Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kindergarten Open House

 Tonight we went to Audrey's kindergarten open house.  We are excited about her school, as it is one of the reasons that we moved to this area of town, and we have a couple of friends who work there and have nothing but good things to say about the school.  Plus it is just a few blocks from our house, which is super convenient!

Audrey is so excited about kindergarten, especially after seeing the school and finding out more about it tonight.  It's going to be hard for her to wait for August.  I think she was ready to go out and buy all her school supplies tonight.

I'm not sure how I feel about Audrey starting kindergarten.  On the one hand, I think she will really enjoy it, and it will be good for her.  Audrey seems to be the type of child who is made for structure and classroom settings, and I'm guessing she will do well and enjoy school.   Sometimes I think she is bored at home.  We have spent a lot of time together for the past five years, and some days, especially when we don't always seem to get along, I think it will be good for our relationship to have a little time apart.  =)

On the other hand, I'm used to spending all of my time with her!  After being together all the time to her being gone eight hours a day/five days a week, it's going to be a shock!  I'm trying to think about my piano schedule for next year, because I don't want her to be gone all day and then come home to me teaching piano lessons all evening.  I will never see her!! 

It's definitely going to be a big change; one that I am both looking forward to and dreading all at the same time.  I start to get a little freaked out when I think about lunch time.  Audrey will give her 6 digit code, go through the lunch line with her tray, get her food, pick out her own seat, and then eat her food...all by herself!  And I WILL NOT KNOW WHAT SHE ATE!  This is seriously the hardest part for me.  I always know what she eats because we eat every meal together, every single day.  And now, she will eat five meals each week without me there and without me telling her to eat her vegetables and without me knowing if she ate anything at all.  I might be sounding like a slightly obsessive mother at this point, but this whole eating lunch on her own thing is forcing me to accept that she is growing up!  And it's hard to believe!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Frozen Playdate Party

I'm always looking for an excuse to throw a party.  So in honor of Frozen being released on DVD this week, I decided to host a playdate/party with a few of Audrey's friends from school.  It's been a long week around here, as Daniel is running sound for a show and has been gone every night.  So we needed something fun and exciting to do today!

This was just a playdate with a few friends, so I had to keep reminding myself that it didn't need to be fancy.  I can get carried away at times, and I'm often tempted to go out and buy all new stuff.  =)  I was good this time though and didn't spend any money on decorations or anything.  I just looked through all my party supplies and made use of what I already owned.

I had a leftover aqua colored tablecloth from Audrey's Little Mermaid themed party last fall which I threw on our dining room table.  In the center, I placed a couple of snowflakes (which I made out of coffee filters), and on top of the snowflakes, a little Elsa doll and Olaf figurine that Audrey got for Christmas.  (I did go to Target last night just to see if I could find a matching Anna doll, but they were pretty much sold out of all things Frozen).  And surrounding Elsa and Olaf are various stones and crystals that I used recently for a Tiffany themed birthday party and last fall for Audrey's Little Mermaid party.

I thought I could make paper chains out of white copy paper as a cheap and easy way to represent snow.  I had visions of hanging these chains all over the ceiling, but then reality set in, and I just decided to do a few and create a snow chandelier instead.  I finished my "chandelier" off with a few more coffee filter snowflakes.

Audrey wanted to help decorate too.  It was her idea to get her Anna and Elsa dolls (also Christmas presents) and the Frozen DVD cover to place around the TV.

We served lunch to our guests:  make your own Olaf the snowman pizzas!

And Audrey and I made these "ice wands" (aka white chocolate covered pretzels) for dessert.

I found these cute little 6 ounce water bottles which are the perfect size for kids.  I printed off these free bottle labels from Frost Your Party.  (And I printed off extra Anna and Elsa labels because I knew they would be popular.  The moms got stuck with Hans and Kristoff!)

Audrey insisted that we play a game, because you have to play games at parties, of course!  So she made up a game where she scattered a bunch of the stones and crystals all over the floor.  And then the girls had to race to see how fast they could clean them up.  Simple, but surprisingly fun for the girls!!
Then it was time for the main event:  Frozen!  Except the DVD came out on Tuesday, and most of the girls (mine included) had already watched the movie several times this week.  They were much more interested in playing with each other, so they didn't really watch much of the movie!

