Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Am I With the Right Person?

"In Yiddish, there's a word for it: bashert. The meaning is something like "intended": the person who was meant for you. We're not talking about a soul mate, though modern usage often spins it that way; the original meaning is more complicated. Your basherter won't always make you happy, and your life together won't always be easy. But there's a sense of rightness, of having landed where you're supposed to be."
- Julie Orringer
Author of The Invisible Bridge

I have these dreams sometimes where Husband and I get into a ridiculous sort of fight, so ridiculous that in the dream I forget what we're fighting about. But in the dream, this ridiculous disagreement becomes so serious that we avoid each other. Soon our relationship falls apart. In my dream state, I know it's wrong- it feels abysmally wrong. Even in DreamLand it feels like a knife to the heart. I cry and tell him that  this is stupid, that we shouldn't give up and he acts indifferent. He shrugs his shoulders. He doesn't care. (Take out knife and stab heart again. Worst. Dream. Ever.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

10 Steps: How to Take the Worst Holiday Picture with Santa

A picture with Santa is one of those "must do" items on the Christmas check off list along with baking cookies and decorating the tree. For me, it is doubley exciting since my kiddos and my sister's kiddos take the picture together: 4 cousins, 2 laps, and a Santa in a pear tree. 

But take heed: the magical idea one creates in their mind of reliving their childhood Santa pictures through their own children is by no means easy. Last year, I came home early and without Husband to NJ with both kids (both barely under 2) and getting two kids dressed in Christmas attire, coats-scarves-hats-gloves on, in the car, out of the car, in the stroller, to the mall, on line, and on Santa's lap was it's own version of hell; a hell that should be accurately captured by the end product. 

What a crock it would be if after running behind kids in a crowded mall and knocking into people and waiting on line with tantrum-bellowing kids, they got to Santa's lap and smiled gloriously. That wouldn't truly reflect the spirit of Christmas pictures at the mall. By the time you reach Santa's chair, you should hope for a serious-faced kid staring blankly at the camera - or if you're lucky, like us two years ago, we hit pure gold with the trifecta of holiday picture taking. 

So if you too want the world's best worst holiday picture with Santa, follow some of these steps.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Skeptic's Guide to Elf on a Shelf

When I first started seeing this Elf on a Shelf craze unfolding, I admit, I was skeptical. It seemed like something that would totally be up my alley but I thought it was a bit strange. When it began taking over my Pinterest account, I was a bit annoyed. 

And then I read the Elf on a Shelf / Dinovember dad post and the explanation: "how in this world of technology and non mystery this is a little bit of mystery that you can give your kids." That began my change of heart with the Elf. Then I read about the Kindness Elves and I was sold.

Now I get it. And once you get it, the world becomes impossibly huge 
... because there are soooo many possibilities. 

But first... the elf needs an identity 

I found THESE, a great (and super adorable) alternative to the typical Elf on the Shelf and if I'm gonna get Husband behind this, the elf has to look much more traditional and waaaay less commercial.

We also can't call the elf - "Elf"; Elf will need a name. Since our kids, at the moment, speak more Spanish than English, I could go with a Spanish name like Don Miguel or Señor Gigante (irony). Or maybe I could use one of the baby names we liked but didn't get to use like Penny. But let's be real, we're a family from Jersey, so this elf will be named Bruce or Tony Soprano. Let's go classy NJ style... Frank Sinatra.

So to get you (possibly a skeptic) started, I searched Pinterest and Google and Facebook and blogs and every other social media you could imagine for far too many hours and I have narrowed down my favorite ideas. And with 13 days left til the big day, here's a great place to start (or end). It's never too late to believe...

The Introduction

Since Frank Sinatra is going to be part of the family, he will need a proper introduction. I love the thought and detail behind creating a whole Facebook page for him.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Deaf Ears: Do You Care What People Think?

"...If I answer, 'No, I don't care what people think,' I risk seeming arrogant. But if I answer, 'Yes, I care too much about what people think,' I risk seeming spineless."
- Elissa Schappell 
(author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls)

In truth, I've never been one for caring much of what others thought of me. In middle school and high school this served me well since peer pressure was a monster that scared others far more than it did me; when I felt pushed to try things that I was uncomfortable with, I wasn't fearful of saying no - I wasn't concerned with what others would say. But saying that I didn't care - or don't care - what people think at all wouldn't be true either. To some degree, of course I care. Sometimes we should care. The trick is finding the balance. 

