Welcome Baby Rooney!

Many of you will remember from this post that two of mine and Carl's best friends are having their first baby. 

His expected due date was February 27th, but I am over the moon to announce that little Alfie Arthur (named after Carl's granddad and father) was born on Monday night, February 25th, in Ormskirk England weighing 7lbs 13.5 oz. The spitting image of his beautiful Mummy, he is perfect, healthy and doing fabulously well.
Toni and Alfie have spent the past two days in the hospital, but today, for the very first time ever, the Rooney family arrived home! 
Words cannot express how truly happy I am for our friends. I still remember this time last year. Toni and I were sitting in mine and Carl's apartment sipping homemade strawberry daiquiris, daydreaming about the future and nonchalantly discussing our favorite baby names while the boys played Fifa on the xbox. 

Oh what a difference a year can make. 

No longer just two. No longer just Carl and Toni or Husband and Wife - as of Monday evening our friends officially adopted two brand new titles. 
 Toni and Carl are now Mummy and Daddy. 

It brings crocodile size tears to my eyes as I sit here looking at these beautiful pictures of their brand new baby boy. Their brand new gorgeous little family. Tears of pure joy and happiness, but also tears of sadness. I hate so much that my Carl and I are so far away. I hate so much that we're no longer just a short train ride from each other - long gone are the days of last minute date nights. Little Alfie and his parents are now halfway across the world and it breaks my heart to know that from now on we'll miss out on each other's special moments. Moments like these. And no matter how much I wish I could love on that little boy, my cuddles will just have to wait.

That goddamn Altantic Ocean.

But everyone knows it's not healthy to dwell on the what if's or I wish-es - that's something only melancholy Eeyore would do. So I'll wipe away these sad little tears and smile from ear to ear as my heart grows 3 sizes too big knowing that soon enough a plane will carry our friends over to visit. And when the day comes to welcome the Rooney's I'll jump and I'll scream and I'll love on that little boy every minute of every day.  So in the meantime I'll continue to send boxes of goodies and thank my lucky stars - once again - for the blessing that is technology. Through pictures, Whatsapp messages and muffled Google Chat videos I look forward to not only watching little Alfie grow, but our sweet friends transform into amazing parents.

Toni and Carl,
 We love you so very much. Congratulations on the birth of your handsome baby boy.
 Here's to your next chapter - your new beginning. It's going to be the best one yet.


So What Wednesday

So What Wednesday
Happy Wednesday, love bugs!

It's that time of the week! Here I am again linking up with Shannon and saying a big fat so what if...
  • This post is full of random crap and too many pictures.
  • I've started unfollowing the blogs of ladies who have grown too big for their britches. Since when has blogging become a butt kissing popularity contest? 
  • I ate 5 Cadbury Mini Eggs at 7 o'clock this morning. I couldn't help myself. They're the best of all Easter candies. 
  • I'm on a diet yet I still made Mom's famous homemade donuts this past weekend. They were scrumptious and worth every single finger lickin' Weight Watchers point!
  • I accidentally headbutted the kitchen table this morning as I attempted to pick up a runaway clementine. It hurt and I swore. I am now sporting a goose egg. 
  • I love glitter. 
  • I cut my food into small pieces so I feel like I get more. Ha!
  • I ate an extra multi vitamin gummy this morning because I'm lame and think they taste like gummy bears. The orange ones are diamonds in the rough and even put Flinestone vitamins to shame. (This is your fault, Theresa! Look what you've done!)
  • I cried buckets as I read Kelle Hampton's birth story for little Dash. Then I sent it to my 39 week pregnant best bud (who miraculously gave birth to her precious baby boy the very next day) and it made her bawl too. Some friend I am! 
  • That stupid McDonald's commercial where the obnoxious man sings "Fish-ay, Fish-ay!" sends me bat shit crazy. Whoever came up with that concept/jingle should be punched square in the nose.
  • I think Hugh Laurie is an English hottie. 
  • I can't go into a store and see row after row of Peeps without thinking about how hilarious it would be to shove them all in a huge microwave.
  • The new season of Duck Dynasty starts tonight and I'm so excited I could piss my pants. Those  camouflage boneheads are HILARIOUS! That's quality TV friends. Pure quality. 
  • I'm sick of Winter and already willing Spring. Give me sunshine and tulips! 
  • Today was the first time I've ever been to Panera and I can guarantee it won't be the last.
  • I'm in my mid 20s yet I still had to have my picture taken today with a giant teddy bear at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. Hilarious part? The kiddo I took on the field trip didn't even want a pic. I live vicariously.


    Change of plans

    Ever since Carl and I got engaged the plan was always to get married in Vermont. One big beautiful Green Mountain wedding surrounded by gorgeous VT scenery masterfully intertwined with polka dots, hay bails, vintage English tea pots and homemade scones with clotted cream. For years I'd had it planned out. The colors, the songs, the kind of cake, the flowers...it would be perfect. The stuff that 5 year old Amanda had always dreamed about. Only better. Surrounded by our loved ones we'd become Mr and Mrs Anderson and throughout a night filled with chirping crickets and illuminating lightning bugs we'd dance and drink and laugh and cry as our families met and merged and became one.

