Tag Archives: Life

Working Moms!

29 Mar

Hey everyone -

I’ve decided to write about a topic that is been on the news recently about working women, what choices they have to make, how much they have to sacrifice, and is it all worth it to “have it all”. My parents watch Rock Center where they had interviewed Erin Callan – Former CFO of Lehman Brothers about being the women on top and having it all and wishing she had done things differently. This seriously hits home to me because I quit my job to be a stay at home mom and my sister is a work oriented person. We couldn’t be polar opposites but this interview actually spoke out to both of us in a unique and different way! Take a look at it here:

(Sorry this video embed wouldn’t clip)

Basically what I’m getting from this interview is she’s saying it’s OKAY to be a work oriented mom as long as you are making the right choices for you a long the way and finding a good balance in your life. She’s also saying it’s OKAY to not be work oriented. It’s okay to stay home and do what you love the most. It was a nice change of pace from what we usually see with controversial debates about what is the right and wrong thing and I think it’s refreshing to hear someone say it’s okay to be either or both.

As I stated before – my sister loves her job, she loves the work she does and it makes her happy to be so work and goal oriented. Because of this, she has become an AMAZING sister to look up to. Seeing someone excel in something they love is like an eye opener that you really can do something you love and make a living out of it. Me on the other hand, I love to stay at home with my daughter. I don’t always love cooking, cleaning, or do laundry, but you bet your bottom dollar I’ll do it just so that I can teach my daughter what it means to be a good person, a friend, a female, and give her the attention I feel like I had growing up with a stay at home mom. But either option my sister or choose – is the right one for us and that’s what it should be!

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The other thing about me you might not know is I’m also a work from home mom! That’s right!! While I”m staying at home and doing chores – I’m working as well. I provide child care for two other children besides my own daughter as a source of income on the side. Sure it doesn’t make as much as I’d be making if I worked outside of the house but if you subtract gas money, child care, eating out, and time away from my family (and still coming home to chores) – I think my income exceeds what I’d be making out the home as well as the happiness it’s given me to do so.

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After seeing that interview, I saw a post on cafemom.com with a few mom’s talking about it. Check it ou (If you want to skip to the above part it’s at 9:40 but they also talk about a bunch of other things like blogging so I hope you’ll listen to the whole thing):

Wow! This was exciting for me to listen to – partially because I am a young 20′s mother so hearing that I have the posibility to “have it all” just not at one time makes me feel like I hit the jackpot in having my daughter so early. I KNEW there was a reason I wanted to have a family young, I just thought it was because I wanted to have enough energy, spend time with them, and then when they got older and left I’d still be young enough to travel and have fun with my husband ;) haha!! But this just makes me even more excited for my future.

I also love that they talk about working from home/blogging and how other people don’t see it as a job. I love blogging and I love sharing it with Leslie – but it is almost a FULL time job! As you other bloggers know it sucks up a lot of time in our lives – especially because not only do most bloggers love to blog, they love to read blogs as well. That takes time!!

So I’m excited to hear what you all have to say about these videos and how it applies to your life!

Love Always,

Jennifer

A little work of my own!

25 Mar

This year I decided to take an art class to get a little inspiration. For those of us who are creative, sometimes we need an outlet, a source of inspiration, or really just some dedicated time to do what you love. I went into this art class assuming I’d be doing my usual and was completely surprised at where my teacher took me.

I usually do drawings like these:

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All black & white with graphite. My teacher thought I’d be amazing at colored pencils and it would give my drawings a little something extra.

So I bought the colored pencils and found a picture I wanted to do next:

I don’t know what attracted me to this picture, I knew it was going to be hard but I was so excited about it!

Class one – outline drawing (sorry if it’s hard to see)  I did the basic outlines lightly.

Class two – added a little color

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Class three & four – started getting more detail done on the hair and worked on my blending with the pencils.

Class five – added deeper colors and got more confident at my color mixing and choices

Class six – added more layers and more detail.

This was my last class in this session but I have a feeling I’ll be continuing with this drawing. I love is so much and I’ve worked so hard on it – I can’t wait to finish it!

