Monday, February 28, 2011

Lucky you Boise! The Lower Lights are coming to town!!!

I am so excited! This Friday, March 4th, The Lower Lights are performing here in Boise. (Burbank, WA on the 5th and in Spokane on the 6th.) If you haven't heard of this band, you need to catch up. The Lower Lights are an incredible non-denominational hymn revival band. They take lovely old hymns, some popular and some forgotten, and perform them in a celebratory way to take them to a whole new personal experience. I was hooked when I heard their rendition of "For the Beauty of the Earth". And There is a Green Hill Faraway is breathtaking. I love to have hymns in my home, and hearing them performed in this folk music style just makes me happy. I hope someday to hear them all signing around a campfire, joined with my children dancing around me. But for now, I'll be taking Lydia to the show on Friday. It's a great activity for the whole family. You can buy tickets here.

You can listen to some of the music on their site here. And check out some video of the band in full swing here. Not lucky enough to live nearby a concert? You can order the CD here. Yay! I love to see people coming together in the love of music. Especially talented people. :)

Anyone seen the Lower Lights live? What did you think? Any other great new bands you guys recommend? I'm just getting back into the music scene and I'm behind!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shelf Reliance Giveaway

If you have been reading my blog for long, you know I get very frustrated with food storage. Don't get me wrong, I want to have food storage. I think I owe it to my family to be prepared in the event that food is not readily available. The thought of my children being hungry is terrifying for me. BUT, it is really hard for me since I am not a pantry cooker. I plan my meals based on a meat (or eggs) with a vegetable. The starch is a second thought usually. So I might have food storage, but I don't choose to cook from it, nor do I really want to. See my thoughts on this subject in more detail here.

Well, a few weeks ago I was invited to a Shelf Reliance home party and I am seriously gitty about it. (I may have stifled a giggle or two during the taste testing.) I had never heard of Shelf Reliance before, but apparently it's on fire across the US. Shelf Reliance is a company focused on building your personal "Home Store". They have a dazzling variety of long shelf life foods called Thrive to integrate into your daily meals. And the food is really really good! (Really. I'm not just saying that.) Don't know how to cook with food storage? Neither do I. But Shelf Reliance has a huge cookbook showing you just how to do that. I've made a goal to cook with mine at least once a week.

This is my first order of the Thrive foods. Who knew how delicious freeze dried fruit was? I ordered peaches just to test on my family and it was the perfect snack. Combine them with freeze dried yogurt (YOGURT!!), add some water and you have a smoothie. From food storage. I know. Mind blowing. The yogurt is yummy enough to eat straight from the can. I watched Lydia do it, thinking she was stealing candy. Oh. And speaking of about ice cream? I tried some and couldn't believe how creamy and decadent it was. And notice I bought both the brownie and macaroon mixes. You would never know all you have to do is add water. Not sure if you would break into these anytime soon? No matter. They have a shelf life of TWENTY YEARS! In fact, almost everything I purchased has a unopened shelf life over 10 years. Some of the items I don't plan on opening. I don't personally plan to use the canned eggs, sour cream or butter unless I am unable to get them fresh. I just like knowing I have them there. The brownies, however, are a different story.

There is so much to choose from in the Thrive food line. My next order will include the brand new instant beans (i.e. NO SOAKING!), all of the Entrees including the curry rice with chicken and vegetable risotto and the freeze dried mango. I may even pick up a few cans for wedding gifts! (They do have gift baskets available.)  I'll be buying myself a 72 hour kit as well.

I'm also trying to integrate the Shelf Reliance Food Rotation System with the canned foods I do use often. I am always restocking my black beans, tomatoes, tuna and Collin's favorite chicken noodle soup. I started small with the Cansolidator Cupboard unit. (It's on sale by the way...) Doesn't my pantry look so organized? The part I'm letting you see at least. I love knowing that I'm using the older product before the newer. Now I just need a basement storage room so I can get really serious with a free standing rack.

Not sure how to get started? Shelf Reliance has something called the "Q-Club" where you decide how much you can afford on food storage a month, fill your queue and you get a shipment every month! You can earn lots of fun things like free product and prizes. Just for getting your food storage taken care of. The consultant can help you figure out how much your family would need in an emergency. Oh, and if you are looking for a great way to make money from home, I would jump on this. Shelf Reliance has only been around for about a year so the market isn't saturated with consultants. And everyone is trying to prepare for emergencies now.

Ok, sorry, I've gone on and on, but I am really excited about how much my food storage has improved in the last month. Want to get yours going too?...