    But both of my Momma's are wise and after many conversations came a change of heart and with it a change of plans.

    There would still be the big beautiful Green Mountain celebration in 2013...only instead of saying I Do, we'd say We Did and dance and drink and laugh and cry as we celebrated our marriage vows already spoken in Southport, England. Our English wedding was just days after my college graduation and took place while my Mom, Dad and Grandmother were still in Liverpool. Planned within a matter of weeks it was quaint, simple, small and beautiful. And while there were aspects of our special day that I wish I could change (like the fact that my sister wasn't able to be here, the weather was monsoon-like, or that my maid of honor Toni and I were running on the worst nights sleep EVER because of couch cushions and evil useless Velcro rollers) it's still in the history books as one of the best days of my life. On that soggy Saturday morning in July of 2011 I married my very best friend, my partner in crime, directly across the road from the hotel where we got engaged. I cried like a baby, hummed to Coldplay's Yellow, and became Mrs. Anderson. It was a different kind of magic than I had ever anticipated, but magic nonetheless.

    And still there's the vow renewal in 2013.

    Carl and I have planned that big beautiful Green Mountain celebration of 2013 for Saturday October 5th. For months and months and months English in-laws and friends and family members have talked flights while I dream of Vermont apples as table place cards and gold polka dot wedding heels. Deep eggplant and burnt orange are my colors and I want all my bridesmaids, including my baby sister Sonya, to wear knee length dresses instead of long. I want deep purple and mango calla lilies mingled with physalis alkekengi (Chinese lantern flowers to you and I) in my bouquet and I want a smore station set up in the back of the tent. For a very long time it's all been planned.

    But my husband is wise and after many conversations came a change of heart and with it a change of plans.

    There will still be a big beautiful Green Mountain celebration. A vow renewal like the one I've been dreaming of and planning for years and years. And when it happens Sonya will be at my side. I'll finally get to wear a big dress, and cut a fancy tiered wedding cake and have a father daughter dance with my Daddy and a first dance with my husband. Oh, and a beautiful warm cocktail fueled beachy honeymoon. We can't forget the honeymoon. It'll happen. All of that wonderfulness will happen for us just like everyone else. Someday. Just not this year. Not in this hectic chapter of our lives where money is tight and we're still trying to get settled after moving all the way across the world. Yet again the damn Atlantic Ocean is a royal pain in my ass, but I know all of this must be happening for a reason. Something bigger and better must be in store.

    Nevertheless, no matter how optimistic I am, I'd be a liar if I said I haven't cried over this decision many times. Sure, the majority of those tears are pure selfishness seeping from my body, but that's okay. I'm entitled to them. Because for me this is hard. As a little girl I used to watch family wedding videos on repeat. The Wedding Planner is a favorite movie of mine and every single Friday I'm glued to TLC's Say Yes to the Dress like it's nobody's business. To me it's special and important to have a big beautiful wedding where you share your love with all friends and family. Where you dance, drink, eat too much cake and snort as you laugh and cry at the speeches. And it hurts deep down in my bones to know that I won't have that for a while. Not like everyone else. Not like my friends and family, I won't know what it's like to have a bridal shower or how it feels to throw your bouquet backwards over your head. And the truth of the matter is that I may not discover any of those things until our 10 year wedding anniversary. Not because I don't want to but because life gets in the way. God has a bigger plan so I'm gonna do my damnedest to role with the punches and keep on smiling.

    My big beautiful day will come. Someday far away. And when it does it'll be amazing, just like I dreamed. Only better. Because a lot can happen in 8 years. Who knows, the flower girls could even be our own :)


    Kids say the funniest things

    Tonight as I scrolled through my drafts I stumbled upon this little gem. How it has not yet been published? I'll never know. For this, ladies and gentlemen, is a compilation of all the hilarious things my  little students said throughout my time teaching in England. 

    Enjoy and you're welcome.

    Me: "Ok kids, were going to write sentences about The Great Fire of London in our Fact Files now! Can you think of a good one which would involve the street where the fire began? Can you remember what its called? I'll give you a hint, it starts with a capital P." 
    Jack: "Mrs. Anderson, is the p word you're looking for pubic?" 
    Me: "No, honey. I was thinking of Pudding Lane."

    Me: "Jamie, what are you playing with in your pocket?" 
    Jamie (holding up a rotten brown carrot): "A carrot for Mummy's horse!"
    Me: "Why is it in your pocket at school? Can you throw it in the garbage please?"
    Jamie: "But then whats Mummy's horse gonna eat?"
    Me: "Don't you think Mom's horse would rather have a nice fresh carrot anyway? That one from your pocket is very old and wouldn't taste very nice."
    Jamie: "Alright. But he'd eat it. I know he would cause horsey's eat their own poo, ya know! I watched mummy's one lickin' and eatin' it off the ground!"

