Gifting for the Season

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Handmade: Manufactured by hand; made with love

This year, not unlike other years, I wanted to go the handmade route. Thank to Jacki, I thought I'd get better organized about it this year, so I made a spreadsheet! This isn't to say that I have completely ruled out store-bought gifts, but will be enhanced. Here's the deal:

  • 1 Handmade Gift - This is something sewn, crocheted, or baked. In the past, I've given cookies, aprons, scarves, salsa, reusable bags
  • 1 Small Store Bought Gift - This is usually something needed and my loved ones have specifically requested like socks, pot holders, spatulas, specialty foods
  • 1 Donation to Charity - I have a monthly budget that goes specifically towards philanthropy/donations. I make note of these donations and jot down a reason why I chose the charity I selected. For Christmas, I send a note to the person who has inspired me to donate to the cause, how much was donated in their honor, and why I donated. Having my notes helps me remember what sparked the reason and well, it is just another way to pay it forward. It is nice to receive gifts, but I like to think that people's actions have inspired me to give on their behalf to a cause they believe in. For this reason I feel like the donation has that much more meaning. Some of the organizations I have supported:  MDA - Muscular Dystrophy, CF - Cystic Fibrosis, American Heart Association, Promise House - Runaway Teens, Susan G. Komen, American Cancer Society, Texas Tech University, Alzheimer's Association, and HIV AIDS Alliance. Additionally, we adopt one angel from the angel tree and shop for their gifts on Black Friday.                                          
With that said, would you like a teaser of some of the handmade goodness? The theme this year (last year was aprons) is comfy fleece!
Also, this is the 1 crocheted items I have successfully completed. It is a scarf for Brother. He already knows. I had to measure it on him to make sure it was long enough. I really like the way it turned out! If crocheting didn't take me forever, I would totally make a few more of these!
Yeah, I tried to start this project too, but haven't bee very successful. This is what I want to do, but I have no idea what that shorthand is trying to tell me. Can anyone clue me in? I think these scrubbies are top notch and I know I can make them, I just need a bit of guidance.

Also, I wanted to can crab macaroni and cheese, but then I realized that I don't have a pressure cooker and seeing as how I've never canned anything in my life, I'm better off sticking to baking a dessert in a jar and handing that out as a gift. I need to run to Paper Source to pick up some labels and this weekend, it's gonna be a baking dream up in our home, hopefully. Oh, and hopefully Don will whip up some of his awesome salsa. We already have the jars and the equipment, we just need to do it!

Now it is your turn, what do you do? Do you hand make anything? Do you give gifts? Do you donate in someone's honor?

Mari's Generic Cards

When Mari is invited to birthday parties, I always scramble for a last minute card. One year I had ordered five custom cards similar to this one and I breezed right through them within the first month. This year, I have purchased 12 and I don't think it will take me all year to use them. This is a great time saving tip and will help to personalize any gift, especially for the parents of the kids in her school who only know her name, but not the face.

Modern Stripe 3x5 folded card
Unique party invitations and greeting cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

2010 Family Photo

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This year we gathered together for Thanksgiving with my family like we have done for the past five years. Something new that we started last year was to take a more "formal" family portrait to have. This year, since we were in Lubbock, we opted to have Don and I take the photos. I mean c'mon. We we take other family's photos, we should take our own. However, it was a little tricky because we didn't bring the tripod and it was naptime for a certain Sugarbean. Besides, we all know that we take our Christmas photo by our fireplace WITH Guapo and because we had other sessions after ours, we had to leave him at home. Not to worry, though, we got some great shots of everyone else in the family and I wanted to share with all of you!

Here's a photo of me in action:
Don was doing his very best to blind my sister and her family with our reflectors. LOL! Next up, while I was testing out the light, I caught this awesome one of Brother. His shades are pretty snazzy, 'eh? Plus, you have to love that self-portrait I took. If you look really close, you will see Mom and Daddy by the tree.

Anyway, even with the out-of-control reflectors and the poor spot I chose for the portrait (hindsight), I caught this beauty of sister with her kiddos. It blows my mind how big they are getting!

Also, if you know my Brother, you know he is quite the joker.
This is his amazingly beautiful gal, Melissa. Isn't she just simply gorgeous?

Not to leave them out, here is a photo of Brother and Melissa together. I have a bajillion of them, but this was the one that I have immediately ready:

This photo is by far one of my favorites that I have ever taken of my folks:
Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

With love ♥,
Melissa, Brother, Momma, Daddy, Zeni, Sam, Ian, Me, Tesla, Mari, and Don


When we take roadtrips, Don and I like to talk and snack. I do my very best to try to be good, but inevitably, I indulge in the over-processed goodness that small convenience stores like Allsup's offer. Usually, I'll munch on a beef and bean burrito, but this time, I had a craving for something crunchy and chocolate. I opted for Cheetos Puffs and an extra large Reese's peanut butter cup. The combination of the two was sweet goodness! Mmmmm...And then Mari piped up from the back, "Mommy, I want a Cheeto!" What? How did she even know what a Cheeto was? Seriously. I hid the Cheetos, offered her the Vruit drink and handed her some fruit leather. Although, why was I not sharing with my daughter, when the one in utero was happily flipping over Cheetos? Double guilt!

Anyway, while we were away, Don and I played. No really, we were wearing our photographer hats and at the end of the day's session, Don pulled me aside and asked me to pose for him for a couple of shots. I've been trusting him more behind the lens, which is saying a whole lot because I'm not entirely comfortably being out front. Even though I felt less than stellar, I sucked it up and did as requested. Wow, am I happy I did. I'm so proud of him. He got some amazing shots! These two are some of my favorites:

Afterwards, since we had some time and a free babysitter, we headed to dinner together and loved it. (even though the food did make me sick, but that was my bad because it was full of lactose evilness) I so appreciate having some special and quality time with my husband. When we can capture those moments "on film" makes it that much more special. 
I'm eagerly looking forward to our "formal" session that we'll have in February. He wanted to do something different and out of the norm. We'll see what happens.

