A Real Housewife in Beverly Hills

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two weekends ago I headed up to Beverly Hills to stay at The Four Seasons and attend the HOP movie press junket. You know, a typical weekend. Before I left I did a little grocery shopping, a little straightening up and made a pot of chili for the boys to have leftovers. I tried to squeeze in a mani/pedi too. I told Phil I was heading out to get one and I got an eye roll back.



"Well, I don't want to show up in Beverly Hills looking like a stay at home mom."

"You are a stay at home mom."

"Yes, but that doesn't mean I have to look like one!"

In the end I decided replacing my foundation was more important than my having my nails done. I left Friday afternoon and almost the entire drive up to LA I was obsessing over my appearance. My gray hairs were out in full force, I was in desperate need of a good blow out, I'd broken two nails and my stress acne was flaring up big time (thus the need for new foundation). 

Hi Russel Brand, nice to meet you. I'm Hot Mess Housewife.

Alright vanity, you win.
Instead of heading to the hotel when I got off the freeway I went straight to Beverly Center and the nearest MAC counter*. I had my face done, complete with fake eyelashes.

Now, I didn't have it done because I was worried about what everyone else would think of me. I did it for myself. Sure, I could wear makeup every day. But, why? I'm home alone all day. It's not the same as being out and about.

When I was a "working mom," putting on makeup and curling my hair was part of the package. I looked nice. Now, my standard uniform is a ponytail, jeans, wedges and a comfortable top. When I see other ladies all made up to go to Costco, it seems kinda silly.

For one night, I wanted to feel confident and self assured. I wanted to feel pretty. If you haven't tried them out, fake eyelashes do it for me, every time. 

When I got to the hotel, I pulled on my Spanx, my new shirt and boots and walked out of my room feeling like a million bucks.

L to R: Catherine, Kim, Dan, Meredith and Sara

Seana and Renee
I met new people, made new friends and was able to do it with a real smile. Not a self conscious one.

What do you to make yourself feel like a million dollars?

*I saw Amy Adams at the Clinique counter. She is just as pretty in person and tiny! I'm not used to being taller than anyone else! Thank you to Universal for the royal treatment (and my hotel, movie tickets and awesome food)! Photos courtesy of Chris and Kristen Photography

Fun with Space Mountain Pt 2 | Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Disneyland March 2011

Ancestry.com Blew My Mind

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

family treephoto © 2007 Rick Audet | more info (via: Wylio)
Ancestry.com has been doing heavy TV advertising on some of the networks I watch regularly. I know a few people who have used Ancestry and have enjoyed it. Personally, I haven't had much interest in digging into my family history. I mean, I want to know, but I don't want to know; if you know what I mean.

When I first started seeing the commercials, I got really jaded. I don't know where it came from. The conversations in my head went something like this:

Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather not see written evidence of how my family was probably split up and I definitely don't want to know who owned my great, great grandparents. But thank you anyway.

It got to the point where I'd change the channel when the commercial came on. It seems so irrational and silly, but it's true. I'd get this little ball of anger in the pit of my stomach. I know I could spend several weeks on a therapists' couch to figure out where all those feelings came from! 

I do get angsty and bitter during Black History Month so I'm sure there were some residual feelings from there. Call me crazy, but the mental images I get when I think of African Americans and trees aren't the kind to inspire me to log onto their site.

But then I saw another commercial and my whole perspective changed. This one had an African American man as the actor. He said pretty much what I had been thinking, only politely. Then, at the end of the commercial, he said something along the lines of, "sure, I saw that my grandfather came here as a slave. But I also saw that he ended up a business owner."


My mind? It was blown.

In that one sentence, Ancestry managed to completely change how I felt about the site. I'd been thinking of it from a totally negative viewpoint. I had such big blinders on, I couldn't even see the positives. Who knows what kind of information I could find if I were ever to dig into our family history?! It can't all be bad, right?

I guess I should say thank you to Ancestry. I always appreciate a good swift kick in the arse and being forced to re-think previous misconceptions. ETA: Heather's comment below reminded of something I meant to put in my post which is to commend Ancestry for recognizing there might be a need for that kind of commercial message and handling it in such a compassionate (though realistic) manner.

Who or what has kicked you in the arse before?

*This is not a sponsored post. I tried to find the actual commercial on You Tube but couldn't. If you find it please leave a link!