One Natalie's Sentiments reader will be receiving a $30 gift certificate to Shelf Reliance and a Thrive cookbook! Thank you to my consultant Valarie for supplying the prize!

To enter:

Head over to Shelf Reliance and let me know what you would get with your gift certificate. Use a link to the specific product. 

For additional entries, let me know in a separate comment if:
I'll announce the winner on March 11th. Good luck!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Funky PolkaDot Giraffe Giveaway

I readily admit that I've turned Lydia into a hair clip junkie. She doesn't see her outfit as complete until her hair is adorned. She has gotten quite particular. And almost all of her favorite clips are from Funky PolkaDot Giraffe. The owner Kyla, is the writer of the fabulous blog of the same name. AND an all about cupcakes blog! This chick is so cool.

It's her hair accessories that drive me crazy though. They are so adorable and really well made. Lydia keeps them in her "treasure box". A few of my favorites:

What birthday outfit is complete without a cupcake clip?
Just look at that cherry :)

Princess Leia clip? Awesome. Am I too old to wear this?

Here is Lydia showing off her Tinkerbell clip

Pinwheel bows for pigtails. I love yellow.

A bit of color for mom too?

These are just about the cutest hair accessories I've seen on Etsy, and I've done a lot of looking.

One Natalie's Sentiments reader will be receiving a $20 gift certificate to Funky PolkaDot Giraffe! 

To enter:

Head over to Funky PolkaDot Giraffe and let me know what you would get with your gift certificate.

For additional entries, let me know in a separate comment if:
  • Are a public follower  and/or Like natalie's sentiments on Facebook.
  • You have my button on your blog 
  • Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway leaving the link in your comment. (Use the handy links at the bottom of this post if you like.)
  • Blog about this giveaway for 3 extra entires. 
I'll announce the winner on March 4th. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Uppercase Living Giveaway

My blogging friend Holly participated in my homemade swap and sent the most unbelievable package.

In it was this lovely yellow frame with the glass adorned with vinyl. Isn't it so cute? I love it in my guest room.  I was so intrigued by how she did it, she sent me over to her Uppercase Living site. WHERE HAVE I BEEN? There are so many incredible ideas there! Had I known about it earlier I would have for sure.....

done a yellow and gray nursery for Collin.....

Added a little bling to the master sinks....

Gained some serenity with a real chore chart...

Made Lydia's new room a little more her own....

and just added a little more pretty to my house.

There are so many ideas in the catalog, I just kept rereading it, imagining all the things I would order. For sure my laundry room is getting a Uppercase Living remodel! I'm not much of an interior decorator, but I can totally do this. 

Holly has offered one Natalie's Sentiments reader a $30 gift certificate to Uppercase Living!

Also, place an order of $50 or more before March 15th and you can choose a free Inspiring Expression!  This one is my favorite:

For questions email Holly here.

To enter: Head over to Uppercase Living and tell me what you would spend your gift certificate on.

For additional entries, let me know in a separate comment if:
  • Are a public follower  and/or Like natalie's sentiments on Facebook.
  • You have my button on your blog 
  • Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway leaving the link in your comment. (Use the handy links at the bottom of this post if you like.)
  • Blog about this giveaway for 3 extra entires. 
I'll announce the winner on March 4th. Good luck!

Monday, February 21, 2011

My lovely Weekend

First of all, before I begin, could someone explain why I am getting such huge influx of traffic from Star Style Inc.? Surely they aren't posting pics of bloggers in their day clothes? Cause if they are, I'm not leaving the house again.

Second, thank you to all of you who posted your thoughts on facebook about the tackless lady at my church. If you haven't chimed in yet, please do. It's an awesome thread.

Third, I know I said I would do a giveaway each day this week, but I really wanted to post about this weekend. Don't worry, I'll have them the rest of the week.

Now, to the good stuff....

Last week was Shane's birthday. We got a babysitter and went downtown for dinner. (Camera phone pic, not the best.) He is so dang cute! Even if he's an old man of 33 years old.

The next day was Friday. I've been having problems sleeping and basically crying a lot. Sleeping problems are normal. The crying has been just since we moved. Shane booked me a hotel. He sent me on a "Mom's weekend out." YAY! 

When I got there (with my Chinese takeout, peanut butter snickers and sleeping pill), Shane had flowers waiting and this little note. The three months he is referring to is the three months of rehab time I sometimes feel I need. 

I spent the night eating in bed and watching "The Social Network". Incredible movie. 

I sleep all night long.

The next morning I slept in, and ate breakfast in bed. Read blogs and watched "Barefoot Contessa". I requested a late checkout.

 I went shopping and got a mani pedi.  

