Well, Well…

The prodigal blogger returns. I didn’t exactly plan a 2 year absence, but I suppose that’s what happens when I forget to check the email account for my blog account and kind of sort of let everything expire…including the grace period for my backups…So yes, I also lost like 18 months of posts. Nothing imperative, mind you. But I may have had an internal meltdown about the DAYS and DAYS of work lost, all formatting, and not to mention I’ve now completely forgotten how to do any bloggy-stuff). It took a little nudge to get back into the swing of things…okay a BIG EPIC ADORABLE nudge…SPOILER ALERT–IT’S A BABY! And Lord knows I have to be fair and blog this child’s life–I’d rather avoid psychologist’s bills in the future. 🙂

20160325_182207238_iOSSo a quick rundown for all 7 of you still with me here…since I last posted, we’ve moved back to Cincinnati, done some back-breaking projects, traveled a lot, realized we’d rather spend our money on vacations than projects, Matthew is almost five (5!!!!), and got a surprise 9 month project…

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Yes I mowed the grass at 39 weeks pregnant not-so-secretly-hoping to bounce the baby out…

So stay tuned to catch up on 3 months of adorable baby shenanigans and some hilarity from the Elder Child who begs me daily for his own YouTube channel…

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Play Theme: Squirming Worms

exploring worms--activities for toddlers

What’s Spring without a little worm play?  While preparing the garden for Spring flowers, I came across a family of worms.  I called Matthew over to take a look, and let’s just say he was enamored! He kept asking to go outside to look for worms, so of course, I decided to take it a little further and put together some activities involving worms.

Sensory Box

worm sensory box

Inclusions:

  • Coffee Grounds (dirt)
  • Rocks
  • Cooked Spaghetti (worms)
  • Fake Moss
  • Paper Grass (carstock folded into zigzags)
  • Artificial Tulips (trimmed)
  • Shovel
  • Bucket

Total Cost: FREE (I already had everything from other sensory boxes or from around the house!)

I put a piece of styrofoam under the flowers and grass; this way, the flowers can be stuck into the styrofoam to help them stand up.  Matty likes to pull them out then push them back in.  And shovel the “dirt”.  And put the worms in the bucket.

Books

books about worms

1. Are You Ready To Play Outside? I love all the Mo Willems books, but I was afraid Matty might be a bit young to understand a book based completely on dialogue.  I don’t know if he “got” the plot, but he loved it from the first page, which starts of with “Piggie!”.  He giggled every time I read a word.  This book is about Elephant and Piggie upset about the rain ruining their plans to play outside, until they notice worms having fun in the rain.  Worms! Yay! Cue requests to go outside to dig in the dirt…

2. Worms. This was a $.99 Kindle book.  I’m trying to introduce more non-fiction books, especially when dealing with science themes, but I forgot to get worm books at the library.  But this Kindle book did the trick.  Lots of neat pictures to look at. Plus, it was on the Kindle.

3. Baby Loves Spring.  Again, love these books. And there’s worms squiggling in the dirt. Which Matty reminded me of when he came running in the room yelling “borms!!!!” after discovering it on the shelf.

Activities

 

 1. Dig in the dirt for worms, of course! I considered doing a Worm Farm, but I figured we’d have to keep it forever or risk meltdown.

2. Worm in Apple Cupcakes.  I had everything laid out to make these, then bam! A month of sickness, including 2 stomach bugs.  We’re definitely on a bland diet around here that doesn’t involve cupcakes.

3. Playdough worms

4. Rhymes and Songs.  Here’s two of my favorites, mostly because they’re easy to incorporate movement.

worm songs

Anybody else got a little worm lover?  Ever tried a worm farm?

Psst…I’m linking up @ My Healthy Happy Home for Toddler Tuesday. Check it out!

(Completely Unofficial) Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge

Internet shopping party! Whoo whoo.  These are my favorite kinds of parties.  Good times without actually having to talk to anyone (introverts unite!).  John and Sherry at YHL (of course) came up the idea, based on this song.  If you haven’t heard it, it’s pretty funny.

The Rules 

Step #1. Go to a thrift shop with – just as the chorus of the song says – “$20 in your pocket”and take a picture.

Step #2. Spend that $20 any way you’d like and photograph your spoils.

Step #3. Find one item (or more) referenced in the song and snap a pic.  Bonus points for doing something ridiculous with the item in the photo.

