life, and we threw the best party I’ve ever attended. Even a year later, our guests adamantly agree. Since we said our vows last fall, the “ranch wedding” has been all the rage, and rustic venues have capitalized on the trend. Here are some of my tips, how-to’s and advice on how to create your own memorable, one-of-a-kind ranch wedding. Tell your story: Think of unique ways to incorporate your family background or your personalities into your big day. At our wedding, my husband’s grandma baked a dozen pumpkin pies (his favorite) instead of a groom’s cake, and we placed a frame next to the dessert saying

Nathan Addison Photography that she was the first-place pie-baker at the Fayette County Fair. You can’t buy that cuteness! One of my favorite personal touches at our wedding was the old personalized beer steins from his grandparents’ restaurant in the 70’s, which we let our guests keep. My step-dad also drove me to the aisle in his rebuilt vintage hot rod, and my husband’s uncle drove my bridesmaids in on a tractor they use to plow the fields. Even one of

our signature drinks at the wedding was the drink we celebrated with when getting engaged in Australia. Use Pinterest Sparingly: You’ve heard the line: “Ooh, did you get that off Pinterest?” And if you’re like me, attending weddings can sometimes be a carbon copy “Pinterest Wedding” where everything looks the same. Sure there are hundreds (thousands?) of cute DIY ideas on Pinterest, but incorporate just a few and save room for your own unique touches. I especially love touches that mean something to the couple. Know where to splurge and where to save: When planning your wedding, one of the most important things to bear in mind is the guest experience. Where to splurge: Does spending thousands of dollars on your dress make your guests have the time of their lives? Didn’t think so. For us, having a great DJ, awesome food, plenty of adult beverages (hello cranberry apple sangria!), and a huge rustic dance floor made the night unforgettable. Another way to keep guests’ comfort in mind is to hire a shuttle service back to the hotels so everyone can have a great time without having to drive home. Photography was so important to us, and I would not skimp in that department. We hired ours for eight hours, and it was well worth it. We preferred the non-traditional, non-posed, photojournalist style, so be sure to discuss what you’re looking for with your photographer ahead of time. Where to save: We scoured yard sales and flea markets for vintage china, glassware and linens for a oneof-a-kind look for our place settings. Collecting those unique pieces actually ended up being cheaper than renting (plus, I can always sell them back to sweet brides!) Use what you have! We incorporated a ton of furniture we already owned, including a vintage dresser, bookcase, bar and recovered chairs. Affordable hay bales with borrowed quilts made for cozy seating arrangements around the dance floor. We also used trees from the land to make a cedar arbor, and slices of wood to make a unique cupcake display. Save money on cupcakes and catering by hiring from smaller towns. We had grilled steak and chicken cooked on-site from the little town of Dime Box, Texas, (for a great deal!)

If you’re organized enough, skip the pricey event planner (and save your sanity) by hiring a day-of coordinator. Relying on someone to coordinate little details like cutting the cake and lighting candles is so nice, and it takes the stress off family members. Dance floors are surprisingly very expensive. We saved money by making our own 16 foot by 16 foot dance floor out of 2 by 4 frames and MDF (medium-density fiberboard) sheets. It was rustic and sturdy, and handled plenty of dancers! Have a plan when using your own land. From my experience, I can tell you the journey was not always glamorous, and the unpredictable elements sure didn’t

always agree. Make sure to rent a substantial tent, just in case of rain. A 40x60 tent was just right for our 180 guests. Being literally in the middle of nowhere, miles away from paved roads or electricity, meant everything from a generator to a fork needed to be rented and hauled “out to pasture.” Also keep in mind that a “free” venue may end up costing much more than you think (even with frugal DIY touches). Be prepared! By keeping these simple tips in mind, you can craft a gorgeous ranch wedding that’s uniquely you. For more pictures of our ranch wedding in La Grange, Texas, visit my blog at


Kayli Head

I’m a blogger, PR writer, artist and yard sale junkie. I’m loving feathering our new nest in Nacogdoches, Texas, with my hubby Derek, and two puppies. I love traveling, good indie music and pumpkin-spice lattes.

Mr. & Mrs. Sowell

December 1, 2012


How to Deal with the Mother of the Bride When She’s Your Mother, and You’re the Bride

By: Megan Strange Every mother handles their daughter’s wedding differently. However, if you have one like mine and you’re getting married, it might be a good idea to invest in about a million boxes of Kleenex tissues, several bottles of red wine, and the biggest bars of dark chocolate you can find (you know, because dark chocolate is healthier and you have a dress to fit into). 1. Hear her out. She’s been dreaming about this day as much as you have, if not more. I woke up the morning after I got engaged to my now husband, Casey, with an overwhelming sense of pure joy. And a phone call from my mother. She wanted to know if she could take me to breakfast, and I gladly accepted, because my mom is truly one of my best friends and I wanted to share my happiness

