Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Not-So-Elmo

On March 4, 2010 I stated here on this very blog the following proclamation:

7. Birthday parties will just be with the family. Cake, ice cream, singing happy birthday and presents. I was always perfectly happy with this option, why won't my kids be??

And then on January 13, 2011 I stated the following:

3. Cartoon characters - especially Winnie the Pooh and any/all Looney Toons - will also not be on my child's clothing or in their nursery. Not even when they get old enough to request their favorite cartoon's apparel. Nope, so sorry.***
Which touched on my strong dislike for all things character.

Taking those two STRONG proclamations I made in pre-baby days, it will come as no surprise that we are doing an Elmo themed birthday party where we've invited over 40 adults and children over to our home. Makes perfect sense, no?

But, all that said, Charley is only going to be two. And I still get quite a bit of say over her party. Elmo may be one of her favorite things (although Barney is fighting a good fight to come out on top...much to my dismay) I don't have to saturate every piece of her party with Elmo things. I don't want Elmo plates and Elmo balloons and Elmo napkins and Elmo, Elmo, Elmo. Y'all know how I am about these things. I like things to look just so and Elmo isn't really a big part of my vision.

My sister dubbed this party theme:

The Not-So-Elmo Elmo Party

And I loved it. Elmo will show his furry face here and there, but not everywhere. I'm hoping to have things that may suggest Elmo without his face on everything. Selfish? Maybe. But my days are numbered with having control of party ideas and I plan on taking advantage.


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"Oh look! The placement of that smaller orange balloon in front of the larger red balloon reminds me of SOMEthing...I just can't put my finger on it. Elmo, maybe? Nah, that's not quite Elmo."

And you know what else? Much like last year's cat themed birthday party, there is next to nothing on Google or Pinterest for this party theme. So I'm having to come up with a lot of things on my own. I do like making things hard on myself you know. But even more than that, I get unnaturally excited when I come up with something great and then Google it to see if it's been done and: nothing. I can't wait to share those things with you after the party!

To make things just a smidge more difficult I have once again waited until the last minute. The party is in three weeks so one would assume two free weekends (I'm a working mama, not much time to do anything during the week) in which I could craft and plan and shop. But no, I will be out of town on both of those weekends. To demonstrate my last-minute-ness a different way: there are 17 days until the party - I am out of town for 9 of them and I work on the other 8 days. YAY FUN!

Tonight was not included in that calculation because while I came in the office to work on a party project, instead I am sitting in front of the computer next to a pile of red card stock whining about my procrastination to all of you lovelies. Naturally.

So! Any ideas you'd like to share with me? I'd love to be all super Mom and "oh, nope, thought of this alllllll on my own, but unfortunately I didn't leave much time for that. HELP! Please?

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***Sunday, as I was getting Charley dressed for the day I heard this 6 WORD question come out of her mouth:
"How about Minnie Mouse shirt, please?"
I have now officially rebutted every part of that proclamation claiming I wouldn't cave even when they were old enough to ask for it. What a bunch of bologna, pre-baby Lacey.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

After Bedtime

I recently read a blog post talking about the differences in getting ready for a dinner date between a childless couple and a couple with children. The comments on it are very obnoxious and I'd encourage you not to read them or else your opinion of society will drop just a bit further. Good grief, people.

It's a bit more spirited in it's language than I am on here (or in real life) so warning if you are sensitive to that sort of thing, but I relate to all of it. Even the part about the childless couple getting ready. I had forgotten what it was like to get ready to go out before children, but that was exactly it. You get home, relax, have a pre-going-out beer, shower, do your hair, turn the music on and then maybe get there a bit early to get your name on the wait list and have a drink from the bar. Ha. What a distant memory that is now!

I really try and schedule any outings until after bedtime if I can. Charley goes to bed at 8, so I feel like that is still an okay time for an adult dinner or drinks and it makes it so much easier on me. But, occasionally New Kids on the Block come to town and they aren't in the business of scheduling around John's work trips or Charley's bedtime. They wanted me to be there to rock out with them by 7:30! 7:30!? On a weeknight? When my husband is out of town?!

That particular evening I got home with Charley at 5:15 or so. I instantly went in to oh-my-gosh-what-on-Earth-does-one-wear-to-a-concert-these-days mode and rummaged around in my closet full of too-small-clothing while Charley pulled out every shoe I owned and practiced walking in them around the house. I was temporarily keeping my nieces this day too, so add two 9 year olds to the mix of shoe-trying-on and there were shoes everywhere. My sister got there around 5:45 or 6 and picked up her two girls, and took my one girl to my parent's house for me after I threw some toys and diapers in a bag for her. Whew. That was one task I wasn't sure how I was going to get done in my allotted time. Two minutes after she'd left I realized I never fed my child dinner. Whoops.