I had dinner with some new friends from church. 

I went shopping some more. I had a birthday party to prepare for....


Shane and Lydia have been really into "Where's Waldo" lately. They lay in bed and look for all the hidden people and objects. I thought it was a perfect birthday party theme for the sweetest daddy/husband in the world.

They both loved it.

Milk free cupcake for collin.

After the cake we had a "Where Are My Birthday Presents!" hunt. There was a present hidden in each room. Some of them were for the kids to play with too. It was so fun, I'm thinking of making it a tradition.

Happy Birthday Shane!


When I was talking to a friend during my day off she said that I probably shouldn't mention my weekend on my blog. She said it will make women expect the same thing from their husbands. Well, ladies, there's nothing wrong with that. Everyone needs solitude. Everyone needs a break from their job. Every father needs to know what it's like to be alone with the kids for a couple days. 

Stay at home a room. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

A New Mantra

I had a startling realization on Lydia's birthday. I have been a full time mom longer than I was in a career. I started working full time a month after I got married. Lydia was born a little less than five years later. I worked up to the day before she was born.

I guess this seemed shocking to me since I've always thought of myself as a career women who is currently staying home with her children. But it's been five years. Five years of full time homemaking and mommying. I miss working, but I'm not going back. I love staying home with my babies. As hard as it is, I know this is what I need to be doing. I know this is the best thing for my family. Still, I find it overwhelming in it's monotony at times. 

I've been looking for a couple new mantras to replace the negative ones I'm trying to control. I found one that I absolutely love in last season's issue of Seeing the Everyday. (A gorgeous advertisement-free magazine I think every mother should receive.) It talked about finding the poetry in the prosaic. To quote Gary Saul Morson, to focus on the prosaics is "a way of thinking about human events that focuses on the ordinary, messy, quotidian facts of daily life. In short - on the prosaic. Clocked in their very ordinariness, the prosaic events that truly shape our lives, escape our notice."

When I think of the mundane activities of my life in this way, it's as if a cool sweet breeze enters in a room of stale air. This way of life will never be easy or glamourous. But I can look at it in a way to find the beauty hidden in the most insignificant chores and actions. Folding a sheet may not be a moment of any notice, but what if I include Lydia and we shake it out together, whipping it into a frenzy. Then I take the time to show her how to make the corners match and how to keep the wrinkles away. We have created a moment together. A duty that must be done, can bring my child closer. 

We need to to have bread to make our sandwiches for the day. What if I really did learn to make my own and the kids made small little loafs at the counter with me. Together we watch the bread brown and the house start to fill with that intoxicating smell. Together we rip into that warm bread and laugh as we get sticky with jam and honey. What if we did this every week? What if the smell of baking bread would always make them feel safe and loved, even when they are far from home.

I think I am afraid to lose myself in pure domesticity. But who says I can't be a strong woman and still find joy in cleaning my kitchen floor? (And I really loath cleaning my floor.)

This is my new mantra. Find The Poetry In The Prosaic. I want to find fulfillment in the books I read, the friends I make, the places I visit, and the man I love. But I also want to find it in the small area of space I take up in this world. Within these wall are the memories my family will cherish, as long as I am able to find the beauty in the daily mundanes that bless my life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Time to be a collector?

I don't really collect anything. Unless you count jewelry. And purses. And dark jeans. But if I don't wear it, I probably won't collect it. But I'm thinking I might start collecting white cake stands. I find myself coveting them. And coveting is bad. So I should nip that in the bud and just get my own collection. 

Lots of different sizes. I love that they work for all seasons. 

And all special events.

I think I want make these little ones for Collin's Birthday this year.

Because no two year old birthday is complete without a cake stand.
 At least that is what my grandmother always says. 

(Just kidding. My grandma would never have an opinion on a cake stand. She owns a Cowboy and Indian Antique shop. No kidding.)

And maybe I should collect some yellow ones too. Just to round out the collection. :)


Little update: Valentine's day was a bit quiet at our house but very nice. Everyone was still a little sick. But the Valentine lady came, much to the delight of the two youngings. I made homemade chocolate pudding (Collin got icebox cake. HATE his milk allergy!) Shane had cards for the kids to give me and while I served up the pudding and whipped cream, I could hear them working on them in the study. "Can I come in yet?" "NO mommy!" Then I turned to see both of my darlings running towards me with big red envelops and huge smiles. As long as I live, I never want to forget that image. Shane even got fancy stickers to decorate them. 

