When a Negative isn’t What You Bargained For

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The standard answer I’ve programmed myself to say when asked “when are you having another one” (another what?  Puppy? Husband?  Just kidding…) is, “Well, hopefully one day.”  But what I really want to say is:

Oh I’ve been tracking my period on an iPhone app for three months, stopped taking my birth control and all medications in August, stopped drinking the occasional glass of wine just in case I might be pregnant, and I stopped going shopping for clothes because I won’t be wearing them long anyway since I’m trying to get pregnant right now.  Wait, according to my app, I’m in my fertile window.  Gotta go, bye!

My husband knew all of this was going on inside my compulsive brain, and I’m sure it made for some of my sexiest times in life.  Not really.  I think he was too nice to tell me that I was a schedule obsessed crazy person who should probably pour myself a glass of wine (or three) and online shop for clothes for a few hours.  Needless to say, sex was a chore – a means to my desired end of pregnancy. 

With our son, I didn’t even have to “try” to get pregnant.  It was just a month after deciding we were ready to be parents that I got the positive pregnancy test result.  I didn’t even see it coming; I mean, doesn’t it take a little longer than this?  I was 25 at the time and we had just gotten married.  I was happy, relaxed, fresh off the honeymoon, blissful – the perfect baby-making scenario.

But how soon did I forget what got us there in the first place!  This time around, I was calculating due dates before I even conceived.  I tracked my period and took pregnancy tests as soon as two weeks before my missed period.  I started reading message board stories of women who just “knew” they were pregnant the moment they conceived and got a positive digital test right away.  A friend of mine knew she was pregnant right away because her Fitbit tracked her heart rate at higher than her normal rate.  Every time I heard one of these stories, I’d convince myself I was pregnant, obsess over taking a test, and then take one.  And each time, the result was the same. 

A single pink line.  The bold words “Not Pregnant.”  Just a flat-out “No.”

I didn’t understand.  How was it so easy the last time? I mean, I’m so much more prepared now.  I’m healthier.  Sure, I’m 30 now, but my age shouldn’t affect it THAT much, should it? Why isn’t it happening for me?

Then my period was 4 days late.  Being the 28 day, extremely regular person that I am, eeach day that ticked by made me more and more hopeful for a positive result.  Maybe I just don’t have enough hormone in my system yet.  Maybe I’m taking the tests wrong.  I convinced myself I had to be pregnant because there was no period.  I did everything I could to ensure I conceived, so logically, it had to be the reason for my late period. 

Then it came.  My period whacked me straight across the face.

First I cried.  I thought about all the possible situations as to why I wasn’t pregnant yet and what the future looked like remaining a family of three.  I called my sister in law to tell her the “bad” news.

Her response?

I’m sorry you’re sad.  I’m not going to tell you it will happen next month because it might not.  You might never get pregnant again.  I hope that you will be, but nothing’s guaranteed.  So, I’ll just say I’m sorry you’re sad.  Just chill out and just let it happen, if it’s meant to happen.

Some of you might want to say…Uh, Excuse me?  Others may criticize her bluntness.  But, it’s probably the part of her personality that I appreciate the most.  She’s hoping to get pregnant soon, too.  Our sons are one year apart, to the exact day – mine was late and hers was early.  I was able to offer insight when she was a new mom, and now, she was returning the favor.  She had already been through the obsessing and worrying phase.   It couldn’t have come at a better time.  And then, she hit me with this gem:

I enjoy being with my husband.  If it makes a baby, great.  But I’m not going to worry if it doesn’t.

So, that’s exactly what we’ve done.  I put down the pregnancy tests, stopped tracking every move, and even opened a bottle of wine.  I’m not worried about every little move I’m making because what will be, will be.  It wasn’t easy to get to this point, that’s for sure.

Some may criticize me, simply because I am blessed with one child and I haven’t been trying to conceive for very long at all.  But I know there are other women in my position, and there will be more in the future.  These are the things I think about each and every day:

  1. I am so lucky to have one beautiful son.  There are many women who can’t have children and want them badly. 
  2. I am not ungrateful for my ability to have had that one beautiful, healthy boy. 
  3. If he is all I ever have, we will be OK. 

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the process and being thankful for what I have.  I mean, practice makes perfect, doesn’t it?  🙂

Until next time, ya’ll!


How to Host a Polar Express Party

Right around the holiday season, I host a Polar Express Party at my dance studio for busy parents to enjoy a night out. It always coincides with a big school function that’s parents-only. Our party is kids-only! I thought this idea wasn’t all that original until I mentioned to a dance teacher friend that I had the annual Polar Express Pajama party on Friday and couldn’t make it to her event. The barrage of questions soon followed about the activities, the food, the details. So, here we go – time to tell you my secrets!