Christmas, Christmas Time is Here....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don and I didn't want to inundate our child with unnecessary gifts and get caught up in the commercialism that is modern Christmas. However, because she is a little one (and I remember what it was like to believe in Christmas magic), I didn't want to take that away from her. Not so long ago I asked her what she wanted for Christmas and she told me, "Taco Bell and a Pink Dress." Well, she has since dropped the Taco Bell part and has consistently asked for a pink dress. I haven't yet found the "perfect" pink dress, but I did order this lovely frock for an upcoming holiday party.

I do love the amazing sequins and removable jacket. Best of all, it is washable. Here's to hoping it is every bit as good as I want it to be.

Also, when we were out and about shopping for some shoes for Don about a month ago, she fell in love with this Melissa & Doug grilling set. She was happily playing with it and when we left, she insisted on putting all of the pieces back together where she found them. I found a decent price for it on Amazon and ordered it! I do like the wooden toys that they make and putting the food on the skewers definitely practices her "threading" skills.
While I was out on ol' Amazon, I went ahead and bought her some fridge food to fill her tiny fridge in her play kitchen. I know she's going to go bananas over it!
Finally, I have had my eye on this Branford Limited Dollhouse offered by OneStepAhead since last year, but I can't stomach the price tag. I loved my two dollhouses growing up, but I distinctly remember finding one in the alley and the other was found at a garage sale. I would like to have one to give her soon, so she can have a "home" for all of her Barbies (while she still likes to play with them!). Instead, thanks to another mom, I happened upon these amazing instructions for making one out of a bookshelf! We'll see. This might very well be reserved for a birthday present.

Speaking of which, I did score this amazing balance bike for less than $50 off of Zulily! Membership is free and you get access to great deals!
Ok, I wasn't done just yet. Zulily made me think of Tesla. Yes, I bought some gifts for the next baby girl, even though she isn't out of the womb. Granted, these "gifts" are more for us, but still. First up, I bought two Charlie Banana diapers: one aqua and one black. They were on good sale at Zulily, so I picked them up. I was seriously kicking myself for not being able to get the purple or green ones! I also picked up a Pura stainless steel water bottle/sippy cup. The bundle included the water bottle, lid, silicone nipples, and toddler sippy top (both infant bottle & toddler bottle in one). We loved the glass bottles we used with Mari, but we only had two, and one of them was broken (ok, ok, I broke it!), so we were down to just one. We still have the old plastic ones that are BPA free, but I like the idea of stainless steel for her water, for some reason. Plus, it will grow with her as she gets older. She will have her own bottle, Mari will have hers, I will have mine, Don will have his, and Guapo will have his. I can already picture all of our water containers on long bike rides. :)

What are the top items you guys are giving this year for your kids? Did you all take advantage of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals?

Soon, I'll discuss what we are going to get for ourselves and what we will be giving this year too!

November 20: National Adoption Day & Adopted Ed Book Review

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I was given the opportunity to do a book review for Adopted Ed by the One2One Network. First off, I thoroughly love books that rhyme and are like one long poem. This books cadence is an easy read, very much like many of the Dr. Seuss books. Next up, are the illustrations. Oh my, the colors on the pages simply pop. It is truly beautiful. The faces of the each character are very welcoming and age appropriate. I also liked how Ed had stars on his bedspread, and later he had a star on his shirt. I'm not sure if that was on purpose or not, but it really helped to bring the story together. Another thing, I loved that the illustrated versions of his adopted parents and friends were indicative of a myriad of cultures and backgrounds. This warmed my heart.

The story is simple, "I'm adopted. I'm special." I am not adopted, but the thought has definitely crossed my mind. I grew up only knowing a handful of adopted people, but each one I met lived ordinary lives, just like the rest of us, but each one was also extraordinary. Adoption is a completely different type of love. My favorite line in the book, "With her special Mom wisdom, in her simple Mom way,..." Honestly, if I've have ever been at a loss for words, it is when I need the strongest words to help and teach my daughter. Somehow, I find them with some wisdom I never knew I really possessed and it is always simple enough for my daughter to understand. (That's God's grace.)

This book isn't at all biblical and I think it is a great resource for adopted parents or for children to help them better understand and appreciated adoption. Most important, I think this book has a wonderful message of acceptance of others and tolerance of others who may be different. "Life is to be enjoyed, whether you're young or you're old. It matters not the cloth we're cut from or even the mold." So poignant and so very true!

I would highly recommend Adopted Ed to anyone. If you are curious to learn more about the author and his story, you can find out more here.

**I was selected to be a reviewer of the book Adopted Ed from the One2One Network. I was not paid for this blog post. I only received a copy of the book to review. Receiving the book did not in any way influence my review, I just merely received the copy.**

HDMR: Burlesque

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holy moly Bianca, this thing doesn't even open until Thanksgiving, how in the heck are you doing an HDMR right now? Well, special thanks to my friend who invited me because she scored a ticket (plus 1) from Gordon and the Whale. Backstory: I had to bend time tonight because I had a work dinner in Uptown. I inhaled my food and thanks to an amazing server at Victory Tavern who put my order in early and got it out just as fast, I enjoyed dinner before zipping down the Toll to West Plano Cinemark. Of course there was a bit of traffic. Of course I had to park near the end. Of course the winds were blowing 30 MPH against me. But I made it in line (the 2nd to last line, mind you, but near the front of it, so I had hope!) I scored our wristbands when I got a call from Val letting me know she'd gone to the wrong spot, but she'd make it. Sure enough, moments after they called the line before ours, she ske-daddled in and I slapped on the purple wristband. Not 5 minutes passed when the manager of the theater came to us and told us the disappointing news: the theater was full. WHOMP WHOMP...BUT...We were welcome to go watch any movie for free. We went to get in line and were trying to figure out which movie to watch when I cop approached a rather angry (and flamboyant) man who was more than upset about being left out. His gesticulations were over emphasized by the Cher face held in his hand by a large Popsicle stick. Both he and Cher were pissed! I was worried that things were about to get out of hand in the theater and this poor guy was going to take a ride of a different sore, when all of a sudden, he scurried away like a happy rat who discovered cheese. I was intrigued and followed suit, because there could only be one reason to go from bitch to bliss in .5 seconds. He and Cher were gonna have some Cher! We hurried along and scored entry!! The two rows in the absolute front were not occupied, so that's where we had to sit, but I was grateful to just have a seat. :) Alright, alright, I've punished you enough with the backstory. On to the review.

