Things I’ve been Enjoying.

I have not cared to blog AT ALL the last couple of weeks because I have just finished my first re-read of all seven Harry Potter books. One of my favorite book series, I’ve wanted to do this but never felt like I had “the time” to dive in. But Ali finished book 4 (Goblet of Fire), and I wanted to make sure our encouragement of letting her read the rest at her current age of 10 was a good decision. This was the perfect excuse I needed to immerse myself into Hogwarts and beyond – “For the child. I do it for the child.”

Here are my thoughts from re-reading:

– Upon my first reading, I did not enjoy book 5 (Order of the Phoenix). It was too dark, and Harry was too moody. But after having the entire picture of why Harry was grumpy and what was going on and what important information was gleaned in that year that was necessary later, I actually quite enjoyed it the second time.

– Books 5-7 are in a league of their own. They are the most gripping, engaging books I’ve ever read. I’m almost mad that the movies exist because of how much richness they leave out. I took 45 days to read the first four books, but only 6, 5, and 4 days respectively to read books 5, 6, and 7 – despite them being exponentially longer than the first four. They’re simply stunning works of art.

– My first reading of the books (before watching any movies, of course) happened when I was pregnant with Ali. Only books 1-6 were out during that time. Book 7 came out the next summer, when Ali was 6 months old and I was in the depths of post-partum depression (unmedicated at that point.) I did not remember this timing, but once I started book 7, I looked up the publishing date, sure that something was amiss, and it all made sense. My memories of 1-6 were very clear and mostly positive, but I remembered not liking book 7 and thinking it was a total drag. This time around, there were parts of book 7 of which I had zero recollection, and I enjoyed the book immensely. The moral of this story is: don’t read excellent literature for the first time while you’re depressed. Or if you do, read it again later.

– The books were infinitely richer on the reread, and lost none of the appeal because I knew how they ended. There are so many hidden nuggets throughout the books (even starting in book 1) that you cannot understand until you’ve read them all. Seeing all of these brilliantly included foretellings takes away any sadness over the lack of surprise.

– I’ve been simultaneously reading The Wingfeather Saga (by Andrew Peterson) out loud to the kids while reading Harry Potter to myself, and The Wingfeather Saga did not pale in comparison. If you’re needing another series to read that has many of the special elements of the Harry Potter series (lots of surprises, a fascinating and unique world, finding out more and more about how that world works as the series goes on), I definitely recommend it. It’s no Harry Potter, but it’s not too far off.

– Yes, I did give Ali permission to go ahead and read whichever Harry Potter books she wants.

Next on my reading list that will keep me from wanting to blog again: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. I start tonight.


Other things that I’ve enjoyed lately:

The Skimm – a free news newsletter (literal NEWSletter?) that catches me up on the news in a delightfully sing-song, lighthearted fashion. They write wonderful things like “meanwhile, Trump is trying to ctrl-z that budget item…” Y’all – replacing “ctrl-z” for “cut” in a news article is speaking my love language. It’s been a good way to keep up with what’s going on in the world without freaking out about it – and it’s the first daily email that I actually look forward to. Whether or not you get your news elsewhere, this is sure to entertain.


dotted journals (sometimes referred to as bullet journals.) I discovered these journals toward the end of last year (much thanks to my dear friend Carla Jean) and ever since, they’ve been helping me organize my life. They’ve made me much more productive, and have helped with this year’s resolution, which is to have monthly goals rather than yearly goals. Working on something for 30 days is so much easier than a year, and I’ve often created a new habit by the end of 30 days, so I don’t need to track it any further.