Stock Up Trips to the Store - Is it Worth It? | Frugal Friday

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Oops! Forgot to schedule this for yesterday!

I'm going out of town this weekend. One thing I had on my to-do list is stock up on a few groceries for the boys. I didn't have time to do a major grocery run so I chose the best advertised specials from this week's grocery store fliers and made three stops to Albertson's, Ralph's and Vons. 

Yes, that is a kind of a lot of running around, especially with gas prices the way they are. But, I was able to take advantage of several specials and combine them with coupons for added savings. That's when making a special trip is worth the effort. For example, take a look at my Ralph's trip:

I took advantage of the March Into Savings promo and got an automatic $10 off my total. I forgot one coupon in my binder (grrrr!) so I only used 2 which took another $2 off. Before the coupons and promo my total would have been $49.48. For my 22 items I paid $18.60. Also, with today's purchase I've earned enough bonus points this period to get a $5 voucher good on any future shopping trip. 

My Albertson's and Vons trips were similar. I spent a little more at Albertson's than planned because I got a few things not on my list (green foods for Tyler's St. Patrick's Day lunch). Still, my total for 22 items was $46.60* ($104.63 before savings). My Vons total for 10 items was $20.42 ($40.84 before savings). 
Before savings: $195.31
Spent: $85.62
Savings: $109. 69
Items: 54

Not too bad. The most time I spent was in going through the fliers, cutting the coupons and making my lists. If the sales are good, and they include items you actually use, take advantage of it. At Albertson's, Honey Nut Cheerios are $1.88 this week. They are pretty much all Tyler eats so I stocked up. I bought 6 boxes (and one Kix for me). 

I used $4.65 in coupons and paid $9.51 for seven boxes of cereal, or $1.35 each. Since I really can't stand paying more than $1.50 for cereal, this trip was definitely worth it. I had two more $1 off coupons and would have purchased 5 more but I don't have that much room in my stockpile. 

People use the phrase "time is money" to say why they don't like to use coupons. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again: we make time for the things that are important to us! Saving money is important to me. Not paying full price if I don't have to is important to me.

Now, if only I could take that $109 in savings and set it aside. If I kept adding all my savings for the rest of the year, I bet I'd have my Louboutain's by Christmas! 

So, where do you stand? Is it worth it to you to make special trips to the store? How do you feel about couponing in general? 

Happy St. Patricks Day!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wearing the family name

Green mustard in Tyler's lunch

Part of my husband's tattoo

Here's hoping you don't get pinched! 
(unless you're into that sort of thing)

Fun with Space Mountain | Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Disneyland, March 2011

Turning the Tables on My Mom

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I bet when most of us were in our early teens, and we would call our friends to complain about our parents we'd say would never grow up to be like our moms. I know I did. Of course, as an adult, I see how almost inevitable it is that we'll inherit some traits from our parents. Now, that I'm a mom myself, I really can't think of anyone I'd rather be like.

Aside from the whole giving birth to me thing (since that's a given), she's done so much for me. Mom didn't complain when I'd finish both Sweet Valley High books the same day we bought them. She taught me how to use tampons. Literally. She let me wear her fur coat to prom. She bought me my first car. And my second. I think I just finished using the last pencil in the box of one gross that she sent me to college with (I'll save you the Google, it's 144). When we go to Costco and I ask if she wants to split something with me, she'll say yes even if she doesn't really want it.
My mom and I talk to each other at least once a week if not more. Now that she got an iPhone, she emails me even more often with things like, "what is pinging?!" in the subject line. But, despite how frequently we talk, we never run out of things to say when we're together. It's pretty rare that I get to treat her to a night out. It's almost always the other way around. But, a few weeks ago, I decided to take my mom on a date. We went to see Cavalia, a new Cirque du Soleil show. I took her to dinner before the show. Granted, it was only soup and paninis at Corner Bakery, but I think she was pleasantly surprised when I paid.

We got lucky during the show. One of the members of the animal training staff sat next to us. It was neat to hear him talk about all the horses, things that go on behind the scenes and what it takes to put a show like that together. The horses were beautiful, the music and acrobatics were great and the show itself was fun. It was nice because I don't think going to see a Cirque show is anything we would have done on our own.

Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling well that day. I could barely keep my eyes open the whole way up to LA. I got there early and pulled into a parking garage and sacked out for half an hour with the car running so I could keep the heater on. By the time the show was over, I wished we could have gone out for a nightcap but it was pretty late and I needed to get on the road. My mom stayed up well past midnight to wait for my call that I'd made it home safe. Because she's awesome like that. One little show isn't nearly enough of a 'thank you' to my mom for everything she's done for me. I hope I can repay her again sometime.

Have you been able to do something special for one of your parents?

*I was provided with tickets to the show. No cameras were allowed, thus no pictures. :(

Virtual Cooking Class | Join Me at The MotherHood

Monday, March 14, 2011

This is a sponsored post

I'm not as much of a cook as I used to be. Before we had Tyler we were a lot more adventurous in the kitchen. We'd open a cookbook, choose a recipe and give it a try. These days, I don't experiment as often but I can follow the heck out of a recipe. Still, I do like to surround myself with kitchen inspiration, just in case. I subscribe to Food Network magazine and Rachel Ray. I added three new food blogs to my reader just last week (and made two of her recipes). I also have cooking shows on as background noise almost all day.

It was a no brainer to say yes when I got an email asking me to co-host a class in the Web’s first-ever virtual cooking school, Cooking Connections, through The Motherhood. The show chefs are two of my most favorite bloggy friends, Busy Dad and Mr. Lady.  Jim is one of the only people who can text me at 11pm and get me to come meet him for drinks and Shannon is my girl crush. The show, airing this Wednesday, is Cooking with Dad, and if Jim's videos from our Tastemaker days are any indication, it's going to be good.

When: Wednesday, 3/16 at 8pm ET

My lovely co- hosts:
Dan Deguia: Deguia.net |@deguia
MomoFali: Momo Fali | @momofali

Jim and Shannon will be live video feed, and my co-host and I will be sharing stories and tips for having fun in the kitchen with Dad (and/or the other non-cooks of the family) in the comment section. If you Tweet, follow the conversation #CookingConnections. Care to join us?

The class is sponsored by ConAgra and hosted by TheMotherhood. I'm being compensated to participate and invite you to come have fun with me. The statements that Jim and Shannon rock my socks are my own opinion.

Thinking Of Japan and Sending Prayers

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prayersphoto © 2006 Giulio Bernardi | more info (via: Wylio)
I was going to do another Fashion Friday but my heart isn't in it today. I fell asleep on the couch watching the news coverage of the devastation in Japan. The images of the waves of water moving through communities will stay with me for a long time. I can only imagine how much worse it will be when the waters completely recede and the cleanup, rescue and recovery efforts can begin. 

On Twitter I mentioned that before social media (and I guess before becoming a SAHM), it was very likely that I wouldn't have know about the quake and tsunami until I woke up the next day. And even that would depend on whether I had time to turn on the news while getting ready. How things have changed!

The Huffington Post has a thorough piece on who is collecting funds for relief aid. At times like this, it's reaffirming to see humanity come together but also sickens me to see those who take this as an opportunity to commit fraud and prey on our sense of giving. Please make sure you donate to a reputable, legitimate organization.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Japan as they deal with aftershocks and new quakes; To all who have loved ones and family over there; to our military who are on their way to help; and anyone else with ties over there.

How to Embarrass Your Kids at Disneyland

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Every ride you go on, even if it's not a coaster, raise your arms and start singing Taio Cruz's Dynamite. 

Big Thunder Mountain, March 2011

"I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, saying ay-oh, baby let's go!" 

Totally works.

Sometimes I Miss Having a Landlord

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When we bought our house, I had grand visions of being able to take the fixer, put our stamp on it and turn it into a reflection of our personalities. I had the idea that we'd be able to steadily take the ugly canvas the previous owners gave us and create a space we both love and want to share with others. 

I thought by now, we'd have made it through all the upstairs rooms and we'd have this great place to relax and entertain. Not so much. In the almost four years we've lived here we've only been able to do the kitchen, and even that isn't all the way done (Phil would want to me to make sure you know that the incompleteness of the kitchen is all my fault). 

It shouldn't surprise me then, that the things that were falling apart when we bought our place aren't holding up over time. I don't know why I assumed something that was already broken wouldn't get more so after years of use. Case in point, our downstairs toilets. They suck. They've only got one job to do and they can't handle it. They're constantly overflowing and backing up. The plunger has become another bathroom accessory. A few days ago, the flush chain thing (which is how I would ask for it at Home Depot) in Tyler's bathroom broke for the second time. 

