Colleen’s Favorite Things

I have been loving some products lately for myself, for my home, and for my baby – thought I’d share!

1. Sally Hansen’s Salon Gel Polish Kit

Sally Hansen Gel Kit

Back in March I attended a conference for fundraising professionals that had many take-aways, one of which encouraged me to pay attention to little details because they are noticed and send an important message of detail-orientation to people.  Since then, I’ve been intentional about making sure my nails and hands are manicured, make up is good, and hair is finished (as much as possible with mad curly hair).  Getting a regular manicure when you work for a non-profit, however, is cost prohibitive.  Gel/shellac manicures are awesome since they last so long, but after a week it starts to look terrible and then you have to start over.

After about a month or two of this, I decided to invest in a DIY kit – not the cheapest thing considering they’re $65 at Walmart – but Amazon had a much better deal and it costs less than 2 salon gel manicures. There are mega benefits to doing it yourself, I learned after — when a nail chips, I can simply re-do it!  Secondly, it takes WAY less time than painting your nails with nail polish because there’s no drying time.  For a busy working mom, this is the answer to having your nails look nice – hands down.

2. Genuine Kids Alice Sandals

Genuine Kids Alice Sandals

My little girl is learning to walk, but has narrow, small feet.  And, like most babies, she likes to kick her shoes off.  When I tried to find baby shoes for her, either they wouldn’t stay on her feet, or if they did stay on they were crib shoes and had no sole and they got ruined in an afternoon of her toddling around.  I actually loved baby TOMS for her, but it’s summer and too warm for a closed shoe.  These sandals are supportive, stay on her feet, protective, adorable and affordable at $12.99.  I just ordered 2 more pairs in the next sizes.

3. Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

This little device is so flipping awesome.  For $35 (and, in this case, we have a great friend who gave us one!), this device allows us to stream HD video to our television from our phones, computer, and tablet.  As a millennial family without cable, primarily using Hulu Plus and Netflix for entertainment we love that we can watch in HD and have the freedom to control it from anywhere in our wifi network.
I really need to find a way to monetize this blog.  In the meantime, enjoy!

Birthday Gratitude // One Year Later

Last year on my birthday, I had just wrapped up an incredible internship at Americans for the Arts.  Mike and I gathered all of our friends together to help us move from the downstairs apartment in our house in Stephens City to the much nicer upstairs apartment.  We were so excited to be upstairs with doors on all the rooms, a roomier space, and a legitimate kitchen as opposed to the makeshift one in the old place.  We also expected to be there until at least May 2013 if not a bit later.

I was staggered by how many of our friends showed up to help and how awesome they were.  I’ll never forget the many, many boxes coming upstairs, or my sweet friend Marisa spending a couple of hours scrubbing down the bathtub so that when it was all said and done, I could take a bubble bath and have a moment of calm on my birthday.  Mike and our friend Eric went to Walmart at the end of the day to buy me bubble bath and bath salts so I could just relax and not spend the entire day in chaos.  It’s funny – I hated moving on my birthday but that day is a perfect example of how lucky we have been in the friends department.

Here we are, only a year later and nothing in our life looks the same.  We’re back in Ashland, OH getting ready to close on a house.  Our daughter will make her debut sometime in June.  We are surrounded by dear friends who we’ve known since college (and in some cases, high school), family, and have made some really incredible new friends too.  We have totally different jobs, totally different day-to-days, and we are so happy and eager for what’s to come.

I turn 28 today and it’s funny because this birthday seems so silly.  I feel like I’ve aged much more with all the change that has come in the last year.  One year just doesn’t seem to reflect the amount of blessing and change we’ve had.  I am so amazed and excited to think about what this next year will bring.  As we move into our house, as we officially become parents, as we get to know our little girl, as we settle into our lives here… and who knows what else may come… I am so excited and blessed to see what is to come.  And, today, I am so thankful for all that has come before.  That we have been lucky to have fun, devoted, intelligent, creative, thoughtful friends in every place we lived or visited is a huge blessing.  Thanks to Facebook for reminding me just how far our connections reach on a day like today.  It’s awesome to see messages wishing for a happy birthday from all over the globe!

So, thank you dear friends – I am absolutely staggered by all of you and the incredibly charmed life I get to lead.

Food, Glorious Food

Roasted asparagus, garlic redskin mashed potatoes, and crab-stuffed mushrooms

I need to go grocery shopping.  To do so, that means I need to meal plan.  As I write this, I am under a pile of cookbooks, I have about 60 tabs open to Pinterest, AllRecipes, and a variety of foodblogs.  I have a pretty decent skill for cooking, and lately I’ve had more time for it…  I just feel frustrated with everything I’m finding.

When it comes to food, I just cannot win.

MY 4 RECIPE DILEMMAS:

  1. Too fattening/rich/cheesy     {butter+cheese+bacon are my vices}
  2. Too carby     {I am having an illicit affair with pasta/italian food}
  3. Too complicated     {No more than 12 ingredients}
  4. Too boring     {No more comfort food}

I find myself resorting to the same 4 or 5 recipes every week… I’m stuck in a FOOD RUT.

Am I the only one with this problem?  HELP!!

{do tell!}

What recipe(s) do you love that avoid the 4 dilemmas? Where do you find your favorite recipes? What are your household staples? How do you meal plan?

Summer Reading List

There is literally nothing better than lying in the hammock with a good book.  Last summer, The Help basically ruined me to almost any other book I read in the summer because it was so incredible.

Over the past few months, I’ve finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and The Night Circus, and reread Bossypants and I’m hoping to continue the trend of reading INCREDIBLE books without being disappointed.  On the recommendation of two friends, I have just started Cutting for Stone and so far really love it.  I’m also finishing The Life of Pi… so what’s next?

What are your favorite reads that I should add to my summer reading list?  {Comment and fill me in!}