Polar Express PartyI start promotion of our event around Halloween, but the signups don’t start coming in until the week of our party.  I passed out fliers at local events, sent out emails to the email list, and made sure I told everyone that came into the studio about it.  I ended up with 19 kids – wow!  That’s actually pretty good for a Friday night in December.

I set up the room in zones.

Each child got a “map” with their “train stations” on it.  Really, it was just a flow chart designed to make them go to each activity in the room.  Our list of activities included:

  1. Pin the Nose on the Snowman
  2. Cookie Matching Game
  3. Christmas trivia
  4. Christmas Tree Ring Toss
  5. Craft Table
  6. Make your own snow (Science Experiment)
  7. Coloring Station
  8. “Snowball” fight
  9. Jingle Butt game

The Dollar Tree has a lot of Christmas games for only $1!

I purchased two packs of Christmas trivia cards as well as the cookie matching game, the Christmas Tree Ring Toss, Pin the Nose on the Snowman, the packages of “snow” for our science experiment, and a few items for the craft table at the Dollar Tree.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to come up with all new ideas for games and construct tons of pieces – this took care of a lot of the busy work.  I will probably have to make the games from scratch if they aren’t available for purchase next year, but it sure did save me some time this year!   The coloring station had a couple of coloring books (also purchased at Dollar Tree) and a big bucket of assorted crayons I’ve been collecting over the years from various camps and classes held at the studio.

Purchase Pre-Made Games for $1 at the Dollar Tree!

Table Cloths are Your Saving Grace at Kids Parties

I learned when it was time for cleanup that table cloths would have reduced my cleanup time drastically.  This is mostly due to the free-for-all that I called the “craft table.”  I basically set up foam shapes, glitter, glue, paint, and some pre-fab craft kids I purchased at Dollar Tree and Michaels.  Everything was set up for the child to be able to do it themselves, even as young as 4 years old.  After a few hours, my nice and neat craft table with items divided into neat containers started to look like this:

Craft TableHad I put table cloths on that table…well, let’s just say I am still picking up sequins and the party was last Christmas.  🙂  I was so impressed with what the kids were able to make, using their imaginations and having a variety of mediums to use.  Many of them had three or four craft projects to take home at the end of the night.

The Snowball Fight and Jingle Butt Games Make for a Lot of Giggles

The snowball fight game is quite simple but somehow manages to get a lot of laughs from the kids.  It is played in teams of two, and all you need to start are two cups (we used Styrofoam), some cotton balls, and a barrier to place between the two players.  We used our tumbling mats, but you could use a stack of blankets/pillows.  The first player sits with their back to the barrier and starts throwing cotton balls over their shoulder.  The second player tries to catch the “snowballs” in their cup.

Snowball Fight GameThe Jingle Butt Game is probably the most popular among the kids, and I got the idea from Minute to Win It (the TV show where contestants try to complete difficult tasks in a minute or less).  I took a tissue box and cut two slits in each side.  Then I laced ribbon through the holes I cut, making it long enough to tie around a child’s waist.  Finally, I filled the box with different sizes of jingle bells.  Dollar Tree had a pack of 50 small bells and also a pack of 8-12 larger bells.  To play, the kids tie the box to their backside, the knot facing front.  They have one minute to shake as many bells out of the box as they can.  Some kids figured it out quickly and were able to shake almost all the bells out…others were lucky to get a few bells out of the box.  Either way, they giggled the entire time, which was music to my ears!  The trick to making this game harder is to tie the box to the small of their back, NOT their backside.  This way it’s low enough that they feel it’s on their butt, but it’s high enough that the bells don’t usually shake out easily.

Themed Snacks to Keep Their Energy Up

Our party started around dinner time, so we ordered pizza.  But later in the evening, kids started complaining they were hungry.  I came prepared!  We offered natural juice boxes, milk, and water for drinks.  I prepared some “S’mores snack mix” and divided the mixture into little snack sized bags.  It’s cinnamon cereal, milk chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows.  I like to go easy on the chocolate chips when I’m using milk chocolate because it is so much stronger than semi-sweet.  For kids who are choosy, this mix seems to satisfy most of them because of the three different ingredients.

smores mixWe wrapped up the night with a visit from Santa and curled up with hot chocolate – from the crock pot!