I currently have 3 bullet journals in regular use (two Northbooks and one Miliko), and an extra bullet journal as a scratch pad. They are:

1. My to-do list/catch-all notebook – it contains a universal to-do list that I rewrite about once a month or whenever the page gets full, plus all sorts of other lists, planning pages, and information – keeping an index in the front of the book and numbering the pages makes this doable and possible.Bullet Journal To-Do lists

2. A bible journaling notebook – I use one side of the page for bible study, and the other side to artistically write/draw a bible verse – it’s a way I can take part in the bible journaling fun without the stress of actually drawing in a bible and potentially messing up.Bullet Journalling Bible Verses 4s

Bullet Journalling Bible Verses 2s

Bullet Journalling Bible Versess

Bullet Journalling Bible Verses 3s

3. My monthly goals book (this one is the spiral-bound Miliko – I just leave the month’s page facing up and on my bedside table to make it easy to remember to track.) Each month I pick 5-ish things that I want to work on or track, and mark my progress each day, along with tracking how I felt that day and what I did that day. It’s a great way for me to track how things affect my Dysautonomia (a lot of my monthly goals are actually health “experiments” to see what helps make me feel better), along with keeping a short one-sentence journal of each day. I’ve found that it’s surprisingly fun to read back over.

Bullet Journallings

In the back of this notebook, I’m also keeping up with mine and the kid’s mileage for the year. (I know mine in MapMyRun, but don’t track the kid’s miles anywhere else.)

Bullet Journalling Running Miless

There’s something magical about the dots in these journals that makes journaling and to-do listing so much easier and more fun. I really enjoy the manual part of it – I still keep my calendar on my phone, but written lists and tracking just feel right. Of course, a set of colored pens are necessary to truly make it this much fun. Oh – and a natural anal-retentive nature. But if you think I’m crazy, go search #bulletjournal or #bujo on Instagram. You’ll be lost for hours, mouth agape, at what crazy levels people go to bujo their lives.


Yoga With Adriene – I needed to do yoga to help some back pain I’ve been having (still left over from 2015’s wreck) but the idea of going to a class felt like another thing that I didn’t have time for. It took me about a week to have a eureka moment and realize that there are probably yoga classes on YouTube. Sure enough, I found Adriene. She’s not too cheesy and has hundreds of videos to choose from – I like searching for topics and being gleeful that she’s covered them (“back pain”, “for runners”, “in a bad mood”, “left pinkie pain”) (Okay I don’t know if she has one for left pinkie pain but if anyone did, she would.) She also has videos of every length – 6 minutes to 50 minutes. Anyway. I kinda am in love with Adriene.


– Trader Joe’s – We’ve only had one for about a year and the first time I went in, I was so confused. Was this a grocery store? A snack foods store? A random collection of brand new products that I have to figure out how they fit in my life? But I’m finally starting to get the hang of it and finding the things I like, such as the dried peaches, dried sweetened mango, cinnamon pecans, frozen risotto, some of the soups (some are just terrible – it’s a real hit-and-miss kind of game), triple ginger cookies, dried okra (no seriously it’s interesting and good), and their refrigerated pastas – especially the butternut-squash-filled pasta. But I’m still learning so let me know what you like.


I have an embarrassing amount of workout clothes. But I’ve finally found my all-time favorite tank, the Brooks Go-To Racerback Tank.

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More importantly, there are a few of last year’s model on sale for $12.60 on Amazon (and also here, size large in a different color, but this one’s not showing up in any searches so it might be gone soon – especially since I just bought two.) It’s long and thoroughly covers the butt, it’s not clingy, it’s comfortable, and it’s flattering. But definitely buy it a size too big.


What have you enjoyed lately?

The Best New Crafting Bling: Fimo Slices.

crafting with fimo barrelss

It’s been way too long since I’ve made a craft project worthy of sharing. Today’s is brought to you by purchasing the wrong product, because sometimes you discover something fabulous by screwing up. Such was the case with Fimo barrels.

I loved making Fimo beads when I was a kid – the rolling into a barrel, then slicing to show the amazing detail. I was never great at it, but it was fun anyway. When I saw that you could very inexpensively order pre-made super detailed barrels, I was thrilled.

Fimo ProjectIMG_4741sI ordered this set and this set, and they should last us for many craft projects.