It was a fun party, but yikes, it completely wore me out!  I've felt like a zombie all day.  Time for bed!  Except I just remembered that Scandal is about to start.  So really it's time to watch Scandal, then time for bed!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Audrey had dance class this morning.  I attempted my first ballerina bun.  Not bad for the first try!  Sadly, she wanted to take it out as soon as she got home from dance class, so it only lasted about an hour!

We've gotten into a bad habit of driving through McDonalds after dance class each week.  I get a Diet Dr. Pepper and the girls each get a chocolate chip cookie.  Probably not a healthy habit, but we all enjoy it!  =)

The weather was lovely this afternoon, so we took advantage of it and enjoyed a picnic lunch on our back patio/driveway with Daddy.

The girls enjoyed running around outside.  Even this evening, when the wind was picking up and temps were cooling down, it was hard to get them to come inside.  They were running around the backyard chasing the squirrels in the trees while yelling and singing to them.

(The lovely weather is gone now.  It is currently 40 degrees, windy and thundering...with 3-5 inches of snow in the forecast overnight).

I wanted to get a picture of Isla in her pajamas tonight, but she refused.  She found a pair of 18 month pajamas that I was putting in the garage sale pile.  She remembered them from last summer and immediately wanted to wear them.  I told her they didn't fit her anymore, and she responded with, "Yeah they fit me.  Me big girl!"  ("Me big girl" is her response for everything these days).  So I put them on her, and she was right...they still fit her!  She is almost three, and I'm determined that she really doesn't need  to wear size 18 month clothes anymore.  I was going to still put them in the sale pile, but she really, really wanted to keep them.  So they are back in our PJ rotation for now, and she does look pretty cute in them.  Too bad I don't have a picture to share with this story.

Instead, Audrey wanted to pose for a picture in her new pajamas I bought for her at a consignment sale last week.  This is how she chose to pose.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Living/Piano Room Update

Oh my dear blog.  Has it really been nine days since I last posted?  All of my good intentions for regular blogging again are in vain.  I blame winter.  I always blame winter.

Fortunately the weather has been improving lately.  It was in the 60s today!  And tomorrow the high is 71.  And then it is going to snow 1-3 inches tomorrow night.  Ridiculous weather!  But we aren't focusing on the snow; I just keep repeating 71 degrees and reminding myself of that.

With the warmer weather, not only do I find myself much happier, but I find myself much more inclined to be productive around the house.  After hibernating on the couch all winter, I'm ready to clean and organize and decorate and renovate this place!

So I will start today with some long overdue pictures of our living/piano room.  This room has been my "baby" in our new house.  It is the one room that we did not have in our old house, so we got to start from scratch in this room.  I've never done that before, so it has been fun to pick out colors and decor starting with a clean slate.  I don't claim to be an expert on interior design, and I don't know if there is anyone out there who really wants to see pictures of my living room.  But it's my blog, and I like to talk about it, so there.  =)

I posted some of my ideas for this room before we even moved into the house!  I have been waiting to post "after" pictures of the room when it is totally finished, but I have decided that there may never be "after" pictures.  I think this room (and our whole house) will always be a work in progress.  Because I like to always have projects.

Here's what this room looked like before we moved in everything.  It's a good size room, a little bit on the narrow side.

And here's what it looks like now!

The wall color is Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore.  I love this color!  It's a gray/taupe/beige and looks different in different light.  But it is a great neutral.  I think it will end up in other rooms in our house eventually.
The couch is from Wal-mart!  It was cheap, but we don't really sit on it that often and so far, after six months, it is holding up well.  In the pictures, the cushions look like different colors for some reason.  But in real life, it does not look that way.  There's just something funky going on with the light/flash.

The rug, which to me is the highlight of the room, is from  It is 7'6" x 9'6", and I paid $180 for it, which I think is a great deal.  It is super thick and plush, and so far (fingers crossed!) it has held up really well for us.  I spent a long time stalking this rug and watching the price change.  You have to watch the prices really closely on this website.  Right now, the price of this rug is $275 (which is advertised at 50%).  It's possible you could check tomorrow though, and the price would be $280 at 60% off.  Their math is a little crazy, but with patience, you can score a good deal!