Santa is a very close personal friend of mine, so it was a no-brainer when I asked him to come stop by at the end of the night.  He wore his full Santa suit (as you can see in my title photo) and sang some Christmas carols with the kids.  After having each one on his lap and snapping a photo with my camera (and he took his own “santa selfies” with his iPhone), we said our goodbyes and promised to be good girls and boys.  I played the movie, The Polar Express, using a projector and displaying the image on a blank wall space. The kids brought blankets, pillows, and their favorite stuffed animals to snuggle with while the movie played.  I gave each child a small cup of homemade hot chocolate, which they could garnish with candy canes or large marshmallows.  It was literally the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted in my life!  I’m going to do a separate post on this soon because it deserves some attention.  🙂

When the parents started to arrive at the end of the night, some kids were fast asleep and others were jabbering on about how the “real” Santa came to visit.  I have so many great photos to share with them from our party!  It’s always fun to be a part of keeping the Christmas magic alive for kids.   Let me know your thoughts on my party and what you would add when you host this party yourself.  I’m always up for some new ideas to jazz up what’s becoming one of my favorite new traditions.

Until next time ya’ll!

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

I’m not one to buy cookbooks because they take up space.  With the era of Pinterest and being able to find recipes accessible online, why purchase an entire book? 

I’ll tell ‘ya why!  I found a book at Michael’s craft store entitled The Ultimate Cookie Book by Better Homes and Gardens.  After flipping through this $19.99 tome of wisdom, I realized there wasn’t a single recipe I disliked.  So basically, 500 reasons to get in the kitchen and gain a few pounds enjoy some delicious baked goods…that’s why you purchase an entire book!

The first recipe I tried was called Pumpkin-Pecan Cookies with a recipe for brown sugar-butter frosting as a topping.  Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I thought this would be a great first recipe to try. 

pumpkin pecan cookies with brown butter icingAnd boy, was it!!  I had to give some of the cookies away to my BFF Carly, including a baggie of them for her mom, and…I’m pretty sure I ate the rest of them.  I gave her seven of them, people.  The recipe yielded 31.  So…yeah.  They’re just that good!!

I made some changes to the original recipe in order to make things a little easier AND a little tastier for me.  The cookie is not sweet on its own, but when you add the icing, it’s a perfect pairing.

I hope you enjoy making these cookies and giving some away because we all know the holidays are a time to share (and eat, but mostly share, right?). 

Here’s a fancy little printable for you guys.  Don’t be shy – go ahead and stick that on a Pinterest board.  And while you’re at it, take a look at my other pins!

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies withh Brown Butter Icing
Yields 30
A delicious cake-like cookie with a sweet brown butter icing to top it all off. Definitely a good fall flavored dessert!
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Prep Time
35 min
Prep Time
35 min
For Cookie
  1. 2 cups flour (all-purpose is best)
  2. 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  5. 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  6. 1 cup butter, softened
  7. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (or make your own)
  8. 1 egg
  9. 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
For Frosting
  1. 6 Tbs. Butter
  2. 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  3. 2 cups powdered sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1-2 Tbs. hot water
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium-sized bowl, wisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and allspice. Set this mixture to the side.
  2. In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl), beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30-45 seconds, until you see the butter starting to cream. Add sugar and beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flower mixture and pecans. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls at least 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes until bottoms are slightly browned. Cool on the cookie sheet for two minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. While cookies are cooling, make your icing. Heat 6 Tbs. of butter and 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar over medium heat until the butter is completely melted. Remove the mixture from heat. Stir in 2 cups powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Transfer the mixture to your stand mixer or beat the mixture until smooth. Add 1 tbs. hot water to allow the icing to thin out and become more spreadable. Add the other tbs. of hot water only if necessary (for me, it wasn't).
Adapted from The Ultimate Cookie Book by Better Homes and Gardens
Adapted from The Ultimate Cookie Book by Better Homes and Gardens
The OMG Life http://www.theomglife.com/

The Best Damn Cake Ever: Ooey Gooey Cake

My friend Daniel is willing to go to the ends of the earth for a taste of some Ooey Gooey Cake.

No, that’s not a joke.  He will drive to unsafe neighborhoods and buy packages of it from gas stations.  I’m not judging.  This stuff is pretty addictive.

So when he helped us move from our little starter home into our beautiful new(ish) house, I offered him money and to my surprise, he turned it down.

“No Jess, you keep your money,” he said.  “Remember that dessert you made at Christmas a few years ago?  It’s real sweet?  If you can just make me some of that, I’d be so happy.”

