Sunday, April 26, 2015

A simple apology

Why can't apologizing be just that easy any more? When we were kids and we fought with friends it was simple. You say your sorry. They say they're sorry. Then you go play Hot Lava on the playground. Bing bang boom. Done.

Now, it's all about who should apologize first (if at all), who did who more wrong, and how an apology is accepted.

The perfect way to apologize is pretty much nonexistent. Goodness knows I've apologized enough to figure that out (I tend to be hot headed and a little quick on the social trigger). But what I've discovered is that simple is powerful when it comes to apologizing.

I've thought about this for a while and I've kinda narrowed things down to 3 simple child-like steps.

1. Avoid placing the blame. The whole point of apologizing is that you are acknowledging that you did something wrong. The sincerity of your apology kinda goes to the wind when you say things, "I'm sorry you feel that way." Be real. You said or did something to hurt that person and that is on you. Granted, no one can MAKE anyone feel a certain way, but emotions aren't the simple. So buck up. "I'm sorry I made you feel that way." Own it.

2. When being apologized to, just try saying "I'm sorry too." We all know that when we fight with friend we say things we don't mean. In the heat of the moment your only goal is to cut the other person deeper than they are cutting you. So regardless if you started the whole crap storm or not, the other person feels violated in some sort of way. Just apologize (like when we were kids). Sometimes it's a better way to accept an apology than actually saying the words, "I accept your apology." It helps with closure. Trust me.

3. Go play Hot Lava on the playground. And by that I mean, let it go and forget it ever happened. Chances are, neither of you is really sure how the whole thing came about anyway. You both apologized, is there really anything else left to say? Just both be over it and be done with it.

Let's take the art of apologizing back to when we were kids.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Two Cents: Shamming the "Mom-Trepeneur"

I wasn't planning on doing another "My Two Cents" post for a while, but I just had to jump in on this one.

I recently came across a blog post on Scary Mommy titled 3-D Lashes, Jamberry & Oter Ways to Lose Facebook Friend. Long story short, it is the newest way for girls to bash women who are just living their own damn lives.

Hi, my name is Maureen. I am a Marine veteran, a full time student, a stay at home mom, a MST advocate, running a homestead... Oh yeah, and I'm in direct sales.

I am totally not a sales person. Actually, I'm pretty shy in certain situations. I mean, I don't even like to order a pizza over the phone. If I can't do it online, I make my husband call. So why in my right mind would I get into something where I have to actually put myself out there? Family.

Garrack works an exceptionally demanding job. My father says, "He's the hardest working SOB I know." It is not uncommon for him to work 100+ hours in a week. So far, his record for overtime is nearly 300 hours. He works all over New England and does a lot of travel for work. During the exceptionally busy months he will be away from home weeks at a time. Weekends and holidays don't keep him at home either. But, as the main source of income for our family (which allows me to go to school full time) he doesn't complain about the steady work.

About a year ago I decided to try my hand at direct sales so that, just maybe, Garrack could cut back on a few hours each week. The hope being that he could then spend more time with his daughter (even if it was just enough time to put her to bed an extra night each week).

I posted on my Facebook about my endeavor and did all the things the woman in the afore mentioned blog post hates. I made a group that I invited people too (mostly just close friends and family), I posted on my page (just once in a while), and I direct messaged folks asking if they would like to host a party. And ya know what? No. Body. Bitched.

Social media is a staple in just about everyone's life now-a-days. And smart business people see that. Anyone who watches Shark Tank has heard entrepreneurs talk about how they built up their sales through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram without the expense of ads.

And besides, I for one am a huge supporter of local and small business. And though these companies are worth millions, you are still supporting a family run business. I would rather buy a Scentsy warmer and help a mom pay for her car this month so she can take her kids to school than get a Yankee Candle which only benefits the CEO of Yankee Candle (but that's just me).

Sales aside, social media is SOCIAL! Or have we forgotten that? How anyone uses it is up to them. As I've read someone else point out, some folks use it as a way to stay up on current events, some use it as a photo album, and yes, some use it as a way to sell product.

If you don't want to use your social outlets in that way, then don't friend, don't follow, don't subscribe, and don't buy. Remove yourself from the groups (and there is an option after leaving the group to disable anyone to add you again).

