Monthly Archives: January 2012

Hello Dark, Dead of Winter. Meet Winter Wonderland!

So here we are. The middle of January. For many living in North America and parts of Europe this time of year can be described as dismally dark and miserable. Unless we are willing to relocate by taking a permanent vacation somewhere exotic, we’re stuck with the icy-grey hand father winter has dealt us. We can endure this time of year as we always have, bumbling and grumbling our way through the wet, the cold and the grey, but why not, instead, celebrate it? I know what you’re thinking. “Whimsygirl’s at it again with her hairbrained delusions! Where to now, Captain Crazypants?!” Allow me, for a moment, or at least for the remainder of this post, to shine a new light on the darkest time of year.

If you’re like me, and you live in the type of  climate described above, you probably already make lifestyle changes during the winter months that you may not even realize. You might change your eating habits or the way you spend your time. The cold weather and lack of light tends to keep most indoors. Being the comfort-seeking creatures that we are, we also tend to eat more hot meals to warm us through. We savor this hearty comfort all the while swearing we’re going to eat more salads. The list of changes we make during the winter months can go on and on. We can go ahead and blame ourselves for everything that’s wrong with this practice, but I recommend that instead we embrace these changes as coping mechanisms.

As a way of coping through the winter months, I make every effort to celebrate all aspects of inclement weather. No, I don’t go driving around hoping icy accidents will happen! I do, however, make it my personal mission (obsession, if you will) to make the types of changes that will bring optimal wintertime comfort to myself as well as all those gracing my doorway. How does a smartypants go about accomplishing such a task? Glad you asked!

For me, adding the whimsy of wintertime is a happy marriage of cozy bed and breakfast meets winter wonderland. I put this philosophy into practice first by decorating my home by making it as warm and inviting as possible. I use scented candles, warm quilts and other decorations to make my home a winter retreat (dare I say lodgey-minus the road kill hanging from the walls!). My kids get into the spirit of making our home a winter wonderland by cutting out snowflakes and making white, paper chains to hang throughout the house. These decorations help fill up the emptiness felt once the Christmas decorations are taken down.

SELF DISCLOSURE ALERT!: It is just in my nature to go overboard with any theme. This is why I do my best to make not every common area cozy but I make each bedroom a warm and cozy retreat as well. I do this by placing bottled water and an extra soft blanket next to every bed. Warm slippers can also be found at the foot of each bed for extra cozy comfort. My little ones like finding extra books to snuggle up to so I am sure to leave a new printed adventure each day on their pillow accompanied by a stuffed animal that somehow fits the theme.

With the main living areas all warm and welcoming and the bedrooms equally as cozy, all that is left for inviting wintertime comfort is the kitchen. To stage my kitchen for this time of year, I delve back into the ski trips I took in my yesteryear. Remembering how welcoming it was to come back to a ski lodge loaded with hot chocolate and munchies, I am always sure to incorporate these favs when stocking my own home.

While I’m always sure to have plenty of hot chocolate and homemade cookies prepped and ready to go, I also have a number of healthy options ready for the taking. I keep the fridge stocked with munchies like veggies and hummus, cheeses, yogurt and fruit combos. I also always have a big bowl full of the easy-to-peel citrus that my kids go for.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the laziness that often accompanies the cold weather cuddlies. Which is why I keep my freezer stocked with a few ready-made meals on hand, in the event we feel too cozy to flex our culinary muscles. We also have popcorn ready to be popped at a moments notice for those inevitable wintery movie nights.

Wintertime meal planning in my home embraces the season while also making attempts at health and wellness. There’s something to be said for tucking in to a meal of a nice hearty soup, cheese and baguette on those nights that are cold and unwelcoming. For other great menu options that include the use of vegetables and less fats and starches, I recommend visiting www.foodnetwork.com or www.thetastespot.com.

How will you show off your smartypants in coping this winter? Chances are, the more saavy you use in this cold, dark weather, the more you will savor it!