The curtains are cloth tablecloths from Target.  I don't think they are available any more.  I really liked the pattern/colors for this room, so I just bought some curtain clips and hung them up.  They are the perfect length; no hemming was necessary.  I debated putting two curtains on each window, like most people do.  But I think I like it with just one panel per window, and it saved me $35!

  I got this wicker chair on Craigslist for $50.  It is originally from Ikea and sells for $110 new, I think.  It probably wouldn't have been my first choice for an accent chair in this room, but it was affordable and I liked it enough to buy it.  It is decently comfortable to sit in this chair, and it seems sturdy.  So I'm keeping it...for now.  =)
Above the chair, I hung these frames.  Inside each frame is a quote from some of my favorite books.  The frames are all from Ikea (best place EVER to buy cheap white picture frames!).  The blue medallion is from Hobby Lobby.  I made and printed the quotes myself.  I'm not sure if these quotes will stay here forever, but the nice thing is since I made them, I can easily change them too.

I love built in bookcases and would love a whole wall of them if possible! I also love the look of books organized by color that I have seen on other people's shelves, so I decided to give it a try here. 

Now let's talk about some of the things I don't like in this room.  I like to think of this room as a formal living room, but I also use it to teach piano lessons.  So I want it to be pretty, but I also need it to be functional!  I'm still working out how to keep all my piano supplies organized and within reach while still keeping the look I want in this room.

This is the chair I bought at a flea market last year and repainted.  I love the chair, and use it daily to sit next to the piano and teach.  But when I'm not teaching, the chair just sits there in the corner looking awkward.  Next to the chair is the wire basket I bought at the same flea market.  In the basket, I keep all the supplies I need while teaching.  It's handy to have it right next to me, but I don't love it all just sitting there on the floor.

I also don't love the printer sitting next to the piano.  I need it there, because I use it regularly during lessons.  But it's not very pretty, so I'm brainstorming ways to better disguise it.

Then there is the mudroom bookshelf we made while living in our old house.  It was a perfect fit in our old living room.  I don't really like it in this room though.  Plus we really don't use it.  On the bottom, I keep my piano books (I want to get prettier magazine holders to hold them too!).  Then I usually hang my camera bag on the hooks, as well as Audrey's backpack.  Otherwise, this bookshelf just sits here collecting junk.  However, it has come in handy when we have a big group over to our house.  I just move the piano books to the top, and then we can put everyone's shoes on the shelves and coats on the hooks.  We do use it on occasion.  So for now, it's staying in the room.

Other possible future projects in this room include:  board and batten treatment on the walls (like this!), wall art above/around the piano and an overhead light.

Wow, who knew I could write such a long blog post about one little room in our house!  Can you tell I really enjoy this stuff?  =)  To anyone out there still reading, thanks for humoring me and keeping up with this little blog of mine.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oscar Movie Reviews (and a few predictions)

My friend Heather and I were supposed to host our annual Oscar party tomorrow night.  But there is a bunch of (STUPID!) snow in the forecast, and we decided to cancel it.  I'm really sad about it, but it is a lot of work (and money) to throw a party.  It would really stink to go to all that trouble and then have no one show up because of the snow.  We are going to attempt a post-Oscar party instead at a later date with all the same food and activities...just without the Oscars!

I was on track to see all nine Oscar nominated movies this year, but I got a little derailed the past few weeks and only ended up seeing six.  Here are my thoughts on this year's nominees (and the order in which I would rank them):

1.  American Hustle:  I actually saw this one twice, and out of all the Oscar nominees, it was my favorite.  I am a fan of David O Russell's previous two movies (The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook), and American Hustle was just as good.  It's a fun movie that is based on a true story, but this version is an "over the top" telling of the true story.  It's a comedy, and while not laugh out loud funny, the humor is subtle and smart (very similar to the humor in Silver Linings Playbook).  Jennifer Lawrence was so good, and her character was by far my favorite part of the movie!  If I were picking Best Picture, this would be it.  But I don't think it will win.