    While writing our names in shaving cream...
    Me: Alright love bugs, please remember you're not to eat the shaving foam. It tastes yucky and could make you very sick. 
    Bethany: "You're right about that, Mrs Anderson! I tried me Dad's once and it's not a bit like the whipped cream on cocoa!"

    Liam: "Uuummm, excuse me Mrs. Anderson, but are you Irish or something?" 
    Me: "No honey, I'm from America. Do you know where that is? Can you point to it for me on the map?" 
    Liam Points to map..."Oooh! You're from North America! You're from where Tim Howard is from! Did you see his penalty save the other day?! It was brilliant!" 

    While reading a book about colors with little Oliver...
    Me: "Ollie, what color is that horse?"
    Oliver: "Brown. The horsey is brown."
    Me: "Great! Now what about this little pig?"
    Oliver: "Oh, that's my favorite color!! That piggy is pink! And Mum says pink makes all the girls wink!" 

    In hopes of reducing the number of mud covered children at play time, the playground at my school has just had bark mulch put in. The following conversation took place today when I took the kids out. 
    29 excited children: "Wooooaaaah! Look at THAT! What IS that stuff?!" 
    Me: "I'm not sure, shall we go have a look? Why don't you pick it up and tell me what it feels like." 
    Alexis: "It feels like twigs!" 
    Me: "You're right! It does, doesn't it? That's because it's wood that's been chopped up into tiny pieces! Let's have a sniff and see what it smells like!" 
    Liam shoves a giant handful up his nose and proclaims: "Wow! It smells like cucumbers!" 
    Alexis: "You know, Miss. I've seen this wood stuff before! It means there must be guinea pigs in here somewhere!" 

    Bill Crosby is a wise man who speaks truth. Kids really do say the funniest things.


    Love Map

    Our 'Love Map' arrived in the mail today and I could not be more tickled. It is GORGEOUS and I am so thrilled to have this beautiful love-story keepsake for our home. Originally I purchased this as an anniversary present for the hubby. Only, that went out the window the minute I dug it out of the crumpled paper, oogled it's sheer perfectness and dabbed a little drooled from my chin. Impatience is an awful fault of mine, and all plans of stashing it until July were long gone within 5 minutes of it's unveiling. I hurried Carl into our bedroom, squealed "Happy Super-Super-Early-Anniversary, Baby!" and impatiently (of course) waited for his response. To make a long story short: he LOVED it and you can bet your ass it's going to be one of the first things we hang in our future home.

    I discovered Brooke and her gorgeous prints back in January. Next to Pinterest, Etsy is my all time favorite website to peruse cute craft ideas and unique gifts. For those of you who don't already know, Etsy is like eBay on crack - only instead of Vanessa's old Tom's and Franks musty suit from high school prom, it's filled with stunning hand made gems. Oh, and please don't misunderstand me. I'm no eBay hater. Hubby and I agree it's the bomb diggidy for laptop batteries, phone cases, HDMI wires and the occasional closet clean out... It's just not my go-to place for cute jewelry (such as these cuties from my Twinnies shop, The Polka Dot Posie) or unique home accessories. If you haven't yet jumped the Etsy bandwagon, go ahead and do it now. You can thank me later. 

    Brooke's Etsy shop "Between Everything" Near & Dear stumbled onto my lap one day as I perused page after page after page of adorable personalized prints for a potential Valentines gift for the hubs. After about 98 million pages of cutesy sayings and flashy subway art my eyeballs started to sting and I grew bored. Nothing was tickling my fancy. I was on a specific mission to find something unique and meaningful which the hubs and I could keep. Something for our future family home. I wanted it to be eye catching, classic, and able to tell our unique story. Subway art just wasn't cutting the mustard.

    But Brooke's Two-State Love Map practically, poked me in the eye, smacked me square in the face and screamed:
    "Put me on your wall! I'm the shit!"
    (sorry for the profanity, Mom. But it's true).
    Brooke was SO accommodating and patient (I may or may not have had iPhone related ordering issues) and was totally willing to alter the two 'state' thing to a state and a country. My print arrived quickly and perfectly packaged. It's eye catching, classic and able to tell our story. Just what I wanted. 
    Girlfriend gets two thumbs up from me.

    Our foul-mouthed yet undeniably perfect love map truly is everything it claimed to be.
     The shit.



    How was I to know, as I climbed into bed to soak up the latest my little blog reel had to offer, that deep contemplation and soul searching and tears were on the horizon. Snuggling into my thick comforter, fluffing my cushions, flicking my socks off into the endless pit that is the bottom of the bed. I was so unprepared. Oblivious of the emotion and sadness and worry and deep gratitude my late night reading would conjure up.

