Friday, May 31, 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
Tomorrow we leave for our Alaskan cruise! It will be a week and two days of family fun. All of my immediate family and spouses are going and since we almost NEVER all see each other, I am so, so excited! I'm excited to see glaciers, too :). I bought a hoodie at the drug store the other day (because Alaska is cold and I waited til summer to shop for a jacket), and the guy said "I didn't think you could take a boat around Alaska. Isn't it all frozen?" Lol! I told him I guess he'll find out if I don't come fill my prescription next month ;). 

--- 2 ---
We'll be spending a day and a half in Seattle before we come home, and guess what? One of my super favorite internet friends (we share 4 common groups on facebook!) who I have never met and is from Texas will ALSO be in Seattle so we are meeting up for dinner! What are the chances!?!? I'm so excited and love when stuff like that works out. NC & TX meet in WA! I'm also meeting up with some long lost cousins... well never lost really, but haven't seen each other in maaaaaaaaany years. And one of my favorite parts of traveling? Seeing Catholic churches in other places! I seriously put a lot of time researching churches before we go somewhere lol! We are going to the massive Cathedral the first weekend, and Christ Our Hope church on the way back, which is in a regular downtown building and looks intriguing. 

--- 3 ---
This year is my 10 year high school reunion. *fetal position crying* I've decided not to go to the actual reunion (just spending 10 minutes on the reunion's facebook page was enough to convince me that I am better off without it), but my close friends from high school are talking about having our own mini-reunion in August. CAN'T WAIT!!! Small group of friends, good food, and not up til all hours of the night? Now that is my kind of reunion.

--- 4 ---
I am ditching Verizon after a 10+ year relationship and trying out Boost mobile. The plan is about $35 cheaper per month with more minutes/texts and same internet (unlimited). I got a pretty good phone for $100 with a googled coupon code (NEVER buy something online without googling a coupon code first!), so I'm pleased *so far*. Boost has shrinking payments so you get $5 off per month for every 6 months of on time payments, up to I think $15 off total. If you can't tell, I'm excited! And no, this is not a sponsored post ;). It's just that my phone for the last year has so many frozen spots on screen that I can hardly text, can't call 911, and can't call any local numbers (or numbers with 9 or 1 in them period). It's been kind of a nightmare, and Verizon did noting to help so this girl has lost her loyalty! If hubs likes it, he's going to switch later and save us more moolah!

--- 5 ---
Show and tell!
 Our first memorial day cook out together! And it was just us, at 8pm after Steven got home from work. I loved it <3 !!! 

I kind of hate wine, but this local sweet wine was pretty good!!! 

--- 6 ---
Watch this. Watch this now!!!! 

--- 7 ---
Question of the week: What are your big summer plans? We pretty much have none after Alaska, so I'll have to live through you all in July and August ;). 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Home Ownership: It's Been a Year, So I'm Obviously a Pro!

We bought our house last year on June 6th. The actual closing was pretty underwhelming. The attorney nor our real estate really made a big deal out of it and we had to wait until later that day to get the keys. But when we got those and went into OUR house the next day, it really hit us that it was real! It also hit us when we spent about the next month working in the house until 11pm at night almost EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. And the few hours we were at our apartment, we were packing. Welcome to marriage!? It was a great crash course. We both got pissy during projects (we still do; apparently that's just us) but we would end each night feeling good about each other, our accomplishments, and our new house. We always managed to come together at some point during the project; usually when I was panicking about something and Steven would make it all ok. Anyway, I think a lot about how happy I am to be in this house, in this neighborhood, and in this town. And I know many of my readers are also homeowners, but probably equally as many are not. So, I thought I'd share some lessons I've learned over this last year of learning how to own a home. Of course, all opinions are just my own and experiences may vary :).

Make a list of things you MUST have in a home and things you'd really LIKE to have in a home. Realize that you most likely won't find a house with everything on the 'must have' list, but it will still be perfect for your family.
On my must have list? A front porch!!! 

Know your budget before you talk to the mortgage lender. They will always approve you for more than you're probably comfortable with paying. They basically laughed at us when we told them our goal purchase amount (which we only went over by $3,500!), but we knew it made sense for us long term even if we could afford something more expensive now. We wanted to buy something that did not depend on my income. It was hard to find, but we stuck to it because it was the most important aspect to us.