 A friend and fellow concert-goer was coming over early to check out my new house and I knew she'd be there before I would know it. The last time I saw this friend was a couple months ago on my birthday, and of course the only thing I could find to wear was the exact same shirt I was wearing that night. You guys know how crazy I am about that type of thing. But there were no other options. I decide to wear it again.

In the middle of that decision making process my friend shows up. I give her a house tour trying not to look flustered. I get to the master bathroom part of the house tour and I get my first glimpse of myself in the mirror. My hair and make-up needs a major touch up, but ha, wouldn't you know - it's time to go. No time for touching up. I don't think Joey will be able to see me anyways in our nosebleed seats. As we run out of the house I am searching for my other shoe. Where on Earth could they have taken it?

(Sidenote: then, as I backed out of my garage in my hurry, my side mirror slightly grazed the molding around the garage pulling it off. I don't know why if it was only slightly grazed that it came off completely, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I get out of the car, toss the piece of molding back into the garage, shut the garage door and continue on.)

We pick up one friend and are on our way to pick up another friend when she calls and, God bless her, asks if any of us would like a sandwich for the road as she's about to make one for herself. Food! Oh, right! Of course! I forgot to feed myself as well, and yes, I'd love one! (It always seems like eating is the thing that gets left out in these rushed scenarios.)

Concert was great and I get home around midnight that night. John came home that evening from his work trip and picked up Charley from my parent's and put her to bed. I tally up the amount of time I got to spend with her that day (don't do this...it will just make you depressed) and I got about 30 minutes that morning (while we got ready for the day), and, including the time in the car on the way home, another hour that evening. And this, childless friends, is why I don't like to do anything before her bedtime on the weekdays. One and a half waking hours. That's just waking ridiculous.

But, on the bright side I got to rock out to some old school Boyz II Men (Do they still go by that whackadoo spelling?), 98 degrees, and New Kids on the Block. Although NKOTB sang NEW stuff too which really rained on my parade. How dare they?! I wanted a full evening of old stuff and if they needed a couple different things thrown in they could have done a cover or something. I am not one for change, people. I prefer my music old and dated.

Check out those awesome front row seats we had.

So anyways, next time I get somewhere (after 8, mind you) and I look a little frazzled and like I maybe have been rushing around to try and get to you, have a drink waiting for me, would ya? I do love seeing you too it just takes a lot of effort to get there. Just be glad that I think you are awesome enough to be worth that effort.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cheap Thrills

It's time again for another edition of Look-at-the-cheap-stuff-I've-bought-in-stranger's-garages-lately. If you are new around here, just know that I'm a big fan of garage sales. Big. Fan. See some things I've gotten here, here, here and here.

Since I have a new bigger house, I now have space for larger things, like, FURNITURE. Ohhh boy. Nothing makes John or my dad happier than to have 4 crazy women (me, mom, two sisters) call them early on a Saturday morning for furniture pick-up. So far I haven't been too crazy. I purchased a desk for $10 which I plan to finish similar to this example from Pinterest:


Only I want to keep the wood finish and paint the contrasting diamonds in an off-white. The desk is so cute and has so much character I don't want to paint over.

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Oh look. I've already started the diamond painting project. Yet another project where I forgot to take a 'before' picture.

Here's some of it's character.  This B.K. + J.P. = LOVE has been scratched into the writing board piece that slides out. I love stuff like that!

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That penciled message of 'Ben K is gay' is also so sweet and gives it so much character, no?
I also got this blue china cabinet thing for $35. I don't own any china, nor do I want any but who could resist it? I think most people would paint it, but I'm kind of fond of the blue myself. I think a fun wallpapered backing would look really cool in there too.

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I have a friend that works at a glass shop that is getting me two glass shelves to go in there, and I'm collecting milk glass looking items to fill it. Guess where I'm collecting them from? Yep. More garage sales. I've probably spent $15 on all 10 pieces.

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Then there's my plate collection. I paid $1 each for most of these, some cheaper, a couple were $2. I have another 8 or 9 plates to hang on the opposite wall in another collage once it's painted as well. (See how the window wall is still the builder's basic cream color, and the plate wall is yellow? We're in the middle of painting. Well, I say 'we' but mean 'he'.) 

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A couple of these were IKEA as-is plates and not garage sale finds. I don't know why they were as-is, unless they were used in a display so they must then mark them down to $1 to get rid of them because they may have been....touched! Oh the horror! But I'm thankful for the $1 plates, so, thanks IKEA!

Some more office-y things I've collected in this next picture. That lamp was only $5! I passed it by and my sisters and mom yelled for me to come back and see whatever wonderful thing they'd found for me, and to be honest, I wasn't expecting much since the rest of this particular garage sale was kind of a bust. But this was no bust. I LOVE this lamp. And you see that screen thing behind it? It's a tri-fold screen that was purchased at that same sale (so obviously not a bust!) for $30 I think. It's from Pier 1 and it's in perfect condition.