Step #4. Blog and link up.

I actually had an extra element of challenge…I had to do the whole thing in under 45 minutes–between dropping Wee One off at the babysitter and getting to work.

Let me preface by saying I didn’t have $20 in my pocket. I don’t carry cash.  Credit card–holla!

My first stop was Mercy United in Wapakoneta (just around the corner from the babysitter).

mercy

This whole downtown area is actually pretty nice–antique shops, bridal shops, consignments shops, and a few restaurants.  The thrift stores must be trying to keep up with the high-end folk, because the prices were steep.

Like $15 for a JT bobblehead.  Sorry, dude, you didn’t bring that much sexy back.

jt

There was a also a cabinet from Target with an orange clearance sticker for $24, marked down from $75.  The thrift store thought it needed to be marked back up to $60.  Say what?

So needless to say I left without finding any song items or spoils. Though I was tempted by this book.

dogs

I realized if I wanted the true “thrifting experience” I would need to head back to Lima.

So I hit the convention Goodwill thrifstore. And jackpot!

Housecoat + Flannel Zebra Leopard Pajamas

Upload Me

And a kind woman standing next to me bought this.  After having a nice long discussion about how warm and generally awesome it must be, she asked me if I was going to get it because she would like to buy it.  And I felt so bad I almost bought it for her. 🙁

So I moved on.

Big A$$ Coat

coat

I must admit.  I need a big a$$ coat. My kid likes to play outside even on the coldest days.  But I didn’t really want to resemble Barney.

But I did end up leaving with a few things.

Probably Broken Coffee Maker, $3

coffeepot

Wee One is obsessed with making coffee.  He’ll pretend to grind beans, put a filter in, pour the beans in to a filter, and pour the coffee into mugs.  This may save our real one from getting broken (more broken).

Reading Glasses, $1

glasses

Again, Wee One is obsessed with wearing glasses. Right now he wears Mr. Potato Head glasses, so I thought these might fit better (I’ll pop the lenses out first.)

Not the greatest thrifting day. At all. But I did hear Macklemore on the radio for the first time as I pulled into work.  And rocking out in the car for 3 minutes kid-free was totally worth it.

Um, hi?

 

Yes, yes.  Forgive me Father for I have sinned…it’s been over 1 year since my last blog post…

I got promoted. Eric got promoted. It got cold and I don’t function in the winter. OH, and we got pregnant! Yep, we currently have a little baby snuggling on the couch with us.

So what better motivation to blog again than to share all of the awesome details of life that now includes a baby?  So stayed tuned for our pregnancy rundown, birthday story, and weekly updates from our little one. And hopefully a few other ramblings from my mind along the way, like what we’ve been up to over the past year (hint: a lot) and what we’ve got planned in the upcoming year (hint: a lot).

{The People Who Live At Pottery Barn}

Ever look at a picture of a home in a magazine and think, Do people’s houses really look like that?    Do they actually go in those rooms?  Why does one need 157 yellow books on one bookcase?  Do people really buy coats and pets that match their home decor?!  Well, think no longer!  The fine gal behind Catalog Living has answered those questions.  Click on over to read a breif blurb about the folks who live in magazine houses.

Here’s a couple of my personal favorites:

And that second one kills me because I have that page bookmarked–I really like the room (and yes, the tree!).

{Foodie Friday: Panera Bread Co.}

 

So I thought this post would go against the reason for doing Foodie Friday blog postings. But not really.  Whether eating at home, or eating out, a girl has gotta know what’s in her food, right?  So when things get busy, or we’re super-tired, or on the road, or those other 3 nights/week that I haven’t gotten around to cooking, we always head to Panera.  Always.  They know us by name.  And order.  And when we order something outside of the norm, they go into a frenzy.  I’ll admit, it’s sad. 

After visiting their website recently and stumbling upon a wonderful build-a-meal nutritional calculator, I felt that I had to share.

Panera is really the only place I’ll eat out.  With the You-Pick-2 option, the price is decent, the portion sizes are perfect, and food actually is very healthy (as long as you pick the right two).  The You-Pick-Two gives the option of sandwiches, salads, soups, or even mac-n-cheese (not a good choice), along with a side: chips, apple, or baguette. Let’s take a look at what I normally get:

Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich w/lettuce and tomato only
(I don’t eat the bread, and instead make a wrap with the lettuce…)

That’s right—only 70 calories!  And with 12g of protein vs. 3g of carbs, it’s wonderful for those folks on a protein rich diet.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Again, very low-cal!  And although it is a bit more carb intensive, the protein is right there with it.  It is high in sodium, but I would rather have high sodium than high fat or high sugar.  Because it’s soup, it is very filling, and Panera uses a creamy broth, so it’s satisfying and filling.