Work on projects slowly. As we've been searching and searching for deck furniture, we realized how fun it is to still have fun things to do! It can be tempting to have everything just right shortly after you move in, but the fun is putting things together thoughtfully, not just doing it to have it done. We still have entire walls that are undecorated, but I don't want to just buy anything for the sake of decor. We're waiting until we see meaningful things that we'd like to display in our home.

We had to de-princess and de-pink our future nursery!

Know that you're going to go over budget getting your house ready. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to buy a turn key house. Ours was turn key as far as the major stuff goes, but the walls, baseboards, and doors were terrible. The children who lived here before us really liked to color.... We spent a TON of money in paint, painting supplies, and things like ladders, tools, etc. It's good that we have it all, and I'm glad we got the painting done, but man it was hard on our budget for a while! Setting aside more than just closing costs would be smart. (And stock up on Lowe's coupons!)

On a similar token, I know I just said to work on projects slowly, but I wouldn't wait to paint. Painting around furniture isn't fun, so we painted everything, baseboard to ceiling, before we moved in (hence the month in between closing and moving). We waited until later to paint the porch since that's much easier, but it would have been a nightmare trying to paint around stuff, especially since we have tall ceilings in the bedroom and living room.

Fun fact: The expensive paint not only holds up better, but it doesn't stink!

Enlist help!!!! It will save you big bucks. Our family and friends were beyond amazing. My parents helped us purchase paint and spent an entire weekend painting with us, plus they brought all the supplies they had. My in laws came and helped with outside projects. Our friends moved us (while I was at work- sweet!) and have since come back to help Steven with projects like putting a vapor barrier in the crawl space. We usually say thank you with food, because who doesn't love food?!

Keep a running list of things that need to be done. That way you won't get overwhelmed about things getting forgotten, because they're right there on the list. We actually divided our list into three sections: projects for me, projects for Steven, and projects we do together. If one of us has some down time then we can knock something off our individual lists. The together projects are generally more time intensive (ie staining the deck) and require some planning where as the smaller, individual projects (ie hanging windchimes or cleaning out the fridge) can be done spontaneously, generally.

Yeah, we definitely hired out this project. 

Remember that owning a house is different from renting in the sense that you lose your yearly or every couple year forced clean out. I moved about once a year to every other year all through college and after moving to Raleigh, which meant fridges and other things got deep cleaned as I moved out, and all my belongings got sorted, purged, and organized. Well now that we own, we have no built in reminder to scrub out the stove or clean out that closet. These are great things to put on your project list so you don't forget!

Don't forget to revel in the awesomeness that is becoming a homeowner with the person you love most. And remember that it's okay to not agree on paint colors, room sizes, or backyard slopes. It's a great exercise in communication and compromise, and you might just learn that your spouse has some decent ideas (like, ahem, when Steven insisted on an accent wall in the living room and I insisted we would have no such thing. Guess who has an accent wall and LOVES it?!) Even with the stressors involved in searching for a house, obtaining a mortgage, and getting moved in, there is nothing like day to day living in the home you own with your spouse! 

Of course my 2 photo examples of reveling involve food ;). We did lots of picnics at the new house before we moved in and they made some really sweet memories!

As always, feel free to add your own insight/advice! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
I am totally losing my quick takes mojo (which I instinctively typed as 'mofo'). I don't know what it is lately but I keep forgetting until the last minute! I guess it's not a bad thing when life is busy and enjoyable enough that blogging gets put on the back burner ;).

--- 2 ---
Shout out to any bloggers with PCOS. If you are interested in blogging about using your method of NFP while having PCOS, let me know! No method wars allowed :). I have two posts (one posted) on STM and could really use some posts on other methods! If you know of someone this applies to, pass it on! They don't have to have a blog to participate. 

--- 3 ---
I luuuuuuurve our new patio set, which is actually a deck set but you don't hear people say deck set. We searched for approximately 7  hours for this (6 hours one day, 1 hour the next) and it also involved purchasing and returning another set of chairs first. Wouldn't you know this was the first one we looked at? So typical of me...

