Carolina Pride: What Football Makes You Feel

Our hometown of Charlotte, NC is also home to the awesome Carolina Panthers... I know, I know, if you are not from around here, you must be booing me right now, but listen! It's football season and we are Carolina proud (so let's deal with it).

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC.

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC.

Let me tell you what I like about my Panther Nation.  Before I even knew anything about football (thanks to my hubby, I'm now an expert), I used to think that football was boring and quite stupid... I know! How could I?? But now, I absolutely LOVE to see the Panthers play, and win (hehehe).  The team is cohesive and the players are incredibly involved and committed to their community.  I love that. They, not only love football, but also their fans.  

I know you are probably saying...well, that's every team. I agree. They all should, but what I mean is that when you see it first hand, it's a rewarding feeling to know that those big gladiator-looking guys on the field are the same teddy-bear-like men out signing autographs and/or spending quality time with kids and people in their community.  

Football is not only about the competitiveness of the sport, but also about the feeling of joy and pride you get when your team does well; and the same goes when your team doesn't win and they still leave the field with their heads up, cheering each other in the process. 

It's about the sense of belonging to something greater than yourself. 

It's the satisfaction of watching every first down, and celebrating every touchdown.  

Football is about community and togetherness, because when we are watching football, we are all one.  It doesn't matter your race, your age, your religion, your orientation...When we watch football, we all belong to the same team.

And that's why these athletes are so significant to us.  Because we watch them every season, not only with our eyes, but with our hearts; and what they do on and off of the field has meaning to you, to me, and to any fan. 

These athletes have the power to make us laugh, scream with joy, cry of frustration, and also, hug each other in celebration.  YES, football makes us do all that.  And when our sport heros takes a stand (or a knee) to show support for their community, for those who don't have a voice, for the ones that are mistreated due to prejudice, they are doing that for you and not to disrespect our nation.  On the contrary... they do it to try to bring the nation together by creating a dialgoue. 

I've heard many people say "just play football and stop the protesting on the field".  But I just explained that football is NOT just throwing a ball and scoring touchdowns.  It's about a very complex system of feelings that run through our bodies, and evoke a sense of belonging, a sense of community, a sense of family. 

When your team scores, you FEEL happy, you celebrate, you feel the euphoria through your veins.  So, don't tell them to just play football, because if that was the case, football would be dead. There's no football without the feelings that I just described.  

Our players have a voice that is heard loud and clear.  We should be proud that they choose to use that voice to speak for those who can't.  I patiently wait for the day that people can see that...obviously, the hardheadedness (for lack of a better word) of some fans sometimes goes beyond my comprehension, and goes beyond common sense, and human nature.  Sometimes we forget that we are all humans and we harshly judge, and misjudge each other...but I'm going to stop here and leave it at that.

This football season, I will wear my Carolina jersey with pride, and I will cheer for my team, whether they take a knee or stand; hug my neighbors, respect others who are different from me, and be kind to those in my community.  Because peace starts at home, near you, in your town... be the difference today, and tomorrow you will see the change. (And all that good energy will reflect on your team, and maybe help them win the Superbowl!- wishful thinking ) 


Cheer your team with a sense of belonging and you will see the joy that I'm talking about.




Donating your Hair... more than just cutting.

My daughter’s first “haircut” was at the age of 2.  She was born with a head full of fast growing hair. By the time she was 2, her dark brown hair was shoulder length with gorgeous silken baby curls hanging at the ends. Once she had her first haircut, the curls were gone (I cried a little), but her hair grew even faster. 

Now, at the age of 7, she’s had a few trims (a couple of inches at the time), but never even considered having an actual haircut with style. 

Until this summer…

We were watching American Ninja Warrior when one of the contestants, Kevin Bull, came on the screen followed by a story clip of his condition, alopecia. 

My daughter asked about it, and she was very curious to know why there were people that didn’t grow hair…especially the children they were showing on screen. We had a long conversation about medical conditions, including cancer, that some people endure and why some treatments make you lose your hair. She was devastated to learn that there were kids out there that had to go to school with no hair. She was worried about bulling among other things that go on inside a seven-year old’s mind. 