Apple

At 80 calories, an apple makes a nice, sweet dessert that is also extremely healthy.

Some days, I like to substitute one of the choices for a salad.

Caesar Salad w/Grilled Chicken

Because I don’t eat dressing, or croutons (okay, sometimes I sneak a few), this item still comes in at under 100 calories.

Overall, I get a full meal for a grand total of:

  • Under 250 calories
  • Only 4-7g of fat
  • A good dose of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Iron
  • $6.19 (with cooking and clean-up)
  • A full, satisfied feeling

Now, just be cautious not to give into the temptation of getting the soup in a bread-bowl, loading up on condiments, or choosing a few of the delicious sweets (not that I would know…) from the glass display conveniently placed by the cash registers, and you’ll be set!

{Foodie Friday: Cashews}

Have you ever bitten into a rancid cashew?  I have.  This morning.  Blahhhhh.  Obviously, I should double-check the shelf-life of cashews.  Enter Foodie Friday.

Etymology:

Comes from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which is derived from the indigenous Tupi (of northeastern Brazil) name, acajú.

Random Facts:

There such as thing called a “cashew apple”, aka marañón in Central America.  Some might mistake this as the fruit of the tree, but it actually develops from the receptacle of the flower, and then the actual fruit grows from this.  And we thought human beings were convoluted!  The cashew apple is edible, has a juicy flesh which is very sweet, and a delicate skin that makes it unstable for export. (I sense a future Jeopardy question here!)

 

The actual fruit houses the single seed–the cashew.  Yep, that means that cashews are technically fruits, and seeds.  The shell that makes it a “nut” has been removed, so we only eat the seed.

The cashew seed is well protected by many acids and resins and other toxins.  One common one is urushiol, which is better known as the oil that causes poison ivy rashes.  Hmmm…I’m severely allergic to poison ivy, but have no problems with cashews…

Where is it Grown?

While native to Brazil, the Portuguese took the cashew plant to India in 1560. From there it spread throughout Southeast Asia and eventually Africa. The first country to import the cashew nuts from India was the United States in 1905. The leading commercial producers of cashews are India, Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria. The United States is the largest importer of cashew nuts.

Storage & Shelf-Life

Due to their high content of oleic acid, cashews are more stable than most other nuts but should still be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about six months, or in the freezer, where they will keep for about one year. Because of their high oil content, they spoil quickly at room temperature. Aha!  I really should implement a sniff test before hand, as rancid cashews will smell spoiled.

Ummm, Why Should I Care?

Source of protein-3.5 ounces provides 18g.

Also a significant source of Vitamin B1 and B6.  We know we need to get our B vitamins!

Heart-healthy-cashews contain oleic acid, which is an unsaturated fatty acid.  It has been shown to reduce triglycerides.

High antioxidant level-helps reduce free radicals wreaking havoc on the system.

Many studies have proven, to lower your risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, enjoy a handful of cashews or other nuts, or a tablespoon of nut butter, at least 4 times a week.

High in copper-Copper is vital for our body’s functioning.  Numerous health problems can develop when copper intake is inadequate, including iron deficiency anemia, ruptured blood vessels, osteoporosis, joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, brain disturbances, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol levels, irregular heartbeat, and increased susceptibility to infections.

High in magnesium- Insufficient magnesium contributes to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including spasms of the heart muscle or the spasms of the airways–asthma), and migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness, and fatigue. Given these effects, it is not surprising that studies have shown magnesium helps reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure, helps prevent heart attacks, promotes normal sleep patterns, and reduces the severity of asthma.

Because cashews are a higher calorie food (relatively, or course—compare it to a Twinkie!), and a good source of unsaturated fat, many still associate it with FAT and CALORIES and avoid them.  However, studies have shown the exact opposite to be true.  Those who eat nuts and seeds a few times a week actually lost weight and/or did not gain weight.

Other Uses

The bark of the cashew tree is scraped, soaked, boiled, and eaten as an anti-diarrheal. 