And that desk it's all on? It was free. Not from a garage sale but from my lovely sister. Free>cheap.

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I can't remember if I've shared this before, but that quaint tiny little yellow table and chairs was only $5 for all of it. And the baby doll high chair to the right of it was $3 as well. This is currently the only table in my dining room, so prepare to eat on the floor if you come over and are taller than 2.5 feet.
 
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Light fixture = $5, and way better than the boob light the builder put there. What builder puts a boob light in an entry way? Couldn't we at least get a cheapo brass chandelier like the rest of America?
 
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Also, give me ideas on what to do with all that glass in our door and sidelights! It's impossible to hide from solicitors if they can see right in my house. I can only slump down on the couch so far.
 
I always seem to share the bigger things and forget about all of the little things. I don't usually go out with any more than $40, so when I find a bigger item like the china cabinet that was $35 I either write a check if I have one or borrow more cash from my family until we get to an ATM. We find that if you go out with a lot of cash you basically jinx yourself and you'll find nothing. Go out with less and get more. A little garage sale voodoo magic, if you will.

So anyways, here are some cheaper things I've picked up lately.

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$1 slightly pink cake stand
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Words! Ahh! But they are French words which totally makes them okay.
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$6 shoe storage thingy
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$5 for the pair, negotiated down from $6 for both, since you know that was way too much for two lamps. Hehe
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$1 each for Waverly pillows
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You've seen this in my breakfast area but here it is again. It was $5.
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$1 for the map. I plan to do travelly/mappy things in the office.
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$2 for the globe.
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And a million other things as I'm sure you can tell. I've shared this picture before but at one point my spare room looked like this, and 75% of that stuff is from garage sales.

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Basically, I'm a cheap hoar...


...der.
 

Monday, August 5, 2013

TV-less

We cancelled cable. I know, I know. The next thing you expect me to say is that we are going off the grid and only eating foods we grow or raise ourselves. Rest easy, Tuna. We don't plan on eating you. Yet.

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But really. We paid $75 something dollars to hook up cable before we moved in because you know how annoying it is to wait for the darn cable man when you are already living in the house. And then closing got delayed, delayed, delayed to where we ended up paying nearly an entire month of cable ($90) for a house we didn't even live in yet, much less have a TV in. Ugh. So then we move in and realize we really don't watch much TV at all. John watches two or three series (Falling Skies, Justified, and something else equally as stupid) and I watch two shows (Survivor and Amazing Race) both of which are on broadcast TV which is broadcast for FREE. FREE. And we were paying $90/month for what, exactly? It would have been more fun to just flush that money down the toilet.

We already had the ability to access the internet through our TV and had been watching movies like that for a while. I had also recently read this blog talking about their cable-less set-up and had kept that in the back of my mind. We have a Wii and were planning on getting Hulu or Amazon Prime or Netflix or something once we pulled the trigger and cancelled cable. We hadn't decided what we were doing yet, but went ahead and called the cable company and cancelled, and then went a solid 3 weeks TV-less before making a decision. We really didn't miss it much. But I'm honestly not that granola. I like some trashy TV now and then just as much as the next person.


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Charley got her Elmo fix on YouTube on the computer while we made up our minds.
Finally we started by buying an antenna for the regular broadcast stations. John has been purchasing episodes of his shows for a whopping $1.99 each the day after they air. Our current TV WOULD have worked by using the Wii, but to cancel out all of the money we'd be saving by not having cable John went and bought a new TV that made being cable-free easier. It is a smart TV that has a remote with a full keyboard (cool, right?) and has all of the apps accessible for YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and a million other things that I don't even know what they are. I agreed on the purchase because the new TV will have the ability to hang on the wall which fits in the long-term design scheme in my head for the living room. So, win-win. (except for that hit on the ol' bank account)

Also, the new TV came with a year free of Netflix so we've got that now too. I've read lots of people say that they also have Amazon Prime for their cable-less needs, but I don't really get that. What does that get you? Just old seasons of shows? We're not really in to watching old shows so I'm not sure I want to spend the $80/year for that just yet. We watch newer shows which we'll pay for as they air. (Because a season of say, 10 shows, will cost us $20 in total which is way less than the $90/month we were paying for cable.) I know you get the rest of the Prime benefits too, but I just haven't justified that for us yet. Someone help me out with that one.

I forget where I was going with this, but basically, if this is super old news to you and you've been doing this for years, give us some tips. I know our set-up and subscriptions will evolve as we figure this all out until we have something as cool as A'dell's, but we're just cable-less babies at this point. What should we do next?