"Oh, but I just don't like being in those high pressure sales situations." If you can't say no, I feel bad for you. It must be hard to never say no to a car salesman, or a kiosk worker at the mall who wants you to try this amazing hair straightener, or the cashier at McDonalds who asks if you want to try their newest burger.

Simply, if a friend of yours adds you to their sales group they aren't looking to exploit you, they are looking for support (which you can give without being in their group or hosting a party). Not monetary support, but the kind of support that lets them know that you see they are trying to bring an income into their home and that is something everyone should be able to understand (because, dude, #thestruggleisreal).

Get off you damn high horse.

THIS is why I do direct sales. Deal with it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mother's Day 2015 - Gifts for every kind of mom

Don't get me wrong. Anything most moms want on Mother's Day is breakfast, a card, flowers, and a little time for themselves for the day. That alone makes for an AWESOME day (let me get an "amen"!). But, if are are looking for something a little more unique to add into the mix, here are a few ideas that I think are super cool and unique.

For the Gardener

Grow Oya
Starting at $28.95
These watering pots are made out of terracotta clay and are very porous. This allows for the pot to be buried with your plants and water them when they need it most! You just fill the pot every 7-10 days. It also helps to conserve up to 70% water by avoiding overwatering, runoff, and evaporation. Grow Oya comes in 3 sizes (for patio pots, raised beds, and large gardening). As of now, their personal store is not up running, but you can still purchase here.

Fisher Blacksmithing
Starting at $28
I LOVE hand made items. They tend to be better quality and longer lasting than your mass produced stuff. Plus, each piece is unique. For those reasons you should definitely check out Fisher Blacksmithing and their hand forged gardening tools (I totally want a set). These guys do things the old fashioned blacksmith way. With the hammer and the anvil and the fire and all that good stuff. Now, don't get me wrong, the stuff is pricey (most pieces are in the $50 range), but the quality is worth it for any serious gardener.

For the Traveler

Lay-N-Go cosmo bag
Starting at $29.95
Traveling as a chick is a pain in the butt. The makeup alone is a hassle. Trying to stuff what you can into a small enough bag that it won't take up too much room in your carry on. That's just the start of it. But the cosmo bag from Lay-N-Go is simple genius! It's one of those "why didn't I think of that" tools you'll wish you had sooner. Put the makeup in, draw string it up, and go. Then, when you need your makeup, lay it on a counter and open and it is all right there. The bag comes in two sizes (and they have other bags for things like Legos).

Handbag Handcuff
No more losing your bag while driving, having it take up room in your shopping cart, or putting it on the dirty floor of a restaurant. The Handbag Handcuff allows you to hook your bag onto anything to avoid losing it or having it slide out of your grasp. Sleek and simple designs makes it the perfect accessory for your purse. You can even use it on your shopping trips to hold multiple bags!

For the Makeup Artist

Starting at $35
Cleaning makeup brushes is important to keep them working well and to save your skin from any nasty bacteria. This textured glove, with areas for cleaning eye and face brushes, allows you to to clean your brushes quickly and thoroughly with little cleaning solution.

Never struggle with the TSA and your favorite perfume again! The sen7 allows you easy travel and use of your favorite scent.

For the Workout Wiz

Starting at $69
Super stylish and very cute, these bags are not without great function. Choose the "home-gym-home" bag with pockets for glasses, ear buds (with no tangle strap), yoga mat, and more. Or, go with the "home-gym-work" bag to organize your dirty laundry, toiletries, and it even has a pocket for your shoes.

Starting at $19.95
When running, walking, or cycling outdoors at low light hours, safety is very important. If you really want to ensure that drivers see where you are when out on the road, light yourself up! 4id has created running lights that you can put on the heels of your shoes, around your arms, or on your bike. They are even waterproof and come in different colors.

For the Stylish Mama

Loved by Hannah and Eli
Starting at $35
A fantastic t-shirt company owned and operated by a mama of two, Loved by Hannah and Eli makes the cutest clothing for every member of the family. Their "Bear collection" is the most popular with several celebrities even being spotted in their tops. Every Mama Bear is gonna want one of these.

Twinkle Twinkle lil' Jar
Starting at $15
Put some sparkle in your life! You'll want one... Ok, maybe two of everything. Personalized wine glasses, mason jar tumblers, water bottles, coffee mugs, and travel mugs dipped in... are you ready for it... GLITTER!!!!!!! All BPA free and dipped by hand. This shop is absolutely fantastic. They even have stuff for your little mini me (I had them make a special mason jar tumbler just for Arlette).