with her. As soon as we sat down, the interrogation began. What color schemes was I thinking? Had I seen anyone wear black bridesmaids dresses lately, because she had, and she thought it was just stunning. How many bridesmaids was I thinking of having? Because, you know, you don’t want it to be too crowded up on the alter or in photographs, so really you should keep it under five. Had I thought about where I might want to have the wedding, because mother has a lot of friends and she is already up to almost 200 people on her guest list overnight. 2. Let her have her own timeline. So, a breakfast I thought would be a nice, relaxing meal where my mother and I could discuss how giddy I was and how unbelievable it was that this moment had finally arrived, turned into a business meeting full of decisions that had to be made. Even though the wedding was at

least a year away, and, in my mind, we had plenty of time to get things moving. However, if your mother is anything like mine, she has a knack for being right. It’s annoying, isn’t it? I find it quite infuriating. I would come to find it somewhat mindboggling throughout the whole wedding planning experience with this woman that no matter how much I hated her decision at one point or another, that ultimately she was right. 3. When she ends up being right, just hug her, and tell her “Thank you.” When I was little, my mom tried to get me to take piano lessons. I have no recollection of this, but apparently I refused. In college, I was fascinated by people who knew how to play musical instruments, and I asked my mom why she never made me take any lessons. This led to an immediate lecture on how she

tried and tried and tried, and she could never get me to take any lessons, and maybe if I would just listen to her, JUST ONCE, maybe I wouldn’t have so many regrets. Let me tell you how many times I heard about the piano lessons during wedding planning. Roughly, 62,912 times. It would start with something like, “Mom, I think I found the dress.” I’d show her a picture of me in the dress, and she would hate it. I would get upset and offended and tell her it was my wedding and my dress, and if I think this is it then maybe she should just be supportive. In response I would hear, “Remember the piano lessons? I was right about that.” Turns out she was right, and I found a dress I loved even more about a month later. Thankfully she loved it, too. 4. If it is something that you are passionate about, speak up. If not, let her have it her way. The worst fight we had was over invitations. This is probably the result of my lack of concern about the appearance of the piece of paper letting people know when to show up and her over-the-top, extreme concern about it. We were looking through the books at a shop, and we found one with lots of pockets, and I thought it was adorable, very modern. I thought my mom liked it too, until we got in the car. “It’s not the one,” she said. Immediately my heart sank, because I thought we were about to cross off an item on the neverending to-do list. We started going back and forth, and it ended in tears. Needless to say, we found the perfect invitations awhile later, and we got a ridiculous amount of compliments on them. It was almost annoying, because every time someone said “Those are the most beautiful invitations I’ve ever

Photography by Lens to Legends seen,” I heard “That crazy lunatic scheme of things, it doesn’t REALLY was right again.” matter to me or my marriage what freaking font my name is in on the 5. Don’t forget what the day is invitation. So, if it is a life or death really all about. situation for your mother, let her I wish I could say wedding make the choice. This was a day I planning was a terrific adventure, had been waiting for more than six straight out of a fairytale, and that I years, but I had to remind myself had a blast planning the day of my that my mother had been waiting dreams. In reality, it was one of the for this day since the day I was most challenging periods of time in born. For her, my wedding meant my mother’s and my relationship. her daughter found the love of her The most important tip I have for life. It also meant I had grown up. those of you who might be in a It was an emotional roller coaster similar situation is this: don’t forget for her, and I tended to forget that. what the day is about. Whenever I Even though I was the bride, it was ready to go to the hardware wasn’t all about me. store, buy the biggest hammer in Oh, just so you know, I had five stock, and bop my mother on the bridesmaids, and they work cute head with it, I tried to remember black dresses, and they looked “At the end of the day, I get to perfect. The photos were stunning. go home with Casey.” In the big Mother knows best.

Moms & Dads

Elf on a Shelf by Julia Pawlik Fincher (photos submitted by readers)

Like most parents of young children, we too have an Elf On The Shelf at our house. We procured him after a lengthy search at every Target within a fifteen mile radius (do you KNOW how many Targets there are in metro Atlanta?? A LOT!). I was way more excited than my daughter as she was only two years old at the time. To be honest, I am not sure what I was more excited about- the Magic of Christmas, my ticket into the POES (Parents Of Elf on the Shelf) Club, or the genius of manipulation (power of suggestion...).

and much respect is paid to the parents with the best ideas. The biggest trend last year was the Elf penning notes to children, outlining exactly what was expected of the child, and what a bad report to Santa would mean...