Shane stayed with his tradition of flowers, chocolates and a naughty card. No, you can't see it. Yay for him, he did his shopping at Anthropologie. A bag full of little gifts to lovely up our home. But this little number was my favorite. Smart man. Now I have to figure out how to make his Birthday wonderful tomorrow. 

Yes, I know that my detox was due to end yesterday. I've decided to start keeping a bit of a public journal about my health goals, but I don't want to have to worry about too many blog posts, so I will just update them on my Healthy Living Journal Page. When I update it, I will mention it, so no need to go checking it. Here's to new beginnings :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Actual quote from my husband

(Laughter) - "Natalie, you're funny. Oh wait..... Are you trying to be sexy?"

Nice. Happy Valentines Day everyone. Hope it's romantic. Or that there's at least chocolate involved.



The winner of the Princess Party to Go Giveaway is Aleshia4. Congrats! Email me and I will get you your prize.

I have only done a couple giveaways this year, so how about having one everyday next week? Sound good? Thought so. I still have one space open, so if you would like to be included, email me ASAP. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Closed Doors.

We are still sick today, so here I am, blogging in the daytime again. How about a nice romantic post for Valentines day?

Over the years Shane and I have gotten a lot of flak regarding our "closed door" policy. And I'm referring to the bathroom door. Close friends and family have said that it's not natural that we keep those things private. 100% of the time. I'm serious. Always.

But, I would like to quote the recent Real Simple article: 10 Ways to Make Your Marriage Divorceproof:

9. Let your spouse in on 90 percent of your day-to-day routine. Save the other 10 percent for your bathroom time. Sam, for example, will never allow Jason to see her lurching to put on a pair of panty hose, and he never wishes for her to see him struggling to shave the back of his neck. It’s those small things that keep the mystery alive.

So if you have an open door policy in your marriage, that's fine.  Really, I'm not judging. Just lay off the fact that we don't. (You know who you are.) And come on. Secretly, don't you wish that was still all private. There's a reason no one does that stuff before marriage. 

Was this post too much of an overshare? I really can't be blamed. I am slightly high on cough syrup. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Taking a breather

1:00 PM-

I don't usually get on the computer much during the day. I end up getting sucked in and not getting anything accomplished. Today however, I am too tired to do anything but crash on the couch for a while.

Both of my babies are sick today. I've never had them be sick at the same time. They both have fevers, headaches, stuffy noses and coughs. Of course, I'm sick too, but not too bad. Doesn't matter anyway. There aren't sick days for mommys. Shane and I didn't get any sleep last night. Lydia could only sleep if her scorching body was pressed against me. I am chugging a diet coke like a true addict. I stopped that part of my detox a few days ago when I was trying to survive on 2 hours sleep. Quitting the habit didn't help with my insomnia anyway.

They are both napping. At least for now. I put Collin down in light jammies and a sheet since he was burning up. 20 minutes later I heard him crying and found him surrounded in a chaos of blankets he had pulled from the side of the crib in an attempt to cover himself. It was so adorably pathetic. I held him for a while. He cried on my shoulder, saying "Ow, Mama. Ow."

"I know sweetheart. I know it hurts. Mommy's here."

Maybe it's the sleep withdrawal, but I just started crying. I rocked my baby, sang a lullaby and cried. Fat tears running down my cheek onto the sweatshirt I've worn every day this week. Women are complicated. The more self aware I become, the more I pity my husband for having to try to understand me. And the more grateful I am to him that he tries. I felt such a medley of anxiety and joy. This job is hard. So very very hard. It's a marathon unlike anything I could have imagined. It never stops. The work day doesn't end. In the 5 years I've been a mother, I've had 6 days away from my kids. Just over one day a year. I miss my independence. I don't know when I will feel like I'm doing anything more than keeping my head above water.

Holding my hurting Collin breaks my heart. At the same time I feel I can't keep going, I feel such gratitude for my little ones. Gratitude they are mine. I will forever be grateful for the two years we dealt with infertility. I needed to know the fear that they may not come.  I watch them play with each other, and even through my exhausted haze,  I feel joy unlike any I've know. I love that some part of me just knows how to do this. When I hold my children and comfort them, it's like I was made to do it. I may not know how to be a perfect homemaker, but I know how to nurture them.