--- 4 ---
Continuing with that take (and getting the most out of my 'take' mileage), here's the handsome chef that makes me dinner, and the cute kitty that cries incessantly at the back door... she's the little gray blob.

--- 5 ---
This has been the worst on call week of my 4 years on this job. I usually have like 0-4 calls all week. I had about 20 last weekend. My phone goes off at 5pm today and there will be MUCH REJOICING! I have zip plans for this 3 day weekend, and that's exactly how I like it! 

--- 6 ---
Wednesday we had a middle of the day date, which was so much fun! We went to lunch, out for a cupcake, and then walked around Big Lots. I was on my lunch break, and Steven was heading to work at 2. It's so much fun to have quality time together on a day that he closes at work, because usually we only see each other in passing that day. Even though we might do the same things on a lunch date as a dinner date, there is something really fun about a middle of the work day getaway! 

--- 7 ---
What's your favorite non-typical thing you like to do with your spouse/significant other? What do you do to mix things up a bit? 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Cost of Saving Money

I know quite a few people who would love to get their feet wet in finding ways to save money. I also know that sometimes people feel it might be more work than it's worth. It comes down to deciding what is worth it to YOU, but I would agree that there are sometimes downsides to the mindset of scrimping, saving, and scoring a deal. The downsides don't make me want to do anything differently, but I also don't want to give off the perception that frugality is easy. It is often rewarding, but not very easy! I feel that most things in life that are important can be tough and come with a learning curve, but I want to be sure never to portray a life style choice as easy or the be all, end all if it's not! I think I've covered a whooole lot of good on frugality, uninentionally even, but a bad experience this weekend got me thinking about the less pretty side of saving. See the first bullet point for that story! 

Here are some of the 'cons' or downsides that I've experienced myself. 

  • You could look really hard for a sale, make a decision and purchase something, and still find it for less, higher quality, etc later on. It's frustrating! We recently went looking for a table and chairs for our deck. Based on all the set prices, which were fairly high, we decided to buy a table on sale at Rite Aid for $35. Then we bought 4 chairs for a total of $40. We bought an umbrella on closeout last year for about $30. Well... we found a set with much more comfortable chairs for $97. We can't return our table because we've already gotten rid of the box, so we are now debating whether we want to buy the $97 set and have an extra table for whenever we need it, but comfy chairs or keep what we have now with slightly uncomfortable chairs. If we had just shopped around a little longer/harder we wouldn't have this problem but... that just happens sometimes and you have to swallow your money saving pride! Update: We returned the 4 chairs, bought the set, and we're storing the extra table. The comfy chairs were worth the extra expense.

  • You have to weigh what your time is worth vs what your savings are worth. This is different for everyone. Couponing kind of makes me crazy. I will do it somewhat, but I actually prefer finding stores/sales that make the product just as cheap or nearly as cheap. Luckily (well, in my opinion) most products we buy don't qualify for coupons so I appease my guilt that way. But for the few things that do, I've found buying in bulk, buying at stores that are so cheap they don't take coupons, or spending a minimum of about 10 minutes searching out coupons to really save my sanity. 

  • Depending on your dedication level, you might have to miss out on something you really want/really want to do. This could really go either way. You could decide that you aren't going to do/buy something because you can't find a good price OR you could decide to just suck up the cost because it's worth the item/experience. Having a neutral opinion can be helpful. I will sometimes beat myself up so much about the money aspect, that I can't really make a logical decision. Steven is a bit more, eh, willing to part with our dollars but sometimes I need that balance.

  • People might think you're cheap. Even if you don't go overboard with being frugal, it can still seem extreme to other people. I try to help them understand that we are putting a lot of money in savings right now (for important future purposes like me staying home!) so I'm not just being cheap to be cheap. But you know what? So what if I am? But you try explaining that to people. A thick skin will take you far. Unfortunately, my thick skin is a bit defective.

Care to add to the list? I'll cover upsides later on in another post so, don't worry, things will be less dismal soon :). 

Friday, May 17, 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
I'm so glad to be back after a crazy week last week! You usually have to pry me away from quick takes on Fridays (which is probably why I'm consistently late to work once a week), so I'm glad life slowed down... a bit!... so I could join back up this week!