Dear Elizabeth,

Your Mommy has told me you have not been cooperative at dinner time. Proper behavior at the table does NOT include wearing your ketchup as lipstick, putting I love Christmas. I love the decorations, corn in your ears, and hiding your peas the glitter and sparkley things everywhere, under your plate. Please be advised that and the twinkling candles. I love the smell if you do not shape up immediately, the of Christmas cookies and Christmas trees, Barbie Professional Gal (with laptop, and the blanket excuse of The Holidays; iPhone, and power briefcase) will not be Yes, you should absolutely have that candy under the tree. cane! Yes, to the chocolate sprinkled Santa - Elf candy! Yes, to champagne for breakfast (please say I’m not the only one!)! I tell you, the reported results are some Christmas Magic, and earned the parents of Before I had a child, I did not have a true that particular Elf the coveted Best Use of understanding of the Power of the Elf on the Elf award for the evening. the Shelf. Sure, my friends with kids spoke in reverent tones about the Elf, and I saw My daughter Emma was two last year, so the Elf in stores, winking at me from behind the full power of the Elf was not unleashed its festive packaging. However, as I was not at our house. Now that she is three (BTW: initiated in the genius, magical power of the why does everyone lament the “Terrible Elf I did not pay a lot of attention. But, now Twos”? Two was a CAKE WALK compared that I am a parent, I have been schooled to three), I am thrilled to have the Ebbie in the power of the Elf. Parents claim they (our Elf) in my corner. can coerce even the most willful five-year old into being a model child. I’m talking The rules VERY clearly state that NO ONE clean room, no whining, no fighting with can ever, ever touch the Elf. If ANYONEbrothers and sisters, and NO WHINING. It including, but not limited to Mommys, is truly awe inspiring. If you listen closely, Daddies, and especially children- touches throughout the month of December, you the Elf, the results are catastrophic. The Elf will hear POES at parties, speaking in will lose its magic and thus will be unable hushed tones about their respective Elves. to fly every night to Santa with a report. They trade Elf vantage points. They brag Last year, after we finally found an Elf and about what previously uncooperative brought it home, I was ecstatic! Our very children did. Instant friendships are forged,

own Elf! Let the Family Memories begin! I knew that Emma was going to love the Elf! In order to create our very special Family Memories, I would need to document everything. So, out came the camera as Emma and I unwrapped the Elf... and cuddled the Elf... and kissed the Elf... and rocked the Elf... you get the idea. We put her to bed, and I smugly congratulated myself on a Job Well Done. Our Family Memories had been documented for posterity. The next day, Emma wanted to look at the pictures. As we flipped through the pictures on the camera, my husband casually mentioned that in the Official Elf Rules, the Elf cannot be touched! WHAT?! HOW DID I MISS THAT?! I froze. I had to get rid of the pictures before Emma saw them (as any toddler parent can attest, elephants’ memories have nothing on a toddler’s)! I had to somehow stop the picture slide show, remove her from my lap, and destroy all the Family Memories evidence. And I had to do all of this while maintaining my “calm” (I don’t do calm very well at all). I maintained my calm by leaping up, shrieking loudly, and holding the camera high above my head. Emma stared at me with that long pause that kids use to decide if they are going to start wailing or not. Not wanting to alarm her more, and to talk her out of wailing, I threw Emma the only bone I could, I told her Daddy had cookies! And he wanted to share! Right this very second! Hurry, hurry, hurry! She went off in search of cookies (note that I had no idea what Thomas was doing when I said that. He could have been playing with knives while blindfolded for all I knew. It didn’t matter- I HAD TO DESTROY THE EVIDENCE OR EBBIE WOULD LOSE ALL CREDIBILITY!) Thankfully, Thomas was not playing with knives. And I got the pictures deleted. The power of Ebbie will not be questioned. This year, I am ready. Truth be told, I was ready about six weeks ago to have an extra set of eyes watching Emma. With our amateur, inaugural season of Elf out of the way, I am ready to fully utilize Ebbie in all possible capacities this year. To my fellow POES: I wish you the best with your Elves. I look forward to sharing war stories again this year around the punch bowl...

Blog Julia Pawlik Fincher is a super busy gal: mother, wife, bill-payer, gym-goer, friend. She lives with her (very patient) husband and her (already opinionated) three-year-old daughter outside of Atlanta

Who am I?

My name is Justin, and I am going to be a father. I also might die before my child turns 30 if I continue with the lifestyle I’ve been living. I have tried several times to lose weight before but gave up after either not losing weight fast enough or giving into my cravings.

What am I doing?

I am giving up on what the government and media tell me I should eat. It may work for some people, but not me. With the help of my friend, I will be following one guideline, if God didn’t make it, I won’t eat it. I also will NOT be trying to get 6-pack abs in 6 weeks, nor will I take a dozen supplements a day. I will eat healthy, natural food, and getting good exercise every day I can.

About My Wife

I’ve been married to my wonderful wife, Bridgette, since July 2011. She is the love of my life and my biggest encouragement. Without her I would not be doing this.


About My Nutritionist

This is my good friend Jeremiah. He’s done some nutrition stuff in the Army, and now I’m enlisting his help to get me on the right track.

The Story Up To Now...

make things easier, I joined my wife in her low carb adventures. We started strong, I even went out of the country for 2 weeks and lost 4 pounds staying away from as many carbs as I could.