Let’s get this straight – you will turn down $100 for a pan of cake that would cost me a fraction of that to make?  And you remember the dessert I made a few years ago when I can’t even remember what I cooked for dinner last week? Well, hey, I’ll take it!!

So here’s how you can make the best damn cake ever, winner of friends and moving buddies alike…though, a little disclaimer here…I wouldn’t really call it a “cake.”  It’s more like a squishy, sweet, melt-in-your mouth mix between a chess square/lemon bar consistency and a cake that’s just slightly under cooked.  And more than two pieces just might put you in a sugar coma, so be prepared to share!

DSC_0241I’m getting better at the whole “taking pictures of food” thing, I think.  Might need to sign up for my good friend Erin’s photography workshop over on Sixth Bloom.

Anyway, here’s the ingredients I used for these delectable dessert.  Really, that’s all you need: yellow cake mix, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, butter, and eggs.

Start by melting 8 tablespoons of butter in the microwave at 20-30 seconds.  I cut my butter into individual tablespoons to make it melt uniformly – a lesson I learned from my grandmother.  Looks like this:

DSC_0243Pour the melted butter, one box of yellow cake mix, and one egg into your stand mixer (or into a bowl to beat with a hand mixer) and mix it up until it reaches a doughy consistency.  Then press the dough into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 X 9 inch pan.  Make sure you press some dough up the sides like you see here to create the crust of this cake all the way around.  

DSC_0249Then, in a new bowl (or just clean out the one you had before), beat your cream cheese, the remaining two eggs, the vanilla, and powdered sugar until creamy.  Pour this mixture over your crust and bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes. DSC_0300


When you take it out, the top should be a golden color and should seem squishy on top.  Sorry – lack of a better word!  But really, it’s squishy. 


Oops!  I ate a piece before I remembered to take a pic.  But really, wouldn’t you be just so excited for this delicious dessert that you might forget too?  I wouldn’t judge.  Here’s the recipe for you guys – a good ole printable for your cookbooks…or Pinterest!  (Check me out on Pinterest while you’re at it!)

Ooey Gooey Cake
Yields 20
The best damn dessert ever! Creamy, sweet, and fluffy, this dessert will wow your friends AND give you a sugar high like none other. Perfection!
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  1. 1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
  2. 3 Eggs
  3. 2 Sticks of Butter (Melted)
  4. 1 8oz. package of Cream Cheese, softened
  5. 1 tsp. Vanilla
  6. 2 cups of powdered sugar (or one 16 oz. box of powdered sugar)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and half the melted butter and mix well with an electric mixer. I use the paddle attachment on my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, but you can also use a hand mixer with wisk attachments. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan. (Note: You can line your pan with foil if you want to easily lift the ooey gooey cake out of the pan to cool. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.)
  3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth (I use my stand mixer for this again). Add the eggs, vanilla, and the rest of the melted butter and beat until all ingredients are combined. Next, add a little bit of powdered sugar at a time and mix. If you add all the powdered sugar at once, you could end up with a big puff of white stuff in your face. No good! 🙂
  4. Pour this mixture over the cake batter crust and bake for 40-50 minutes. The center should still be gooey but not liquid when you remove the pan from the oven.
  5. When the cake is cooled, cut into squares and serve!
  1. Sometimes when I bake this dessert, I get a brown top when it's done and other times I don't. Neither way is wrong or right...they both taste great!
Adapted from Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake
Adapted from Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake
The OMG Life http://www.theomglife.com/


What Comes After the Pumpkin Patch?


IMG_2315The holiday season is upon us.  Starbucks has broken out their red cups, caramel Brulee latte is ready to make it’s debut (my favorite!), and it’s almost acceptable for me to blast Christmas music from every speaker I own.

Oh wait, there’s a holiday between Halloween and Christmas?

That’s right…Thanksgiving.  The forgotten holiday.  We prepare for Halloween like a vengeance in our family, particularly because October is a whole month of celebration.  Our little man’s birthday and my nephew’s birthday (same day, cool story); our wedding anniversary; the school fall festival; face painting around town; and Halloween night’s major block party all contribute to our feeling lost and deprived in the gap between Halloween and Christmas.

IMG_2259We visited the pumpkin patch the day before Halloween.  Since we live in a major city, the “real” pumpkin patch is an hour away…not complaining, really.  It’s nice to have little man out there with lots of land to run around and play.  Where would you get to play in giant bales of (smelly) hay in New Orleans?  Probably nowhere.  Thankfully.

