List Love

January!

Like everyone else, I’ve always made the usual lame commitments to lose weight, write a book, hell, shoot down the moon and keep it in my pocket, all before December’s end. And, like everyone else, it all fell out of my head like litter from a car window before January’s end. So this year, I’m doing something different.

Instead of a list of unachievable goals at the start of the year, I’m keeping a Growth Zone List.

My Growth Zone List tracks anything I do that is out of my comfort zone, and therefore in my “growth zone.”

It is exciting and motivating in a way that typical resolutions never are and I am excited to keep adding to it.

Even more exciting? Looking back on it at the end of the year to reflect on how much I’ve accomplished, instead of downing myself for all the unchecked boxes.

Check it out here.

What about you? Have you ever tried something like this?

In which I initiate a conversation with a stranger.

So I’m trying to do more things that land in what is called “the growth zone”. The growth zone is the area just outside your comfort zone that will cause personal growth.

We went on a cruise this month (!) and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to stretch into my growth zone. I did quite a few things that I don’t normally do during this trip, and one of those was talking to strangers and people I don’t know very well.

My husband is really good at striking up conversations with new people, but for me this is a skill that is often negated by my shyness. My tendency to be ultra private compounds things even further. Often when we meet people he gets the conversation going then I chime in with a punchline or a story and pretty soon all of us are laughing.

But on my own it is an awkwardly different story. Like awkward as an artform.

So back to the cruise ship. I was determined to practice talking to people on my own. Everyone in our party was clustered around the three-hand poker table and through my boredom of watching chips and cards shufflle across a felt-top table, I noticed an opportunity.

I ambled over to the bar by myself and slid into an empty seat. I turned to the lady next to me and struck up a coversation- yes, totally borrowing my husband’s lines- by asking her who she was cruising with and if she’d ever cruised before.

Yes, she had cruised before and this time she was here with her husband. I mentioned coming with my family then listened politely while she hashed on about husbands and kids.

Sensing drunk beligerence approaching, I steered the conversation back towards the trip. What excursions was she doing at port?

I was both really excited yet on the fence about checking out the Mayan temples of Tulum. It could be the experience of a lifetime or I could condem my family to excruciating boredom while everyone else in our group lived it up at the beach. Maybe she knew something about them.

Instead she’s like,
“The Mayan temples, huh? When my husband and I get off in Mexico, we’re gonna find us some prescription pills. That’s our excursion.”

I’m not sure how my husband would’ve handled that, but I just nodded politely and asked her what she was drinking. Then I ordered one from the bartender and soon excused myself back to the safety of three-hand poker.

Everyone asked me where I’d been and I told them. They all laughed at the absurdity of my conversation at the bar.

But later, at the Mexican port, there was totally a place called Deli and Drugs. As we passed it on our way to the t-shirt shop, I wondered if my barmate was holed up in there with her hubby, filling up on Reubens while they filled her bottles with pills.

Does the idea of talking to strangers terrify you or enthrall you? If it is your thing, what kind of tips and suggestions do you have for an introvert like me? Although it made me feel awkward, unsure and uncomfortable, I will say one thing: it made a hell of a good story.

Mom’s Top 5 Wist List

As much as we love our kids and want them to stay little forever, there are certain things I miss in this phase of my life. Every parent has their list of things that they wist for. Here is mine.

This Mom’s Wist List

1.Wine instead of whine with my dinner.
2. Dinner that is spicy, herby or flavored with something more sophisticated than cheese.
3. Pants without a stretchy waistline.
4. A body without a stretchy waistline.
5. Staying out and sleeping in.

What’s on your wist list?

Nightstanders #2

Hey! I’m back with more books from my nightstand. Here’s a bit of what I’ve been reading lately.

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I just finished reading The Great Zoo of China, an action-packed best- seller whose title caught my eye at the store. It’s been a long time since a book hooks me just with a title, I usually have to dig around and read all kinds of blurbs before I make my decision, so I knew I’d enjoy it.
I thought the prologue was fantastic and really sucked you in with a story question and a bit about the main character. That was a smooth move because the set up ran a little long, and if I hadn’t been so intrigued by the first chapter it might have been challenging to get through it.
Then the action started and it was like a female Bruce Willis kicking Jurassic Park ass. I loved the main character’s name (CJ ;)) but I did find myself wishing to know a little more about her so I could care more. I still finished it and it was a good, solid action book.

