Just Heather

When Sarah first announced that this week’s Show & Tell theme was Things That Go, my thoughts went immediately to my youngest daughter. Lorelai is a big fan of all things that go—trucks and trains, especially. She even chose a train theme for her bedroom—no frilly butterflies or fairies for my little girl!
Last year’s birthday was a construction truck theme. This year, she has her sights set on a marshmallow party. I’m not 100% sure what that means, but I do know there will be s’mores. Inspiration for the cake and decorations still eludes me. Her 3rd birthday was much easier to plan. Yellow and black balloons tied to orange cones from the soccer equipment along with trucks we already had (The cupcakes were housed in the back of a Tonka dump truck.) spruced up the place.
For her cake, I went super simple. Wilton was not at all involved! Dirt mounds should be messy so I didn’t even have to try that hard to smooth the chocolate frosting. Just add toy trucks and our construction scene was complete. I bought the construction hats at a party store, added a truck sticker and wrote each child’s name on it. Kids love dressing up so it’s always fun to find a way to work that into a birthday party.
The kids played some digging games to unearth a truck in a tub of birdseed. They raced their trucks in the next game, then got to take them home in lieu of goody bags. The trucks from the cake, and the leftovers from the digging game, were Lorelai’s to keep. She still plays with them to this day. The set I bought had even come with a toolbox carrying case for storage. (At the party, we used it to hold the napkins and silverware!) It was one of the easiest and least expensive parties we’ve had in a long time. I should have anticipated this kind of payback. A marshmallow party! Seriously?

Planning birthday parties is kind of my thing. I’ll just have to get a bit more creative this time around.

This post is part of Show and Tell Tuesday at Mom’s Marbles. Join us every Tuesday for a new topic and link up with smart moms sharing even more great ideas! (Also, don’t forget to stop by on Monday when I contribute Money Saving Mondays—ideas for living your life Inexpensively.)

I’ve come a long way on my 40×40 project—it is amazing the things you can do when you actually make it a priority. In addition to the 6 items I have crossed off in the last year, I am working towards several more. Even if they never get completely crossed off the list, I’ve done a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have if I’d never started the list in the first place. And, really, isn’t that the real goal?

4. Losing weight has been a side effect of taking a dance class. Actually, I’m finding a lot of my items kind of lead into another. The list seemed way more random when I was writing it out over the course of a year. Now that it’s a complete 40×40 list and I’ve gotten started, I’ve noticed there is a bit more of a theme than I had expected.

5. I’ve got a good outline on a book and have actually started a few chapters. What I’ll do with it if I ever actually finish, I don’t know. I’m getting some good lessons on working with editors through my writing at Blissfully Domestic. I’m also learning about meeting deadlines as part of the Mom’s Marbles team. Maybe one day I’ll get up the nerve to pitch an agent or two.

7. I am in my last semester of college. It has only taken me 14 years. I graduate in December, after completing the 2 courses I’m taking now. I’ve already been trying to decide what shoes I’ll wear under my gown!

10. Crossing off #14 was the first step in increasing my income. I have a few other ideas as well and we’re working on implementing them. The real conundrum is a lot of my ideas would do really well, but we don’t have the time to work on them until Spencer can quit his daytime job. He can’t quit his day job until we make more money. Paradox.

12. My Girl Scouts earned a sewing badge last year. I learned a good hand stitch along with them and can now officially sew on a button. I have also gotten pretty good at machine-sewing a straight line. The ultimate goal would be to create something from a pattern. I’ll probably start with a pillowcase dress as a simplistic way to practice.

18. The Melting Pot is letter F in our alphabet dating game—that’s happening next weekend! (As is G, but Jonathan Coulton was not on my list. I guess I’m working two lists too!)

25. I have been modifying my wardrobe bit by bit over the last few months. In another year or two, it will have officially completed an overhaul. Learning to walk in heels was a large part of that. The clothes change when you’ve got great shoes.

26. We’ve been cold composting for a couple years now. I think next spring, we might be able to add some of it to the garden. It has been an interesting experiment. I’m amazed at how much food we toss in there and then a few months later it has decomposed to practically nothing for us to fill up again.

32. This summer, my mom and I froze 16 dozen ears of corn for winter use. We didn’t get our garden planted this year, though, so I didn’t grow it (Also? I don’t grow corn.). It’s only 1 food, though, not a full supply of vegetables. We have plenty of apples to put up this fall too. Next year, I hope to get to even more.

35. Although a Vegas trip is not in the works at all right now, I think just reconnecting with my husband was a good first step in the whole renew our wedding vows idea. Probably, it’s good if we’re, you know, still married when we get there.

It’s only been a year since I started working on the list. I think it’s coming along quite nicely. I have a lot of travel on there, and that’s going to be tricky to squeeze into the last few years. Obviously, completing #10 is going to be key to being able to afford most of the list! Still, it’s not even about finishing all 40. It’s about getting out of the mundane and finally doing things that I want to do. I can definitely say it’s already a complete success.