Due to major rain headed our way, Halloween was moved to Friday throughout the city.  Kind of crazy, but it left us celebrating Halloween on Friday AND Saturday.  Little Man’s costume was a full-blown dinosaur masterpiece, which he wouldn’t really let me snap a photo of because, well, “Dinosaurs don’t take pictures.”  They also “don’t wear shoes” and “love chocolate milk.”  Who knew?  Apparently my 4 year old.

So after two days of Halloween celebratin’, pumpkin patchin’, and trick or treatin’…well, we were pooped.  And now, momma has a kid on a sugar high, adjusting to daylight savings time, and pumpkins of various sizes floating around my house with no where to live. Seems like a rough life for a pumpkin post-Halloween, eh?  I don’t even want to think about the poor jack-o-lanterns.  Sheesh.

So what comes after the pumpkin patch?

The winner from the Pumpkin Patch

The winner from the Pumpkin Patch

First, I’m going to give those pumpkins a few days of being “thankful” since that seems like

the theme around town.  Thankful they weren’t made into jack-o-lanterns.  Thankful they haven’t been made into pumpkin puree yet (oh, but it’s coming!).  Thankful they aren’t being left outside to rot.

Then, I’m going to plan out all of the delicious pumpkin-themed things I’m going to whip up before Thanksgiving.  You can check out some of the delightful things I have pinned in my “Call me Betty Crocker” board on Pinterest.  The pumpkin tiramisu is one of the things I’m most excited to try.

Then, I’m going to start getting excited about one of my favorite events of the year…Black Friday!  Yes, I am one of those people – the ones that go out on Thanksgiving night and shop ’til I literally drop.  It’s something I do with my husband’s side of the family, and while some may criticize the whole debacle, I actually credit the craziness to some of the best memories I’ve shared with people who, though they aren’t blood related, they are the family I’ve married into, and I love them. I wouldn’t knock them over for a deal, either.

So what comes after the pumpkin patch for you and your family?  Tell me in the comments below.

Till next time, ya’ll!


Mom’s Night at the Theater

I’m pretty uncomfortable blogging about my outfits mostly because I don’t feel very trendy or stylish most of the time.   I have an hourglass shape, and believe it or not, it’s difficult to fit some of the latest trends on this kind of frame.  Recently I got a message on Facebook from someone I’ve known for years, asking me where I shop and what kind of clothes do I buy.  Having a shape similar to mine, she was interested.  And, quite frankly, it’s not easy!  How can you really search “hourglass mom shape from breastfeeding for 13 months and simply having been blessed with a big ole booty?”  Yeah, good luck with that.

I’m luckily married to my husband in so many ways.  But one of the BEST ways is the fact that his company has VIP tickets to the Saenger Theater in New Orleans.  We are able to see nearly every Broadway show that comes to town, and since I am a HUGE theater buff, I find this honestly thrilling in a way that other people might find annoying.  *Cue bursting into song and dance number*

My mom and I went on a date to see Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.  It was pretty magical, though I was concerned with the number of little girls showing up in Disney princess dresses, hoping for Disney’s version of the story.   They must have been confused – so many differences between the two stories!  But anyway, I digress.  Here’s what I’m wearing on a late October night in New Orleans, at 75 degrees outside but relatively low humidity (darn all you people with a real “fall”)

IMG_1924The top is from Old Navy (similar here), and the skirt is actually a steal I got from Ross for $7.95 (though they have a similar inexpensive one here).  My watch is the Apple Watch (future post about its awesomeness to come – but I must say the timer on my watch let me take these photos without help) and my bracelet is from Forever 21 years ago.  My earrings are from NolaMeg designs on Etsy (here).

My foundation is Clinique (here) and I use a Maybelline Nudes Eyeshadow Palette (here), an ELF contouring kit (here), a Nyx blush (here), and Loreal liquid eyeliner (here).  I’m not big on liquid eyeliner, but I like the way this stuff looks and it doesn’t aggravate my sensitive eyes.


I promise I’ll get better at this selfie thing.  But my whole outfit and makeup were perfectly within Mom-budget guidelines.  A friend on Facebook said that a Stay at Home Mom Budget is so restrictive that she hasn’t bought anything for herself; as you can see, I can look pretty fab without much effort.  Bring out your sexy moms!

Till next time ya’ll!



Back at it with the Liebster Award Nomination

It’s been a minute since I posted…ok, well, it’s been almost a year. In that time, I’ve encountered some crazy ups and downs that can only lead me back to blogging. When you think about blogging in your head and what would make a good blog post as part of your daily routine, I’d say it’s time to get back to pen and paper. Or in my case, keyboard and screen.