We looked at pictures of kids after undergoing chemo (she likes visual learning), and she asked if they can get wigs. YES! I said.  I told her that people donate long hair to make wigs and kids with many conditions can get them. 

Then she decided (on her own) that she wanted to cut her very long hair and donate it. 

I was shocked, and emotional, but it is obviously a decision that she was making, and I saw how firm she was in her determination. Either way, I gave her a couple more weeks for her to think about it. I mean, ALL her life she’s only known to have her long hair. Cutting it so short is a big decision, even for an adult, and I needed to make sure she was sure. 

And she was.

We scheduled the appointment and I could see she was a bit nervous before hand.

The awesome hairdresser measured her hair and began to cut.

Her face says it all when she realized the cutting was actually happening, and she feels the scissors going through her hair…

She styled it and placed two small red hair extensions for some added flair (she has been asking to get red highlights…but I refuse to bleach her hair at such an young age).

The highlight idea was a hit! She was so excited and happy with her new haircut.

And we are shipping the ponytail!

That night, she was crying, and although she wouldn’t tell me, I knew it was because she missed her hair… but it got better once I reminded her of the good act she was doing by donating her hair. I can only imagine what was going through her head... change is hard enough for an adult, developed brain, just imagine what it is for a kid. Abrupt change can be stressful. Thankfully, she is mature for her age and quickly came to a point where she was fine.  

It’s been almost a week, and she’s rocking her new do. 

Now the task continues as I haven’t decided which entity to send the hair to. Wigs for Kids is the one I originally chose, but I’m afraid they won’t accept her hair as it is just short of their 12 inches minimum requirement.  I would HATE for her hair to go to waste. 

Our next choice was the Pantene program, but my daughter insists that it must go to kids.  After researching, I realized Pantene does adults.

And there’s also Locks of Love. They donate mostly to kids with alopecia, and not cancer as our intentions were…but I think we are okay with that. They only require a minimum of 10 inches, and we got 11…. So I guess we have a winner!


If you have long hair, consider donating it when you cut at least 8 inches.... Don't let it go to waste!!!

As for my daughter, she said she's going to let it grow so she can donate her hair again.  I'm a proud parent. 



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Gardening update

So it's been roughly a month since I planted my veggie garden and I am so proud to report, I haven't killed a single thing! I will say, we have gotten quite a lot of rainfall the past several weeks so I have had help in the remembering to water department. This past weekend I harvested my first (of what I hope to) be many jalepenos and cucumbers. Look at these beauties!


I finely chopped up a couple of the jalapenos and threw them in with my eggs along with some garlic and parmesean cheese. Delish! As far as the cucumbers, I am trying my hand at pickles. I made 4 jars with just this haul! I'll let you know how they taste after I give them a few days to pickle. I literally just sliced them up, stuffed them in a jar, and covered them with vingear and a few red pepper flakes. Hope they turn out yummy! 

The tomato plants are roughly three feet high- glad I went ahead and bought some cages to help support them because these suckers are tall! I can see several green tomatoes growing on the vines. Can't wait until they are ripe for the picking! (Still in need of some good salsa/spaghetti sauce recipes!)


This cucumber is insane people. It's like the vine that doesn't stop growing. I'm not complaining, I hope this gal (Audrey II as I like to call her), produces tons of cucumbers! Next year I think I will plant my cucumber in the middle of one of the raised beds. I really didn't know it would fan out so much, and now have vines trailing along in the grass. 

The bell peppers aren't doing too much, I think they were smothered by Audrey II, but I am holding out hope that they come around. Look at this cute little green bell pepper starting to grow. 

Surprisingly I have not had much in the way of animal interference. I thought for sure I would be cursing the wildlife for pilfering and nibbling through my plants, but so far, I've been lucky. Maybe the fact that we have a couple of dogs keeps the little furries away from our yard? Whatever the reason, I'll take it. 

Anyone else out there brining in a good harvest yet this summer? What are your favorite things to grow? 


Cultivating my green thumb

Guys... I'm doing a thing....I planted a vegetable garden! 