What do you do for inspiration? Have you ever thought about or tried taking classes to keep your creativity going? How did it work for you?

Love Always,

Jennifer

Blacklisted from PTA

22 Mar

You read it right! Look what I’m reading next :D for all of you book fans out there waiting for my next book review since Mindy Kaling’s – I’m sure you’ll be excited to hear I am still reading funny things ;)

My sister gave me Blacklisted from PTA after she got a chance to read it and thought it would be the perfect book for me to read next. She knows that as a mom, I hardly get the chance to read so if she’s going to give me a books it’s one I am going to fall in love with or one that is easy to read. This one – is an easy to read one! It is written in short chapters so you can pick up and put down without feeling lost.

Here is Barnes & Nobles Overview:

Blacklisted by the PTA is an irreverent look at motherhood and the modern family. From the high chair to a vinyl restaurant booth on date night, Lela Davidson has captured life on the cul-de-sac with a husband, two kids, and the occasional pet. Whether failing at cloth diaper origami or smug in knowledge that her children have never consumed a PopTart, Lela assures parents they are not alone, and that it’s okay to laugh-at yourself, and at your kids. These are the stories of every parent–even if we don’t always tell them out loud. Each of these 62 essays can be read in under five minutes for a quick laugh-either with or at the author.

As a CPA on the mommy track, all Lela wanted to do was sit on the driveway and drink wine out of a box with the neighbors. Luckily, she started writing down her stories instead. Whether tackling PTA meetings, neighborhood politics, or inflation-by-Tooth Fairy, Lela exposes the humor in every awkward moment and maternal meltdown. From a trendy Seattle condo, to a tidy Arkansas subdivision, Lela shares the comic side of family life. She takes you to Mexican bars, the hockey rinks of St. Louis, ski slopes near Santa Fe, shopping in Dallas, and even introduces you to a few strippers–the novices on the playgrounds of New York City, and the pros in Vegas. Lela says what the rest of us are thinking. Her hilarious observations and subtle satire are always spot on. She’s not afraid to reveal her screw-ups, along with fleeting delusional moments of wherein she honestly believes she is the best mom ever.

Want to get to know Lela Davidson? Check out her website here:

I am so excited to be reading this next – I could use a few more laughs in my daily life ;)

What are you reading?

Love Always,

Jennifer

Being Thrifty!

11 Mar

If there is something that I love – it’s being thrifty. To me, being thrifty means that I’m making the best out of what I have, turning something old into something new, and if I am spending money – doing it in a smart way so that I’m spending as little as possible.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been like this. Sometimes more so than others, for example, I do remember a few times in college ignoring my thriftiness and living it up at Walmart late at night blowing through my spending money.

Part of it is the way I was raised. My mother grew up in a large family with a little bit of money and it was the same with my dad. As my sister and I were growing up we were reminded that we had enough money to make ends meet and a little extra but that didn’t mean that we went out and blew money on things that weren’t worth keeping. Sure we had special occasions, nights out, and the occasional fancy dinner at a restaurant, but when it came to spending money on things for “fun” – we did it in moderation.

The memories I love the most about being thrifty are going out with my sister.  She was in high school and I thought she ruled the world! She spent most of her time hanging out with her friends or her boyfriend but on Saturday mornings she would take me out to the thrift stores so we could hunt down some great things with our allowance money. I’d have to say that I learned most of what I know about thrift store shopping from her and it’s been something that I have enjoyed doing since then!

That part of me is another reason I wanted to start a blog in the beginning. I wanted to share my love of making things, finding great deals, and restoring old items with others like my family did with me. When I quit my job to become a stay at home mom, being thrifty got even more real for me! I was figuring out how to live off of one income in a place where most people live of two HUGE incomes. I tried so many ways of  pinching pennies and found a few that came in handy.

In order to save money on food, my husband and I decided we were going to eat out less and he was going to pack lunches for work. What we didn’t think about was how much we’d then be spending on groceries! We got to the point where we realized we were spending more than we were going out to eat and were seriously confused on how this was supposed to save us money! It was the perishable items that were killing us the most. We’d buy a whole head of lettuce and eat less than half and it would go bad.