For the Zen Lady

Starting at $19.95
Doing yoga outside is a great way to ground yourself and connect to the world around you. Now, with YogaPaws, you don't need to worry about having a yoga mat with you to perform your stretches and flows. These gloves and socks have everything you need in a mat but compact and easy for travel.

There is no better way to describe this little piece than what their website says,
"Each lokai is infused with elements from the highest and lowest points on Earth. The bracelet’s white bead carries water from Mt. Everest, and its black bead contains mud from the Dead Sea. These extreme elements are a reminder to the wearer to live a balanced life – staying humble during life’s peaks and hopeful during its lows."
 Super cool right?! Plus, 10% of each bracelet sold goes to the company's charity partners.

For the Mom Who LOVES Surprises

Diamond Candles
These soy candles come in a wide array of delicious scents. But the best part is the surprise ring inside. Each ring is valued at $10, $100, $1000, or $5000! Even if you aren't one of the big winners, the rings are lovely. Plus, the suspense of waiting for the candle to melt far enough to get the ring is tons of fun.

Silver Scents
Every mom deserves some alone time. Even if it's just long enough to get in a nice soak in the bath. Make that time even more relaxing with some Silver Scents. She'll enjoy the benefits of epsom salts and essential oils AND get a beautiful piece of sterling silver jewelry.

Hope this helps in finding just the right gift for your mom this year.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

You love me! You really love me! - The Liebster Award

First, I just gotta say that every time I write "Liebster" it gets auto-corrected to "lobster". #damnautocorrect

I am very excited to have received my very first award. It's totally unexpected since I've only just started this blog. The Reinvention of Jessica nominated me for the award and I can't thank her enough for it! Give you a follow if you don't already. I love her conversational blogging and how she gives readers a peek into her life. I personally really enjoy reading real people like that.

So I had never head of the Liebster Award until a couple of weeks ago, but it is simply a nomination based award meant for beginning bloggers and/or bloggers with a smaller following. If you receive it you are to:

So, lets get started.

