Mardi Gras 2014 – Another Fabulous Year! #mardigras2014

I have talked about our tradition of traveling to Mobile, Alabama each year for Mardi Gras. We have missed a few years because of work and budget and life, but I am very happy to say that we’ve just returned from another trip to the Gulf Coast that was filled with fun, laughs, and, of course, beads!

Friday we flew in to MOB and drove straight to the float barn to get Mr. Acorns’ beads and throws all organized in his spot on his float. This year was his first ride – SO EXCITING!!! We got everything squared away, hit CVS for a few forgotten items and some wine and beer (yes, you can buy all of that in one place in the South), then we checked into our hotel.

Friday night is the Crewe of Columbus parade, and it’s always a fun time! We hung out together with friends & family before, after, and during the parade, then headed back to our hotel to get our friends’ kids to bed. Fortunately, the floor they were staying on was all Crew of Columbus folks who were out at the ball for the night, so we were able to leave the kids in the room sleeping while we sat in the hallway with our wine (and vodka. and popcorn.) for a few hours. MUCH fun. The men all crashed early but Mrs. D and Ms. B and I had fun giggling until after midnight.

Saturday starts with a hearty breakfast, then the men took the kids to go decorate the room for the ball that night. This meant that Mrs. D and I had about 2.5 hours to ourselves. She took a nap, I decided to pamper and primp a little bit with a long, hot shower and painting my nails. Then I threw on some clothes and headed down to meet the crew for the noon parade, which is really a combination of several crews, including the Floral Parade that is made up of children. It’s always fun, and I even got a little bit of sunburn standing there. Ahhhhh. Next up was the race to Dauphin Street for lunch with the entire rest of the crowd.

From there it’s really just relaxing and socializing until the men leave to get suited up and the parade starts at 6 (or 6:30, it’s always changing). I have to confess, seeing Mr. Acorns off to his first ride made me teary. I was so excited for him!

The MOT parade was FABULOUS, as always. The theme this year was There’s a First Time for Everything, and the float themes included First President, First Sin, First Knight (Mr. Acorns was on that one!), First Base, First Hunt, and a bunch of others. When Mr. Acorns’ float came around, Ms. K held the sign for me and Mrs. D helped me get up to the rail. And then, I cried hahahaha. He saw us, threw me a ton of stuff, and I blew him lots of kisses!!!! He did great! We then got dumped on when the rest of our friends and family came through on the last float. Always a fun time!

Then it’s onto the chaos of getting ready for the ball, the fun of call-outs and the tableau, lots of food and drink, and general great time. Everyone is usually exhausted, with sore feet, but we have a good time! We inevitably think we should go out for one more drink, which results in the Sunday hangover, but it’s worth it. This year on Sunday we grabbed breakfast then went back to Mrs. D’s parents’ house to visit for a few hours before we headed to the airport. Mr. & Mrs. K are remodeling her parents’ house in Mobile and it looks incredible.

Then, sadly, it was time to leave the 75 degree weather and head north. We had (mostly) uneventful flights, one missing bag (that was finally delivered on Tuesday), and returned to the polar vortex much to our chagrin.

Check out my photos from this year’s trip!**

book flight, brooklyn girls, bloody mary

snow, melting, airplane

mobile downtown panoramic

mardi gras beer garment bag

MOT float mr acorns

group costume ball gown mardi gras

warmth south azalea

mardi gras loot moon pie beads

 

***the group photo collage is a mix of my photos and those taken by Ms. B, as she was the smart one who brought a real camera haha! thanks again EB!

Foto Friday – Daddy & Daughter Dance

Ok, Ok. So it’s really a video, but you will forgive me this time, right?

If you are friends with me on Facebook you’ve seen this one, but I thought it was just too sweet not to share here on the blog too.

On Monday, while we were home and playing and working, M asked me to help her into a princess dress. Of course I said yes. Then she told me that she had to put on princess shoes and her princess dress so she could ask Daddy to dance.

My heart.

I did not capture the start of the dance because I was actually just enjoying the moment, teary eyes and all, but I managed to capture the last few seconds.

I thought Mr. Acorns was going to cry. It was so damn sweet.

heart daddy daughter dance

Adventures in Henna Hair Color

My hair was in desperate need of help. I have done a lot of coloring in the past 18 months, including bleaching and bright, colorful streaks of red, purple, etc. While those bright colors have been gone for a bit, the bleached strands and uneven, flat brown hair remained. I was dreading spending another $150+ on a salon visit to fry it all little more, so I started researching henna hair color.