--- 2 ---
Sooo... guess what I learned to do this week? INJECT MYSELF! The caps are more shock than excitement, in case you are confused. I have to inject myself with hcg 4 times a month to replace the hormones that my body should be making, and is only pitifully making. Hcg sound familiar? Yep, it's the hormone women make during pregnancy and what the urine tests check for. But, crazy of crazies, it can also help low levels of estrogen and progesterone. Who knew??? Maybe you did, but I didn't. My estrogen is kind of borderline and my progesterone is very low, so hopefully this does the trick. (THANK YOU, DOCTOR, FOR GIVING ME REAL HEALTHCARE AND NOT THROWING THE PILL AT ME!!!! *ahem*) Anyway, the nurse talked me through it and watched me do it at her office, and now I've completed 2 at home. For some reason it hurts more at home than it did at the office. Or maybe I just like sympathy. I'm rockin' my very own biohazardous medical waste box. SWEET! 

Mover over kleenex. There's a new box in town. 

--- 3 ---
In more exciting news, I grew my first carrot!!!! After the bunnies decimated my strawberries (I haven't been able to eat even ONE), and my peas yielded about 8 pods, I'm excited to see a good bit of carrots! I'm not pulling the rest up, because you can see this one is still pretty small. But it was soooo sweet and yummy. I'll check another one in a week or so. Carrots are harder because you can't really see them to check their progress without pulling one, but that also serves (so far at least) as preservation from pests and bunnies!

--- 4 ---
I go on call tonight. BOO! Steven is off this Sunday (of course he would be off when I'm on call!) so hopefully the phone stays quiet at least that day. Being on call forces me to stay home and relax, which most of the time isn't *too* much of an issue anyway, but tomorrow I'm going to have a pj's day and do a whole lotta nothing. That's at least one thing being on call is good for! Sunday we have church and lunch out, but we're going to hang out at home the rest of the day, so hopefully my phone is quiet for a solid 2-3 hours.

--- 5 ---
Buttercup went to the vet this week and Steven took her all by himself as his first Super Official Daddy Duty. She got a glowing report, even though her weight dropped from 5.5 lbs to 5 lbs. The vet isn't concerned, but this mommy wants her to fatten up a tiny bit. She's just a small cat, but it still makes me nervous! Her 11 year old teeth are STILL not in need of a cleaning. *So proud*

--- 6 ---

Speaking of cats.....

--- 7 ---
Time for my weekly question! Sorry to exclude you guy(s), but this one is for the ladies. Do you have a brand of affordable loose powder makeup that you use and love? I've been using Bare Minerals matte and I LOVE it. But at $27 and me using it more frequently than I used to, I'm thinking I might need to cut it out. But I'll go to Target and buy the cheaper stuff, and spend double trying to find a texture/color that I like. Plus, you know ELF cosmetics? Yeah, I used that today because I was out of my Bare Minerals and had to take an allergy pill before going to work. I'm a wee bit sensitive skinned. Any suggestions? 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

PCOS & NFP: Jess's Take on STM

Please welcome Jess over to my little corner of the world! Be sure to check out her fabulous blog! 

 Since Aunt Flow came to visit for the first time when I was thirteen, she has kept her distance. It was another six months before I saw her again. She was never consistent, and my gynecologist told me that, as long as I was seeing her four times a year, I was fine.

It was secretly awesome in high school. The irregularity meant that I had no warning prior to her arrival, but avoiding a menstrual cycle when you are a social teen is not world ending. I never gave it a second thought until I went off to college, and she went MIA for another six months. Some friends and I were talking about it one night, and the horrified looks on their faces when I told them how long it had been was the first indication I had that something might be wrong. I really had always assumed I was overly sensitive to stress. If there was an overnight trip planned in advance, it was guaranteed I would need to pack pads instead of a swimsuit. Something big, such as moving three hours away from home and I could just save my money. I went to several different gynecologists in college, and they all said the same two things: four a year was good, but pee on this stick anyway, because I do not believe that you are not sexually active. When I would refuse birth control pills to “even” out my cycles, they were pretty much done with me.