    My cousin Kayla has recently taken up blogging, and it was her sweet Memories post this evening which hit home. In it Kayla talked about loving and missing her Grandmother - the very same woman I've  affectionately referred many times to as 'Mom' - and how empty it's been without her here. As I read Kayla's sincere words, and tearfully revisited my own post about Mom, I felt it too. That aching in my heart. The longing to share with her my successes, my dreams, my favorite recipes. To confide in her. To listen to her stories. To breathe in her sweet hugs. To kiss her hello and goodbye. To just spend time together like we used to when I was 11.

    I ache because she isn't here anymore and I miss her. I wish I could go back. I hate that one minute people you love and adore are there and the next minute they're gone. And there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it.

    And as the 2 year anniversary of Mom's passing slowly creeps closer, I, like Kayla, find myself thinking of her more and more often. I did just this afternoon as I drove home from work and reached down to lather her favorite lip balm, Carmex, on my lips. I did on Sunday at our family brunch where my cousin Missy (Kayla's Mom) showed us pictures of her paintings - one of which I know used to hang on Mom's living room wall. And last night as the touch lamp in my bedroom flickered repeatedly for 2 minutes straight as I sat alone in our bedroom. I even asked out loud if that was her - after which it flickered again.

    It's hard when loved ones pass. It's hard not to wonder what good could come of it. It's hurts to grieve, to carry on, to find 'normalcy' again. To seek happiness and joy in your own life. To look back at precious memories with not just sadness and hurt, but also love, joy and appreciation.

    To grow.

    I consider myself lucky in that I, unlike many of my close family and friends, haven't experienced tragedy or lost many loved ones in my lifetime. Of course I've said goodbye to my Grandma Cousino, Grandpa Tom, 'Mom,' my neighbor, and most recently Carl's Granddad and Uncle - I'm not in any way discounting the sadness and pain it felt to lose those special people, but I'm also so very lucky to still have the majority of my nearest and dearest still here. My parents, my sister, my husband, my grandparents and in-laws are all still with me. All of my closest friends are healthy and well. I've never lost a loved one to a crime, or a car crash, or fire. None of my loved ones or friends are missing. I've never had a miscarriage or watched my child suffer and leave this Earth far far too early.

    I am lucky. I am blessed.

    And yet I know that there are people out there who have experienced those things. Experienced unbelievable heartbreak and mourned unfathomable losses. Suffered from numbing emptiness. Tragedy. Shock. Yet they continued, through the heartbreak and sorrow, to show love, compassion, strength and faith.

    Life in general is something I'm trying to understand and find peace with. Most specifically, death is something I'm trying to understand and find peace with. When I was younger I used to have this awful dream where I was riding my turquoise bike with the rainbow and white training wheels around our dirt driveway. I couldn't stop going in circles while an awful man in a black cloak with no face chased me. Around and round we'd go. And with each complete circle he'd get closer. I knew he was death and that when he finally reached me I'd go into a rectangle hole in the ground and stare up at darkness. Worms wriggling. Outside life would continue, but I would lay inside this claustrophobic hole - paralyzed and silent - for years. And years. And years. Just laying there. Like a rock. Waiting. Silent. Alone. Half asleep yet entirely alert. Waiting until I the eternal nothingness seized.

    Thankfully I haven't had that dream since I was in college. The last time was the night after they found the body of missing Hayley Holmes - a 17 year old girl from Liverpool who drowned in the Mersey River and washed up on a nearby beach. Her boyfriend was still missing at the time (they found his body weeks later at a local ferry terminal near mine and Carl's apartment). For whatever reason Hayley's death upset me terribly. Although I'd never met her I couldn't stop thinking about her. She played on my mind. I remember reading the posts and comments from Hayley's family and friends on a Facebook page (Hayley's Mom still writes to her every day) that had been set up in order to remember her and help find her missing boyfriend. All I could do was cry and try not to think about how heartbroken all of those people were. Her loved ones coming to terms with the fact that she wouldn't return home. At the age of 17 she was gone. I couldn't help but think about how lost and shattered I'd be if that were my friend, my sister, my daughter. About whether I'd actually have that ability to continue, through the heartbreak and sorrow. To show love, compassion, strength and faith.

    I kept thinking about why awful things like that happen. I kept thinking about how utterly terrified I am that something like that might happen to me. To my family.

    I kept thinking about how I'm afraid.

    I'm scared to lose my loved ones. I'm scared of tragedy. I'm scared I won't have the strength to overcome hardships or goodbyes. That I won't learn intended lessons. That I'm not being the best person I can be. That I won't have accomplished everything I want to before I go. That I'll never be able to have a baby. Or if and when I do, will I be a good parent? What if something were to happen and I never got the chance to be there for my children's accomplishments, or meet my grandchildren. The list is endless yet continuously linked to fear of the unknown. The what if's. The things I cannot control.