After a few hours on Google, I decided that I would try out the Lush Cosmetics line of henna products, as they seemed beginner friendly and people had wonderful things to say about them. I picked up 2 colors: Caca Brun and Caca Noir. I wanted a dark brown color with warm hints, not a bright red, so I grabbed these. Each big block was $25 (for 6 squares), for a total of $50.

lush henna brun noir

(sorry, I forgot to take pics before I chopped off 2 of each haha). Based on my research, I needed 4 of the smaller blocks to cover my head, so I used 2 of the Brun and 2 of the Noir. I quartered the smaller blocks and put them in a glass bowl that I could use as a double boiler. I then made a cup of coffee to use along with plain boiling water, to help bring out the richer brown tones in the hair coloring.

chopped lush henna block

coffee henna lush

I boiled a little water in a small saucepan while the kettle heated to a boil as well. I put my glass bowl on top of my saucepan, creating a double boiler. Once my kettle was hot, I brewed my coffee and poured about 1/2 cup of boiling water over my henna to begin the melting process. I then added the coffee (all of it, probably about 12 oz) and a bit more water to get it mixed up to “cake batter” consistency.

henna lush melting

Blogger fail – I forgot to take a pic of it all mushed up until after I was done applying it. But my husband snapped a pic of it because he totally doubted how this would all turn out:

henna mixture lush developing

All of the instructions say to keep it warm while applying so I raced from the kitchen to the bathroom to get it started. And here is a pic of the mixture after I finished applying it:

henna mixture

I prepped my bathroom – - all rugs removed, lots of towels and paper towels and spray cleaner at the ready to clean up the mess.

cleaning supplies henna

I sectioned my hair into about 8 sections, then used the Lush Ultrabalm all around my hairline and on my ears to make it easier to clean up afterward. I donned my gloves and away I went! I started at the back of my head and moved forward, being sure to massage the mixture into my roots and all the way to the ends.

My tips:

  • My setup worked great. I probably will have 2 pairs of gloves at the ready next time, so that if I need to switch out b/c I need to touch something else I can.
  • My mixture was a little too thick. I will make it more of a yogurt consistency next time, and that will make it easier to apply and also less messy I think.

Once I had all of my hair slathered in the henna mixture, I grabbed the trusty Cling Wrap and wrapped it all up. I had also cut a strip of a towel and bobby pinned that around the base, just in case of any drips. Then I put a plastic shower curtain over it, and finally heated up a hair towel wrap to put over it on and off.

wrapped head henna

henna hair wrapped up

And then I sat like that for 5 hours.

As the henna dries, it gets hard and heavy, and you will feel like your head weighs 1,000 pounds. The smell of henna is something that everyone warned me about, but it did not bother me at all. In fact, I found it quite pleasing, and significantly better than the chemical smell of ‘regular’ hair color. I also have a sensitive scalp and it was nice to use a process that did not hurt or burn for a change.

At the end of my 5 hours, I unwrapped all the layers and hopped in the shower. Now, I had read many things about rinsing out the henna, but my best tip is this — get into the shower and just let the water run on your head. When I cleaned up my bowl after application, I noticed that as the hot water ran over the henna, it melted and washed away, so I used that method for my hair. It probably took about 15-20 to fully rinse it out, but once I was able to move my hair again (seriously, this stuff dries like a hard clay helmet) I used a few handfuls of conditioner to work the rest out. You will feel the smaller, grittier pieces and those are hard to get out, but just keep at it.

pictures henna before after collage

I let it air dry, and as you can see, my hair was AMAZING. It’s incredibly soft and full of shine. The color change is hard to capture in the crappy light of my kitchen, but I wanted the pictures to be taken in the same light. The before is a mixture of flat brown with blond-ish highlights leftover from my red and purple streaks, and it’s just, well, flat. The after is just FULL of light, shine, and warmth. The brown tones evened out and it has an overall warm, reddish hue that is just spectacular.

The henna will continue to develop over the next several days, so I will take another pictures on Wednesday/Thursday to see how it looks then.

I am ecstatic with my results. I was not looking for drastic change, which is why I chose the colors that I did. I was looking for a way to color my hair, bring it life, even tones and some warmth, in a healthy way. Absolutely, 100% accomplishment!!!! And I know that I will keep doing this every 8-10 weeks or so, because it is definitely worth it!

Honoring True Love – Team Sofie and the #findthelove Project!

I have often spoken of a little girl named Sofie, and her amazing mama, Lori. On Sunday, Sofie turned 3. While it was not the birthday celebration her parents had envisioned, her short life was honored, celebrated, and remembered by so many. Lori reached out to a few folks as Sofie’s birthday neared, and she wanted to do something special to honor Sofie’s 21 short days. Twenty-one days that have inspired thousands to love deeper, hold tighter, and be kinder.