The other book on my nightstand, Inkdeath, is the last book in the Inkheart series. You may remember how I found the first two at a used book store back in February, but hadn’t had a chance to grab ahold of the last one. Well, the other day I was at Books A Million trying to talk myself into buying a $45 cookbook when I spied Inkdeath while browsing through the Bargain Books section. I was so excited both for me and my wallet. I haven’t started it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

The other book I have on my night stand is one of those new adult coloring books that is all the rage right now.

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It is a bit of a pricey hobby compared to my kids’ $2 coloring books, but the art is interesting and very relaxing. Here are a couple of the pages I’ve been working on.

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What is on your nightstand lately? Have you tried this new art therapy trend that I like to call complicated coloring?

Top Ten Animated Adventure Movies

Yesterday I mentioned how much I love animated adventure films and I thought it would be great to share my Top Ten List of Animated Adventure Movies for Kids and the Kid-At-Heart.

These movies revolve around a hero’s quest, have rich fantasy backgrounds, and well-developed worlds. Most also have a killer soundtrack and plenty of humor, which are key to a movie’s replay ability. And if you are going to invest in a movie, it’s gotta be one that will live in the DVD player instead of gathering dust in a drawer.

Top Ten List of Animated Adventure Movies for Kids and the Kid-At-Heart

The Lego Movie
Oh, Lego Movie. This was my favorite for a long time before The Book of Life usurped it. It has the best quotable lines (“Cover your butts.” “Cover the what?” Boom!) The awesomest soundtrack, and a really creative hero story. So good for boys, girls and grown ups. A great family movie.

The Book of Life

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I talked about why I love this movie in this post. It is so good that I had it on for my son the other night and as my husband passed by on the way out of the kitchen he got sucked in and wound up watching the whole thing. That man Does. Not. Watch. Movies. If that’s not a recommendation, I don’t know what is.

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Finding Nemo
Classic adventure, memorable characters, so cute and so fun. You will never forget Dory and Marlin will grow on you so much you’ll forgive his terrible joke skills.

Cars
Creative, creative, creative. We have a lot of race car fans in my house (especially since builing them is my husband’s hobby) so this one was an instant winner around here. My favorite part is when Guido does a solo pit stop.

Frozen
Does this movie even need a review? Exactly.

Ponyo
A fun twist on the mermaid on land tale. My daughters replayed this movie until the disc wouldn’t play anymore. Then we bought another copy.

Rio
Another movie with lots of awesome music. It’s funny, it has a love story but beware – your kid might suddenly bust out some samba moves when you least expect it aka when it’s least appropriate.

Wall-E
The robot character is so expressive without saying anything at all. No one talks for the first thirty minutes of this film, and neither will your kid.  My daughter used to beg me to save those plastic Easter eggs and she’d nestle the bottom into the top at an angle and call it Eva. Then she and her sister would act out parts of this movie for many (quiet) hours. Any movie that jumps off the screen and into their fantasy play is a keeper.

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Curious George
The bright colors and again, good music, make this one great for the younger crowd. Will Farell and Drew Barrymore keep the adults watching too.

Meet the Robinsons
This movie has great vision and one of my favorite messages “Keep moving forward.” The enthusiasm the creators have for this concept shows through in the story. Family fun, science and imagination all rolled into one.

So that’s my Top Ten List. What movie would you add? List them in the comments, I’m always looking for a new favorite.

50 things that make me happy list

I was nominated to make a Makes Me Happy List the other day, so of course I’ve been obsessed with it ever since! I love making lists in general, but this was the best list ever because it really cheered me up. And once I got going I came up with even more than the 50 things. That was a pleasant surprise and I will be looking over this list anytime I start to feel down, so thank you Bonnie, for nominating me.