Thank you to Oh Baby Baby for the nomination!  It’s the very first time that I’ve known someone (other than my mom – Hey mom!) to read my little blog over here.  The Liebster award is an internet-based award that, while it seems like a massive chain letter, is actually an excellent way to recognize other bloggers and connect with other writer-mommies all over the world.  It’s also a great way to gain more blog followers! (Thanks to Oh Baby Baby for the image below).

Don’t forget that Bloggers have to have less than 200 followers and be sure to notify the Bloggers you have nominated!

11 Questions from Oh Baby Baby:

  1. Why did you start blogging?  I started blogging because I love writing and I love trying new things.  First I thought…How funny would it be if I actually starting doing things I see on Pinterest and post my pass/fail?  Then it turned into so much more.  I slacked off writing a bit, but I’m ready to get back at it!
  2. What is your favorite food?  My favorite food is probably ice cream.  Or macaroni and cheese.  Or wine.  Wait, maybe it’s cake?  I just love to cook and eat.  That’s a hard one.
  3. What was your first job?  My first job was a student assistant dance teacher.  It turned into a love for teaching dance that I never quite got rid of.
  4. What are you having for dinner tonight?  Tonight we are having soft tacos with amazing taco skillet sauce and roasted broccoli on the side.
  5. Pick one word to describe your blog.  My blog is…an infant!
  6. If you could go to any place in the world on a free vacation for a week, where would you go? Greece or Italy.  Somewhere in the Mediterranean/European area.
  7. Who was your favorite teacher?  I had so many great middle school teachers.  The most effective was probably my English teacher, who instilled a love for writing in me from an early age.
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years?  I hope to have a more popular blog, choreographing and recording YouTube dance videos, and maybe two more children.
  9. Who would you say has been the most influential person in your life?  My mom.  I find I’m more like her each and every day.
  10. If you had to be any animal for the rest of your life , what would you pick? I’d pick my weenie dog, Andouille, who is spoiled and has a pretty great life, if I do say so myself!
  11. What is your favorite color?  I love shades of blue; aqua is my favorite!

11 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I have a ridiculous addiction to broccoli.  I love it just about any way you can cook it, but I don’t like it raw.
  2. I’ve been teaching dance for 16 years.
  3. I love to bake cakes, but I’m not a big fan of eating cake.
  4. I met my husband at a frat party for my college.  The catch is that he didn’t go to my college and he wasn’t in that frat – he was crashing the party!
  5. I really love TV.  I don’t watch anything live though – only DVR.  I don’t even know how I have time to watch it.
  6. I can lose myself for hours in Costco.  Or Michaels.  Or Hobby Lobby.
  7. My sister in law says I’m a really slow shopper.  It’s only because I circle the store multiple times before picking up anything.
  8. I cried when I found out I was having a boy for my first child because I was convinced I was having a girl.
  9. I take really good care of my teeth.  I didn’t even have a cavity until I was 29 years old!
  10. I am a Mac person, not a PC.  I have the iPhone, the iPad, a MacBook, and I just got the Apple watch.  I don’t think I could do business without them.
  11. I’ve never broken a bone in my body…well, except a toe, but that’s not saying much for a dancer/dance teacher.

Nominees for the Liebster Award:

Sixth Bloom

Aubrey Avocado

Rickie Lee Jones Blog

The Greenish Mommy

11 Questions My Nominees Need To Answer For the Liebster Award

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What is your favorite food?
  3. What was your first job?
  4. What are you having for dinner tonight?
  5. Pick one word to describe your blog.
  6. If you could go to any place in the world on a free vacation for a week, where would you go?
  7. Who was your favorite teacher?
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  9. Who would you say has been the most influential person in your life?
  10. If you had to be any animal for the rest of your life , what would you pick?
  11. What is your favorite color?


10 Christmas Songs You Haven’t Heard


Christmas Songs You Haven't HeardI love Christmas music.  Like, I really, really love it.  I really try to hold off until after Thanksgiving, but having satellite radio made me cross over to the jolly side early this year.  It’s not my fault that one of my preset stations changed over to seasonal music before Thanksgiving!  🙂  I can’t bring myself to turn it off, and I’ve learned a lot of new songs or remakes of classic songs that you definitely want to add to your playlist RIGHT NOW.