We’ve known Bridgette’s been pregnant for about 6 weeks now. During that time there’s been a lot of traveling with a lot of friends and family to tell. Call us old school, but we wanted to tell friends and family in Ukrainian food was naturally low carb, as long as person and not have them find out on Facebook. you stayed away from the potatoes that came with every dish. But when I got back, I went through a bit The idea for this blog didn’t just conceive itself (pun of culture shock. I re-realized how much good food intended). I actually worked with Jeremiah some America had...and I wanted it. Eating out for us wasn’t months ago in trying to eat healthy. I’m not sure how too big of a problem to start, but after a while I would it started, but I knew about his so called, “God Diet” get somewhat depressed at the good food friends were from stories he would tell, and it always stuck in the eating and I couldn’t have. Eventually it got to the back of my mind. One day I decided to try it. We point where I was never satisfied eating, I was always got all excited from the prospect of documenting my yearning for more. journey and even had the idea to make a book or a documentary. My mind soon figured out that would Then it hit me. be A LOT of work. And I didn’t want to stay busy all the time. So instead, I just did it myself, and he helped I remembered how content I was eating naturally. I me get to eating right. didn’t miss junk food, I didn’t stink as much, I had more energy, my face was clear...I remember I felt The summer came. really good. So, I’m back on the healthy wagon, and have been for the past 3 days. Already I’m feeling My wife was on a mission to lose some weight, so much better. I walked/ran 1.55 miles today, and I don’t she decided to do so with the Low Carb Diet. Eating feel like I’m going to die! naturally and low carb dieting go hand in hand in a lot of ways, but they also don’t line up in many cases. I do My apologies to Casual Male XXL, you’re going to the cooking for our home and some days our cravings didn’t match up, so I’d end up cooking two meals. To lose my business in the future.

don’t like sitting and watching others enjoy it. It’s like being offered a puppy, saying no, and then watching Today I went to a football game with my wife, dad, another child play with it...I’m just not “at that point” and cousin. I planned ahead and sliced up an apple to yet. So I said no thank you. snack on in the game. Going to an event like a football game or the movies is easier when you take your own My dad dropped me off at my apartment, I ran straight snack. Of course the first thing we did when we got upstairs and changed into my workout clothes and in the gates was hit the snack bar. I think I kept my went for a run while they went to dinner. I’m not sure composure. My dad asked what I wanted, so I asked for what’s worse, sitting and watching others enjoy an a bottle of water and some peanuts. The peanuts were unhealthy, delicious meal, or skipping on that meal good, and I checked the bag, no added preservatives and go running instead.

The Eating Out Conundrum

or oils, just roasted peanuts with salt...which I know I could have done without, but I wanted it. Actually, I know the running option is better. I had a crock-pot of chili waiting for us after the game, When they came back to the apartment I was about to but my dad wanted to treat all of us to a nice meal dig into my bowl of chili, they looked full and satisfied. after the game. I got anxious. I made comment of how they all looked like they were pregnant, and it made me feel a little better knowing Me and food have a problem. Actually there’s nothing that when I eat my good and natural meals, I don’t feel wrong with food, it’s mostly me. I want food too much. like crap. It is nice to eat and feel like I could still stop I can say no to the un-natural foods around me, but I someone from mugging me if I have to.

First Shopping Trip Today marked my next step into eating healthy... the first “big” shopping trip. Today I went to Natural Grocers, a grocery store in Temple, the town next to us. There is no other natural grocer in our area. Among the items purchased are: Ingredients for healthy pizza (Whole grain pizza crust, organic mozzarella cheese, organic tomato sauce) Organic spaghetti 14 grain bread Turkey bacon and sausage (completely turkey, no pork or extra fat added) Granola Organic Peanut Butter Whole grain wheat tortillas Organic cheese Organic Popcorn Organic “hamburger helper” (not branded) Fruits You may have already noticed...”Where’s the meat!?” Well, two things I must speak to. First of all, my pregnant wife has big problems with her nausea. And she is pretty much guaranteed to throw up after eating chicken, and she doesn’t like seafood either. In fact, she can’t even stand the sight and smell of such foods. That pretty much leaves red meat and pork... but she had pork earlier this week and got sick too. So we’re down to just red meat.

to give me. So, we’re eating deer meat. Deer burger pizza, deer burger helper, spaghetti with deer meat sauce, and back strap fajitas. When I was following Jeremiah’s plan earlier this year, I did stay away from red meat, and lost a few pounds a week. I’ll be tracking my weight daily, and if I notice I have some stalling, I’ll just have to cook different meals for us. I also didn’t buy any vegetables, I stocked up on frozen vegetables a while back, and still have plenty left. Jeremiah says that frozen vegetables are always better than canned because they undergo less or no processing, so I bought a whole bunch when they were on sale a few weeks ago. The cost of the trip wasn’t bad, only around $65, but I also didn’t buy any meat, so that lowered the cost considerably. I also didn’t buy any household items. I very well could have gone to HEB, they do have a good organic selection, but I wanted to take a trip to a real natural grocery store. Their prices were competitive, and the people there were very helpful. There were almost no brands there I recognized, but there were plenty of different foods to purchase, some obviously more healthy than others (they still have ice cream, baked goods and candies). If it were just me, I would really only be eating meat and veggies, with fruit and snacks in between meals. But my wife doesn’t eat that way, so I have to get creative and buy healthier alternatives lining up with “normal” food we eat or want to eat. Hence the organic pizza and tacos I’m going to make. But I’m glad to do it for her and for our baby, and anything to help them eat well is a good thing in my book.