Wow. Seriously. Wow. I hadn't been this excited to see a show since The Devil Wears Prada. I was hesitant to show my excitement because the probability of me getting to see this in the theater were slim to none. Also, not all musicals (especially the ones featuring famous singers) are great. But I had hope. I adore Stanley Tucci. Thanks to this season of The Good Wife I have a greater appreciation for Alan Cumming. This is probably the closest I'll ever get to seeing Cher in concert and I'd heard rumors that the ever adorable Kristen Bell actually played a semi-villian. Oooh...juicy. And then there's the gem of the show, Christina Aguilera, who has always held a special place in my heart because that little thing can sing, but it doesn't ever seem like she ever gets near the spotlight of some other chanteuses in the industry...and frankly it's a darn shame. She is completely and totally adorable in this film and not only that, but you believe in her spunk and the character. You find yourself pulling for her and craving more and more. That voice!! Aaack, I love that voice. Cher, oh momma, you more than got it going on! I only recall seeing her sing two numbers, but whoa! Finally, Cam Gigandet and Eric Dane, whooo, you guys make some nice eye candy to look at. The guys behind us were oogling and making comments that had me quietly giggling. Cam Gigandet's body reminded me of the way Don's body was when I met him, just not as tatted up, nor as tan, but wow. I fell in love with my husband all over again and for the rest of the movie, I didn't see Cam, I saw Don. So much so that I was a little more than jealous that Christina was kissing him. Talk about having to put the hormones in check!

My next favorite thing in the movie were the costumes. Oh the glorious glitz and glam of burlesque costumes make you wanna dress up, but with very little. *wink* I wanted to run right out of there and grab my glue gun and some sequins because surely there's something in my closet that needs bedazzling! (Sidenote: hate you...Louboutin for making a cameo with some gorgeous shoes...hate you! Making a gal drool with envy.) The movie itself is so sensual, visually and melodically. One tiny tidbit just for my dear friend Mandi, you will enjoy and appreciate the make-up! Girl, that's my inspiration for my company holiday party!

Finally, there's the music. Seriously, I want the soundtrack, stat. Unfortunately, not every song featured in the movie is actually on the soundtrack. However, every song they sung is on there, so that's definitely good enough. I can't wait to sit alone in my car and belt out the tunes in my own way. ha ha!

I highly recommend this movie, especially if you are fan of those powerful soulful solos of Christina's, that amazing snarkiness of Stanley Tucci and his eyebrows, and of the ever fantastic Cher. It will not disappoint. (and if it does, don't tell me because I don't want this bubble to pop).

Tesla Update...Whoaaaaa-ooooh---ohh, I'm halfway there...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

20 weeks, my, my, my where has the time flown by?? Seriously? Insanity. Today, I had a doctor appointment and I forgot that this is the one with the big sonogram. Last month, when we did a quick look, the sonographer noticed a bit of a calcification around the heart. She assured me to not worry about it and that in most cases it would have disappeared at 30 weeks. At 18 weeks along, that sure did seem like a lifetime away. Of course, being who I am, I started to obsess a bit too much until I reached out for some prayers. Fast forward two weeks and no trace of any calcification build up whatsoever. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the prayers and positive thoughts!!!

On with the update already woman, we don't have all day. Ok, ok, ok...sheesh. You guys are about as patient as Mari is when we tell her we're giving her mac and cheese for dinner and she turns into a mini Veruca Salt. Whoa!

2 arms, 2 legs, 5 fingers on the left hand, couldn't make sense of the right one (it was tucked under her head), 2 ears, a healthy brain, stomach, kidneys, 4 chambers in the very healthy heart, long feet and legs, and very expressive hands just like her sister. She weighs about 14 ozs (eeek!) and I feel her from the top of my belly to the lowest part of my abdomen. She was moving, but slowly, patiently and really laid back...just like her daddy. :) She yawned, just like she has the other times. Ahhh..such a hard life in there!  When she was bored, she curled into me and started to suck on her thumb. Adorable. Can you tell that I've fallen in love all over again? As for me, I'm nearing the 200lb mark (omg, really?!?!), but my BP is holding strong at 108/68.

Thank you again for the prayers and well wishes! Only two more monthly visits, then I drink the sugar drink and then visits are upped to twice a month. Insanity!

The Fight...Recap

On Saturday, Don and I headed out to our first ever boxing match. I was very, very excited about it. I don't normally like fighting of any sort, so to say I was a tad bit apprehensive was an understatement. But something about the pomp and circumstance surrounding it had me intrigued. I have always had a fondness of watching fights on TV, so this was going to be an event. Leading up to it, I had done a slight bit of research on the two boxers and much to the dismay of my fellow Mexican-Americans, I was rooting for Pacquiao. I'm a big fan of scrappy. Those of you, like me, who have never heard of him, I will give you a brief recap. He's small. He's like 5'6 (which makes me think he's that height on a good day). He's a congressman. He's a devout Catholic. He was in the military. Even more impressive is that he's won 10 world titles in 8 weight classes!!! That's insane! To be fair, I'll link Margarito too. Honestly, I remember watching him box in his earlier years. I didn't recognize him with the ornate clothes and the fancy haircut/facial hair. Don was actually a fan of his pointy beard. I thought it was neat too. If they were having a contest in style, I fully believe that Margarito would have won. I say this because he came looking like he was ready to walk the catwalk or do a promo shoot, not actually fight!
First off, here is where I give a shout out to my friend who so generously gave us the tickets. She was probably more than aware that Don and I needed a date night and this was just the thing! Prior to this, neither one of us would have willingly sought out to purchase tickets to a fight. This was definitely something new and exciting and Don and I like to have adventures! The above photo is taken from our seats. They were really amazing indeed!