    Thankfully, the older I get the more I'm learning who I am. The more I'm valuing my beliefs - some of which may not be the same as other people, but that's okay. I know that I am not a sheep and that I don't have to think the same as everyone else. I believe in supporting my dreams, and focusing on what I can control rather than what I cannot. I know that I believe in heaven and angels and that eating ice cream after watching The Notebook is important in order to regain emotional balance and serenity. I believe in soul mates and know that Carl and I were meant to be together. Not even the Atlantic Ocean can separate us. I believe in kissing my husband 5 times every night before bed, and first thing when I wake up in the morning. I believe it's okay to cry and scream and shout and laugh all within the space of 5 minutes. I believe it's okay to question and challenge and be afraid. It's okay to miss loved ones and talk to them at night, just as it's okay to that I take time to reflect and contemplate and digest my own thoughts. It's healthy that I take time to write them down. That I voice them.

    Life is a journey. It's challenging, rewarding, unpredictable, reliable, exhausting, refreshing, beautiful, vibrant, overcast, frightening, peaceful, rigid, resilient, philosophical, erratic, demanding, vulnerable, precious. Life is a gift.

    Live it the very best you can.



    I've been enjoying Sunday brunch dates with sweet family.

     Family brunches that were far more successful and glorious than the blurry-blink-filled picture cares to show.
    I've been channeling my healthy eating mojo, savoring the sweet tart taste of fruit in the morning.
    And reaped the scrumptious rewards of effin amazing Pinterest recipes. Masterful concoctions such as  Pesto Flatbread Pizza (which just so happened to be a Weight Watchers recipe) that Sonya and I made for dinner earlier this evening. We used a TBL of our own homemade pesto and sprinkled the top with sauteed garlic mushrooms, red onion, green peppers and parmesan cheese. Basil-y fireworks exploded in my mouth.  It was simple, healthy and delicious.
    It was a flavor party, people!

    I've hooted and hollered when our Middlebury College Panthers kicked some serious basketball butt.

    And I've been basking in the gloriousness that is Groopdealz spectacular site of bargains. That purple string of perfection will be on my doorstep and subsequently my neck within the very near future. 

    I've been training for my first 10k; Vermont's Spring Fling happening March 23rd. Sister will be joining me, although this time around she'll be kicking ass in her second 5k. So proud. Long lost running buddies unite! We're gonna breathe in the fresh Spring Vermont air and run until our legs fall off. I can't wait.

    And all of that extra running has earned the occasional Girl Scout cookie...or 2.
    and I'd be a damn liar if I said it didn't take every single ounce of will power I poses not to pound down entire boxes.

    I've been busy, my friends, busy. Soaking up life, spending time with those around me, enjoying being home. Supporting my husband in his new found dreams, staying focused and determined in achieving my own. Looking forward to the future and counting down the days til snowflakes melt and vibrant tulips peep out from the icy ground below. 

    That's what I've been doing lately.


    All You Need is Love

    Valentines Day has and probably always will be a favorite holiday of mine. Like I said last year, I'm not one of those bah-humbug scrooges who wrinkles their nose and proclaims how Feb 14th is nothing more than a useless Hallmark Holiday. I love it. I think it's a sweet reminder to count your blessings, hug your loved one extra tight and roll around in heart shaped dark chocolate, sparkly glitter and fragrant flowers. What the hell could be better?

    This Valentines day was no exception and, like every year, I relished the opportunity to hop on the cutesy heart bandwagon. 
    I painted heart nails.
    I baked heart shaped sugar cookies with kiddos.
    Then we thumb-print-heart-finger painted and made Hearty Smartie people.
    And after work I hurried home to Windex and Valentines-ify my homemade gift to the hubs.
    A couple of weeks ago Groopdealz had a sale on this printable "I Love You Because....." print, which I put into a cute picture frame and accompanied with a chalk ink marker. For the meantime this will live on our dresser, where every day we can wipe off yesterdays love note and switch it out for a new one. Although, once we're in our own place again its new home will be in the kitchen.
    This year I asked hubby for just one rose. But when I walked in the door he surprised me with 3, a sweet card, a beautiful vase, and a cute I love you teddy. What a keeper. 
     Then we enjoyed a romantic meal of chicken quesadillas and ice cream. Tonight we'll fight over blankets while watching The Office in bed and nod off by 10:30pm. 
    To others that may sound lame. But I wouldn't want it any other way.

    We've done the fancy dinners at fancy restaurants in fancy clothes. But this year our Valentines day will be low-key, inexpensive, at home and relaxed. 

    All You Need is Love


    So What Wednesday

    So What Wednesday
    Happy Wednesday, love bugs!