On Jeremiah’s plan, he suggests staying away from red meat. There’s a whole lot of research as to why that I will not get into. But one thing me and my wife love deer meat, and it doesn’t affect her nausea. And it’s least I’m pretty sure it is. I have a few Next I will embark on another big step...emptying out friends that hunt and always have meat they want our pantry and fridge (they’re due for a cleaning)...

Meet Future Justin

of the day. You’re used to being asleep when your alarm goes off, and when you hear it you are angry Today’s run was tough to stay motivated for. I compare about waking up. So if you hear that same alarm in my motivation to an egg shell. Once I get motivated, the middle of the day, you tend to feel bad feelings the slightest thing can crack me and I have no desire right off the bat. Anger or frustration is an associated to get out and do something. This happens with a lot feeling to the sound of the alarm. You might also of plans, not just running. I have this thing though, feel this when you hear your text tone coming from Bridgette teases me for it, but today was proof that it someone else’s phone. You hear it, and immediately you reach for your pocket, purse, or look around for works. Let me introduce you to: your phone. It’s only a second or two later that you realize the sound came from somewhere else. It’s Future Justin an associated feeling. So knowing this, I told myself I’m smart. I’ve often times been told I’m too smart to always do the same thing before going for a run, for my own good. Future Justin is proof. Sometimes turning it into a ritual. when presented with a task or difficulty that I don’t want to do, I will tell myself, “Future Justin will take The stupid ritual worked. care of it”. This is my own form of procrastination. In college, Future Justin handled most of my affairs. “I I was in no state of mind to go run. I was really have a paper due next week...I’ll let future Justin start planning to mostly walk. I changed into my workout it after the weekend.” “I really need to practice...I’ll clothes, and took my ID out of my wallet. After I just let future Justin practice twice tomorrow.” Future took my ID out, I thought, “This is happening, I’m Justin was a terrible creation, he wreaked havoc on going for a run.” I went down to my car, turned on my productivity. But today Future Justin paid off. Let “Bounce”, and left for the park. I hadn’t even left my apartment complex before I started feeling more me share how. psyched about running. When I got to the park I got out of my car and started stretching. I was feeling I start every run the same way: better. So good in fact, I thought, “Let’s make this a 1. Take my drivers ID out of my wallet and put it into good run.” Then I put my headphones on, started my running app, and took off (metaphorically, I always my pocket. start with a quick walk). 2. Get into my car, play my “Upbeat” mix, starting with “Bounce” by Calvin Harris.

I had a really good run.

3. When I get to the park, keep the music playing I did my second best record for length/time. On my way to the park, I was a little angry at Past Justin while I stretch. for making this ritual. But on my way home...I was actually still pretty angry that it worked, but I got 4. Start walking, start my “Zombies! Run” app. past that pretty quick and was glad I ran. Why do I follow this pattern before a workout? When I first started running I was on the pure motivation My apologies to Cheetos, Fritos, Tostitos, of wanting to run and eat healthy. But I knew one Doritos, and the rest of the “itos” family. I will thing...

not be purchasing your products.

Future Justin is going to be lazy some days, and he’s going to blow my hard work. So I created a ritual while in the “psyched” state of mind consisting of the above 4 steps. This is using the method called NLP. Basically you associate or “anchor” a feeling to an action. You might best feel this when you hear your alarm go off in the middle

scary mommy confessions Parenting doesn’t have to be perfect

I have no idea what I am doing at least 97% of the time. I guess my poor son is my practice baby. . . I make mean faces at my friend’s annoying 2-year-old when she’s not looking. She just thinks he’s going through a “crying-for-no-reason” phase. It’s 2:51 a.m. and I’m eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon while watching Craig Ferguson. The baby isn’t even up. What am I doing?! My DH is always gone while I’m at home 24/7 with children. Sometimes I wish I could punch him in the face! It’s always about him. For once I’d like it to be about me. Unfortunately, no one would notice! I’m hiding in my bathroom, drinking a beer and trying to poo. DS3 won’t go to sleep. Its 10:15, mofo, mommy needs a freaking break! I stalk my step-daughter’s mom on Facebook, mainly to reassure myself that I’m a cooler person than she is. I wake up in the morning with C cups, but go to bed with A cups - joy of breastfeeding. Every year I use my gift cards I received the last Christmas to buy my kids presents for this year. Never spent a dime of them myself and have to lie to the giver and tell them I bought such - and - such for myself. I’m a single mom and my DD3 is the seed of Chucky! She’s good for everyone else but is a nightmare 85% of the time for me. I’d like to one day have another kid but I’m afraid it will be a half breed demon child like her. I learned tonight that my parents’ “usual bet” involves my mom running around the house (literally AROUND the house - outside) completely naked. I’m embarrassed, traumatized, and totally impressed simultaneously. This SAHM can only do one thing well at a time. House might be clean but dinner sucks and kids are filthy. Tonight was an awesome dinner but kids and I are greasy and the place is a pit. No clue how 1950’s women did it. My daughter likes to dress up as me in my heels and briefcase. Little does she know, I still feel like I’m dressing up as my own mother every single day. When I make my DH’s lunch, I always give him the stuff from the snack drawer that the kids & I don’t like or the stuff that is getting old. I don’t want to waste food. :) I broke down bawling this morning in front of my DD2, She was being terrible, would not listen, get dressed, and kept kicking me. I was 10 min late to work, and it is very obvious I spent my morning in tears. Every night I go to sleep and tell myself I’m going to be a better mom in the morning. Five minutes after waking up, I already failed.