Cashew oil is used as an anti-fungal.

The cashew seed is ground and applied to snake bites to retract the venom.

In many places, the cashew apple is mixed with water and sugar and left to ferment to make an alcoholic drink.

It can also be ground to make cashew nut butter, to be used the same way as almond butter or peanut butter.

The wood of the cashew tree is prized for its beauty and sturdiness.

Cashews are never sold shelled because the interior of the shells contains a caustic resin, known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before the nuts are fit for consumption. This caustic resin is actually used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides. Umm, wait…what? Who ever figured that out, or who decided to try to get past the “bad stuff” to see if there was “good stuff”?  Diamond in the rough seeker or really bored caveman?

Recipes:

Again, roasting, salting, sugaring or chocolate-coating pretty much negates, or causes further distress, all of the good reasons to eat cashews in the first place.  The best way to eat cashews is raw (again, relative as it has been processed a bit to remove the toxic shell), as a snack.  They make an excellent in-between-meals snack. Try sprinkling them on top of salads, chicken, or pasta dishes.

Cashews have a rich buttery flavor, so they complement other foods well.  Specifically, they go well with fresh or dried fruits, most vegetables (add right after steaming or at the end of stir-frying as they’ll soften quickly),tofu, poultry, pork, soy sauce, ginger, oyster sauce, curry powder, coconut milk, ground coriander and cardamom.

Pork & Cashew Stir Fry

Caramel Cashew Cookies

Cashew Chicken

Asparagus and Cashew Chicken Stir-fry

{Who Knew Sirens, Crowds, and Bums Could Be So Refreshing?}

After a loooong week, the last thing we wanted to do was drive 2 hours to Cincinnati, just to turn around a few hours later to drive back home.  But it was Eric’s sister’s 21st birthday, and we most definitely didn’t want to miss those bawdy shenanigans. 

So I whistled for a cab and when it came near, the license plate said “fresh” and had dice in the mirror. If anything I could say that this cab was rare…Umm…no.

Jumped in the cab, here I am for the first time. Look to the right and I see the Hollywood sign. This is all so crazy…oh, umm…no.

Hopped in the  Volvo and, like Edward, made it down in record time.  No, seriously. 

I’m all for a life of simplicity, but it was so refreshing and energizing to be back in the city.  It’s been way too long since we spent any time downtown. I was so excited I even shot off a few shaky (gotta love those potholes) pics before embarking on the evening.

(Our dinner destination)

(Eric found a flower salesman in the bathroom…he’s so sweet.  All I got in the ladie’s room was a towel.)

(The birthday girl and her boytoy.)

(The birthday girl with her favorite big brother.)

(Our super-talented football star friend, Dannel.)

(My yummy ice water drink.  Nothing like getting *that* look from the bartender.)

(I think this had something to do with that movie Cool Runnings…)

(He’s a regular Casanova.)

(The birthday girl found her long-lost teddy bear.)

(While visually appealing, and amusing to watch, this communal drink just screamed “friends that drink together get herpes together”.)

(He didn’t drink too much…we were warning him of the dangers of high fructose corn syrup.)

{Foodie Friday: Agave Nectar…Buyer Beware}

Pronounced-ah-GAH-vay-

 

Agave nectar is extracted from the Agave plant (one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, FLOOR!), which grows mainly in Mexico, and also the Southwestern U.S.  It is used as a substitute for many sweeteners, like white sugar, maple syrup, and honey.  It is very popular with vegans, because it does not come from animal sources, and has even made its way into the Raw foodist movement.  Many claim that a simple substitution of Agave nectar for other types of sweeteners results in overall healthier baked goods, foods, and drinks. 

 

It sounded good…so I tried it.  And, it tasted good.  So, I did some more research.  Because honestly, if something tastes that good, and has such good claims, it’s probably too good to be true.

First, let me share the claims that led me to try it in the first place.

1. It’s natural and organic.

2. It’s very low on the Glycemic Index.

3. It’s low calorie.

4. It’s used by Raw foodists.

5. It’s natural and safe for consumption.

Now, let me share why these are all completely bogus claims.