 

 

Categories: Activities, children, Family, Food, Home, Home Decor, Uncategorized, Whimsey | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Celebration of Sweatpants: Defending the Typical Uniform of a Stay at Home Mom

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Lately I’ve noticed a trend in the blogging world.  More and more, stay at home moms are taking pictures of themselves in their various outfits, to hold themselves accountable to actually GET dressed in the first place, and to not fall into the rut of wearing yoga pants every day.  A couple inspiring features are The Pleated Poppy with her regular “What I Wore Wednesday”.  Or for something a bit quirkier, I appreciate Rachel at Smile and Wave, with her recurring “Vintage Here, Vintage There” posts.    Sweatpants have become a symbol of a stereotypical unkempt mother, and, I know there’s a lot of truth to the generalization.

Yet, as inspiring and interesting as it is to read about these kick-butt moms with fashionable priorities, I think it’s time to question the trend and have a little discussion about the beauty of a good, old-fashioned, well-loved pair of sweatpants!

Here’s my top ten favorite things about sweatpants:

10.  You can’t beat the price!  Head out to Walmart and you can easily cover your lower half for $10-$12 dollars.  $5 if you hit the clearance rack!

9.  No more excuses when it’s time to exercise!  You’re ready to go!  No more excuses when it’s time to nap!  You’re dressed in extreme comfort!  If you’re recovering from a birth (a recovery period that can last up to 18 years…) your sweatpants can be your best friend when it comes to keeping your wellness at the forefront of your mind!

8.  They double as warm PJs!

7.  Are you more likely to wrestle on the floor with your little ones if in your skinny jeans, or your yoga pants?  I think we know the answer!

6.  They wash easily, and shrinkage is rarely a concern!

5.  It’s easy to change sweatpants super quickly over a pair of sneakers.  Something that comes in handy if you have a little 3 month old lap sitter that’s particularly prone to blow outs and spit up!

4.  They pack easily in a diaper bag.  Something that comes in handy if you have a 3 month old lap sitter that’s particularly prone to blow outs and spit up!

3.  They’re very forgiving to the rapid shape changes that can occur during our child bearing years.

2.  There’s nothing like a tailored pair of yoga pants to showcase how–ehem–well rounded one is.

1.  A well stocked drawer of cute sweatpants just makes a mom’s life easier!

Top it off with a nostalgic throw-back T-shirt and the cutest pair of athletic shoes you can find!  Add your perkiest ponytail, a wink of mascara, and a wide, genuine smile, and I promise, you’ll look far from frumpy!  If you love your role in life and feel great about the person you’re becoming, drop the guilt, don your sweats, and let the fashionistas eat their hearts out!

 

 

Categories: Exercise, Family, Home, Retirement | Leave a comment

Kill the Toys! (Or at least get rid of some!)

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Before Christmas, my home looked something like this! (Ah!  See how it glows!)

After Christmas my home looked more like this:

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Time to get rid of some toys! Are you de-cluttering, too? Do you find it hard to let go of things? Put your kids down for a nap and check out this little brainstorming list to help you let go of your kid’s stuff!