Nominate 11 Blogs

  1. How long have you been blogging? - I've actually been blogging on and off for about 4 years. This blog has, obviously, been going on for just a few weeks.
  2. You have a plane ticket to anywhere in the world.  Where do you go? - It is really hard to pick just one place. There are so many places I would love to experience in my lifetime. I really LOVE learning about ancient cultures and would love to experience these places "in the flesh". But if I had to choose just one place I would probably go with Scotland. I am a part of the Guthrie clan, one of the oldest in the country, and I would enjoy the opportunity to stand in some of the places my ancestors once stood. Plus, being able to horseback ride across some of the country would just be a dream come true.
  3. What's your guilty pleasure?: Reality TV. I can't get enough of it. The crazy people and the screaming and the drama... I love binging on episodes of Real Housewives of the OC, Dance Moms, Catfish, Teen Mom, etc. My husband HATES them, so I usually save them on the DVR for nights where he is out of town and the baby is in bed. Is there anything better than watching a social train wreck with a bowl of ice cream and a beer? I think NOT!
  4. What's your favorite blog post you've ever written?: Considering I've only written a handlful of them, I would have to say my DIY of the headboard in the master bedroom. I am absolutely in love with how it turned out.
  5. Who is your favorite fictional character?: Rosie the Riveter. Because girl power!
  6. Werewolves, vampires, or zombies?: Zombies. I would totally be a bad-ass zombie slaying chick. My weapon of choice would probably be an E-tool. Just because it's multi-functional.
  7. What is your favorite movie quote?: I'm not one to really memorize movie quotes. So instead, I'll share with you my favorite quote that I found in my favorite book, Gates of Fire. "There is more to fear in an army of deer lead by a lion than an army of lions lead by a deer." - Phillip of Macedonia
  8. If you could live in any fictional world (from any book, TV show, or movie), which one would you choose?  Why?: The TV show Vikings! I totally would be a shield maiden. Their culture is so much like what I know from the Marines, I would fit right in.
  9. What's your favorite comfort food?: Mac & Cheese. It is something I could, seriously, eat all the freaking time. I eat it at every opportunity I have when we go out to eat. I dreamed (literally) about eating it while in boot camp. And when I graduated it was my first meal off Parris Island.
  10. Who would play you in a movie about your life?: Jennifer Lawrence. She's sharp and strong and proud of who she is. She would make a great me.
  11. How do you handle writer's block?: If I'm having a hard time thinking of what to write, I go out into nature. A hike always makes me feel better and allows me to have quite time to think and process stuff.
Performing at the San Diego Pagan
Pride Wine Festival.
11 Random Facts About Me
  1. I hate guinea pigs. I mean, I REALLY HATE them. When I was in pre-school we had one for a class pet. It bit me once. Ever since then I just can't stand their stupid squeaking faces. I totally understand why some cultures eat them, and I would totally try one in a stew or a sandwich or a taco.
  2. I graduated a semester early from high school and left for the Marine Corps at the age of 17. I graduated from boot camp a week before my 18th birthday.
  3. I am a belly dancer and burlesque performer (classic burlesque... not the one with pasties).
  4. I can't stand to be in bodies of water where I can't see the bottom or what is swimming around me. And I definitely am not a fan of being under the water.
  5. I (currently) have 8 tattoos.
  6. Peanutbutter and mayo sandwiches are delicious. Don't knock it 'til ya try it (seriously).
  7. I play the tuba.
  8. I've walked on fire. It was awesome.
  9. My husband and I crossed paths TWICE before we ever actually met each other. I was a musician in the Marine Corps and was stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. This is where all the male recruits on the west side of the Mississippi attend boot camp. Garrack went there for his training and I played at his graduation. My unit also opened up for a Gretchen Wilson concert at 29 Palms. Garrack was at that concert because he was training on base at that time. CRAZINESS!!!!
  10. I can't stand grape flavored candies and pop. It reminds me of medicine.
  11. I make a mean chili and, one of these days, I would love to enter my recipe into a chili cook-off.
My Nominee Questions
  1. Why do you blog?
  2. If money and time were of no issue, what would you do?
  3. What is your favorite quote and why?
  4. If you would live in a different time, when would you live?
  5. Who is your superhero alter ego and what is their super power?
  6. What crazy animal do you wish you could have as a pet?
  7. What talent do you not posses but you really wish you did?
  8. What is a fear you have?
  9. Where is your "happy place"?
  10. What is one of your pet peeves?
  11. Your last meal is...?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Two Cents: the "Pepper Hacker"

By now you have probably seen the above video floating around your Facebook feed. It is a video of the "Pepper Hacker", a pepper grinder turned technology atom bomb from Dolmio (they make pasta sauce). Pretty much everyone who I have seen share this video has said something along the lines of "Yes!" or "Such a great idea!"

Ummm... I think it is a terrible idea. Why? Because to me, this is a loop hole for parents to avoid being the bad guy in a very simple parenting situation.

I was born in 1988. I remember the time before the internet and I remember when it became a big thing. I remember the horrid dial-up tone, "You've got mail!", and AOL disks. I remember when cell phones really took off in technology. When they started to have texting, when you could play games on your phone, and "Can you hear me now?". But, since all the bigger leaps in the digital age came along when I was in high school, my parents never had to compete with having a screen in mine and my sibling's faces.

But I can tell you how they would have handled it if they did have to deal with it. They would say, "Hey, Maureen, it's dinner time. Put the phone away and set the table." And if that didn't work, "Shut it down or I'm taking it away for a week." And the phone would go away, I would set the table, and we would have a tech free meal.

So I'm confused why parents can't do this now. Is it because so many parents want to be their kid's "best friend"? Or is it because they, too, are busy with there own digital device?

I'm totally guilty of overindulging in technology too. I've caught myself with my phone in hand as I sit down to dinner or saying "Just a second" to my daughter as she tries to get my attention. But I consciously make an effort to make those occurrences as rare as possible (with a aim to eliminate it all together).

Maybe the issue is we start technology too young. I had my first cell phone in middle school. It was the old indestructible Nokia with a limited amount of time on it and was only used in an emergency or to let my parents know when to pick me up from school after some activity. Now it is common occurrence to see 2 year olds with their OWN iPads and elementary kids with iPhones!

I'm not saying kids shouldn't be around technology. It does come in handy. When we flew with Arlette a couple of months ago from CT to CO to visit family we had a LOT of issues getting out there and back home (delays and cancelations and everything in-between). The one thing that saved us was having Frozen on my iPad, iPhone, and computer for her to watch.