There were 3 fights on the undercard (not sure if that's how you say properly or not). The first one was meh. It had me fired up and ready for the fight. Although, only one guy actually had an entrance. The next fight was not very exciting at all. I actually took a short break to buy some coffee and grab a beer for Don. The final fight before was very invigorating. The winner, Mike Jones, was the only American on the ticket. He walked into a very spiritual slow song that kinda killed the hyped up entrance to his opponent. Both of these guys were bigger in size than the previous ones. During the breaks between the rounds, the ring gals would prance around holding the digital sign. One of them would dance. One of them looked like she could barely walk. The other did a sashay-dance thing. Unfortunately, the attention was taken from them when they would cut into the dressing rooms of the players of the main event. Our section seemed to be flooded with Margarito fans and Mexican flags. There was a sprinkle of Pacquiao lovers.
Before the main event started, the lights went dark and the announcer introduced Nelly! I had no idea that we were going to be treated to a mini concert. For the record, I took the above photo. It is actually a picture of the ginormous television screen at Jerry world. Isn't that some amazing quality? He sang two songs: Country Grammar and Just a Dream. I have to say, that he has some of the best teeth I've ever seen! What a totally random thing to say, but it is true. I know they have to be capped because at one point he had a solid gold grill. I digress, back to the fight...

This is the beginning of the fight after the fighters have made their respective entrances. If you look on the screen above the ring, you can see Michael Buffer, the professional announcer. They both had strong entrances. They were both cordial. I was a little bothered that Margarito hesitated to touch gloves with Pacquaio on the first round, but didn't mind doing so during subsequent rounds. Before the start of each round, Pacquaio did the sign of the cross and pressed on.

The fight went all 12 rounds and wow. That Margarito took a beating, but I admired his courage and moxie. He would NOT give up, despite having a fractured orbital bone. Yeeesh! To read a better recap of the actual fight, I would suggest you go here (read it from the bottom to the top).

For those of you interested, I wore a long black maternity skirt and a lace tank top with lots of jewelry. It was chilly out that day, so I had on a long sweater as well as a scarf and my coat. I wore my red Toms because I knew that we would probably have to walk a ways. I had my fancy black satin shoes in hand to change into once inside the stadium. When we pulled up, I must note that we paid the premium price for parking, which was $50. Yes, that's a lot of money to pay for parking, but here's the deal. We didn't pay for the tickets. My sister watched Mari for us, so we didn't have to pay for a babysitter. Even with buying drinks (coffee & beer), we had an amazing date for not nearly what it would have cost us. Considering where we were sitting, if you added the cost of the tickets, the babysitter, parking, and beverages, you are looking at total value from $500 to $750! I was feeling like we were living large, let me tell you. Any reason to dress up and look like some pretty arm candy for my husband is a wonderful night! Despite the jeans shopping experience from earlier in the week, I was feeling gorgeous and glam. Thank you Xochitl! You have no idea how much that night meant to us.

Music Review: Norah Jones...Featuring

Monday, November 15, 2010

I know you all have been on pins and needles awaiting my review of the new Norah Jones album, especially since I first mentioned it here. I've been listening to the album for the better part of a week. I've listened to it in the car. I have listened to it while cooking. I have listened to it on my headphones while working. I have even listened to it while blogging!

First up, there are some very classic Norah Jones sounding mixes. There are some newer types of songs that she has experimented with and that was quite a refreshing surprise! It is released on November 16th and to order your copy through Amazon, click here.

Overall, I enjoyed this album. I completely and totally enjoyed all parts of it. There are so many different sounding songs and this made me appreciate all of the different collaborations that much more. Some songs sounded better in a different environment, but overall, it is a good and easy listen! I broke down what I thought of each song below:

Love Me is a familiar song, one in which she has sang with the Little Willies. Virginia Moon didn't grab me immediately. But then I shut my eyes and pretended I was seaside enjoying dinner with my husband and well, I swore I could feel the tender summer breeze on my face. Turn Them with Sean Bones didn't immediately jump out at me. Honestly, the song passed so quickly, I often missed it. Baby It's Cold Outside with Willie Nelson was by far my biggest disappointment. It isn't a bad song, but I really do enjoy this song. Surprising, I really enjoyed the Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell duet in Elf. This didn't pack quite the same punch as that version.

Bull Rider with Sasha Dobson is a fun tune that had me tapping my foot along to the beat. I love how she fully pulls the notes out of BuuuuulllRiiiiderrrrr. That's like melted butta! Ruler of My Heart sounds like a familiar Norah Jones song with the back up of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The Best Part is an ethereal sounding melody that is so sensual, so tantalizing, I feel a bit naughty after hearing it.

Then we have my favorite bunch of the album. Why a bunch? Well, because the next three songs fit so perfectly, so wonderfully, that I thoroughly dug on all three of these songs on their own. First up is one of my favorites, Take Off Your Cool with Outkast. It is so cool, so sassy, so very much Outkast. I dug it and had it on repeat for a bit there. Followed by Life is Better with Q-Tip, is a funky, groove sound that had me bobbing my head. Then Soon the New Day with Talib Kweli, was another smoothly funky sound. It was like warm caramel for my soul.

Little Lou, Prophet Jack, Ugly John with Bell & Sebastian brings it down and takes it all a bit slow. This is the perfect song to listen to when traveling down a country road on a rainy day. Very chill.
Here We Go Again with Ray Charles has me missing ol' Ray. His voice is so comforting. And then, hers coupled with him. Wow, that's just some good stuff. Loretta with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings makes me think of an older country song when it was more harmonious and it told a story. It took me back to the songs my dad liked. Dear John with Ryan Adams stabs me in the heart. The melancholy tune, the sadness in the voices, powerful.