This morning, after speaking to a friend who, at some point in her life, was in the same "trailing spouse" position as me (What a silly word for what we do. Trailing? How about courageously free.) I remembered how unsure I felt when I got here with my intention to focus on my writing career. I was excited to start down this writer's road that up until now I had only dreamt about. I was anxious as to whether or not I'd be any good. I was nervous I would fail. And while some people were very supportive, the naysayers, for some reason, are always far louder

Do you get paid?

You've gotta make money, babe. (Don't get me started on the "babe" part.)

It must be nice to not have to get up in the morning (because sleeping in was part of my daily agenda of taking care of kids and writing).

and my favorite...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2nd Installment: Holiday Shopping Made Easy so You Have More Time for Wine

The Berrrrs are Back...

Last week, The Berrrrs and I shared the first installment of the 2014 Holiday Shopping Made Easy so You Have More Time for Wine Guide and as promised here is the second installment. To keep the intro short I'll answer some rapid fire questions.

What is this? 
A butt load of gift ideas to help with your holiday shopping 

What could I expect to find here - I hate finding gift guides that have really expensive gifts? 
You'll find gift ideas of all prices with links, ideas, pictures, and promo codes... the whoooole hook up. 

Why would I check this out? 
With more than enough time to make or order, ship and wrap your gift you can avoid the holiday stress that comes with parking at the mall, waiting on long lines, and shopping with human Grinches.

Anything else I need to know? 
The gift guide is organized into categories with a present suggestion for everyone in the fam and I've starredthe items that are my absolute faves. 

In this installment you'll find:
Fabulous DIY gift ideas that are beyond easy and inexpensive
Gift ideas for the out-of-the-box Berrrr
Gifts for Berrrrs who hate gifts but LOVE experiences

Don't forget to check out the first installment

So now grab a glass bottle of wine, and relax (since you no longer have to stress about what to buy), get your credit card ready, and browse through these fabulous gifts ideas.
* * *

For the DIY Berrrr:

For Toddler Berrrr: DIY Games

Famous Landmarks

While the original concept I found on this blog for early education was famous landmarks, just think of all of the options you have when you open up this DIY project to famous works of art and maps and people. Check out the easy tutorial here.

Memory Game

DIY Memory Game from Burlap and Blue
I recycled  this game from last year because, well, it's adorable and multi-useful: promotes memorization, entertains, and gives you another place to display pictures. What a great way to keep your kids thinking about grandpa than to have your child find the matching piece. Check out the DIY tutorial at Burlap & Blue.

Go Fish*

This Personalized Go Fish is also really adorable and cheap to make. Although this blog used Photoshop and the result was phenomenal, those of you intimidated by Photoshop, can use PicMonkey.

Here's how:
- First, choose the family photos you will be using and edit them in Picmonkey; editing or cropping them as you'd like and save it to your desktop.
- Next, using the "design" option on the PicMonkey home screen, select the size you'd like your project to be (4x6 is a good start. For the cards below I resized the pixels to 300x450).
- Then, choose the canvas/background color.
- After, in the overlay section on the right sidebar, choose "your own" and upload the first picture; resizing it however big you'd like your picture to appear.
- Finally, add text or any other design features you'd like to use for the personalized names.

Here's how mine turned out without much fuss. Imagine with a bit more time how memorable a gift this would be:
The last thing I'd have to do is print them out on thicker paper and laminate. Voíla! DIY Go Fish Game.

Source: Imperfect Homemaking

For Mommy Berrrr: DIY Finishing Touches

Mason Jar Freshener

Pinterest is a tremendous source in all DIY ideas which is where I found this good (and simple) idea. In this project, all you need is a mason (canning) jar, a hammer and nails.

1. Poke holes in the lid with a nail and hammer (you could make a design or keep it simple)
2. Fill the jar 1/4 full of baking soda and 6-8 of essential oil.
3. Done. That's it. So simple right???

You could gift just one or make a few as a gift set of different aromas! View the full tutorial here!

DIY Beautifully Creative Plate and Mug Sharpie ideas*

This has endless options for any special occasion: make a cookie plate for Santa or write your favorite quote about friendship for your bestie or let your kids' masterpiece be a gift for the grandparents or create a set of plates for your college grad who is moving to a new apartment. There are just so many ways and so many decorative ideas you could use that to give you just one would be unfair so instead check out this Plate & Sharpies link, find the one you like best (or create your own obvi) and create away.