But technology should NEVER substitute parenting. That's why I find the Pepper Hacker ironic, I guess. You are using technology to shut down technology.

Just my two cents. What are your thoughts on the matter?

From CT to CO and back we watched Frozen at least 25 times.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

How to build a custom rustic headboard

So I found this wall art at Target about a month before we moved into our house.

And I have basically been building our master bedroom around it. I'm not sure if that is "right" when decorating your home, but I vaguely remember them doing something like this back in the days of Trading Spaces, so I just went with it.

Last week I came across this totally awesome image...

And I thought, "Hey, how awesome would that be for a headboard?!" So off to Home Depot we went!

We picked up six 8" pine planks that measured 6' long, Minwax "Weathered Oak" stain, a pack of foam brushes, and some wood putty. I wanted to have the headboard mounted on the wall rather than connecting it to the the bed. Garrack drilled a couple of 2x4 pieces he had laying around into the wall to mount the headboard on.
Before I had him start putting up the planks we played around with the wood "patterns" until we got something we liked.

I was so happy that we went with the pine. I like the knots and cracks in the wood. I think it gives it so much more character. The planks we found were also cut in a manner that allows you to kind of layer them (I don't know what the proper term is for these types of planks). But after staining it made the headboard look like it was made of reclaimed barn wood (you'll see what I mean in just a second).

So once we had arrange the boards just right, Garrack got to work.

I let him do this stuff. He's an engineer and this sort of thing is just second nature to him. He can pump it out no problem. If it was left just to me, I would probably still be trying to figure out the math to insure everything fit the right way. So, yeah. I'm the creative mind, he does the hard labor, and then I finish things off with my artistry.

So once we got the boards up we just quickly sanded the rough edges of the screw holes, filled them with wood putty, and then sanded everything with a belt sander when the putty was dry.

While Garrack sanded, I worked on getting things put together for my stencil. I wanted to do some deer antlers with our last initial in the middle. After Google searching for antler silhouettes I chose these:

Now, if you are a Mac user like me, you may not be able to print poster images (where you print the photo over several pages). I searched ALL OVER for instructions and found nothing useful. So I used a website I stumbled on called The Rasterbator. It will take any photo and convert it into a file to be printed out as a low quality poster. And it's FREE!
So once I had all my pages printed out I cut out the pieces and taped my antlers together.

By this time Garrack had finished sanding and the rest of the project was in my hands. So I put on some old clothes and got to work!

If you've never worked with stain before, don't worry, it is super easy. This was actually my first time working with stain. To be honest, I was worried I might "do it wrong". But I just went for it and soon realized that my fears were unnecessary. I mean, how much easier could it be? Brush it on, wipe it off, you are a staining Queen!

After I applied one coat I realized that if I put my stencil up there and tried to stain over it, I would have a major problem on my hands. So I turned to a technique I learned in USMC boot camp that I call "poor mans lamination". To keep photos from our families clean and safe from damage we would take clear packing tape and "laminate" them on the front and back. So I did the same with my stencils. It's as easy as taping the front, back, and then cutting away the extra tape.

So when the first coat of stain was dry, I pinned up my stencil to apply the second coat over it. But I soon realized two issues with my stencils. First, it was too thin to really make a noticeable "picture". Second, having the headboard already up on the wall caused the stain to run down and made it hard to avoid bleeding under the stencil. So I moved onto plan B and applied a full second coat of stain.

I was happy with the look of two coats so I moved forward with my backup plan and TRACED my stencil.

I took a trip over to Michael's and bought some Folkart Acrylic Paint in "Pure Black" and a pack of Craft Smart filbert brushes golden taklon.

And I got to painting! I started out with a rough outlining and filling in of the trace, and then went back and cleaned it up.

And the final product...

I am so in LOVE with this headboard!

The biggest thing to remember is that it isn't going to be perfect. And that is ok. I actually LIKE that my antlers aren't exactly straight. It shows that I made this and I did it by hand and that it is MINE. Perfection isn't all it is cracked up to be.

So even though my finished product isn't what I started out wanting, I am so glad that this is how things turned out. I think it looks even better then if I had stained over the stencils.

And now, I have the DIY bug. Expect more how-to's like this in the future. (YEAH!)