Followed by the upbeat and cheery Creepin' In with Dolly Parton is just what you need after the emotional drain. Court & Spark with Herbie Hancock is a largely instrumental piece that showcases her piano talents.More than This with Charlie Hunter is another breathy song with the typical sounding Norah, where she carries the notes with a smoothness that is all her own. Blue Bayou with M. Ward is a familiar M. Ward song. This isn't a bad thing. I like M. Ward. I found myself wanting to hear more of his voice instead of hers, but I still enjoyed it, just not as much as some of the others. I would have preferred to end the album on a different tune.

At a glance, while skimming over all of the collaborators, you will immediately notice that there is definitely something for everyone. I would recommend this album, especially if you are a Norah Jones fan! If you want to have a listen to some samples for yourself, check out the Amazon Music Sampler. But if you are sold and want your own copy, click here to order on Amazon. I don't think you will be disappointed. :)

*I was selected by one2one network to review the new Norah Jones album. I did not receive any compensation, other than a copy of the CD to write up the review. Thank you One2One.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I couldn't think of a more aptly titled post because frankly, it is how I felt when I left the store. First off, let's start off on a positive note. I didn't spend $100-$200 on a pair of jeans! Yaaay!

Background: I have a semi high-profile charity event tomorrow evening where the attire is dressy denim. On Saturday, we are headed to the Pacquiao vs. Margarito fight. I've never been to a boxing match, so I figured since it was televised on HBO, it is better that I dress a little better than the normal t-shirt and jeans I probably would worn. I'm on a major budget, so whatever it was I needed to keep it in check.

Before I found out about the fight, I was going to buy these boots. I've been coveting them for a bit over a year, but did you see the price tag? Yeah, not in a budget. I could get closer to buying a cow and not only feeding off the meat, but use the leather for a new pair of boots. So I didn't get them. Then, I was presented with the opportunity to go to the fight. After that, I opted to go a different route with the outfit. A fierce pair of dark denim jeans to rock out this baby glow I have working. Woo-hoo!!

And then I discovered that I would have to go jean shopping. BLECH! The only thing I don't like more than jean shopping is bathing suit shopping. With that said, I go to Destination Maternity, which is a one stop shop for three kinds of maternity stores, all of which are based on your budget. I'm on a super tight schedule, so I wanted to go somewhere that would let me shop fast and maybe fit in my budget. Lucky for me, as soon as I walked in, a saleslady happily greeted me and I told her what I was looking for. She took it upon herself to pull all of the dark denim jeans in my pre-pregnancy size while I browsed the rest of the store. I was happy here, but not happy with the selection. I saw a great purple top, but they didn't have it in my size. After pulling a couple of other items, I slinked back into my dressing room and faced the mountain of jeans and several more pairs hanging on the rack. There were 12 different kinds of jeans for me to try on. Joe's Jeans, Citizen of Humanity, Lucky Brand, 7 for all Mankind, Hudson, Mavi, a Pea in the Pod, True Religion, J Brand, and ag jeans. (there were 2 kinds of Citizens and two types of Joe's) I tried every single pair on. Most of them didn't actually get much higher than my knees (almost mid-thigh). The ones I actually got over my thighs created this horrendous multi-layered muffin top from my flesh. Two pair were actually pulled on like normal. One pair had about 4 inches dragging on the ground. Price tag: $185. Ugh! Not perfect. My bottom looked flatter than ever, and the back of the jeans cut in my lower back so much, I don't know how I would be comfortable. The other pair came on and after much jumping and pulling and wriggling, they were on. But it was like someone had forced me into a pair of spanx and then spray painted denim over them. They were so tight, it was really embarrassing. If the jeans are tighter than your panties, then you probably don't need to be wearing them. Price tag: $195 My original pair of non-maternity jeans of this brand, I had the same issue as well. The last pair that I enjoyed, but were both too long and too tight were also $250!!! (online they are $199) If I'm going to spend that much money on a pair of jeans, I need them to be perfect. I have spent that much money on a pair of jeans. I have spent in the $200 plus range on a pair of jeans and didn't bat an eye about it. You know why, because they were PERFECT! I still have those jeans. For 3 years, I wore those pair of jeans at least once a week, sometimes twice. That was a pretty darn good investment to me. The only other pair of jeans that I have loved as much as this pair were the pair of broken in Levi 501s that I inherited from my father.

There I stood in really crappy lighting, staring at my ass, thinking I was the 2nd coming of Orca. I felt huge and unbrilliant. I'm nearly 5 months pregnant and this time around I feel like I have expanded a lot quicker than the last time around. However, like the last time around, I still appreciate my body and feel amazing beautiful...except for when I don't. At that moment, it took all my might to force tears back deep down. I grabbed the one item I enjoyed (a stylish tank with a lace overlay, very modern, very now and less than $30), went to check out, and donated $1 to the March of Dimes. I left with my tiny complimentary bottle of water, feeling lower than ever, and guilty that the plastic from that tiny bottle was still going to pollute the earth even if I recycled it.

Pregnancy should be a celebration for growing life. For defying infertility obstacles, for appreciation of the body and the limits with which we push it, and most importantly for the gift we've been given. Your butt gets flabby and soft. Your thighs inflate. Your feet swell. Your boobs swell to 3X their original size. Your back gets more padding. Your nose gets bigger. Your cheeks get puffier. It is all part of it. I welcome it and I love it. At times I lovingly complain about it, but it is worth it. Everything that I mentioned and's all worth it. I'm grateful for a devoting husband who shells out amazing compliments to me, for a best friend who COMPLETELY understands where I'm coming from, and for a Sugarbean who bestows a thousand kinds of kisses on me and tells me I'm pretty, even though she's up a half hour past her bedtime. That's the part that's amazing!

But jean shopping, ugh...

HDMR: Megamind & The Walking Dead

Yes, yes, yes! Another HDMR!! Bianca, are you going to make this a regular thing again? Well, I'm not exactly sure since we haven't really gone to see many movies while they are still in the theater, but if I do have a rental that I feel the need to comment on, then I might try.