I then decided to start couponing. This was BIG! I got so excited about it and clipped as many coupons as I could find. Then I realized I was still not saving anything because I was spending money to use the coupons on food that we didn’t eat. I sat down and made a list of the foods we liked to eat on a bi-weekly basis. I came up with 7 breakfast ideas, 10 lunch ideas, and 13 dinner ideas. I only cut coupons that fit those bi-weekly meals. I cut my grocery spending in half, I save about 15-20 dollars every trip to the grocery store, and the food isn’t going bad before we eat it anymore. When we get sick of a meal – I switch it out for a new one, stop buying the old meal items and start buying the ones.

I had never felt so successful before that I decided to apply this method of madness to other parts of our lives. In order to save money on clothes I would go through what we already had, take it to a consignment shop and then credit it to my account or get cash back for it. Then I would go shopping for new things for Brian, Emma, and I so that we were hardly spending anything. This way we got “new” clothes for nothing and decluttering our closets at the same time.

My in-laws gave Brian and I a set of side tables for our bed but they weren’t my favorite color. I grabbed some sand paper and some house paint laying around and made it brand new to me. There is a completely free project and now these side tables are a part of our bedroom set that I don’t plan on ever getting rid of!!

Being thrifty has given me a new perspective on money. In this economy we have to make it work on what little we have and I can’t even start to explain to you on what a difference it’s made in my life. So I’m hoping in the next few weeks to show you what being thrifty is all about to me!

I’d love to hear if you have any thrifty tips!!

Love Always,

Jennifer

Mindy Kaling: A Role Model At Last!

27 Feb

So I’ve been reading Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? and I have to say I haven’t laughed this hard at a book in quite some time! My husband and I watch Mindy’s new show on TV The Mindy Project and have seen her in the TV show The Office. So to say we are fans might be an understatement, but I mean come on! You have to love her!!

Okay maybe you don’t – but I do ;) She’s got a sense of humor that is straight forward, slightly sarcastic, and to be completely honest – exactly what everyone thinks but doesn’t say! Her book is some of the same, but it was definitely enlightening to see the depths of where Mindy came from and how it made her who she is today.

Here is Barnes and Nobles Overview:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

Since I’m a mom and reading does not come easy you’ll be happy to know that this is a very light read! I picked it up and put it down easily without feeling lost. Mindy has a great way of making you smile when you read, but not killing you with the boring facts which I have yet to find in any other type of book based on someone’s life! WIN WIN!

If you can’t tell yet – I love this book – which you should have by now because I’ve been rambling about it for hours :P

What I’m excited about next is buying this:

Questions I Ask When I Want to Talk About Myself: 50 Topics to Share with Friends

P.S. Thank you google for the pictures – or really thank you Mindy Kaling ;)

Are you reading anything great right now?

Love Always,

Jennifer

A Little Help Never Hurts!

6 Feb

For those of you with little ones around the house – you know how difficult it is to cook and keep a child entertained! Lately Emma has been wanting to be by my side while I’m cooking. I love the idea but it terrifies me that she might get hurt in the process so this week we have been playing around with different ideas on how to let her do a little cooking of her own (more like prepping ;) but that’s okay!)

One of my favorite lazy meals is to make chicken cacciatore because the prepping is so easy. I thought this would be a good meal for Emma to help out. I let her put the chicken strips (pre-cooked & frozen) into the pan (cold – before I put it on the stove).

 

She had a blast picking out which pieces fit where in the pan and loved finding the big pieces! This was a good 10 minutes of entertainment and since it didn’t matter how long it took to make it I just let her have fun with it.

While I was cooking the chicken and making the sauce (since that’s not so child friendly) I let her scoop the rice into a measuring cup. Laying down a paper towel or napkin is a great idea in order to not have a mess of extra rice pieces to clean up!

Letting her pick out the scoop was exciting for her and I think she was pretty proud of herself when she finished!

Waiting for the food to be ready is the time when Emma is wanting my attention the most. In order to keep us both sane I found an easy project she could do since she wanted to keep helping Mommy!