After I was contacted by One 2 One Network about reviewing the new Harry Connick Jr. CD, I anxiously checked the mailbox every day. I absolutely adore him already and when I read the track list I knew I’d love this CD. He covers some of the greatest classics. Oh, how I love them!

There is something just so uplifting about older music. I think lyrics were much more positive—a bit less about who is cheating on who and other horrifying themes that have been popular the last several years. The songs in this collection are true love songs. What can be better than a relaxing mix of love songs? A relaxing mixing of favorites sung in Harry Connick Jr’s sexy, smooth voice.

The first time I had a chance to play the CD, Lorelai was mad that I didn’t turn on a movie instead. She was screaming from the backseat of the van (which, btw, we ironically named Serenity), until his voice started. She was literally stunned silent. Of course, that only lasted until she remembered she had wanted something else and her chorus of “I wanna watch a moobee!” began to drown out the CD. That’s okay, a bubble bath is better suited to this kind of musical enjoyment.

A perfect solo evening would have to be Your Songs, a bubble bath and Twilight. Although, if I’m listening to “Harry Potter Jr.” as Brenia calls him, I guess I should be reading another magical series. Still, I’m spending my bubble baths these days with Edward Cullen. Regular bubbles baths are one of my guilty pleasures. The hubby is great about indulging me—I’m a lucky girl!

Harry Connick Jr.’s wife is another seriously lucky lady. He had this to say on his website: “…when I sang `Only You’ and most of the other songs, I was thinking about my wife Jill.” {Swoon} How would you like to have this gorgeous guy crooning sweet, classic love songs just for you?

The CD features signature songs by iconic artists—all your favorite songs (ah, there’s the title!) by the gorgeous Harry Connick Jr.

Album Tracklisting (Originally performed by):

All The Way (Frank Sinatra)
Just The Way You Are (Billy Joel)
Can’t Help Falling In Love With You (Elvis Presley)
And I Love Her (The Beatles)
(They Long To Be) Close To You (The Carpenters)
Besame Mucho
The Way You Look Tonight
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack)
Your Song (Elton John)
Some Enchanted Evening
And I Love You So (Don McLean)
Who Can I Turn To? (Tony Bennett)
Smile (Charlie Chaplin)
Mona Lisa (Nat King Cole)

You can also catch him on several upcoming talk shows. I always enjoy watching him on television (Will & Grace, anyone?). I big puffy heart The Rachael Ray show—hopefully, I’ll be able to catch it that week!

9/28 – Today Show
9/29 – The View
9/30 – Imus in the Morning
9/30 – Letterman
10/1 – Today Show
Week of 10/5 – Rachael Ray

Your Songs is in stores now, but check Inexpensively next Tuesday for a chance to win a copy for free! You can also preview (or even download) every song on the album from Amazon. Single mp3s are only $1.29 and drm free.

Disclosure: I received a free CD from One 2 One Network for the purposes of this review. In the interest of full disclosure, I also receive affiliate revenues from Amazon if you choose to purchase via any of the included links.

monumentSpencer and I have lived in the Indianapolis area for more than 10 years now (though never actually in Indy) so we’ve spent our fair share of time in the Circle City. Mostly, though, our trips downtown are centered around some sort of event so our activities are very specific and pre-planned. I always see the horse-drawn carriages, pass by the canal to watch the boats go by and drool over landmark, fine dining experiences we usually can’t afford. For our 4th alphabet date, we decided we were really Doing Downtown.

Our anniversary weekend provided the perfect opportunity, especially after my parents volunteered to take the girls. With the girls off to Camp Grandma’s and an entire weekend before us, we were anticipating such wonders as childfree grocery shopping, grown-up movies and sleeping in! We did all of that—and a whole lot more. After an indulgent sleep-filled morning, we headed down to Indianapolis. (I love how we always say that like it’s so! far! away! It’s, maybe, 30 minutes, but I hate traffic so it’s not something I do often.)

It did occur to us that since we’d never done any of the things on our list before, we should call ahead and see how it works. Does St. Elmo’s require a reservation? Yup! We got a 5pm. How late is the pedal boat rental place open? 8pm—we should have plenty of time for our dinner first. What else do we want to do? We decided to play the rest by year. Clearly, we don’t get out much.

st-elmoDinner at St. Elmo’s was decent. For the price we paid, I’d love to say dinner was fabulous or even a trite “you pay for the atmosphere” but, really, it’s just overpriced steak. The hubby really liked their world famous shrimp cocktail, though, so all was not lost. I’ve had much better steaks and I wasn’t super impressed with the atmosphere anyway. I mean, it’s cool the waiters were all in tuxes and all, but we have tablecloths and cloth napkins at home (yeah, we’re fancy like that) so for a $125 meal, I’m expecting to be fawned over.