2.  Twelve Years a Slave:  This was not an enjoyable movie, and it's hard to say that I liked it.  But it was extremely effective storytelling and an important story that needs to be heard.  Based on the true story of Solomon Northrup (and the book he wrote), it is about a free, highly educated black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  The movie is not afraid of brutal violence.  Often some of those difficult scenes were purposely extended and dragged on beyond what was comfortable for viewing.  I kept wanting to say, "stop, I don't want to see this anymore!"  It was an effective reminder of the brutality that happened to helpless people who were not able to escape with the cutting of a camera.  I'd say this is a movie everyone should see once, and one you will never want to watch again.  (My friend Heather strongly disagrees with me on this movie, and she did not like it at all).  My guess is that this will be the Best Picture winner this year.

3.  Gravity:  The technology in this one is earning it rave reviews and for good reason; it's impressive.  Unlike 12 Years a Slave, Gravity is highly entertaining and fun to watch.  The camera work and the cinematography are amazing.  Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are good.  But the's pretty lame and not original at all.  It's like the writers just imagined every possible thing that could go wrong on this space mission and then put ALL of those things (and then some!) into the movie.  Again, it was fun to watch but not Best Picture worthy in my opinion.  I'm predicting this one to win for Best Director.

4.  Her:  This was a science fiction/romance movie set in the future.  It's about a man who falls in love with the voice in his computer operating system.  The concept was super interesting to me, although the pacing of the movie was slow at times.  I thought it might be a little like Lars and the Real Girl, a movie that I loved.  It's not quite as sweet and innocent as Lars, but I thought it was decent.  I loved the style of the movie; while set in the future, everything has a very retro feel to it, which makes sense since styles seem to recycle through the years.  And the message of the movie is thought-provoking:  how far will we as a society take our dependence on technology?  I wouldn't mind seeing this one win for Best Original was definitely an original concept!

5.  Captain Phillips:  I liked this movie.  It was fairly good (though a bit long).  The fact that it was based on a true story also makes it more interesting.  I don't really know that I would put it in the running for Best Picture though?  I did like the concept of looking at the relationship between the kidnappers and kidnappees.  There was a point at the end when I had a lot of compassion for one of the kidnappers, and I think that was effective storytelling. 

6.  Wolf of Wall Street:  This is the only movie that I did not like.  I should have read the reviews more closely before seeing this one.  And I should have known better because I generally do not like Martin Scorsese movies.  This movie was just too much.  Too LONG!  Too much foul language.  Too much sex.  Too much drugs.  I'm not one that is easily offended by content in movies, but this one was unnecessarily over the top.  And did I mention too long?  There were three (maybe four) scenes that were excellent and truly funny.  But the rest of the movie...ugh!  It doesn't help that the story itself is about an unlikeable guy who squanders and steals money and then he pretty much gets away with it all, seemingly learning nothing in the end.  There was nothing redeeming in this story or this movie.

Movies I Haven't Seen Yet

Nebraska:  I started to watch this last night, and I really wanted to watch it.   But I had the most horrible migraine, and I just could not even stand to open my eyes.  I only watched about the first 30 minutes before giving up and going to bed.  I was planning to finish it today, but Daniel returned it.  I liked what I saw, and if I were to guess my thoughts on the whole movie, I think it would be fall around number 3 or 4 on the above list.

Philomena: I have heard lots of good things about this movie, but the previews never really grabbed my attention.  I thought it looked a little boring, so I never made the effort to see it in the theater.  A lot of people liked it though, so I will probably rent it when it is available.

Dallas Buyer's Club:  I would like to see this as everyone is talking about Matthew McConaughey's and Jared Leto's performances, and it appears that they are a lock to win Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.  But after reading about some of the movie's content, I wasn't sure I really wanted to see the movie.  I got my fill of immoral content in The Wolf of Wall Street and couldn't stomach much more this movie season.

And I just want to mention my favorite movie of last year, which sadly failed to get nominated for anything this year:  Fruitvale Station.  You can read my review here, and then you should go rent it!