Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday - Smells of Summer

The calendar tells us that summer starts in June. The calendar lies: summer starts on Memorial Day. So, in honor of the (not) official start of summer:

1. Cut grass. I'm not sure why this is such a good smell, but it is.

2. Charcoal grill. You can't beat a propane grill for convenience but nothing smells as good as a charcoal grill. Just driving through our neighborhood in the summer is enough to make my mouth water.

3. Watermelon. I've heard some folks say they don't like watermelon (crazy people, obviously), which is fine. That means more for me. Only my kids don't like it when I don't share. And, side note: have you seen the new "personal size" watermelons? What kind of a sick joke is that? I bought one the other day and my kids still insisted I share it with them. "Personal size" indeed.

4. Chlorine. It's a strong chemical smell, I'll admit, and I suppose you either love it or you don't. No difficulty guessing which of those categories I fit into.

Coppertone Waterbabies Sunscreen Lotion Pure & Simple, SPF 50, 8-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 2)5. Coconut.Or, more specifically, sunscreen. Now, confession time: I'm a fair skinned person so I am usually diligent to use sunscreen year round. But even at that, just the smell makes me think of summertime. On a not un-related note:

Banana Boat Aloe Vera Sun Burn Relief Gel, 16-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 3)6. Aloe Vera gel. I had some horrible sunburns as a kid and even now, as an adult, the thing I'm likely to reach for to relieve the burn is aloe in one form or another. Even better: an actual aloe plant. I used to have one but I, alas, didn't manage to keep it alive. Those things are awesome. (Note to self: buy another aloe plant.)

7. The Ocean. There's just something about that salty, tangy, sandy smell. (If you think sand is scentless, you've never been to the beach.)

8. Corn on the cob. With butter, of course.

9. Lemonade. With lots of sugar and ice.

10. Snowcones. Shaved ice. Whatever you want to call them, that syrupy smell goes hand in hand with summertime.

And don't forget baseball games, amusement parks, fresh picked berries, farmer's markets, and...yes, I could go on. But I won't. Because this post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday at Oh Amanda, not Top 100 Tuesday.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Look - Worthy Links 5/28/11 Edition

1. My husband has a new game coming out soon. He wanted me to mention this to my wide readership. I told him my ad rates are very steep. What can I say? He met my demands. So: Kingdom of Solomon - coming soon! And you can even get a copy signed by the creator (my husband!).

2. These tile coasters are fantastic and I'd love to make some. They'd make great gifts. So if you, you know, get gifts from me, please forget you saw this.

3. These homemade shelves with cubbies are amazing. I'm guessing they'd be less expensive than the Target or IKEA kind but that would probably depend on your skill as a woodworker and how many extra boards you require per project.

4. I have never figured out the deal with scarves although I remember my mom carrying them off when I was a kid (way back in the '80's). This post featuring tips from 1951 for tying scarves makes me think I should try again. Then again, maybe not. What say you, fearless in fashion blog readers?

5. I enjoyed reading these 10 Rules for Writing Fiction from various authors. Some of the advice is contradictory but I still found the article helpful. Also: wow, I really need to get back in the habit of writing every day. {sigh}

6. My sister and her husband celebrated 7 years of marriage this week. Only they celebrated many miles apart (he's in the air-force). She wrote a great post about marriage. (Yes, I'm bragging. My sisters are amazing people and I'm letting their awesomeness reflect on me as often as possible.)

7. This is a thoughtful post on Homeschooled Kids and Rebellion. I do find that trying to minimize youthful rebellion is a possible contributing reason to why we homeschool, but it isn't the only reason. Also, just as public schooled students don't always rebel against their Christian parents (and I'm thankful they don't - I'm married to a public school graduate!), homeschooled kids don't always grow up free of rebelliousness. Christian parents are called to raise their children for God but, once a child is grown, the responsibility lies with the newly minted adult. (Yes, that means there will be no "but my parents didn't..." excuses around this blog)

8. And now for some lighter things:
First, House Rules by Not a Supermom.
And Second: A Letter of Regret from Baroness Schraeder. I might - just might, mind you - have spit out my drink while reading this the first time. Oh, the snark!