Mari had been looking forward to this. Every time she saw the blue head advertised on television, she would immediately holler, "Megamind! Megamind! Megamind!" After sufficiently freaking out about advertising and the effects it had on my child, I decided to so dome research since, after all, we do seem to like many of "her" movies. (Seriously, we can't seem to get enough of Monsters v. Aliens!) Honestly, we hadn't planned on seeing this one in the theater. Because of the guests we had coming in to visit us, we REALLY wanted to go see Due Date, but we seemed to have misplaced Mari's iTouch (we were going to let her watch one of "her" movies with headphones while we went to see ours) and we had heard wonderful things about this movie. I read a quick snippet of how hysterical some of the references were, so we figured, 'eh, why not. Lucky for us, priMo and A did not mind one bit going to see this movie. We loaded up and headed out for Studio Movie Grill. I indulged in a vanilla shake with Oreos, mushroom sausage pizza, and a couple of sweet potato fries. Mari nibbled on some pizza and a couple of corn dog bites. Don was good and had a salad with vinaigrette on the side.

Oh yeah, the movie review...we really liked it. We didn't love it, but we certainly liked it. And you know what, I've not-so-secretly wanted to be blue, so I was even more appreciative of Megamind. Plus, the Minion character was a hoot! I loved the strong leading lady role, Roxanne Ritchi! She was marvelous! However, Tighten (Jonah Hill) was annoying, but I think that was the point of that character. Mari liked the movie. There were times where Don and I were laughing and she shushed us, telling us that it was not funny. For a kid, it probably wasn't funny, but for us, the inside joke relating to some super heroes (and famous characters) of our childhood was funny. I think I also liked this flick because there was a bit of a love story and I'm always a champion for the underdog! If you want some good family fun, feel free to take your kiddo out to this movie. It will not disappoint.  

The Walking Dead
Those of you not aware, this is a zombie TV show. I mean right, with the vampire hoopla, we were bound to start having zombie hysteria too, right? It was this year that I started watching True Blood not knowing if I would like it or think it was hokey, but you know what. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, so my mind was open to watching The Walking Dead. Let it be known that I don't like zombies. I don't like zombie movies. They give me the creeps and seriously, it took a lot for me to muster up enough courage to watch Zombieland, even though people told me it was more of a comedy instead of a horror film. Fast forward, and AMC created this series called The Walking Dead. Two things: 1. I have great respect and admiration for AMC, especially because of Mad Men. 2. I love Don with all my heart, soul, and being, and he likes zombies, and his excitement for this show led me to suck it up and just deal. We missed the first showing because the sugarbean was still awake at the time it premiered, and we really didn't think this was something she should be watching. (yes, we do have limits!) Each day during the week, we'd click through the On Demand section on our cable, giddily anticipating the first show to be watched. No such luck. Don stayed up late and used his "extra" hour to watch it when they replayed it at 2AM. We later learned that they had it online for him to watch. Who knew? We certainly didn't.

There we were, Sunday night, waiting for the show and I sat there with Snuggie nearby, while all of the lights within sight were clicked on. My heart raced and I sat through the show. It was almost painless. There were a couple of times where I sat in utter suspense, heart racing, and I found myself attached to the characters. This is a good show and yes, at times heart wrenching. I'm curious to see what happens and learn more about it. I don't feel like I'm as much of a chicken. Who knew that watching a zombie TV show would make me feel braver. ha ha!

Zoya: Bianca Review

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hard to believe that color is actually this color. I was expecting it to be a tad lighter and more bold, but I'm actually pleasantly surprised with the dark mauve look. It actually reminds me of the color my grandmother wore a handful of times. (Her colors were either a mauve or a flesh colored tan.)

I used the base coat and was immediately overtaken by the smell of it. I checked to box to verify that it had less chemicals, and while it does, it still has loads of acetate and other -ates in it. The smell quickly faded instead of lurking like an unwanted guest. Then, I added just one layer of Bianca. I was too tired to add a top coat. Surprisingly, I dried much quicker than I thought. I messed up the pinkie on my right hand because I'm right handed and I was a bit shaky on the application because I'd had to much black cherry cola. All in all, I'm impressed with the pigmentation, the quality of polish, and the quick-ish dry out of the bottle. Tonight, I hope to paint Mari's toes with Bailey, so I will let you know how that goes!

The Weekend

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hello, hello, hello friends! I hope your weekend was as fabulous and fun as the one we had. Friday, flew by in a flurry and it is a wonder that I had any energy at all to enjoy Saturday and Sunday. But enjoy them I did! We had lots of family come into town to support Margie with her Komen 3 Day 60 mile walk. Yes folks, she is not only a breast cancer survivor, but she walked 60 miles in the past 3 days...for the 2nd year in a row!

Saturday morning was her son's birthday, so I got up early and bake pineapple squares* for him.

Then we headed out to cheer for the DFW Komen 3 Day. We cheered all weekend at various times throughout the day. We never were at the official cheering stations and we weren't there cheering for nearly as much as my Mom, Aunt, Cousin, and his mom were, but nevertheless, we were there for the grand finale! I love this picture because you can see Margie (pink flower in her hair) just under her flag that I made last year. She's staring proudly at her husband who is waving the flag. I regret not having a shot of his face too. It was a very special moment!

Next to the white capped red medical shirt in the black glasses is one of my mommy friends. This is her first year to do the walk. She didn't see me, but I recognized her and had to try to get it. She was so very happy! I was happy for her.
Later on, we headed out to do some portraits with the amazing sunset we were getting. We spotted this open field with such country character that we had to take advantage of the setting. This is Mari on a log. I can't believe how long her hair is. We haven't cut it and don't plan on it for a long time. I'm in love with those curls!

I asked her to smile and this is the smile-giggle she gave me. Adorable!! Those little hands...that's how I know she is having fun.

This is how some of my memories are etched into my memory. Black and white vignette where I may not always see the faces, but I remember the moment. I love this shot for that very reason.