The cosmo was super strong (points for that one, bartender!) and the food was decent. Still, we got to visit an official Indianapolis landmark. Now that it’s crossed off the list, I’m all good. If you ever want to say you went, I recommend stopping by just for appetizers and drinks—the shrimp cocktail is their signature dish anyway and, quite possibly, the best thing on the menu (this from someone who eats nothing from the sea). It’s a great way to have the experience without the full price tag.

canalAfter dinner, we wandered over to the canal. We had never actually been down to the canal (just watched it from the street), much less in it. We rented a pedal boat and enjoyed a good hour floating along. It really is quite beautiful. We had a truly lovely evening for it. The only thing better would have been a canal float by moonlight, but we work with what we’ve got. Now that we know it’s out there, I’m sure we’ll find another opportunity for it. Maybe next time, we’ll take a gondola ride (who knew we even had them in Indiana?).

sundaeAfter returning our boat, we took a walk up the other side of the canal. And, landed straight in a jazz concert at White River Park. From there, we decided to head in the general direction of Monument Circle—Spencer wanted some shots of the monument itself and I wanted dessert at South Bend Chocolate Cafe. We both got our wish, even though the circle was overrun by motorcycles. There was apparently a large event that day as parts of downtown were blocked to cars so heading home after our night was another experience altogether.

This was definitely not our most inexpensive date night, but it was well worth it! We spent a wonderful, relaxing day together, our marriage was in a very good place and it was great to share some things I’ve always wanted to do. Exploring the city tourist-style was a little grandiose for one day, and we didn’t get to everything. We’ve decided to use I for Indianapolis for the rest of it—slated for December to enjoy the holiday lights. Maybe next time we’ll remember to take some pictures of ourselves.

I love a guy in a fedora, but my guy in a fedora leaves me speechless. Happy Wordless Wednesday!



I don’t think he gets it.

Red Chair Confessions.

I’ve been watching these for a few weeks now. I was pretty sure Erika was right and the company behind the videos would turn out to be a store, but I didn’t have any specific names in mind. However, when I heard the advertiser was Talbots, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. It was almost like I already knew—maybe it had something to do with the red.

The campaign is the store’s effort to promote a new, modern, more youthful image. “It’s not your mom’s store anymore.” Of course, the cynical part of me thinks that’s because I’m about my mother’s age when I first heard of Talbots. Either way, I like that they are making an effort to be more affordable. We all know that’s my forte.

So, what do you think? Are you surprised? Do you think they’ll be successful at marketing to the next generation of stylish women? I’m the world’s greatest candidate for What Not to Wear so I’m not a very good judge. I do enjoy a site that puts together outfits for you, though. Check out their new line and let me know if there is something you just have to have!


Because I just don’t have enough to do, I’ve added a few new writing gigs to my weekly schedule. Of course, you already know I share my money-saving tips daily at Inexpensively. I’ve joined forces with a great group of frugal gals to help people live their lives for less—including a few fabulous ladies I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person.

Now, I’m teaming up with the beautiful ladies at Blissfully Domestic. I’ll be regularly sharing my deals & tips on Financial Bliss. I can’t wait for the chance to meet them at Blissdom in February. (Who else will be there?!) I’ve already contributed a few articles and I’m honored to be a part of the team.

Today was my debut at Mom’s Marbles. I guest posted for these smart gals earlier this year. It is exciting to be joining them regularly for Money-Saving Mondays. At least one of the marbles behind the madness lives just around the corner so I hope we’ll be able to get together soon.

Don’t worry, though—I’ll still be here! You can’t get rid of me that easily. Only now, the blogosphere has even more Just Heather!

The first time I saw Red Chair Confessions was over at Chic Shopper Chick. Erika was convinced her first confession was about shopping. I mean, she looked good—very high fashion (but I’m absolutely sure it was done on a budget; she looks smart, right?)! By the second video, I was starting to think the same thing—this chick has a serious shopping problem. I hope she lets us in on her great scores soon.

We will finally get the big reveal next week, but until then it’s fun to speculate! And, even more fun to reveal a few confessions of your own. Confessing is good for the soul so here goes…

Confession #1: I shared this dirty little secret yesterday on Twitter. I don’t do it all the time. We all know that rampant misuse and abuse of anything is bad. I try to keep it in its proper place. I only do it when I can find just the right circumstance. I <3 Comic Sans. There, I said it. Confession #2: This one is probably no secret, but admitting you have a problem is the first step. Hi, my name is Heather and I am addicted to Reese’s peanut butter holiday shapes. The eggs are by far the best, but it’s been a long hard 6 months since Easter. I snatched the first bag of pumpkins I could find. Without checking the price! And they are amazing! In fact, I’m thinking about having my next fix right now.

Confession #3: I watch a lot of television. A lot. That probably isn’t a unique confession, but my problem is that I am addicted to the DVR. I don’t watch anything live. Ever. This year, we don’t have cable. It will be interesting to see what place t.v. can play in my life now that I have to pay attention to schedules. I’m used to letting my shows fit into my own schedule and I’m seriously thinking about how to fit my schedule into my favorites. I think Hulu may just be my next addiction.

Okay, your turn! Fess up—what are your true confessions? What do you think the Red Chair mom is confessing?