At this point, we think we should just get another toilet. We didn't want to replace it until we were ready to remodel the bathroom, but who knows how many more years will go by before that happens! So, I'm researching potties. In the interim, we have to keep the toilet usable for Tyler. If he wakes up the night it's easier for him to use his own bathroom rather than go upstairs and I definitely don't want him waking us to use ours. The solution? Hand flushing. 

If by some wacky coincidence the other two bathrooms in the house are occupied I'll hold it until my eyes turn yellow rather than stick my arm in the back of the toilet to lift the rubber stopper, but I think Tyler actually gets a kick out of it. Once we told him it was clean water back there he didn't seem to mind, but I do. It's bad enough all the toilet seats are almost always up but now I have to look into the tank, too. I don't think it could possible get anymore ghetto than this! Hopefully I won't have to live with it like this for too much longer. 

Have any of you had to replace a toilet recently and can recommend a model? Preferably self cleaning, mildew resistant, stain and smell resistant with an auto lower seat and lid? 

Skype Premium $10 for 3 Months | Groupon Deal

Facebook Skype Partnership?photo © 2010 SEO | more info (via: Wylio)
This is a pretty neat deal. I like that Groupon is thinking outside the massage and facials box. 

I've been using Skype a lot more lately and I love it. Forget business meetings, Skype is for stay at home moms! 

In the past few weeks I've video chatted with both Steph and Beej, two of my longtime bloggy friends and two of the funniest people I know. It's so great to take an online friendship offline and actually talk to the people behind the words in our feed readers. 

Plus, anything that lets me simultaneously connect with friends face to face, Tweet, fold laundry, and finish my coffee while it's still hot without getting that crick in my neck from holding the phone between my ear and shoulder I am all for!
I've been trying to get my Grandparents on Skype, I think today's Groupon could be just the deal to make it happen. Are you on Skype? What do you think?

Fine print: Deal is listed under Chicago, but it's national. Expires Apr 10, 2011. Limit 1 per person, may buy 2 additional as gifts. Limit 1 per Skype account. HD available only with HD camera. Not valid for users with US accounts through Skype Manager or Administrators. *Affiliate link

Dresses and Wedges for Spring | Fashion Friday

Friday, March 4, 2011

Disclaimer: Please ignore my hair, lack of make up or pedicure and focus on the dress and shoes. :D

You wouldn't know it by my almost daily uniform of jeans, but I'm really girly. I love, love, love dresses and skirts. They always seem to 'come back' in style as the must wear look for spring or summer. What I'm seeing in my magazines under spring trends are dresses and wedges, which is a look that totally works for me since I'm short.

I love the fun pattern and great colors in this dress. They're both definitely me. If I had any skills with a sewing machine, I'd make the dress more fitted at the waist so it fell in an A line. I debated pairing it with black wedges, but that didn't feel very spring like.

The dress is from Target but I'm not sure I'll keep it because of the fit. At only $15, it's a great deal and I can see wearing it instead of capris. What do you think, is it too 'maternity' for me?

Holly's Inbox, Scandal in the City : Book Review

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Holly's Inbox: Scandal in the City

I checked out both books in the Holly's Inbox series at the same time. I finished the first book last week and the second, Scandal in the City, over the weekend.

The second book is just as cute as the first. The characters are the same but some of the relationships are explained a bit more. 

I didn't love the ending. It was a little too pie in the sky, but that's chick lit for you. This book is slightly shorter than the first book at 544 pages. I've heard rumors of a third but couldn't find confirmation anywhere. It makes sense, given where this one left off.

What have you finished recently? Anything I should know about?

I Wish I Was Brave Enough!

Head to Toe Women's Expo 2010

I love the way this looks, but I just can't commit!

Happy Birthday Dr. Suess!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The three books on top are mine from when I was little. They've been passed down from me, to my brother and then to Tyler. I'm saving them for my brother when he has kids of his own. My mom can still recite the first few pages of Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb because I made her read it so many times. 

Thank you, Dr. Suess for being so timeless. Thank you for helping me introduce my son to colors, counting and rhyme. Your books are a great way to get kids interested in reading and learning to love words. The lessons in The Lorax and Horton Hears a Who are just as relevant today as when you wrote them. Happy Birthday!
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