You can read more anonymous confessions here

Stuff My Kid Says I want to be a vet or a patriotic nurse... you know the ones that take care of kids... Rachel, 11

Mommy, you are made of cream and Daddy is made of coffee... so that means I’m made of coffee and cream, right?

Maegan, 7

Mommy It’s a wishing star! I wish there was a candyland, I wish there was a candyland, I wish there was a candyland, and no boogers!

Haylee, 4

Talk About a Deal! Elvis was a great man, but he would have been greater if his guitar shot lasers.

When I grow up I want to be a king. But not of the whole world, more like a neighborhood.

Austin, 5

Christian, 6 Have a funny quote from your child? Email it to with the subject line “Submission to Stuff My Kid Says”

Finding Love...Again

I had found it, my one true love. She was 8 lbs 3oz, and already full of personality. She immediately became my sidekick, mini-me, partner in crime, and it was us against the world. Until 4 years later when I met my second true love, and he came with 2 more girls to love. Instantly my mind went to all the fun we could have: girls days out, slumber parties, fixing hair, and all the sister things that mine had missed out on the first few years of her life. She would now have an older sister to gain wisdom from, and one her same age to be friends with forever. As for me, I would now have a home full of girls. It couldn’t have been any more ideal. In my head that is. Honestly, I am lucky. All three girls are fantastic, independent, strong, loyal, and full of personality. They can be girly with hair bows, makeup, and cute clothes to go play outside in the leaves. They get along 95% of the time and there isn’t a lot of jealousy. Since I want to make everything fair, it does put some pressure on me. To make sure they each get the same amount of attention, they all get the same things but not exactly. It can be overwhelming at times, but I’ve found the best way to do this is to make sure each of their strong personalities is showcased. What better way than by capturing it forever in photographs. This month we took our family photographs and allowed each girl to be themselves. My mini-me cried the majority of it, his mini-me cooperated to a point, and the oldest one had inspiration and posed us. The girls all love the pictures, and longforgotten are the tears shed. Overall it was a huge success with some great memories.



How to Keep Your Holidays from G The holidays are here once again. I don’t know about you, but I end up wavering somewhere between really excited about all of the celebration and festivities, and being overwhelmed with the stress that I feel like is inevitable. This time of year can be tricky because while tradition is great, it can also trap you into boring or irritating holidays. You’re going to have that same weird food, see that extended aunt always asks you awkward questions, or maybe you’re having a staycation and don’t want to get stuck inside. Here are some ways to shake up your holidays without having to spend a ton of cash or leave town. Try volunteering or charity work. I know, I know. This is the one I always roll my eyes at too, but hear me out. A couple of years ago at work, they were building a Christmas package for a family in poverty who lived in the Appalachian mountains. Between the ten of us, we split up things like buying coats for the children, packing up some basic house and cooking supplies for the mother, and gathering books and toys for the kids to play with. I was in charge of finding a pair of jeans for the 9-year-old daughter. I saw one pair and thought, “Those are cute, but not practical.” The next one pair was better, but they weren’t going to be warm and would wear out quickly. Imagining what would pair would be best for her winter took me out of the stress and brought me so much fulfillment. Christmas was alive again. Even if you don’t have the money to buy someone jeans, volunteer for a couple of hours at a local food pantry or charity that’s packing up Christmas dinners. It’s a really easy way to change someone’s Christmas and make an impact in your own community. Shake up your traditions If you always eat ham at Christmas, try turkey or look online to find a new way to cook your entrée. Go for a stroll through Pinterest and find an interesting side dish you’d like to try and make it. Maybe try a new way of gift giving. Try playing