    It's that time of the week! Here I am again linking up with Shannon and saying a big fat so what if...
    • I ate Chef Boyardee pizza and sauteed mushrooms for supper. Yes, half of it was technically from a 'box' but it hit the spot so I could care less.
    • Valentines Day is tomorrow and I still haven't bought hubby's card. So much for being super prepared. (eh, at least I made the actual gift last week). 
    • I can't watch American Idol without covering my eyes and squealing. Some parents lie to their kids when they should really do them a favor and tell them they sound like a cat swinging from a ceiling fan. 
    • Regardless of the fact that she's from Vermont, I was routing against Gretel-Ann on The Next Great Baker. She was such a twonk. Who turns other peoples ovens up so it burns their food? Awful sport. I kind of want to go to her bakery to throw a whipped cream pie in her face.  
    • It's now mid February and I still haven't mailed (or 100% finished) my mother-in-laws Christmas scarf I've knitted her. Epic daughter-in-law fail!
    • If while I'm eating chicken I spot one of those veins I can't eat anymore of it. It makes me gag.
    • I did Jillian Michael's Yoga Shred with my sister on Monday and my arms are still throbbing.
    • I can't look straight out windows at night. I'm always too paranoid eyeballs will be lookin' back at me.
    • Over the past month I've completely bypassed regularly checking Twitter and I don't even miss it. 
    • I hate mustard.
    • I went to girls night last night with my besties from High School. We spent the night talking about annoying body hair, fake nails, good wine and how dumb men are. It was fantastic. 
    • Carl and I watch The Office on my Nook every night in bed. I heart Steve Carell. 
    • Even though it annoys the shit out of me, I'm beyond excited for the Survivor premier tonight. 
    • I'm obsessed with my Chalk Ink that arrived today. It's pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. Who cares if that makes me a dweeb.
    • My Mom read this post, started laughing, poked me and pointed out an epic typo. Previous to correcting the above statement it read that I was obsessed with "Calk Ink." Oh, Lord.
    What are you saying So What to this week? 


      Show Us Your Life: DIY

      DIY and I are tight. Like peanut butter and jelly, pancakes and syrup, Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King kinda tight. BFF's forever and a day. I'll craft until the wee hours of the morning and STILL happily wake up at the crack (do you know how hard it was to not put 'butt' before that?!) of dawn to do some more. Since I was little I've loved a good craft project and ever since I started teaching and found Pinterest I've indulged in this love more than ever before. Just ask Carl. Ha! 

      With all of that said, it's probably no surprise that I very nearly peed my pants with excitement when I saw that one of Kelly's SUYL topics this month was DIY. HELLO BAZILLIONS OF ADORABLE CRAFTS IDEAS! Overload me! I am ready to link up, learn new things and bore the daylights out of my husband by asking if he minds if we 'quickly' (we all know it's never quick...) pop into AC Moore and Michael's again next weekend. Let's get this party DIY party started!

      Over the years there have been many little activities I've attempted. Some of them were awesome sauce, some of them were not. Over the last year I've had a go at Quilling, making my own inexpensive necklace board and Pinterest-Valentines-ing our English apartment. But more recently, last weekend to be exact, the DIY crafting bug bit me in the ass (always around Valentines day!) and I just couldn't help myself. I made time (this being the key word here. 9 times out of 10 you just don't have the time to concoct all of those fantabulous ideas), made a list, bookmarked my inspirational Pinteresters and headed to purchase the necessary materials.

      By noon last Saturday I had returned home with a stash of goodies.
       The goal?
      To create 3 specific things:
      1) A pair of decorative (Valentines) jars (I intend to change these up for every holiday)
      2) A cute chalkboard for the kitchen counter.
      3) Burlap 'LOVE' bunting.

      Was I successful? You bet your ass. 
      Wanna know how I did it? Cop a squat, sip some tea and peruse on down.
      Decorative Holiday Jars
      You see these everywhere - everyone has them in some way shape or form. Adorable glass vases or apothecary jars filled with candies, marbles, sand, gems, coffee beans, grains...the list is endless. I've admired them for so long and always wanted to make my own. Finally, last weekend, I made it happen.  While I plan to purchase more 'luxurious' and grand glass jars at some point down the road, these little clearance sale gems will fit the bill in the meantime. After all, how can I complain when they were only $3 a pop? Best part of this whole project was how inexpensive it was. In total I spent a whopping $10.50. 

      Wanna make your own? You'll just need 3 things:
      1) Glass Jars (I got mine on sale at AC Moore but I've seen beautiful ones at Michael's. I'll also be popping into my local Goodwill store at some point in hopes of scoring some extra glasses/cake stands/vases/decanters for a great price. One mans trash Amanda's treasure!)
      2) Ribbon (this I Love You ribbon was in the clearance bin for 50 cents. Holla!)
      3) Conversation Heart Candies (WalMart had a deal where you buy 2 for $4!)
      Homemade Chalkboard
      This is something else I'm sure you've seen floating around the web. Chalkboards. Eventually once the hubs and I have little kiddos and, are somewhere permanent, I plan to paint an entire section of a wall with chalkboard paint so that my little love bugs can let their creative juices flow (in an appropriate manner). But in the meantime, I'm content with this cute little display chalkboard I was able to recreate for a whopping $8.
      Thank you, WalMart!