These two kids are so happy and gorgeous. I just had to include this one!
Afterwards, we headed home and were treated to some of my aunts amazing potato salad. Seriously, I've been hoarding the leftovers not wanting to share with anyone because it is truly my favorite. I ate some potato salad and a Taco Villa bean burrito and I nearly started crying. Funny! We spent that evening with friends and family, even family from far away when we did video chat! We watched the Tech v. Missouri game (Tech won, woohoo!!), saw highlights from the K-State v. Texas game (yippee K-State won!), and saw the exciting 2nd half of the FC Dallas v. Real Salt Lake (high five, FC Dallas won!!), and enjoyed one another's company.

Really and truly a great weekend! Busy, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I spent my "extra" hour with loved ones and it was EXACTLY what the heart needed.

*Sidenote: The first time I had the pineapple squares was the first Christmas that Don took me home to meet his family. His aunt made these fantastically amazing pineapple squares and I swear, I could've eaten the whole pan!!! Nonchalantly I asked her for the recipe, but I thought she just didn't hear me. Being the new gal, I didn't want to seem pushy or insistent, so I didn't force the issue. The next year, we were engaged and my MIL had given me a recipe book comprised of recipes from both sides of Don's family, filled with is favorites. (By far one of my most treasured gifts I've been given.) You can imagine my dismay when the pineapple squares weren't listed. Again, that Christmas, there were the delicious treats taunting me. After gobbling up one, I asked for the recipe. She just smiled at me and blinked. In our wedding invitations, we included a recipe card to be sent back with the RSVPs. I was so excited to receive all of these fantastic recipes from all of our loved ones, but you can imagine my disappointment when I opened up their RSVP and no recipe card. I had scoured the Internet for the recipe, but nothing sounded quite like what was in these babies. I was frustrated and resigned myself to only enjoying this heavenly ambrosia once a year for the rest of my life, or until she stopped making them. The day after the wedding, Don and I sat in our living room surrounded by all of the fabulous and generous gifts from our friends and family. We sat there armed with note pad and pen, ready to tear open into the gifts. When we came to his aunt's gift, I opened the card, and there, smiling back at me was the recipe for the pineapple squares!!!!! I felt like I'd hit the jackpot! So, unfortunately, readers, I am going to continue the tradition and pass on the recipe only if you marry into the family. :) Until then, I will happily make some for you and share in the awesome goodness.

Girlie On a Budget

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Well, this should really be titled frugal nails or something like that, but it could totally fall in line with being girlie. Anyway, I LOOOOOVE manicures, even more than that, I adore pedicures. I've been hoarding a gift certificate I received back in June (for my birthday) for an in-case-of-emergency pedicure and I fully plan on using it around the holidays.

Anyway, speaking of the holidays, I have budgeted the extra money I had to go towards gifts. This year we are going to attempt to home make some amazingness involving cannning, yarn, maybe some paper, and fabric. Oodles of goodies and good intentions, let me tell you. We'll see how it goes. All that to say that I won't have the extra $$$ to spend on pampering. Not to worry because I have a pretty amazing foot spa, awesome scrubs, and Don doesn't mind giving foot rubs. Why do I need to go to a smelly salon filled with chemicals, right? Well, because I like it and it makes me feel va-va-voom, but I digress. This is about at-home foot spa. I few years ago I mentioned Zoya nail polish when preparing for Mari. I should always be vigilant of extra chemicals and such, but I'll be honest, in the spur of the moment, I don't always check the nail polish label.

Zoya is having a buy one get one free promotion until tomorrow. You can get up to 5 free nail polishes that are vegan friendly and don't have any of those nasty -enes, or phthlates. This was awesome because I have seen the polishes for upwards of $8 - $9 a bottle. Not bad, but not great. Not bad because I have never gone through a bottle of nail polish before it has expired....EVER. Maybe a cheap clear coat, but that was because I spilled half of it and I used the other half to "seal" things before I discovered that they made a paint that did the same thing. yeah...

So get on with it already, Bianca. Ok, ok, sheesh! I think I need a cookie. Oh right, nail polishes. I splurged and bought a base coat which was not a part of the BOGO promotion, but whatever. I felt that it was the initial layer for the polish and that MUST not have the harsh chemicals, right? I also scored 4 colors for the cost of 2!! Yee-haw! I was happy I didn't have to pay tax, but I did have to pay for shipping. blech, I hate having to pay for shipping, dangit! (free shipping on orders for $55 and free gifts starting at orders over $30. I totally should have seen if anyone else wanted to share an order. My bad!)

Here are the lovely colors I have chosen:

Bailey - Bailey can be best described as: Light neutral pink sheer base with cool pink duochrome shimmer and sparkling silver microglitter. Not your average sheer pink- Bailey is spiked with girly glamour!

I selected this color for Mari. She is still little and delicate, but does enjoy wearing polish and of course, all things pink. I hope this one is as good as it seems! It had high ratings from the users and because of what they had to say, I was sold. I like that it is described as sheer and not a matte. I prefer the sheers on her toes instead of the mattes. The mattes are fun, but the sheers are definitely more delicate!

Kelly - Kelly can be best described as: A rich gray shade with soft purple and blue undertones. An easy to wear alternative to black and a perfect NEW neutral. 

I chose this color for me and if Mari wants to wear a purple, this one is fun enough without being too vamp and bold. I have been searching for this color for a couple of years and based on the reviews, it will not disappoint. I didn't notice it, but my wardrobe doesn't just consist of blacks, but purples and grays too (well, my maternity wardrobe). I think this will go quite well with those.

Dominique - Dominique can be best described as: Very bold medium orange-toned brick red creme. Not a subtle color by any means, this vampy red is ultra-provocative!

This is mama's nail polish. No really, this nail polish reminds me of the dramatic reds my mom used to wear on her nails when I was Mari's age. As long as I can remember, Mom has always had a fascination for wearing red and if you know my Mom, you know it fits her personality. Me, I like wearing red in her honor and also because it makes me feel extra fancy! I have high hopes for this one, but it may not make many appearances this year. Only on extra special occasions, like when I do the laundry. ha ha!

Bianca - Bianca can be best described as: Soft dark mauve creme with strong cool red and pink tones. A classic shade for a distinguished ladylike look. 