  1. “Little Toy Trains” by Raffi – My husband actually introduced this whole album to me because his parents played it for him when he was little.  At first, I’ll admit I thought it was…different.  But now, it’s one of my go-to Christmas staples and kids LOVE the simple arrangement and easy-to-understand lyrics.
  2. “Celebrate Me Home” by the Nashville Cast – I love this show!  When I found out they made a Christmas album, I kind of did a few fist pumps.  Ok, ok.  I’m downplaying my excitement.  But really, the Nashville Cast has such a wide vocal range that this song’s layers are beautifully arranged.
  3. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Jonathan Jackson – This is a great remake of an oldie!  Jonathan Jackson is part of the Nashville cast, so you can find this one on their Christmas album as well.  It’s great to see an actor from my childhood (of whom I can remember having teen posters on my wall) being a success in his adult years.
  4. “What Do I Do With the Blue” by Tim Rushlow – This song has a great Big Band sound, with just enough blend of old-school and pop music.  TIm Rushlow doesn’t have many songs on iTunes; his Christmas album was released right before Thanksgiving.  I think we might be seeing some future success from this newcomer.
  5. “Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Pentatonix – You might have seen their video of “Mary Did You Know” circulating Facebook.  But this Mash Up is really clever, and let’s face it – the list is about songs you haven’t heard!  Pentatonix does a great job of making listeners hear musical instruments that just don’t exist.  As an acapella group, all of the sound is made with the bandmates’ voices.  So freaking cool! The dance teacher in me is drawn to their version of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” too, especially since this song is originally done with no vocals.
  6. “All I Want For Christmas is You” by Idina Menzel – Most people know the song made popular by Mariah Carey BEFORE all artists were releasing the quintessential Christmas album.  But this remake by none other than Elsa herself is a beautiful rendition that adds a retro feel to the music.
  7. “Christmas in Dixie” by Alabama – My dad does not claim to like country music, but it never stopped him from playing this album every Christmas I can remember.  It’s such a great classic Christmas song, and I consider it an essential song for my personal Christmas celebrations.
  8. “Deck the Rooftop” by the Glee Cast – Yet another great mashup by the talented whiz kids of Glee.  It’s a mix of Deck the Halls and Up on the Rooftop, but it’s literally mashed together in the same line.  Pretty creative arrangement, and kids love this upbeat and fresh version almost as much as adults.
  9. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid 30 – This song is a remake of the 1984 song to raise funds for Ethiopia; an all star cast comes together again to raise funds to support West African nations as they fight the ebola virus.  Artists on this track include: Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande, Ellie Golding, One Direction, Bono, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
  10. “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by N’Sync – I was a teenager during N’Sync’s heyday, so when this Christmas album came out I had to play it about a million times.  Even though it’s been a decade, playing these songs are my own special Christmas tradition.  There are some upbeat ones as well as their take on classic staples.  It’s worth listening to, even if you never were a fan of the boy band era.

That concludes my list of songs you may not have heard.  Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list!  What are some songs you think I should add?  Leave them in the comments below.

Until next time ya’ll!


Removing Wax from Candle Holders

My mom is the original OMG mommy – always managing to make things work, getting resourceful when necessary. I find that I’m a lot like her as I get older, and the root of a lot of my OMG moments comes from something she taught me years ago. This post is exactly one of those things!

You know how you use a votive candle in a cute little glass holder, only to have wax drippings in the bottom of it that you can’t get out? Do you scrape it all out, bit by bit, or do you just throw the candle holder away and head to Dollar Tree to get another one? Well ladies, I don’t do either of those. I have this fancy little trick my mom taught me years ago to make that pesky remnant wax go away.

For this post, I actually used a candle from Bath and Body Works that had been all used up. (I’ll show you how to reuse this candle holder to store your makeup brushes in a pretty way in a future post – stay tuned.) First, you remove the label from the front of the glass container – no one wants a fire in the oven! 🙂
IMG_4388Then, I covered a baking pan with foil, making sure the edges were also covered.  If you don’t bring the foil up the sides of the pan, the melting wax could leak under the foil and you’re left with a pan you can’t use again.  Bummer!

Make sure the sides are covered so the wax doesn't leak!

Make sure the sides are covered so the wax doesn’t leak!

I set the oven at 350 initially, but I brought it down to 325 because it seemed 350 was a little too hot for this particular container.  Place the candle holder upside down on your pan and put the whole thing in the oven.  The heat will help the wax to melt and should look something like this while it’s in process:

The melting process can create a little smoke, which is normal.

The melting process can create a little smoke, which is normal.

This process can take anywhere from 3 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on how much wax is in the container.  This one took about 25 minutes.  When you see all the wax has dripped down onto the foil, remove the pan from the oven.