For now the house is quiet. There are scraps of playdoh all over the kitchen. I somehow got dinner in the crockpot, so at least we'll have a real meal tonight. 5 loads of laundry need to be folded. I still need to clean up the last bits of smoothie that Lydia knocked on the floor at breakfast. Toys, books are scattered everywhere. The kid's bathroom looks like someone had a toothpaste war.  It never ends. Never. But for right now, I'm just going to sit here and be grateful for the quiet. Grateful my children are still little and want to make playdoh messes with me. Grateful they are only sick for a few days. Grateful our prayers were answered and I became a mommy. Grateful I'm married to my best friend. Grateful for the marathon that reminds me I am doing all of this so we can be together forever.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mid-Winter Dinner

In December I watched The Barefoot Contessa special where Ina heads to London. I've never been a fan of English food, but I'm obsessed with Ina, so I immediately planned on making everything from the episode. Except the Bangers and Mash. Sausage and mashed pototoes. Not too thrilling. But then I realized I could make a really yummy variation of that with things I had right in my fridge and pantry. Got to love that!

I present - Natalie's Italian Bangers and Mash. Or Natalie's....

I don't speak Italian, so this may be really wrong :)

So easy. Prepare gnocchi - a potato pasta. (I got mine at Target!) While they are boiling (just takes a couple minutes) brown pork or turkey breakfast sausage and drain. Then add chopped onions and green peppers and cook until tender. Toss with the gnocchi, sprinkle with parmesan and "Buon appetito!" Or in the English tradition....Tuck in!

Collin got a nice cheeseless version. Lydia opted for marinara. Yes, that is a hideous cinderella bib Collin is wearing. I limit his hand-me-downs to that though. And the occasional jammies. 

Speaking of dinner, my friend Melanie from The Sisters Cafe, wrote a wonderful post about how to make family dinnertime meaningful and less stressful. I would highly recommend reading it. 
Makes me wish that Shane could get home by dinnertime, but we will just be happy with the weekends for now.


Oh, and real fast - sorry I kind of hid that Princess Giveaway behind Lydia's birthday post. Don't forget to enter! Since it wasn't ever at the top of my blog, there aren't many entries. So you have a great chance of winning!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lydia's Birthday

(Make sure to scroll down to find the fabulous giveaway!)

I always knew 5 would be a big birthday. Maybe it's the whole kindergarden thing, but 5 seems like a milestone to me. We don't always do big birthdays, but this year, I wanted it to be extra special. Moving has been hard for Lydia. She wanted to spend her birthday with her Chattanooga friends. I thought I would show her how much fun she could have with her new Boise pals. 

I love paper invites. I still remember getting one as a little girl and setting it on my dresser, gitty in anticipation.

Lydia said she wanted a "Fancy Nancy Princess Party". The cool thing about Fancy Nancy is she just takes whatever she can find and makes her life fancy. I started collecting everything fancy I could find to hang up on the walls. Nancy is also always dressed to the nine. I ordered a glamour package from My Princess Party to Go. Each girl got a dress, wand, tiara, boa and gift bag full of goodies. I'm not sure you can get much more fancy than that.

The beautiful quilt seen in this photo was done by my sister Abby as a baby gift to Lydia. It's been the focal point of her room for 5 years. Lydia loves it. Seemed fitting to have it on display.

Can you imagine being 5 and walking into a party to see this?!? They were very, very excited.

We couldn't have a drab wall for this super fancy party, now could we? I hung up the amazing quilt my sister Emily made me for Christmas. She sickens me with her talent. And yes, I did cry when I opened it. It's just so yellow.

I don't know if I've ever seen Lydia have so much fun. Duck-Duck-Goose with wands was an inspired last minute idea. The girls were just a tad wired after they got all dressed up.

Lovely little ladies.

There was a lot of birthday bling for each girl so I felt it prudent to have a Iridescent bag ready for it all. "Iridescent is a fancy word for shiny". 

Another Aunt contribution, this time from Shane's sister Sara.

My favorite part of the decor were the paper chains. I took a book of scrapbook paper and spent two nights cutting and stapling. I watched Inception while doing the stapling, and I can't look at a stapler now without imagining it's my totem.

Fancy Nancy always decorates with her dolls. (Also made by Emily.)

The birthday package came with these "glass slippers" for a hide and seek game, but I decided to make them into extra fancy candy appetizers. 

Pigs in a blanket (straight from Fancy Nancy "Bonjour Butterfly".) Made them with precooked turkey breakfast sausage from Costco and Pillsbury Crescent rolls. 

Now that's fancy.

From the beginning, Shane insisted on doing the cake. EACH of these layers has three layers. He used everything from cake boards to dowels, but it still slumped a bit under the incredible weight of his frosting. I thought it made it even more darling. Best Daddy ever.

Yum. Both Shane and the cake.

(I am aware I don't deserve him.)

I did cry a little watching her. Can I keep her this age forever? Please?

This was my gift to her. I told her sterling silver was extra fancy :) 

I love love love my fancy girl.

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