  • What toys have you always been in love with more than your kid?  At our house, it was the cute wooden alphabet blocks!  I’ve held on to these since my son was an infant!  He’s never given them one iota of his attention.
  • What toys does your kid love while you loath?  The singing Winnie the Pooh story book was on ours.  Its ghost still lingers as I hear the “Sunny funny storybook” song playing in my head over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over…  I’ve created a place called “toy purgatory” for items like this in my own home.  I’ll reluctantly bring it back out if my child starts asking about it, but so far, all but one item is headed to goodwill without notice!
  • Are you keeping toys that your kid hasn’t grown into yet?  Unless there’s something really special about that toy, bless someone else with it!  I’m learning that there will be SO MANY more toys thrown in our direction before my child grows into anything I’m saving for him… It’s just not worth it.  You live in a home, not a storage unit.
  • Are you keeping toys that your oldest has grown out of, but your youngest has get to grow into?  See above.
  • What toys cause fights in your house?  Trash them. They’re not blessing you.
  • What toys cause injuries or near injuries in your house?  See above.
  • Is guilt causing you to keep any of the toys I’ve already mentioned, just because they were recent gifts?  Do the gifters ever have to know the real fate of that toy?  If the answer is no, donate it.  If the answer is yes, maybe the toy mafia needs to get involved.  It would be a real pity if that toy were in an “accident”…
  • Does the toy have tiny parts and multiple pieces?  Trash MOST of them.  They probably have pieces missing already.  The ones you truly want to keep, put away to bring out for special times when you and your child will play together.  Then hopefully, the pieces will at least stay in tact, and you won’t have to go on a crazy tear-apart-the-living-room search for them when it’s time to pick up!
  • Is it actually a toy?  I’m so guilty of this.  I give my child adult things like flashlights, wallets, boxes…  They’re amazingly novel for a day or so, but, at least in our case, the child loses interest quickly and the toy bin starts to look more like a thrift store bin full of all our unwanted stuff.  Maybe it’s time to actually take that stuff to the thrift store.
  • Does the toy cause more frustration than joy in your home?  I have two great examples of this:  1) We have two little race cars that work with a video game on the iPad.  But when Dad takes the iPad with him to work, and kiddo wants to play with these cars, tantrums always ensue.  In this case, we kept the cars, but they’re kept in a secure location, to be brought out only when the iPad is available and a little extra screen time is appropriate.  2) We have a race track that is built for a toddler to use… except it comes apart into three pieces–three pieces that are easily collapsed by the toddler at whom the toy is marketed, but that only an adult has the dexterity to reassemble.  If I’m not in the mood to play the game, a tantrum ensues.  It’s now in the donation bag.
  • Is the toy only played with when company is over?  It might be worth keeping.  But it might not be.  At least consider donating it.
  • Do you have multiples of the same toy?  Goodness gracious!  You know what to do!
  • Does the toy only kinda sorta still work?  I bet, even going down this list, your kid will still have PLENTY of fully functional toys if you toss this one.
  • Does your child have a large and growing collection of this particular toy?  Maybe the collection is not causing any problems, then by all means, keep collecting!  But some of my child’s collections were starting to outgrow the storage containers I had appointed for them.  Time to pick winners and losers.  And yes, this includes, books, DVDs, matchbox cars, and *gasp* trains.  If you’ve been watching your child, you know he doesn’t play/watch/read/request EVERYTHING in his or her collection, and some he’s NEVER loved.  Purge the losers!
  • Finally, are you hanging on to toys just to keep the playroom from looking too bare?  Trust me.  This condition won’t last long!  And besides, more room means more space for imaginative play to take place!  They’ll probably love it!
Hope this has inspired you to let a little more go!  Less time spent picking up toys means more time spent meaningfully with your kiddos!
Categories: children, Home, Organization, Parenting | Leave a comment

Resolve to Budget Your Time and Money for the Greater Good

As we reach the end of 2011 and enter through the big door of 2012 many households look to the task of filing their taxes. I do not claim to be an expert on anything but whimsy and am not about to advise our readers on anything but nonesense. What I will do, however, is remind our readers about a post I wrote in the spring of this year titled “Sneaky Cheap and Charitable”. Here I recommended that charity was not only a favored item on tax returns but that the act of making charitable donations can do a lot for the greater good.

If you find yourself ending this past year having not made the charitable contributions you would have hoped, use this as a opportunity for personal growth. Make it your New Year’s resolution to use what you have to make more charitable donations in the coming year. If you are concerned that there isn’t enough to cover even your own expenses, why not resolve to take another look? In the above-mentioned post, I recommended ways to save on personal expenses so that there will be more for others each month. Hosting fundraisers, even garage sales, is a good way to raise funds for good causes. I don’t mean to guilt anyone into giving money they don’t have. If your budget doesn’t allow you to give financially, I encourage all readers to consider donating time. There are a number of orgnizations that rely heavily on volunteers. Volunteering your time and efforts is a wonderful way to contribute to making your community better.

If you’re still looking for some charities to give a contribution to, I recommend that you identify organizations that relate to your interests. If you’re outdoorsy, you may want to look into supporting organizations that work to preserve wildlife or nature preserves. If you have a passion for helping women in need, there are a number of organizations to help this group in a number of different ways. The list of charities and organizations you can help with is seemingly endless. I know that, for my family, over this past year we chose to help organizations that our family as a whole decided to support.  Two of these charities include the Salvation Army at www.salvationarmyusa.org and St. Jude Children’s Hospital at www.stjude.org. These charities support causes that my family is interested in helping out with, but they are only an example of the various organizations that would greatly benefit from charitable support in the coming year.