Then I was getting married.  As I am a practicing Catholic and not a fan of pumping my body full of carcinogens, we signed up for an NFP class as part of our marriage prep. CCL Sympto-Thermal Method is what was offered locally, so that is the method we chose. The classes last three months, and at the end of the class, I still had not cycled. My temperatures were all over the place and much lower than the chart allowed (I have since discovered that my base body temp is just lower than average, so a quick edit to the side of the charts helped make my temps visible). My mucus was inconsistent at best, and my cervix was too high for me to check. It made learning how to chart incredibly difficult. I approached our instructors with my charts, hoping to gain a little insight. They reviewed them and suggested that I might have a fertility issue, known as Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) but that I should definitely speak to a physician familiar with both NFP and PCOS.

I’m not going to lie: it was scary to be 21 and think I was barren. I delayed finding a new physician until after we were married. If I were ever to see a professional therapist, I would bet my file would have “USES HUMOR AS A DEFENSE MECHANISM” written all over it in all shades of ink imaginable. When you are newly married, everyone and their dog (Seriously, I think I had three dogs ask me about my fertility or lack thereof.) asks you when you are expecting a bundle of joy. Instead of risking crying and telling all my family, friends, perfect strangers and their pooches about my personal medical history, I opted for the following response:

<Blank stare.> I am a barren wasteland. <Uncomfortable silence.>

Enter Dr. H. I finally did some research. I Yahoo’d “STM gynecologist” and my city, and there he was at the top of the list. I brought in my binder full of charts and brushed up on my story telling abilities for our first meeting. He was kind and genuine in a way that I had never experienced with a physician. Over the course of a few months, he had me complete some blood work, and we went over my charting history.  Soon, he had narrowed down the cause of the sudden weight gain I had experienced my junior year of college, and blood work confirmed insulin resistance. We talked about the various ways to treat this form of PCOS, and with work and fairly regular appointments, I began to lose weight. He also was very positive about our chances of conceiving when we were ready.

We had been on a five year plan. I agreed to it mostly because I did not want to face the thought I might not be able to be pregnant. We finished graduate school, and never spent any period of time trying to avoid pregnancy. My charts showed no signs of ovulating, even if I did feel better. When we were serious about wanted to conceive, Dr. H went over my options.  We decided to try a round of Clomid, and it was successful with the first cycle. I knew I was pregnant long before a test could have told me so. I had never had a temp shift on a chart. I called Dr. H right after I told my husband, and he had me come in for some hormone level checks. My hormone levels were a bit shaky at first, so I was about seven weeks along when Dr. H decided I should start progesterone injections twice a week. Unfortunately, we started them too late, and a week later an ultrasound confirmed that I had miscarried. He spoke to me on the phone and expressed his sincerest apologies. When I met with him in the office to follow up, he handed me a bible verse to look up if I needed some comfort. I was touched: I really did not know physicians like him existed! We talked about our plan of action: give my body a rest, take some time to grieve, recover and I would call him when we were ready to try again.

God’s plan was sooner than I had anticipated. The next cycle, I noticed a temp shift. I was ovulating on my own! During the first ultrasound, the tech had explained that the tenderness I was feeling on one side was ovulation pain, and I was feeling the same tenderness that cycle. We conceived again, sooner than planned. Once again, I called Dr. H right after I told my husband and he scheduled me to come in for hormone level checks and progesterone shots the next day.

I have recently given birth to my third child, and I have not needed to use Clomid again after the pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage. It is as though the Clomid or that first pregnancy woke up my body. I see clear temp shifts in my charting at least every other cycle. We are still open to life and have no reasons to avoid pregnancy at this time, so our children are ages 3.5, 1.5 and a few weeks old. Sometimes I feel as though I have cheated PCOS in some ways, but utilizing NFP charting and physicians that recognize the knowledge that can be gleaned from those charts gave me my fertility (and my health) back.

My experience with having PCOS and using NFP has been different from many, but I have charted evidence of years without ovulation. Without that information (and a physician willing to use progesterone shots without multiple miscarriages) it would have been a guessing game. When I think about this experience, I am really in awe of how amazing our bodies are!