What did you stumble on this week? This post is linked to Saturday Stumbles at Simply Staci.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Frugal Fridays - Craigslist, IKEA and Pinching a Penny (Or Two)

We've done some rearranging here at Chez Charming. We were moving Lili (AKA Baby Girl #4) into the little bedroom with her three big sisters. This necessitated moving some shelves around, moving even more books and toys around and, generally, trashing my house.

Only temporarily. We ended up with this empty space:
Now, it wasn't supposed to be empty. It was supposed to have a big, beautiful, EXPEDIT from IKEA in that space. Except...I just couldn't stand the thought of borrowing a truck and driving all the way to IKEA (45 minutes away) and spending the money.

I'm frugal, after all.

So, what's a frugal chick to do? Watch Craigslist, of course. One thing I knew: with an IKEA within an hour of our house, there would be people trying to sell the things they bought there.

So I watched Craigslist like a hawk and this is how:
You see my clumsy arrow and circle? That's the RSS button (Really Simple Syndication) in the lower right hand corner of a Craigslist page. I searched in a Craigslist category (furniture) for IKEA. Then I pushed the RSS button and subscribed to the feed. So all the listings that matched my search criteria went straight to my Google Reader.

A few days later, someone listed the largest size EXPEDIT for sale, half off of the new price. We called immediately. Two days later my husband, brother, and dad (with the help of my brother-in-law's truck) moved this monster lovely thing into my living room:
Then I filled the shelves for the first time. (Because, let's be honest, I'm constantly rearranging them. You see here my sister, brother-in-law and mom enjoying them as they were for my birthday party.).

Exactly what I wanted, perfect condition, half price, closer to our house, and already assembled. That's a frugal win right there. (Now if I could just decide what I want for the top of the shelf...)

I'm watching three different Craigslist feeds in my Reader right now. And before my husband panics, I hasten to assure you that they are all for small things.

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Being Candid About Blogging

  • Blogging has been a real blessing in my life - I've always had something to say and now I have an outlet for saying it. If blogs didn't exist, I'd...well, I don't know. I'd do whatever it was I did before I got my first blog, way back in 2006. (I seem to recall some message boards and Yahoo groups that drove me nuts)
  • Blogging involves balance between sharing too little (presenting too rosy a picture) and sharing too much (ignoring privacy or personal concerns). I have not yet figured out what this balance ought to look like for me. I know it means not sharing my children's real names (even though they are cool names). I know it means not sharing anything my husband would not want me to share.
  • Bloggers who say, "There are no cool kids" are probably the cool kids. At the very least they've never been left out in their lives. 
  • Bloggers who lament "only 1000" followers or subscribers or whatnot make me roll my eyes. Likewise for people who constantly talk about ad rates or sponsors. I'd be happy to make enough Amazon affiliate fees to get a direct deposit. (That's $10, by the way. I'm not there yet.)
  • Blogging creates a dichotomy (possibly false) between the "real" me and the online me. In some ways the online me is more real. In other ways, she's more edited, more what I would be like if I weren't the Worlds Greatest Introvert since Emily Dickinson.(OK, maybe I'm not that bad. But there are days...)
  • Blogging sometimes involves disappointment. I don't have a large readership but I feel like I've already let a few people down. ("I thought you would be funnier / smarter / a better parent...")
  • Blogging has, like many things, a learning curve. Finding a distinct voice, finding a niche, using proper enough - as opposed to perfect - grammar (for instance: beginning sentences with a conjunction is fine, misusing your/you're is just sloppy. Or that could just be me. Everyone has their own grammar pet peeves. Or is it his / her own?  Whatever.)
  • Blogging helps me stay in touch with far away friends and family. I've never been a phone girl, not even as a teenager. People waiting for me to call them may be in for a long wait. (Reminds me of the line from The King's Speech: "Waiting for me to... commence a conversation, one can wait rather a long wait.")
  • Blog posts (can be) like dynamite. See this post for more about that. I especially appreciate the questions to ask before posting. I need to remind myself of these before hitting the publish button.
  • Blogging is more fun when it's a conversation. I've been trying to comment on other blogs more frequently, especially new to me blogs. However, if there are already more than 25 comments or so, I don't bother. "Great post" or "I agree" are repetitious after that point. This probably varies for each blogger / commenter.
Also: I can't believe I haven't used these bullet points in a blog post before now.