Enter the Find the Love project.

Find the Love is all about just that – finding the love in our everyday lives. Sofie taught us love. She taught us the love of parents for a child. She taught us the love we should have for one another. Her life brought together far-flung old friends, forged new, life-long friendships, and taught the world to aspire to greater love. Love for our children, our parents, our pets, our world, and for one another as humans.

From January 26 through February 15, post your images and show us how you #findthelove. Make sure to use the hashtag so we can find all of your amazing photos. From simple pictures of the ones you love, to finding hidden hearts in your every day items, share them with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can follow along and join the event group here to share directly as well.

My first #findthelove photos:

findthelove love

#findthelove in a fresh coat of snow.

day 2 findthelove

Easy to #findthelove in those rosy, sleepy cheeks.

Join us and spread the love. Sofie’s life has touched so many, and she continues to inspire and encourage thousands of people to do good, to be good, and to find the love. Every day.

Sofie and her Parents

Did you also know that Lori wrote a book? I know, she’s pretty incredible. If you want to read Lori’s personal story of life, loss, and love, please check out With Just One Push: A New Mother’s Journey of Love, Loss and Survival today.

team sofie chapter 2 logo

The Move is Set!

It’s ours!

We signed a lease this weekend on that adorable little house in our first choice town. Yes, we saw one house, and signed a lease. Because when it is right, you do not hesitate.

This beautiful little cape-style home will soon be our residence for the next two years.

new house front

We met the landlord, signed on the dotted line, and the drove around town on a snowy day. Then we came back up to Rockland and grabbed a late lunch at Chili’s to look over the calendar and plan our move dates. The new house is 1/2 mile from the train station and Main Street. There are coffee shops, dance studios, Italian bakeries and so many more adorable little storefronts.

Did I mention we are 1/2 mile from the train station? Now our city friends can come visit and no one has to drive back and forth to the train. Sweetness. It also means that Mr. Acorns’ car will likely be parked at the top of the driveway and rarely move. Especially since he can even take the train to the airport now.

SWOON.

My mind is racing with ideas for the new place. The kitchen is significantly smaller than our current space, but the basement is wide open for storage so we can store many appliances and extras down there. And, of course, I have dreams of a new sofa down the line (ours is 10 years old and beat to hell). I will definitely get a new rug out of the deal, and we have our curtains from our old house in Minnesota so I cannot wait to make the house our own.

I will be posting about my small kitchen ideas, and I will be seeking input and help on a few of these reorganizing ideas.

Finding A New Home – Moving Time

House hunting. Whether you are looking to buy a home, rent an apartment, or deciding on a place to park your RV, figuring out where to live can be extremely stressful.

We rent the single family house we are currently living in. I like renting a single family home. You have your own space, independence, and just overall peace. Mr. Acorns and I have lived in large suburban apartments, small Manhattan spaces, sprawling townhouses and our own awesome walk-out ranch home.

We moved back to New York four years ago and found a large rental home in a beautiful neighborhood. Sure, it has wallpaper on a few of the ceilings. And maybe one of the bathrooms is black and pick and the other is 3 different shades of avocado green. Maybe it has living room windows that only stay open with the use of large wooden dowels. None of that mattered to me when we moved in.

Our house sits in the middle of a street that borders on a wonderful state park. Which also includes part of the Appalachian Trail and is connected to Bear Mountain State Park. But the beautiful area, gorgeous woods, and big lots here come with an unexpected price, and I do not mean just the rent. Sadly, this beautiful area also has some of the worst schools in the state of New York. Not for lack of parental participation, or great families to build it up, but due to politics and issues that run very deep in the community here. There is a lengthy history behind the demise of the schools here, but I will simply point you to this extensive article if you want to know more about it.

With our oldest child entering Kindergarten this coming fall, we knew we needed to get out of this school district if we could. When my work started picking up, bringing me to central New Jersey on a regular basis, we realized that it was time to look elsewhere for a place to live. I have spent weeks researching school districts, commutes, train schedules, rental averages, home prices … all of it. All of my research paid off when I spotted a new listing one day in my absolutely #1 town.

We are now in the process of applying to rent an adorable little home in the perfect little town. It’s smaller than our current house, which will definitely lead to adjustments and decisions, but it’s everything we need it to be. A room for my home office, with a door, so can actually get things done. Huge bedrooms for the kids so their toys can stay upstairs and out of sight. A great deck, and a fabulous back yard that is fenced on 3 sides. Neighbors with kids our kids’ ages. The schools are phenomenal. Mr. Acorns can walk to the train. Little league opens up with a town parade and there’s a block party on our street every fall.

Absolutely everything I want.