Jess is mom to 3 beautiful children, wife to Matt, and writer extraordinaire at CathoFeminism

Monday, May 13, 2013


Most of you probably look at that title and know what I'm talking about. But let me break it down just in case:
PCOS= Polycystic ovarian syndrome
NFP= Natural family planning

There is a huge myth floating around that people who have PCOS cannot use FAM (fertility awareness method which permits barriers during fertile times when trying to avoid pregnancy) or NFP (abstinence is used during fertile times when trying to avoid pregnancy). I actually thought the same thing at one point, and I hear people say it quite often. My hope is that people will look online for information about NFP and PCOS, and find some great information here! The truth is that you absolutely can use NFP if you have PCOS. You can use it if you are regular, irregular, or not even cycling at all. Ask me how I know! Oh, that's because in the year and a half I've been using NFP, I've fit into each one of those categories at different times.

I'm going to be hosting some guest posts from women who have PCOS and use NFP. I use the Creighton method and may write about my experience with it later, but first up on Monday I'll be sharing Jess's story with you. She has PCOS, three beautiful children, and uses the sympto-thermal method (STM) of NFP. Check back here Wednesday for a great and informative post! If you have PCOS and want to post, let me know. I don't mind having 'repeat' posts on methods, but would love to cover as many as possible. These posts are not just about trying to avoid pregnancy, but trying to achieve, and monitoring your health with PCOS as well.

But first... why would you want to use NFP if you have PCOS? Well, birth control pills look like a great option for a woman with PCOS. Again, ask me how I know? Because I was on it for a DECADE under the advice of multiple gynecologists. And it regulated my cycle and took away those annoying symptoms of PCOS. So I thought, "Wow, this really does work! Great!" and kept right on trucking with the pill until I learned about the benefits of NFP and the horrors of the pill.

So here are some of those horrors that we are never educated about:

  • Many women with PCOS are insulin resistance. The pill increases insulin resistance and increases your chances of developing type II diabetes (which is already high without the 'help' of the pill!). source
  • The pill has been listed as a class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The pill raises your risk of breast cancer and it takes TEN years for your risk level to go back to normal after discontinuing the pill. Liver cancer? Yep, raises those rates as well. source
  • It also increases your chances of cervical cancer. It can lower your cancer of ovarian and endometrial cancer, but, in my opinion, lowering the risk of two types of cancers to raise the risk of three other types just isn't healthcare. You know what else can lower your risk of endometrial cancer? Taking progesterone in the part of your cycle where you are lacking it... so rather than taking extra hormones your body would never make, you are just replacing what you are missing with bio-identical hormones. Welcome to Naprotechnology; welcome to real healthcare. source
  • The pill ages the cervix. Your cervix actually has to heal when you come off of birth control! I'm going to use an icky word here so fair warning, but you must have quality cervical mucus when you want to achieve pregnancy. The damage to your cervix can cause issues with the crypts inside producing cervical mucus helpful to conception. source
  • The pill raises your chance of blood clots and stroke. Oh, you have PCOS? You can double that chance. source

If you can't tell (smirk), I'm pretty bitter about the pill. I'm bitter that I was given the pill as a bandaid for a very serious condition. I'm bitter that it took ten years to find a doctor who would actually treat my PCOS rather than mask it. I'm bitter that I never bothered to read the insert that came with the pill or do any research on my own. I'm bitter that a doctor never sat me down and talked to me about all these side effects. But now I've been under the care of a doctor who practices Naprotechnology for a little over a year and we are actually treating my PCOS. And you know how that all started? Because my husband and I began charting with the Creighton model of NFP and my amazing instructor was able to point out issues I was having just from my charting, and connect me to this doctor. NFP is a seriously wonderful thing for many reasons, but it is a really great resource for those with PCOS. I hope you'll check back on Wednesday to read the first installment from Jess! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

No 7 Quick Takes!

It's been a crazy busy week over here, with a 3 day training, a dinner group, a Bible study group, an after hours work event, doctor's appointments and more! So no quick takes this week as I try to catch up on life. I did go back and add photos to last week's quick takes, if you're bored.I'll be joining back up for 7QT next week, and hopefully I'll get to an actual blog post one of these days! Hope you all have a great weekend! 

I wish!