Thoughts, opinions, corrections, questions? Specifically about blogging, but just in general is OK too. {smile}

Happy Birthday, Princess!

Happy Birthday to my baby sister!

(You may be seven years younger and an inch or two shorter, but I seem to be looking up to you more and more often!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From the Commonplace Book - On Self Improvement

Don't bother to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. - William Faulkner
This author's quote goes along with a quote by another author (though one far removed in location and style):
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. - Leo Tolstoy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday - Books for Bedtime

Goodnight Moon1. Goodnight Moon. I think it's federal law that, if you have anyone under the age of eighteen living in your home, you must own this book. It was in Margaret Wise Brown's will or something. (I'm joking, of course). Furthermore: you must read this book at bedtime at least once a week or your child will grow up to complain to their therapist, "Well, it all started when we had to take Goodnight Moon back to the library..." Seriously though, this book is a classic for a reason.

Guess How Much I Love You2. Guess How Much I Love You. We have this in board book form and our children have loved it so much we've had to replace our copy at least once. This is a great one for Daddy to read at bedtime.

Goodnight Goodnight Sleepyhead3. Goodnight, Goodnight, Sleepyhead. Very few words (a plus at some bedtimes, am I right?) and gorgeous illustrations; this is a beautiful book.

Bedtime for Frances (Trophy Picture Books)4. Bedtime for Frances. Frances, the little badger, is one of the great children's characters. We have at least two Frances type daughters in our home. Philip likes to read this one.

Just Go to Bed (Little Critter) (Pictureback(R))5. Just Go to Bed. Yes, I know, Little Critter books are not exactly high literature. And I tend to be suspect of any children's book you can buy at the grocery store. But...Little Critter books are different. The humor! The expressive faces! These are actually readable, unlike so many of the little square books off a spinning wire rack. (Particularly any book with a Disney character in it - blech!)

Hushabye Lily Book and Audio CD Set (Paperback)6. Hushabye Lily. The little bunny Lily can't go to sleep because of all the noises in the farmyard. Sleep eventually wins, of course. Gentle illustrations and lots of "Shh's" help make this a great bedtime choice.

God Gave Us You7. God Gave Us You. Little Cub is not quite ready to sleep and her series of questions is very true to life. Slightly wordier than I prefer at bedtime, it's still a pretty book and worth the time every once in awhile. Especially if your own Little Cub has been asking similar questions.

I Love You, Good Night8. I Love You, Good Night. This is a board book with just one sentence on each page. Very sweet, with colorful pictures.

9. Hush, Hush, It's Sleepytime This is a "Little Golden Book". We have it in a collection called Bedtime Stories: The Little Golden Book Library. Basic prose and simple sentences with soft, nostalgic illustrations.

The Going-To-Bed BookPajama Time!   [PAJAMA TIME-BOARD] [Board Books]10. Pajama Time and The Going to Bed Book. Two favorite board books. Bless Sandra Boynton for writing such readable books that children and parents both enjoy!

So, what are your favorite bedtime books?

This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday at Oh Amanda.
Update: The Four Moms are talking about bedtime books so I'm also linking this up with them. Come along and see what books these four homeschool moms recommend!

This post contains Amazon Associate links. Any action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Opinions are my own and I encourage you to check your library or Paperback Swap first - these books are worth it!