Now, of course, the negative nelly side of me, that little anxiety monster, rears its ugly head and I will not be truly excited about this house until we have that signed lease in our hands. But we have been able to provide the landlord and realtor with everything they requested, and hopefully after a meeting with the landlord this weekend we can get that lease drawn up and start planning a move to a new home. I am trying hard to think positive this time, instead of expecting the worst. Because we’re due for some good things in our lives, we really are.

If anyone has some awesome, “new home” vibes they want to send our way, they would be greatly appreciated. I will keep you all posted!!

house graphic home

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday – NY Botanical Gardens

We had a little winter fun 2 weeks ago, spending our Sunday at the New York Botanical Gardens’ Holiday Train Show! As a special bonus, we also got to see the Thomas the Train show, which was fun!!! But before we headed out, the kids had to show me their spiffy outfits, and, of course, just how fast they can run:

dressed up

showing their personalities for sure

blurry running picture

“Mama, take a pic of us running so fast that we’re blurry!” Done

Thomas!!!!!

thomas the train

Silly Selfies!!!!

silly selfies

silly selfies

 (yes she was VERY grumpy before the show)

It was a bit wet and snowy, but everyone had a good time walking through the mushy pathways, especially when this was what awaited us at the end of the long walk:

east river bridges

yankee stadium botanical gardens

botanical gardens holiday train show

Definitely a fun day trip for us. And, of course, can you beat a stop at Stew Leonard’s on the way home? We picked up some ingredients for some fab meals and then headed home to relax with the rest of our evening. The original plan for the day was to spend it at the New York Botanical Gardens with B & M’s grandparents, Honey & Papa, but sadly their inbound flight had been cancelled because of yet another snowstorm. And while we may not be able to go see the holiday train show with them when they come in April, we will find some very fun things to do I’m sure!

 

Getting Clean in the New Year with Mr. Clean

This New Year cleaning resolution tips post is brought to you by Mr. Clean as part of a Type-A Parent Community Sponsored Post.

I don’t know about you, but between work, kids, events, and travel, cleaning seems to be something that is always a challenge. The kitchen is a constant mess, and let’s not even talk about the bathrooms. Anytime I can find a way to make cleaning simpler, easier, and more efficient I embrace it with a passion. Together with Mr. Clean, I am working toward improving my cleaning efficiency in this new year.

mr clean liquid muscle cleaner

Here is an example of my weekday cleaning routines. Remember the goal is to keep it simple and focused, and if you can keep up with these small cleaning tasks each day, it means less cleaning time on weekends and you might even feel like your house is presentable if someone dropped by. Or at least one can dream, right?

  • Monday – quick toy pickup (5 minutes); Clear kitchen/dining room table (5 min); clear  kitchen counters  and other desktop areas & dust/clean (5 min); Quick declutter of living room and bedroom dressers (5 min); sweep floors and run stick vac (10 min).
  • Tuesday – wipe down sinks and toilets (10 min); declutter kitchen/desk/mail area (5 min); mop hard floor surfaces (10 min); tackle one child’s bedroom (5 min).
  • Wednesday – vacuum rugs (15 min); declutter (5 min); dust/pick up other child’s bedroom (10 min).
  • Thursday – toy pickup (5 min); clear kitchen/dining room table (5 min); bathroom sinks and toilet cleanup (10 min); sweep & stick vac (10 min).
  • Friday – laundry (all day); drink extra coffee, attempt to declutter then surrender until tomorrow.

Then each weekend I can focus on deeper cleaning – making sure the floors are all mopped, all surfaces scrubbed, sheets washed, etc. This is where my Mr. Clean Liquid Muscle is a huge time saver. With 2.5x more muscle in every drop, the concentrated formula powers through the messes that my family makes. I use it straight on the big bathroom and kitchen messes, and I dilute it to work on the tile floors.

In this set of pictures, I tackled the awful mess left on the stove following an extensive cooking session this past weekend. Before-during-after — with very minimal effort, I was able to clean what usually requires a steel wool pad to clean! I’m in LOVE with this cleaner!

mr clean liquid muscle before after

What is your New Year’s cleaning resolution???????

(This post has a Disclosure Level of 2/3. Mr. Clean sent me Liquid Muscle to review and provided the links. The opinion, however, is all mine!)

MrClean_CMYKThis is a compensated post brought to you by Mr. Clean. Mr. Clean is kicking off the New Year with the launch of a new product called Mr. Clean Liquid Muscle, a new multi-purpose, multi-surface concentrated cleaning gel that delivers superior cleaning performance on and off the floor. Be sure to like Mr. Clean on Facebook and follow @RealMrClean on Twitter.