      It was unbelievably simple to conjure up and took me a total of 30 minutes to paint (minus the drying time, obviously). If you're interested in creating one, this is what you'll need!

      1) An inexpensive sanded board (or silver platter, plate or picture frame you picked up for 50 cents at Goodwill. Whatever it is should be flat (obviously). Feel free to be creative! I bought this board for $4 at WalMart but I plan to head out to my Dad's wood scraps (he's a carpenter so they're should be a good finds) and salvage/create a few more diamonds.
      2) A foam paint brush and normal bristle paint brush.
      3) Chalkboard paint (you can get this EVERYWHERE now)
      4) Acrylic gloss paint for the outside 'frame.' (they sell this for 99 cents at Walmart and it worked beautifully.
      The process is pretty straightforward: you paint the board with chalkboard paint - be sure to use a foam paintbrush in order to avoid bristle marks - they're a pain in the butt to write on with chalk once the paint has dried. Allow dry. Apply a second coat of your chalkboard paint. Allow dry. Paint 'frame' with acrylic gloss paint (I used a normal bristle brush for this). Allow everything to dry overnight. 
      Voila! Bob's your Uncle!
      Burlap Bunting
      The hubs and I are currently house sitting for some friends so I'm afraid the 'finished product' picture of my bunting is gonna have to be a no-show. I forgot to take a picture of it's completed state before we left home. Now technically I could run home to take a photo, but we're currently in the process of getting snowed in by none other than winter storm Nemo (I still think this is the DUMBEST name for a blizzard). Somehow it doesn't seem sensible to make the 20 minute trip on yucky roads. I promise to update once I can.
      Disclaimer complete. Carry on.

      I'm one of those people who has an obsession with bunting. Not only do I think it's so cute and easy to  make, but it is capable of instantly dressing up any lackluster room. So when I saw this picture floating around Pinterest a couple of weeks ago I immediately began day dreaming of the day I'd create my own. 

      Last Valentines I had a ball creating my own paper bunting using this bunting template, so again I planned to use that in order to cut my burlap triangles. After all, paper bunting is notoriously similar to fabric bunting - and if you're sewing machine illiterate (like myself) fear not. Bust out that handy dandy hot glue gun and you're good to go.
       What you'll need:

      1) Burlap (I got my roll for $7.49 from WalMart and there's still a TON left!)
      2) REALLY GOOD sewing scissors! I found out the hard way that burlap is a royal pain in the ass to cut with normal kitchen scissors. It's too course and will not only dull your kitchen sheers, but your triangles (and hearts, should you choose) will come out crooked and frayed without that crisp sharp defined edge.
      2) A sharpie
      3) Fabric Mod Podge (at all craft stores)
      4) Fine Glitter
      5) A paint brush
      6) Ribbon or twine for stringing 
      7) A hot glue gun

      Again, this project was relatively simple, albeit time consuming (which never bothered me because I did the cutting as the Super Bowl was on. Also, I chose to make 3 different bunting pieces). First you'll need to (using your bunting template) mark out your triangles on your burlap (in essence you'll end up making a long rectangle which has triangular zig-zags down the middle). I also chose to cut some hearts, as I'll be putting a heart on either end of  LOVE. Using your sharp-as-hell sewing scissors cut out your bunting triangles and arrange them over a coardboard box (or something you don't mind covering in glitter and mod podge). Using a Sharpie I free handed my letters on each triangle, but you could just as easily use a stamp or stencil. Once you've marked your letters, paint/trace over the sharpie with fabric Mod Podge and, like a 5 year old at Grandma's house, glitter-it-up! Once you've repeated this process for all of your letters, shake off the excess glitter (be sure your cat isn't anywhere near you during this process (I learned this the hard way. Poor Bobbi Jo was covered in red glitter for the remainder of the weekend) and allow them to dry overnight. The following day, using your hand-dandy hot glue gun, glue the ribbon (whatever length you choose - remember the longer the ribbon the more your bunting will 'sag') to the back of your triangles. (I folded the top of the burlap triangles over the ribbon and glue to ensure the bunting would last longer).
      Allow to dry, admire your art-work, select it's pride of place and display for the world to see.

      Since the burlap roll was rather generous, I have quite a bit left after creating my bunting. My next  DIY plan of attack is to create an adorable Valentine's wreath that is somehow a crossbreed of two beauties
      We'll see how that one pans out. I'll be sure to take completed photos this time. Pinky swear.

      Been a DIY queen lately? Link-up and share! :)


      Just Keep Swimmin'

      Does anyone else feel like this week is passing at a snails pace? Sluggishly slithering along leaving a wet slimy trail of goo behind it. Draining. Jackin' up that positive attitude with each condescending click of a clock. Producing headaches. And Yawns. And forehead wrinkles.

      Or is it just me?