I did not realize, however, that the barrels were already baked, making them more of a hard rubber than the soft clay I was used to working with for beading.

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In retrospect I should have assumed so – they were advertised as nail décor – something I would NOT be using them for. (Any mother knows that supergluing something adorable to our fingernails would be a practice in maddening futility.) But alas. I had excitedly ordered them, then when I found out what they were, promptly put them in a junk drawer for over a year – which is, apparently, the amount of time it takes for me to have a eureka moment as to how to utilize something.

That realization was that we could use them for a 100 Days of School craft.

Using an X-acto knife, I carefully sliced 100 slivers for each of the kids (and 100 for myself – because if we’re gonna craft, I should get to craft too.)

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(Aren’t they gorgeous? It made me happy just seeing them all.)

I drew us each a tree with a metallic sharpie on scrapbook paper I had left over from previous craft forays (these were from a frames project from YEARS ago. I have trouble purging craft products.)

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Then I gave the kids some glue and told them to have fun.

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I have to say. The finished product, though useless except to lay around the house for the next year and a half until I finally throw it out, was VERY satisfying.

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And the kids loved all the different shapes – there were Angry Birds, flags, playing cards, emoji, and a animals. The random variety kept them endlessly entertained and plugged into our crafting project.

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A couple of weeks later, it was about to be my Mom’s birthday. She is a Master Gardener, so I thought it would be fun to use the barrels in the shape of flowers to make her garden birthday cards.

I pulled out my scrapbook paper again, and also my Washi Tape (from my gift wrap hack that I’ve gloriously used for the past three years.)

I sliced the kids one of each of the flowers, along with other things that would belong in a garden.

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I then drew them stems, handed them glue, and told them to go to town.

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The finished product further convinced me: Fimo barrels should be in everyone’s craft drawer, not sadly languishing in a junk drawer.

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Of course, as delightful as the outsides were, I’m pretty sure Gramamma preferred the freestyling insides.

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But let’s be honest – crafting before sentimentality. Those Fimo flowers are THE BOMB.

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Gifts for the Lego Lover

List of Lego Gift Ideas

Thanks to a swarm of Christmas and birthdays, I’ve been tipped off to, have searched for, and have randomly found a plethora of Lego-Themed gifts. A bunch of it showed up in Chris’ stocking, to which he kept exclaiming, “How did you even find this stuff??”

So, in order to help you all find Lego goodness, here’s my comprehensive list of Lego, Lego-ish, or Lego compatible goodies I’ve discovered lately.

1. Oyo Sports Lego Sets – a friend messaged me on Facebook about these one morning in December. I woke up, looked at my phone, read her message, and literally ordered them before I got out of bed. As expected, they were pretty much my Best Present Ever for Chris. How else could I combine the two most integral components of my husband’s personality? Yes. Fully licensed Alabama Football Lego-compatible bricks.

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They also have many other college football teams (including Auburn), along with NFL teams, hockey, and Baseball.

But Alabama Football was enough for my family, and they are enjoying their sets immensely.

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I got Chris two Endzone sets and a couple of extra players (yes, they have actual players – but only the ones who have graduated off the team – stupid NCAA rules and all), but I was distressed over the fact that they had no mid-field sets. Of course, right after Christmas, they released mid-fields. I’m sure I will be buying him one for Father’s Day or some other such excuse.

(But he’s still fully entertained with his endzones.)

2. Buildable Mug – I bought one of these for Chris, waiting expectantly for what all fantastic creations he’d build onto his morning coffee.

Lego Coffee Mug

Image via Amazon

He loves it and consistently drinks his coffee out of it,

but has yet to build a single blasted creation onto it – His mug still looks like this:

Lego Mug

I can’t say that I’m not disappointed. HORRIBLY disappointed.

But I shall continue to wait in hope and expectation of greater things still to come.

3. For Birmingham Lego Lovers, you absolutely MUST procure family Lego Vulcan T-Shirts.

I cannot express how excited I was when I happened across these shirts by Optik Citizens on Instagram – to combine our city’s unique pantsless statue with our love of Legos…it was a moment of inspiration.