Dirty Santa or add categories. One side of my family does their stockings with the following four gifts: something to wear, something you need, something to read, and something to eat. You could also introduce a game to stave off those endless hours of small talk. (Balderdash, Dutch Blitz, and trivia are great for this.) If you always go to one particular church for a Christmas Eve service, try going someplace else or find a holiday play you could go to. Try something new Remember that holiday program you’ve always wanted to go to? Or perhaps that light show that’s happening across town that always sounded fun? Make time for it. If you go onto your city’s Facebook page or website you can usually find cheap or free activities that are fun celebrations for the whole family. If you usually watch a holiday movie, either rent a different one, or try going to the theater to check out that new flick you’ve been eying. Make a brand new holiday drink, or grab a friend and have a holiday baking day. (Remember to grab some frosting and food coloring for some ridiculous, sugary fun!) Try hosting a holiday party and ask your friends to bring their favorite dish to eat this time of year. Maybe include some interesting traditions from other culture’s holidays or add a pop-culture twist to spice things up. (I’ve always wanted to have a Festivus party that includes the feats of strength!) Basically, if you’re feeling like you’re just going through the motions during the holidays, try one of these to break out of the routine and make your holidays fresh again! Also, remember that you have the power to opt out of things. If there’s a tradition that you family just won’t budge on, or if that thing your friends do every year gets on your nerves, politely pass and go do something more relaxing instead. The holidays aren’t supposed to be miserable. They are supposed to be full of fun, love, and celebration. So, go do the things that inspire those in your life and spend it with the people you care about most. Most of all, have holly jolly holidays!

Going Stale

By Deanna Ogle

Blog Deanna Ogle is a writer from Metro Detroit who is married to the love of her life. She manages websites by day and is an associate editor by night. She loves poetry, carnations, and cinnamon

Top Ten Movies Fo by Kimberly Campbell Moore

One of the biggest joys for me at Christmas is watching movies with family. Through the years, I have, of course, gained favorites that I love watching every year. I won’t mention It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story, as those are the ones that everyone knows about. They’re so well known that a cable channel plays A Christmas Story for 24 hours. I am going to list my top ten favorite Christmas movies, in no particular order. 1. Meet Me in St. Louis. This is a charming black and white film with a young Judy Garland. After her role as Dorothy, Judy went onto star in musicals. This is one of them. It’s about a family in St. Louis at the turn of the last century. The movie spans a year, with holiday celebrations. I love the Halloween part. There are four sisters. Esther (Garland), Rose, Tootie (Margaret O’Brien, who went on to play Beth in the 1949 version of Little Women) and Agnes. If you loved Little Women, either the book or the movie, you’ll love Meet Me in St. Louis. It was originally a book by Sally Benson, which was republished in 2004, so if you want to read the book it is available again. 2. The Santa Clause. I love the vision of the North Pole in this movie. It’s magical in a way that other movies just don’t touch. Every little detail is perfect, from the Santa suit (the design on it! It looks way more authentic than most movie Santa’s plain red suits with plain white cuff) to the hot chocolate that the elf Judy brings. Also, the transformation of Tim Allen into Santa Claus is very humorous. 3. Little Women, the 90s version with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale. The cameras used to shoot this capture color in so much lush detail. The acting is superb and the telling of the story is an amazing adaptation. 4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Actually any of them, but especially the first, as seeing a Hogworts Christmas for the first time is magical.

or the Holidays 5. Nightmare Before Christmas. Some might consider this a Halloween movie, but I think of it as both. The different twist on Christmas and the other holidays is unique and adds layers to the whole myth of it. Also the message of knowing what you’re good at and loving it instead of regretting your path is a good one. 6. The Family Stone. This one stars Sarah Jessica Parker and a variety of other amazing actors, including Luke Wilson, Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams. Parker plays an uptight attorney who is engaged to Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) who takes him home to meet his very relaxed and large family. She doesn’t fit in. This movie is about learning who you really are, what you’re really meant to be and accepting people for who they are. 7. Miracle on 34th Street. I love the black and white version of this. It’s just a very sweet movie, with phenomenal acting. 8. A Christmas Vacation. This is like a movie about all the things that can go wrong on or around Christmas and they actually do go wrong for the Griswold family, or specifically Clark Griswold. This movie will make you feel better about any snafus (minor of course) that goes wrong with your own holiday celebration. 9. Scrooged. An adaptation of A Christmas Carol starring Bill Murray. Murray does ironic humor perfectly, and I just adore this adaptation of A Christmas Carol. 10. All the claymation (if not claymation it’s how I always think of them) Christmas movies, Frosty The Snowman and Rudolph. These I put on here for pure nostalgia. I remember Christmases from when I was little, and the magic of Christmas was still in the child’s realm (Christmas is still magical but it’s different when you’re an adult). So when you find yourself with a couple of extra hours this Christmas, share one of these movies with a loved one or maybe even those relatives that you never can find much to say. Movies are perfect for that!