1. Agave nectar is natural and organic. 

 The main component of agave is starch, such as what is found in corn or rice. Agave starch is converted into refined fructose, and then sold as the sweetener Agave nectar.  It is made through an enzymatic and chemical conversion that refines, clarifies, heats, chemically alters, centrifuges, and filters the non-sweet starch into a highly refined sweetener, fructose. Listen closely… Fructose is not what is found in fruit. Commonly, fructose is compared with its opposite and truly organic sweetener, known as ‘levulose’. There are some chemical similarities between fructose (man-made) and levulose (organic), and so the synthetically refined sugar fructose was labeled in a way to make one believe it comes from fruit. Levulose is not fructose even though people will claim it is.  It is a highly processed form of sugar.  Depending on the processing, Agave nectar can contain between 55 to 90% fructose, the rest is glucose.  This processing heats the nectar to turn it into more of a syrup.  So, now you have:

Processed
High-fructose
Syrup

High-Fructose Agave Syrup.  Same as High-Fructose Corn Syrup, which is now widely accepted as being horrible junk.  Actually, Agave syrup is more concentrated than the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas.

Also, there is the strong possibility that manufacturers are adding things like high fructose corn syrup into the mix in order to cut costs. The Food and Drug Administration says that the manufacturers of Agave nectar may not be labeling their product correctly, either. The FDA says that unless a container of Agave syrup (even the FDA calls is syrup!) is labeled as “hydrolyzed inulin syrup,” the contents cannot be considered unadulterated and genuine.  You KNOW it’s bad when even the FDA is making a statement about false claims and mispackaged products…

And this is essentially a “dead” food, not organic.  If it were organic, that is all of its enzymes and “healthy parts” still intact, it would ferment into tequila, albeit not for about 4 years (so don’t go starting a tequila business)…

2. Agave syrup has a low Glycemic Index. 

Because fructose is not converted to blood glucose, refined fructose doesn’t raise or “crash” human blood glucose levels — hence the claim that it is safe for diabetics. Supposedly, refined fructose has a low Glycemic Index, and won’t affect your blood sugar negatively. But the food labels are deceptive. Refined fructose is not really safe for diabetics. High fructose from agave or corn will kill a diabetic or hypoglycemic much faster than refined white sugar.  By eating high fructose syrups, you are clogging the veins, creating inflammation, and increasing body fat, while stressing your heart. This is in part because refined fructose is foreign to the body, and is not recognized by it.

Also, it may not be as low on the glycemic scale as some claim, depending on how it’s processed.

3. Agave nectar is low calorie. 

Actually, it contains 16 calories/teaspoon, about the same as white sugar.  This claim can be traced to a kernel of truth, but it is still a somewhat unethical claim.  Because Agave nectar tastes so sweet, many recommend using 1:.75 ratio.  That is, if the recipe calls for a cup of sugar, use ¾ cup of Agave nectar.  Because there is less sugar overall, there are less calories in the recipe.  Hmmm…

4. It’s used by Raw foodists. 

 Again, this claim was based on a kernel of truth, which started because of a lie.  So, 2 lies make a truth?  This product was marketed to Raw foodists, with a promise that it was not processed beyond 118 degrees.  VERY, not true.  So Agave nectar is no longer used by Raw foodists, but because they did support it for a short period of time, claims of their support are still being spewed.

5. It’s safe for consumption.

While high fructose Agave syrup won’t spike your blood sugar levels, the extremely high levels of fructose in it will cause mineral depletion, liver inflammation, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance leading to diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, obesity, and may be toxic for use during pregnancy.  There are some concerns about the use of Agave nectar by pregnant women, because some agave species contain natural steroids that could lead to miscarriage. In addition, these steroids act as contraceptives, causing unattributed sterility in women. 

These stimulants have adverse effects on non-pregnant people as well. They are known to contribute to internal hemorrhaging by destroying red blood cells, and they may gravely, negatively harm people taking statin and high blood pressure drugs. Once eaten, refined fructose appears as triglycerides in the blood stream, or as stored body fat. Elevated triglyceride levels, caused by consumption of refined fructose, are building blocks for hardening human arteries. Metabolic studies have proven the relationship between refined fructose and obesity.

Refined fructose is processed in the body through the liver, rather than digested in the intestine. Refined fructose robs the body of many micronutrients while trying to “make it through” the body. While naturally occurring fruit sugars contain levulose (digested in the intestine. ) which are bound to other sugars, high fructose corn syrup contains “free” (unbound), chemically-refined fructose. Research indicates that free refined fructose interferes with the heart’s use of key minerals like magnesium, copper and chromium.