I encourage all readers to take a quick look at budgets and schedules before deciding how finances and time would be best spent in the coming year. As a result of this, giving even the smallest amount could go a long way for the greater good.

Categories: Money, Social Work, Time Management, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hot Nude Yoga” and Other Consequences of a Holiday Unprepared — Why You Need a Holiday Handbook!

SHEW!!!!!  We MADE IT!  The holidays are over!  Time to start gutting our homes, cutting our calories, and preparing ourselves for whatever 2012 has to offer.  *deep breath!*

This year’s Christmas was trickier than normal at my house.  Our youngest was born in mid October, then we had Halloween.  Then we had a week of traveling on Thanksgiving.  Then Chrismas just started happening before I even gave it permission!   Of course, with all the aftermath of bringing home a newborn, we were broke, tired, and generally unprepared in every way for the festivities that come with the season.  When it came time to answer the question, “What are we doing New Year’s Eve?”, I just begged my husband to let me stay home and rest!

On Saturday night, we were tucked in bed getting ready to go to sleep when we got a text that simply said “HNY”.

“What the crap is ‘HNY’ supposed to stand for?  And why are they texting us at midnight?!  What is wrong with people?”

“Google search says HNY stands for ‘hot nude yoga’, but I highly doubt that’s what he means…”  Another two minutes passed before we realized the ball had dropped and we’d totally forgotten about the countdown.

I tell you all that to say, THIS YEAR is going to be different, and maybe if I save myself, I can save some of you in the process!  Time to build a Holiday Handbook!

Let’s start with a plain old notebook.  You can decorate it if you have that kind of energy.  Maybe add some tabs.  We’re going to break it down into four (or five) sections:

  1. Make a list of celebrations for every month.  Include birthdays.  Include national holidays.  The base of this can be reused every year, but it’s also a working document:  Now go through and add some of those celebrations that change yearly, like the Super Bowl!  (What?  You forgot about the Super Bowl?!  It’s not a holiday, but there are usually celebrations and parties associated with it.  What else needs to be included in this vein?  Election Day?  The Season Finale of your favorite TV show?  The next Twilight release?)  Now, do you know of any upcoming weddings, baby showers, or graduations this year?  Add them in!
  2. Now, let’s make a Gift Budget Worksheet.  (Compliments of the 4SmartyPants worksheet factory!)  We want to make sure we’re allowing enough spending to give each person something meaningful, but still keep costs reasonable.  It’s amazing to compare what you think you ought to spend on each person to what you think you can afford on a monthly basis!  If there’s a big gap, don’t panic!  Keep adjusting until you find a compromise, and don’t forget that you have a whole year to construct a classy homemade Christmas if need be!
  3. Now, take this list and use a piece of notebook paper for each individual.  List ideas for each gift giving event.  While you’re at it, make a couple extra lists for your kiddos to give to the grandparents when they come asking what your kids would like for their birthday.  😉  These are working documents that you can adjust all year.
  4. Finally, time to do a little party planning!  Think about what celebrations you will host this year and create a section for each!  Don’t forget things like Thanksgiving and Christmas, birthdays, welcome home or goodbye parties…  I would start with celebrations that are specific to your own family and work from there.  It’s nice to know ahead of time whether the St. Patrick’s Day get together you usually host is just as feasible this year, or if you’re probably going to want to keep things free in March so you can concentrate on planning your cousin’s bridal shower.  Or if your child has a birthday in late November, maybe let your sister-in-law host Thanksgiving this year.
  5. This section is totally optional, but it would be nice to print out some of the great tutorials and ideas you find in blogs or on Pinterest or StumbleUpon and keep them in the back of your notebook.  When you’re ready to start putting together some handmade gifts, then all your instructions will be in one central location.
And there you go!  Now we have a well outfitted Holiday Handbook!  You’ll be miles ahead when Christmas comes around next year, and hopefully, when I get a HNY text at 12 AM next January 1, I’ll be well rested, un-stressed-ed, and partying it up like the rest of the country!
Happy New Year!
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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