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Aren’t they fabulous?

They also have stickers for cars and computers or whatnot. To order any of these, you will need to email the artists directly – ocbham (at) gmail (dot) com – especially for the kid’s shirts, which had to be specially ordered (but still only $15.) But they’re easy to work with and quick to fulfill orders.

4. Lego Card Making Kit – Seriously I am on a roll with combining passions. Ali loves Legos and crafts, especially sending people cards. So I knew she needed this set.

Lego Card Making Kit

Image Via Amazon

…Though I haven’t actually seen any cards come out of production yet – I think she may have hidden them all in one of her many undisclosed hoarding locations.

5. Emmet Jacket – we bought this for Noah for our Halloween outfit set, but it has become his favorite winter accessory. He would rather be Emmet than “boy-wearing-nondescript-jacket” any day.

Lego Movie Emmet Costume

And I don’t blame him one bit.

6. Unikitty Crocheted Hat – Speaking of our Halloween outfits, Ali has also become quite accustomed to being Unikitty – I hope that she can break the trend before spring, or her head is going to mildew.

Princess Unikitty Hat

We got her hat custom-made at a very reasonable price by a long-time blog reader, Stephanie, who has a serious crocheting talent. I texted her a picture of what I wanted, and she made it within a week – without a pattern. She has the Unikitty hat available in her shop here. She also makes a wicked awesome Lego Scarf, if you ask nicely.

7. Silicone Lego Molds – These can be used to make Jell-O or Candy – both of which I’ve done and my children have adored. Click on either picture for more details:

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You can also use the molds to make soap, candles, crayons, or anything else you can think of to melt and pour in them.

There are now also sets with bigger molds that would be great for making cakes – I might try that next. Or I might just stick with….

8. Lego Head Cake Pops. Made by my good friend Jamie (and shippable anywhere in the U.S.), these dreamily delicious treats are my family’s favorite cake. Chris has gotten them in his stocking multiple times, and Noah had them for his birthday a couple of years ago. Did I mention they’re adorable?? Especially when your husband custom-builds a stand for them.

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Jamie takes special orders and can literally make anything into cake pops – from snowglobes to tacky Christmas sweaters to the poop emoji. She also recently tried her hand at Lego Movie Cake Pops, and they were fairly brilliant.

Lego Movie Cake Pop SetImage by Jamie

9. Lego Minifigure Sets – My husband readily admits that minifigures are the best part of Legos. I’ve already bought him all of these sets, or I’d totally keep buying him one a year. But they’re his fave, and the characters included are quite fantastic.

Minifig SetImage Via Amazon

10. Lego Candy Blocks – Noah’s favorite treat, he gets these anytime he can find them. In fact, it may be one of my chief bribery tactics to get him to go for a run with me…

Lego CandyImage Via Amazon

11. Lego Brick Slippers – We do not own these because we are not a slipper family, but if perchance you are a slipper family AND love Legos, well, here’s your stocking stuffer.

 

Lego SlippersImage Via Amazon

12. Lego Crayons – if you don’t have time to make your own but need them for a birthday party, then Amazon has you covered, as always. And who doesn’t want to color with a Lego minifig head?

Lego CrayonsImage via Amazon

13. Lego iPhone Case – If my husband didn’t insist on as slim of a case as possible, he would definitely have this. I kinda love it and I’m the only non-Master-Builder in our family. Just think of the handle you could build to keep your iPhone comfortably snug in your hand!

Lego iPhone CaseImage Via Amazon

14. Lego Candles – No Lego Birthday party is complete without these. Enough said.

Lego CandlesImage Via Amazon

15. Lego Business Card Holder – For the man that’s not afraid to show his true passions in the workplace, this should go right next to a photo of him making out with his wife.

Lego Business Card HolderImage Via Amazon

What great Lego-Themed gifts have you found?