Here are the steps:
Buy a plate from the dollar store
Create design with a sharpie
Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Done. (*Use rubbing alcohol to fix any Sharpie mistakes.)

Check out this Sharpie decorated plate by Shabby Art Boutique to get you excited:

For Daddy Berrrr: 

Loooooove Soundtrack*

This is part DIY / part experience / part stolen idea. Husband and I watched Begin Again about a month ago. In the movie, Mark Ruffalo describes his first date with his ex-wife in which they used a headphone splitter cable to plug two headphones into one audio player and then spent the evening just walking around listening to music. This got me thinking... What if I made Husband a playlist (and maybe he made me one in return)? What a lovely homemade gift that would be on its own but introduce the splitter cable and a few hours of walking around any city together and you've got yourself a romantical gift idea.

* * * 

For the Out-of-the-Box Berrrr:

For Kiddo Berrrr: Mae Chevrette Art:* 

I recycled this gift from last year because I truly love her work. Maybe it's the wanderlust in her art or the beautiful quotes she uses about adventure and travel but I'm enchanted every time I look at one of these pieces. Here are links to some of my favorites: She is FierceEvery Dreamer KnowTo Be BraveField Trips

For Mommy Berrrr: Special Jewelry*

I can't begin to tell you how ridiculously cute I find this darn necklace. Months ago I pinned it (see? it's on my Pinterest accessory page) specifically so that I could include it on my holiday gift guide post and, well, here it is. What a clever way to wear your wedding date (or other important date) around your neck. Check out the Roman Numerals necklace at MyBelovedCo on Etsy.

For Daddy Berrrr: Coffee Mug 2.0

There are times when Husband wants coffee but doesn't want to brew a whole pot for just one. While Keurig was a game changer, it is on the pricier end and for people who live abroad, it isn't always the easier option. Enter this minibru coffee press mug. Brew a single cup with this French press coffee mug by adding coffee grounds and hot water. 

* * *

For the Berrrr that Loves Experiences:

For Kiddos Berrrr: Language Lessons

Research shows that kids pick up languages at an early age and that being bilingual is quickly becoming the norm and not the margin. This interactive and comprehensive program is designed to help children 0-6 learn a foreign language. Choose from 1 of 11 languages and your kids will be entertained while inspired to learn a foreign language through videos, books, flash cards, and CDs. Check out the Little Pim website for more information or buy this deal on Travelzoo for 50% off (prices starting at $15). 

For Mommy Berrrr: Wine!!!*

What? Wine is an experience. Especially when it comes delivered to your door. This deal from Heartwood and Oak Wine Merchants via Travelzoo is glorious. For $39 (a major deal from the normally marked price of $160) a half case of wine will be delivered right to mama's door! Or choose the $79 deal and get 12 bottles. Boom! Best of all, it's a Nationwide deal. Check out what selections of wine mama could be sipping on HERE. Hurry up.

For Daddy Berrrr: Tours*

But not just any tours... 

Food Tours

It's no secret that Husband isn't a fan of stuff. He likes experiences over sweaters. And I like giving them to him because guess what... I get to enjoy them too. A great tour I could guarantee is the Greenwich Village Food Tour through Foods of NY. Also combining the history of Greenwich Village with delicious flavors, this is a foodie's dream. With stops at some of Greenwich Village's most well-known establishments like Joe's Pizza, Murray's Cheese Shop, and Rocco's Pasticceria, you'll quickly see why New York is one of the food capitals of the world. Use these promo codes for savings (valid for gift certificates only):

Use THANKSGIVING through tomorrow for 15% off. 
Use BLACKFRIDAY Friday, November 28 - Monday, December 1 for 10% off.
Use CYBERMONDAY December 1-4 for 10% off.

I also just found this amazing food tour deal from Great Food Tours for a steal! Choose from one of their four tours in NYC for 50% off or check out their food tours offered in other cities.

Drunk History Tour

It's no secret that I am a fan of libations so imagine my utter joy when I discovered this tour. Complete with historical re-enactments, trivia, improv comedy, and, of course, booze, the Drunk History Tour through NYC Tours, is the perfect combination of fun and drinks and a great date for Husband and I, combining Husband's love of history and my love for, well...

Use the promo code NYC2FOR1 and get two tickets for the price of one thanks to the lovely people at NYC Tours!

Happy Thanksgiving and happy shopping!