Little Women This year, I finally hit a personal goal of mine. I went Black Friday shopping (well, it started Thanksgiving night, but I did go until 2:30 a.m., so I did hit Black Friday too!). It was crazy. It was adrenaline pumping. It was crazy, with long lines galore. I had fun, but through it all, there was a small part of me that craved the quiet and solitude of my own little space. Black Friday captures the pace of the holiday season perfectly, I thought. The Christmas season is amazing in the beauty of the lights, the people, church services, the story of Jesus’ birth. However, it also includes parties on the same nights. Buying gifts for everyone, including that coworker that sits next to you that irritates you with her clam chowder that she eats daily. Those of us that have children have even more. I have two church services my daughter is in, back to back. There’s putting up your Christmas trees, your Christmas decorations. I don’t do lights, but I can imagine that becomes it’s own personal nightmare with only the thought of the beauty of it to sustain you. All of the things that make it the best season, also make it the most stressful of seasons. The time you have to spend in your own personal space, either mentally, physically or both disappears. It fills up with being stuck in holiday traffic, baking Christmas cookies, and visiting those relatives that you don’t see the rest of the year; sometimes by choice. It also fills with love, delight in the season and reminders of what it’s all really about. But it can all take it’s toll. I wanted to recommend a short book this month, a way to carve out some time for yourself. It might be only a five minute time frame, but even that little bit of time in a book, away from everything can soothe you. I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It’s

by Kimberly Campbell Moore with Eleven and a half years of books (a book blog based on The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books edited by J. Peder Zane.)

been decades since I read this book, probably about the same time I started to find boys interesting. Little Women is divided into two parts. The first part was published in the 1868, the second in 1869. In 1880 they were combined into the same volume. I am only recommending the first half, the first one released. It’s much shorter, it captures Christmas better, and it’s a bit cheerier than the whole together. Part 1 takes place from one Christmas to the next. The time is the 1860s, specifically in the thick of the Civil War. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are the four daughters of a once wealthy man, who now is a minister and his wife. Their father has gone off to war. They are not wealthy anymore. All four of the girls have a “vice”. Meg is a little materialistic. Jo has a quick temper that flares out of control. Beth has very minor faults, crippling shyness being one of them. Amy is vain. They are perfectly spaced out adolescents. Amy hits the first part at twelve, Meg the last at sixteen, turning seventeen. The book opens with their Christmas. All four are lamenting their lack, and the pain at being separated from their father. During this time they discuss everything their mother, whom they call Marmee, was doing. While having this discussion they all agree that instead of buying themselves Christmas presents, which was their original plan, they agree to spend their money on presents for Marmee. The next morning they end up giving up their Christmas breakfast to a poor family called the Hummels, that Marmee has called on and found starving and cold. Later that evening after giving their gifts to Marmee, she gives them little Pilgrim’s Progress books, as they used to play Pilgrim’s Progress as children and she wishes them to work on their faults through the next year.

Soon, Laurie, the lonely boy next door is introduced to the narrative. He is Jo’s age and they become extremely close, as Jo is a tomboy, who wants to be able to be a man (back then, this was less of a call for concern, as it more meant that she wished the freedoms that men had, not the actual gender), and as they have a deep understanding of one another. Jo is the most vivid and the most memorable character of the book. Other characters also play major parts in the narrative. I like to leave a few surprises though if you have never read it. Through the events of the following year, the girls all become improved, working hard on their faults. Life taught them humbleness in all sorts of different ways. Their father was injured and very ill in Washington D.C., and their mother traveled there to take care of him. While Marmee is in Washington, Beth takes up visiting the Hummels where she contracts small pox from the family. She falls gravely ill and Amy is sent away to their Great Aunt Josephine’s, as she has never had small pox. After they send for the doctor he recommends sending for “her mother” for he believed she was very near death. At the last moment, right before their mother arrived, Beth recovered from the near death state.

fan of Gone With the Wind, and I believe that this book shows the “other side”, how some in the North saw the War and also how they lived at the time. Slavery doesn’t come into the story at all, the cause of the War doesn’t even get mentioned, but that almost serves to emphasize life at that time, the daily routines and the daily tribulations the women at home experienced. This is definitely a book you could spend just a few minutes with every day and emerge with a sigh, having left your current reality a bit and spent time with a family that wasn’t materialistic, a family that shows the real meaning of Christmas. Louisa May Alcott took her own life and painted it over in a way that she probably wished it had been.

If you find yourself with more time and want a different book to read: Fantasy: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Even if you aren’t a huge fantasy reader, you might like this one. Romance/Chick Lit: Love Letters by Katie Fforde. I started out unsure of this book but by the end was utterly charmed. This would be a great follow-up to Little Women, they’re not very similar plot-wise but left me feeling the same. Fun Paranormal Series (first book): Dead Witch Walking. If you liked True Blood the HBO Series, or the novels they’re based on, you should love these. Classic: Lord of the Rings trilogy (I’m reading this At this point, the year for the first time. Get past the grew close to Christmas again. Their father returned home. The girls don’t leave first chapter and you might love it! Then go watch the their side. Beth recovers for the most part. The story movies again during the dreary days of January). ends on this heartwarming note. Now those of you that have read both parts of this novel, or many who have Kimberly Campbell Moore has spent the last just heard of the whole book might think I have my 30 years devouring books and is always on the information wrong on the state we leave the girls in. hunt for a book that will end up devouring her. However, the first volume ended this way. She believes in wearing t-shirts sporting literary quotes, as well as this quote from C.S. Lewis: The book is charming. It is easy to read. You see life “We read to know we are not alone.” as it was during this time. I have always been a huge

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