In random order

1. Chocolate
2. My son learning to talk
3. My twins reading to me
4. My husband’s hugs, his jokes, his eyes… ok i’ll leave it there
5. Catching up on my favorite blogs
6. Cracking open a coke in a can
7. Date night
8. Browsing magazines
9. Library visits
10. Writing with colorful pens
11. Baked Salmon
12. Eating with chopsticks
13. Thin crust pizza
14. Hunting for books at Goodwill
15. Scrounging great finds at yard sales
16. Sunsets
17. Shooting stars
18. Moscato in my fancy wine glass
19. Texts from my bestie
20. Movie night with the kids
21. Reading HP while I play HP movies in the background
22. Wearing headphones while I wash the dishes
23. Clean floors
24. Checking boxes off my list
25. Bright nail polish
26. Silly rhymes and word puns
27. Swinging on the swings
28. Wearing dresses
29. A book I haven’t read yet
30. Rereading a favorite book
31. Ballet flats
32. Hanging out with my mom
33. Surprises
34. Making collages
35. Making up stories
36. Petrichor
37. Backyard grilling
38. Sparklers
39. Learning new things
40. Snapping pretty pictures
41. Catching a sample at the grocery store
42. Smelling flowers
43. Buying myself flowers
44. Picking out a new journal
45. The smell of books
45. Snuggling in my bed
47. Listening to a rainstorm (without having to venture into it)
48. Mocha creamer in my coffee
49. Tacos and salsa
50. Summer weather

So fun! Who else wants to play? I’d love to read a list by:

Jenny from Blots and Plots
And
Kristan from Kristan Hoffman

planning tips for scrapbooking

5 Tips For Planning Your Scrapbook

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Hey! The kids are back in school and after a germ attack (Jumbo-sized hand sanitizer anyone?) and several three-day weekends it seems like I may finally be able to reestablish my daily writing routine. And even though things at the store are swinging into season, I am intent on finally crafting up that copy of Sailing Le Cirque.

But rather than just diving in, I have been planning out each page. I know lots of people do their writing and crafting from a pants-based mentality, but I am not one of those people. Let’s be real, I make an outline (and several drafts) to plot how I’m gonna clean the house, people!

But hyper-listing tendencies aside, planning ahead is essential when you make a large-scale collage, scrapbook, photo album or art journal. Times when I rushed ahead without a plan, I found myself with spots that were awkward to fill or a layer glued over instead of under something. If I spend a lot of time on a part of something, like say a page in this book, and it turns out I have to redo it, I tend to get discouraged about the whole thing.

But that’s not even the worst of it. I have blown the budget on some projects because of bad planning. Other times, I’ve overused materials on the first few pages, then struggled to keep the theme cohesive when I couldn’t find those stickers or that paper at the store anymore or I didn’t remember how I mixed that exact shade of blue last time.

Here are 5 super useful planning tips to improve your scrapbook planning and help you avoid making my mistakes.

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5 Tips For Planning Your Scrapbook

1. Plan most of your project ahead of time. If it’s similar to this one– like a scrapbook, a photo album, or an art journal– you can use paper clips, post it notes and sticky dots to plan out your pages.┬áThis can be fun! (Or is that just my planner personality talking?) But more importantly, it can save you headaches and discouragement later on.

2. Draw diagrams. Relax, you don’t have to be an artist to do this. A few simple sketches labeled with key words and arrows can help you remember details more easily.

3. Work in layers. For this project, elements like paint and glue will need drying time, the sketches and lettering will be drawn separately and added as cutouts, holes for stitches need to be punched ahead, and glitter needs to be applied last. So think about not only how your elements will work together, but how they will need to be spaced out, time wise.

4. Track steps as you go. Keep paint swatches, take notes as you mix or layer things and take step by step pictures! This will keep the project cohesive, especially if you have to work in chunks over several days.

5.Planning is your wallet’s friend. Planning ahead will give you a more accurate idea of how much you actually need, preventing over spending and under buying.

6. Expect the unexpected. Mistakes stress me out, so I like to plan for them. I allot extra materials and extra time for the inevitable mistakes, problems or even random additional inspirations that strike when I’m in the zone.

What tips or lessons have you learned from your creative projects? Inspire us with your suggestions in the comments!

Don’t forget to pin this list for future reference, and follow me on Pinterest for even more inspiration.

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