Now here’s the thing.  DO NOT RINSE THE CANDLE HOLDER IMMEDIATELY AFTER REMOVING IT FROM THE OVEN.  I made that mistake once, and the candle holder shattered in my hands.  Not a good look at all.  I let it cool for about 5 minutes and then I rinsed the candle holder in lukewarm water.  This will allow you to remove all the wax residue that remains and get a shiny, clean candle holder.

So, there you have it.  This is a great tip to use as we head into the holiday season.  I would repeat this process for any metal or glass candle holder that doesn’t have any decorative accents.  You never know what kind of glue was used to adhere something fancy!  Questions?  Suggestions?  Leave them in the comments below.  And stay tuned for the fancy makeup brush holder I made out of this emptied candle!

The wax dripped onto the foil and out of the old holder.

The wax dripped onto the foil and out of the old holder.

Until next time ya’ll!

Overuse of the “Mommy Shelf” – How to Recover from Pulled Muscles in your Hips

Back in September, I visited Disney World with my husband and toddler. After long hours in the heat, walking through hilly areas (and stupidly wearing flat shoes), I was suffering with tight hips and calves in addition to already having tight thigh muscles. My son would get sleepy and refuse to ride in his stroller, to which we would always respond with, “We can’t hold you right now baby. You’ll be more comfortable in your stroller.” But, we all know when a toddler sees things a certain way, there’s no stopping him until his goal is accomplished. Well, at least MY toddler is that way – after all, he was born from two very stubborn people. Towards the evening, we’d give in and hold him for a little while.  He particularly enjoyed sitting on my mommy shelf, the space where my hip bone and waist provided a little snuggled spot for him to relax.

I would go back to the hotel and stretch my hips and legs, but then the next day, I’d go right back to straining them again by walking around in flat shoes and not taking enough breaks. After losing over 50 lbs. (see my weight loss journey with yoga here), I don’t like to admit that I need to take a break. Breaks are for the weak, right? WRONG. And boy, did I learn my lesson. I ended up with a pulled Piriformis (the muscle across your bum that holds your sciatic nerve in place), pulled IT Band, and strained hamstring in my left leg.

For a dance teacher, this was like a death sentence. My left knee would hurt while teaching classes or during yoga. I couldn’t sit on the floor with my legs crossed as comfortably as before. It progressively got worse until one night, I couldn’t stand up straight or lay down without discomfort. I went to my chiropractor the very next day and began receiving the Graston Technique. It’s basically a series of titanium rods rubbed into the muscle by a practitioner while the patient works through movements that lengthens and shortens the muscle. The first few rounds of Graston on my Piriformis were torture, and the sliding down my IT band felt like my knee was on fire. I returned for treatment once a week for 6 weeks until it didn’t hurt anymore.

I’m finally feeling relatively normal in yoga again. This pose (the double pigeon or fire log pose) is particularly difficult because it gets into the IT band, but it was also a posture I had been working on getting “right” for some time. When it seemed I was almost there, injury struck. You can see in the photos that I’m significantly less open on the left side, but I’m working towards making each side equal. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t even get into this pose without knee pain! Progress is always a good benchmark for success.

Fire Log Pose for Splits and Hip Flexibility
This particular stretch is great for students who are working on splits or need more help developing turnout.  It’s also a great stretch for the end of the day, whether you’ve been sitting at a desk or on your feet all day.  In both cases, stretching your hips is necessary to maintain the proper range of motion in the hip joints.  Here’s a step by step breakdown:

1.  Bring your right shin parallel to the front of your body and flex your right foot.

2.  Take your left flexed foot and place your left ankle bone on top of your right knee.

3.  Check into your body to see if you need to move some of your flesh away from your backside or thighs.  Even the thinnest of people need to shift something around from time to time!  Every time I get in this pose, I have to reach around and move my backside so that my pelvic bones can find connection with the floor.  It always makes the gap between the top and bottom legs slightly smaller.

4.  Keep both feet flexed during this entire pose.  Also, make sure the ankle bones and knees are in line.  Often times, students want to rest their foot in the little nook made when your knee is bent.  Once of my yoga teachers called it her “knee pit,” which is just like your arm pit, except by your knees.  🙂

5.  If you’re feeling open enough to go further (obviously I didn’t feel open here), put your hands on the floor by your hips and force your body to sit up taller.  This can close the gap a little bit.  Then, if you’re ready to go a little further, you will reach your arms out in front of you, reaching with a flat back down as far as you can go, and then rest your forehead on your legs or on the ground.

6.  After holding the pose for about a minute, repeat on the other side.

There you have it!  I hope you enjoy stretching your hips out and (trying) to take breaks to care for your bodies (and your mommy shelves).  Until next time ya’ll!

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