 

I let her put the spoons and forks away. She loves helping me unload the dishwasher – which really means handing me the clean things and saying, “I DID IT!!” so instead of her handing me each utensil I let her do it all by herself. Not only did the time fly by but dinner was ready as soon as she finished :D

Do you have fun ideas to keep your kids entertained while your cooking? I’d love to hear them!

Love Always,

Jennifer

AwesomeNote Organizing

28 Jan

Getting organized just got that much easier!

I’m a stickler for writing things down on notebook paper. There’s something about being able to cross it off that just gives me pure satisfaction but remember to take my notebook of lists with me is something I ALWAYS forget to do. Going digital has been a serious struggle for me. I’ve tried many times but don’t seem to be able to break my pen and paper habit.

I’ve finally found a way to do both! AwesomeNote is an amazing app that can create calendars, lists, notes, and clip things from the web to remember for later.

I haven’t given up my pen and paper completely but this app really helps me when I need to take something with me! I used it for my grocery run this past weekend and it proved to be amazing! For our family, I like to shop every two weeks, which means I have a list of two weeks worth of groceries to buy, which means my list is gigantically long!! Before each trip I take out my list and make a new list of what I need.

AwesomeNote made this process SOOO much easier. I typed in my two weeks worth of groceries list, checked off all the things I didn’t need to buy, then as I went through the grocery store I checked off as I got things. When I got home I went through and unchecked all the items so my list is ready for next week. Saving paper, saving time not re-writing my list, and it’s easy and handheld so my daughter doesn’t want to steal it (she likes to draw on my grocery list). This makes for one happy momma!

I am a gmail fanatic, I like to link up my calendars with my friends and put important dates to remember on there and thanks to AwesomeNote it syncs up to my gmail account and all my dates are now saved in my calendar along with all my other calendar updates like doctor appointments and etc.!

One thing I use more than I thought I would on AwesomeNote is clipping webpages and photo’s. While I’m out and waiting for an appointment I’ll use that time to do some research – find great websites to show off to you all and pins I might want to try for later. I can clip that and put it in my calendar or idea list so I can remember it.

Having all of my lists, calendars, and notes all in one area is great and for those of you who are forgetful like me and leave my phone behind – if you can hop onto a computer you can access all your notes from your gmail account!

For the days that I know I’m staying at home and I want to write out a list of chores still can go the paper and pen method by using my App as a guideline so I don’t forget anything. It’s become a happy medium for me.

My life just got a whole lot easier!

What do you use to stay organized?

Love Always,

Jennifer

*These photos were found at 

A Charming Twist to the Life We Live.

1 Jan

The beginning of a wonderful relationship..  that happened years ago!

Leslie & Jennifer were born and raised in the same area and grew up not knowing the other existed. That is until High School happened. They met on the track field and their friendship grew into something they’d never forget.

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Everyone knows High School is the time of your life where you experience the most firsts and are trying everything you can to figure out your future. It’s where you meet your best friends, get your worst grades, have emotional break downs, and get back up again. Leslie & Jennifer met right in the middle of it all!

Once they found each other they were like two peas in a pod. Inseparable and spent as much time as possible together. When Jennifer got her first car she took Leslie everywhere and anywhere. Riding around in the car was probably the most of their best memories together, besides dancing in the car at stop lights that is ;)

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After Jennifer’s senior year she left for college determined not to lose her friendship with Leslie. College was tough, time consuming, and crazy! But that following year Leslie went to college down the road from Jennifer and they were back to being two peas in a pod – when they had time to be.

Within each year that passed they made every effort to see each other and catch up but it wasn’t until a day most recently that they’d really gotten the chance. This time it was a reunion they’d never forget. The day they created A Charming Twist. The day they promised they’d never lose touch again. The day they started the rest of their lives together again.

The best way to get to know the people behind the blog is to hear their life story. We thought we’d share with you some moments that were unforgettable for us to give you a little sneak peak of what’s behind the words we type.

Welcome to our new blog together and we hope that this next step in our lives will be an unforgettable story that you get to see unfold by your very own eyes. A Charming Twist to the life we live.

Love Always,

Leslie & Jennifer

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