Really, really? No you didn't just buy a nail polish with your name on it. Um, yes I did. And honestly, that was a big factor why I purchased it. That and I was looking for an awesome mauve to wear in the Spring/Summer, and I think this one is it. But yeah, I was totally sold on the name. They even had a Renee! I was very near purchasing that one when I realized, that no, I probably wouldn't ever wear that color, but not to say it wouldn't make an amazing gift!

Go on out there and check out their nail polishes and take advantage of the BOGO offer before it ends tomorrow. Code is BOGO5 at checkout! Enjoy and what are some of your favorite shades and brands? Any that are toddler-friendly?

Oh and the cost of everything, (including the shipping) was less than what I spend on a pedicure, so hooray! Looks like Mari and I will be playing beauty shop soon enough!

**I was not compensated in any way for this review or advertisement of the product. I just like their product and wanted to share it with all of you.**

HDMR: Get Him to the Greek & a bonus

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Well howdy folks, it's been a long while since I've done a Hump Day Movie Review huh? Amazing. Well, it isn't because I have taken a hiatus from watching movies, let me tell you. My Netflix rating is nearly to 1500 and that's only the movies I took the time to rate! If you do the math, that would mean I would average close to 54 movies a year, and well, that's just silly because I know during those college years I was watching movies like there was no tomorrow. ha ha!

In honor of November and the awesomness that is Thanksgiving, the ratings will be based on foods associated with that holiday. Anyway, on to the reviews:

Get Him to the Greek
I had a free Redbox rental code, so I said why not. I picked up the movie and at first Don looked at me like the pregnant hormones had completely taken over my brain, but he was open to watching it. We had to pause a few times when little Mari elected to get up and insisted that we have a dance/giggle party and again when she wanted/needed water. The movie flowed well, and there were a couple of moments in the movie where we were laughing so hard, I was not only gasping for air, but when I finally caught it, I started coughing so much that I nearly lost my dinner. Both of us had tears streaming down our eyes, and we were thankful for the added belly laughs from the movie that accompanied the ones earlier from the Sugarbean. I'm glad we didn't see this in the theater, because I don't think we would have had quite as much fun. I rate this a full-on turkey dinner with all of the fixin's plus dessert.  WARNING: It has adult content, so it is best to watch it only if you are an adult! It cracks me up that I write this because once upon a time, I was completely oblivious to how much influence movies and music has on a kiddo, but now I'm fully aware.

Oh and yeah, I totally forgot to return it before the 24 hour rental window, so our "free" movie cost us a dollar. Lucky for me, Don said it was worth the dollar, so hooray!

Now for the bonus: 
I have an additional album to review. Bianca, what is up with all of the music reviews? Seriously? Well, folks, it's been a LOOOOOONG dry spell since I procured any music, whether from a mix CD, friends sharing stuff with me, or actually *gasp* buying a CD. I like buying CDs as opposed to albums, because music from a CD will not all of a sudden vanish if/when your hard drive fails you. With that said, I bought another album. I can't believe I'm admitting this, but whatever. I bought the new Taylor Swift album, Speak Now.

Before you run off and judge me for my musical taste, here's the reasons:
  1. Her music is simple and yet catchy. 
  2. Her music is family friendly (minus the heavy sexual innuendo and curse words). Last thing I want is my toddler writhing on the floor, singing Like a Virgin, thanks.
  3. Her music is simple enough for my daughter to sing along to, and I love hearing her sing along in her cute little voice! 
  4. Her music takes me back to a time that I don't ever want to forget, and that's a good thing.

Anyway, with that said, after I opened the CD, I read the liner notes. I look forward the reading the pictures, the "thanks" section, and bonus if the lyrics are included. When I read her note, I felt chills and kept nodding my head. She's right, there are times in your life where you are at a loss for words and you may be blindsided. After the fact, you are wishing that you would've said this or that. But sometimes, you are lucky and you DO have the words. Because you have those words, you should totally speak up, say them with conviction, and not live in regret for not saying what you felt. She has the medium with which to say those words after the fact and I applaud her effort for doing so.

Overall, I liked the album.Better than Revenge is a bit dodgy. I did not like the words she was singing and if there was something that I think she may regret later, it is singing about this song. It may be heartfelt and such, but I thought it was a bit tacky and low. To make up for it, though, we have Never Grow Up. When I first heard it, I saw my little one in the back of the car, happily bobbing her head to the beat. Tears filled my eyes and all of the hopes and dreams I have for her, flashed before me. I pray she's happy, I pray she grows up to be a genuine lady with character and integrity. I pray she meets the person of her dreams, who treats her with respect and admiration. I pray that she comes knows the love that Don and I share. I pray for all of these good things. I pray for a handful of tolerable hiccups, just so she can have the life experiences. I don't ever want her to have to go through the creepy dark, seedy parts of life. That song spoke to me and it continues to speak to me. Overall, I like this album. She and I were actually dancing to it the other day when we were making breakfast for Daddy. If it is on sale and she's the kind of gal you like, or you like your music, then you will not regret this purchase. I rate this pumpkin pie with a large dollop of whipped cream.

*I did not receive any compensation for reviewing these products. My free Redbox code was sent to me via their text program that I signed up for and I am pleasantly surprised by getting a free code via text. If you haven't done it and you have unlimited texts, it's a pretty cool thing.


Guess what, guess what? I was picked to review the new Norah Jones album ....Featuring! Yep, that means that I get a free copy of the new album to listen and critique before it hits the stores and that means that I get to tell all of you how awesome it is. And because I adore all 17 of you who are followers (and you lurkers who read via facebook), I wanted to share a snippet of the album. Check out the video below:

Now doesn't that have you all sorts of excited? Well, it does me and just hearing those little sound bites has me salivating, especially on a rainy night like we've been having. Oooh, how I love to listen the Norah while cooking or baking. I especially love having her on in the background while I'm on the couch, all cozied up with my Snuggie, while the fire blazes, and I read a good book, or just stare off into the fire.That's good stuff right there.

*I was selected by one2one network to review the new Norah Jones album. I did not receive any compensation, other than a copy of the CD to write up the review.
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