I’ve included two interesting quotes that I wrote down, sorry, I forgot to get the name of one, and can’t read the other…research FAIL.

“If fructose were natural, I would be able to go out to corn field and get a bucket of sweetener. I can go to a beehive and get honey that I can eat without processing it. I can go to an apple tree and pick an apple and eat it. I cannot go out into a cornfield, squeeze corn, and get fructose syrup, and I cannot go into an agave field, and get the product sold on retail shelves, as agave nectar.

“There is something ethically worse about a company pretending to sell something all natural to people seeking health, than a mainstream company not pretending that their food is healthier (sic: unless you’re Taco Bell, what is up with that?!). For example, nobody selling fast and junk foods is advocating it is health food. When you are in a natural health food store, you expect to pay extra money for something that is good for you.”

The moral of the story.  Trust no one.  No, really.  Don’t even trust this.  Research for yourself.  And then share it with me.  Since when did eating become such a hard task?!

{Yes, But Why Is The Rum Gone?}

All work and no play…well, you know, makes for a very dull boy (or girl!).  I think this has been Eric’s life motto for the past few weeks.  Or maybe it’s just my perception.  I’m pretty sure that work and play, to him, are like peanut butter and jelly, or macaroni and cheese-they just go together. Or maybe it’s just that he knows after a hard day at work, he can down a bottle glass of wine without question.  I actually had a Johnny Depp moment the other day: “Why is the rum gone?!”  Except with wine…

No, really. He likes work so much that he asked me to make cupcakes for a meeting.  What were they celebrating?  Nothing, really.  He just wanted to kick it up a notch.  His only request…that they be “cute and professional.”  I made these:

However, having evenings be “Eric-free” has left me with a lot of free time.  I totally heart being married, but having a few extra hours to be alone is kinda nice.  A nice cup of hot tea and a good book…a nice long playlist to dance around listen to while knocking out some craft projects…catching up on chic flicks…trying new recipes…and, of course, going shopping.  Which is exactly what I’ve been up to these past few weeks (all of it…not just the shopping).

I’m pretty excited about whipping up some black bean brownies, which I took to work and got the seal of approval on.  Eric likes them.  Coworkers like them.  Students like them. Score!  Although I was called a tree-hugging-hippie.  Thankyouverymuch.  I also tried a cinnamon chicken recipe which was quite tasty. 

I’ve also started to create items for a Fall craft fair…yeah.  You can never start too soon.  And I designed a set of personal stationery for both myself and the hubby.  Mine is useful, his is mostly for decorative purposes.

I did spend one snow day shopping.  And, boy, am I glad that I did.  Under $100, and a trunk of stuff later, I had enough projects to keep me busy for…oh, 1.3 hours. ::sigh:: It sucks being so overproductive.

I scored this birdcage for, wait for it…$14.99.  What?! 

I have no problem jumping on the decorating trend bandwagon as long as it’s not commitment intensive (wallpaper, anyone?), or super-expensive.  Compared to these super-cute, but uber-expensive Pottery Barn inspirations, I think my $15 TJ Maxx find is a steal. I just added some moss, and voila!

Three-Gable Birdhouse

Birdcage, Small

I also found this perfect fern pillow for $9.99.  Fantastic-ness. 

And, it should be noted, we did have a throw pillow on our “To Buy” list, so this fit into our budget and fit perfectly into what we wanted.

I also found a little throw in the pillow section for $3.  Now, it has a tag that says Compare to $60.  I don’t know who in their right mind would pay $60 for it, but I’ll surely pay $3 for Ralph Lauren.  Plus, one of my March goals (Spoiler Alert!) is to make a pillow sham.

Making my way through housewares led me to this wonderful vase for $12.99.  For the past month we’ve had a bunch of floral stems that we picked up at Pottery Barn Outlet propped up in the corner, with price tags and tissue paper still on them.  Classy.  So a vase was also on our “To Buy” list. 

I also picked up three more items at $.50 each, that are in need of a little more TLC, which can’t happen until Spring comes and I can spraypaint outside.  They are fantastic and make me chuckle.  More to come…

Then I went to the mall.  But have no fear, I made it out for under $50.  Considering that I got 7 tops and a pair of earrings, I would say that’s pretty great.  It’s clear that I’m ready for Spring.

So how do you (all 24 of you daily readers out there!) spend your time when your significant other is away?