      Thankfully, I've been thrown a round floating orange life line in the form of white puffy stuff.

      Tomorrow is a snow day!
      Starting tonight the entire North East is getting pummeled with a monster blizzard. A blizzard which the National Weather Service has gone ahead and named Nemo. Which, by the way, is as dumb as a box of rocks. I mean, really? What a dumbass name for a WINTER storm. Sure, I could understand that name choice if it were a 'tropical' storm or hurricane. That'd fit the bill. But we all know that Nemo is an adorable little orange TROPICAL fish. Not a goddamn penguin!

      I can see it now. 10 years down the road in a little Vermont town good ol' Nemo will spark conversations such as this:

      "Hey Jim Bob, do ya 'member that honkin' ass blizzard we got few years back?"

      "Which one ya talkin' bout, Frank? There's been so goddamn many I can't keep count."

      "Oh shit, of course you'd haveta ask that. Uuuh. Gimme a minute, I'll remember it's name...it's slipped my goddamn mind. Shit. What was it? Happened the beginnin' of February. Pounded the whole North East. Had the stupidest name you could think of?"

      "Oh Jesus, yeah! I member, Frank! Was a nasty one. Martha from down the street went in the ditch and I had to dig her out with my ol' John Deere! You're talkin' bout that nasty, Nemo aren't ya?"

      Epic blizzard naming fail.

      Nevertheless, Nemo and I have bonded in a way that many other snow-day-producing-snow-storms have. If I could shake his hand and kiss him on the cheek I would. But I cant, so instead I'll admire his handsomeness through the giant sliding glass windows from the comfort of the fluffy recliner tomorrow morning. In my polka-dot pj's. With Rachael Ray on the TV, a piping hot cup of tea in my left hand and a toasted English muffin dripping with honey in my right. I'll soak in calm, relax and recharge my batteries for work on Monday.

      Like Nemo (the real Nemo. Tropical Nemo) I'm gonna just keep swimmin'


      Ooh, La La! It's the Big One Oh Oh!

      This evening as I logged onto my Blogger account I had planned to do my usual routine. Munch on something that would inevitably make me feel guilty for fear of developing a jello jiggler-ish ass. Peruse stalk my favorite blogs. Compose a long-overdue-long-winded blab about random crapola that's been happening in the world of Amanda (kinda like how my girl crush on Beyonce is so out of control that last night I was dreaming we were BFFs. For cereal people. This is no lie, it really happened. So laaame). And above all, overwhelm you with an endless mirage of pictures - because we all know pictures are the bomb. (okay, so I'm not sure if anyone actually says the bomb anymore? In fact, upon reflection I'm pretty sure the last time I actually heard it was when I watched She's All That back in 9th grade. Nevertheless, it seemed appropriate at the time so I'm goin' back to the 90s and busting it out for this post. Hang in there).

      Tonight, all that changed.
      Because of you.
      Yes, YOU!
      My readers.

      I'm not really one of those people who obsesses too much over followers. I don't spend hours a day promoting my blog. I don't pin everything from kingdom come. I don't pay other people to love me and share my awesomeness with their lovely readers. I just come here, as I always have, to write, to ramble, to share, to vent, to reflect, to have FUN, to laugh (mostly at myself), to document, to remember and above all to preserve things I never want to forget.  

      I started this blog back in October 2011 as a way to share my England fun with friends and family back home. I started it as a way to remember my adventures, to make my Mom happy and do what I love to do most: talk and write and flap my social butterfly wings. I never ever in a million years thought I'd make best friends through blogging, or change aspects of my life because of my blog, or find a new inspiration and appreciation for my life, family and home through the reflection that coexists with writing. It just happened. Like snow on Christmas day it just all fell into place. My blog has become a part of my every day life. It's something I cherish and appreciate more than I ever thought I could. It's special to me, something I call my own, something that no one can ever take away or tarnish. It's unique, filled to the brim with my ideas, my photos, my thoughts and words and memories. I never ever in a all the world could have imagined back on that rainy October day as I composed my first post that so many people (some I've never met before and others I grew up right along side) would read my rambles. I never imagined you'd enjoy my stories and laugh at my corny jokes. 

      But you did. You still do.
      You're here, right now, reading my words, following along with my life, sharing in my crazy adventure. 
      I love that.

      Tonight as I logged on I was shocked to see a pretty little 100 next to my 'Followers' tab. And as the realization that 100 other people follow my journey, and this little ol' blog of mine has been viewed nearly 60,000 times finally sunk in, a smile spread across my face so big that my cheeks hurt and I couldn't contain my excitement and appreciation. I may have woohood and blurted out a "holy shit baby, my blog has 100 followers!" to my husband, but most importantly I began to write, ramble, share, reflect, have FUN, laugh, document, remember and preserve this special  moment I don't want to forget. 

      I can't believe it. I've reached the Big One Oh Oh!

      All I can say is thank-you, love bugs, for sticking around.
      All my love, love, love,