Friday, May 3, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Birthday Edition

--- 1 ---
It's my burfday!!!!! You shouldn't ask a lady her age, so I will go ahead and tell you... 28! Oh so close to 30!
--- 2 ---
I love birthdays. Like LOVE THEM. Steven had culture shock when experiencing birthdays with our family (both on the giving and receiving end). My mom did it up big when we were little and luckily my husband has quickly learned how to make the day super special! I don't need tons of gifts, but I do need to feel like the birthday girl!
--- 3 ---
I have technically been celebrating since last Sunday. That's when I cashed in on my first free birthday meal/treat. I've had 3 so far this week.... free meal at Greek Fiesta, free sandwich at Which Wich, and free drink at Starbucks. I could get used to this!
--- 4 ---
Growing up, we were always doing end of the year testing and final exams around my birthday. I want to say I took the SAT a day after my birthday one year. So I swore to myself that I wouldn't work on my birthday when I had a job, and I have kept that promise. Luckily Steven has a day or two off during the week, so his boss has so far always let him take the day too (because what fun would it be alone?), so yay for a short week!
--- 5 ---
So today's plans! We are headed to a small, funky little town called Pittsboro about 45 minutes away. I've heard they have a great little downtown with awesome indie restaurants, a great antique/nice thrift store that is ginormous, and a grocery store that is actually a co-op owned by residents of the town. FIELD TRIP! We are going to spend the morning through afternoon there so we can enjoy lunch at Pittsboro Roadhouse. I think I'm going for the first burger listed in the burger section.... YUM. How much do you want to bet that Steven will eat the Roadhouse Burger? Sigh.... ;).

--- 6 ---
After that, we are going to head back home and my parents, who are on their way back from visiting my sister in NY, are going to stop at our house for the night. They're planning on taking us out to a local restaurant that we haven't tried yet, then we'll take it easy for the evening, and I'll cash in on my free Ihop breakfast before they leave Saturday. I requested an ice cream cake this year, and I haven't been allowed in a section of the freezer for the last week. I CAN'T WAIT! 

--- 7 ---
This week's question (birthday related, of course): Do you have any birthday traditions?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

*Edited after the fact to add photos! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Five Favorites

1. Coconut oil
I think this has made quite a few people's lists, and it's been a favorite of mine for a long time now, but I am featuring it this week for one very important reason. It is allergy/sinus season (or cold season, if you are like me right now) which means your little nose may be red, chapped, and raw. Coconut oil is a DREAM on your philtrum... and yes, I had to google that, although I remember the area between the lip and nose being called something else! We use so much coconut oil now that we had to quit buying it from Trader Joe's and start getting the mega jar from Dr. Vita. Love that stuff! 

2. Hairspray on a bobby pin for fine hair
Maybe you weren't cursed with super fine hair, but I certainly was! I really love the look of pulling some of my hair back with bobby pins, remniscent of my barette days, but less juvenile looking. But with my fine hair, the bobby pins begin to slide down shortly after I put them in. Then I spend all day chasing them and trying to put them back in without creating bald spots. I read somewhere to spray hair spray on them, and it works so well! I don't use hairspray, but had some in my bridal emergency kit, so I tried it one day. Those things go in and stay put for hours and hours! 

3. Pudding pops 
This is a throwback to my childhood. My mom used to make pudding pops all the time. I had sort of forgotten about them! We bought two popsicle sets, one being far superior because they are all separate pieces. The other is one big piece with 6 openings, so they are a lot harder to get out. Anyway, we have so far made cheesecake pops and chocolate pops. I'm thinking butterscotch is next followed by some combinations. YUM!

4. Fresh flowers
I know some people don't like getting flowers. They don't like keeping them alive, and they don't like the money wasted on something that will die in a week. I get that, but I can't NOT love fresh flowers! They are beautiful and liven up the kitchen table so well. It's hard for me to be in a bad mood when fresh flowers are around. Sunday we were at the Farmer's Market for our produce, and they had booth after booth of fresh cut, wild flowers. It my husband hadn't just brought me a gorgeous bouquet of lavender and white roses after a particularly rough day last week, I would have bought some!

5. The Bible Epic Miniseries
I was worried if it would be Catholic-friendly, but word is on the street that the husband wife team that made it (you know.... the Survivor producer guy and the angel lady) are Catholic. I knew they were, but I am hearing they still are. Anyone know? Anyways, we have watched 2 of the episodes so far and LOVE. IT. We don't have cable so we pre-ordered it on Amazon and I'm really glad we have it for keeps!