Growing up, my family planted a large vegetable garden each spring with everything from tomatoes, peppers, green beans, to zucchini and squash. You would think having so much experience with a garden growing up, I would be a whiz at it as an adult right? Wrong. The green thumb gene apparently skipped a generation leaving me with nothing but a trail of dead plants in my wake when it comes to all things gardening. I'll be honest, a large part of my gardening failures come from the fact that I am a neglectful plant owner. I regularly forget to water, plant things in too much sun or too much shade, and would rather scrub a toilet than pull a weed. 

When we bought our house last May , one of the things I really loved about the house was the beautiful landscaping and the large raised vegetable garden. Everything was so lovingly cultivated and picturesque, I convinced myself that I too could maintain it's beautiful look. Fast forward a year, and I find myself knee deep in weeds, cursing myself for letting it get this out of control. 

This past weekend, I took the time to completely weed and till up the raised veggie garden. I wish I had a before picture because this thing looked liked a scene from The Jungle Book and was in no way a small feat. Let me tell you, I did not come out unscathed during what I like to refer to as "spring garden phase one". I sustained two mysterious insect bites which have caused three days of itching and red puffy-ness but fear not! I shall not be deterred! I planted (by myself) 3 tomato plants, 2 jalapenos, cucumber, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and cilantro. Browsing all the various types of tomatoes at Lowe's alone was enough to send me into a mild meltdown. What's with all the different types of tomatoes? You've got your Cherry and Roma, OK I can get down with those. But then there were Betterboy, Brandywine, Tigerella, Big Beef, Hillbilly, and a few others I can't remember. I was really just in the market for the big red ones, not the little red ones, but unfortunately they didn't have a "big red"and "little red" label so I was really just winging it and chose, Betterboy since they seemed like the "better" choice. Ha. Get it? Better choice?  But I digress....

If all goes according to plan, I will be making my own spaghetti sauce, salsa, and pickles. (Also, I guess I should be googling "how to make spaghetti sauce", "how to can my own vegetables", "how to pickle"... feel free to help a sister out and send me helpful links and suggestions). 

I plan on updating you all regularly during this growing season to let you know how my little green babies are doing. (And also hoping this helps keep me accountable so that I remember to actually water them. No really, can someone tweet me daily as a reminder?)

For now, I leave you with a pic of my cute little baby tomato (or is this the jalapeno? I can't remember lol). 

Library Room Makeover

So it's been a year since we bought our home, and slowly but surely we are getting things done around the house, making it our own. (Find making a garden post here!)  

One of the requirements on my "must haves" list that we gave our realtor while looking at houses, was a room that I could convert into a library. I had lofty dreams of an airy, two story monstrosity of a room (think library from Beauty and the Beast, complete with a gliding ladder and all), but alas, our budget was not very accommodating to my lavish plans, so I had to settle for something a tad more realistic. The house we put an offer on, and eventually signed the next 30 years of our life away to, had such a space. 

Once a formal living room, this room was perfect. In the front of the house, tons of natural light from the wall of windows, I knew the minute I laid eyes on it, it would make a beautiful library room. I'm not even ashamed to admit I dedicated boards on Pinterest to planning and plotting the decorating to my own personal treasure room. 

In keeping with the light and airy feeling the room projected, I opted for white bookcases. Not wanting to break the bank and working within a strict budget, I found these great pieces at Ikea. They are solid and sturdy and were fairly easy to assemble. 

The next items I saved my pennies for was the seating. My Aunt had mentioned that she had found lots of really nice pieces on the Wayfair website so I gave it a whirl. My only hesitation buying online is that I couldn't see/feel/sit on the items in person but I took a chance based on some positive anecdotal advice and went for it. I ended up purchasing two chairs, an end table, and a rug. Everything arrived in great condition and within two days no less! 


The last, and most fun, part of completing my library room was the decor. This is the one room in the house that I can fill with all of my fandom related decor and hubby really doesn't complain. I set up all my books on the bookcases and interspersed them with fun trinkets and decor, including my favorite nerd girl collecting pieces, FunkoPops! I don't know what it is about these little guys but I am insanely addicted to purchasing them.

Of course I couldn't leave the walls bare, and adorned them in similar nerd girl fashion. I found these awesome reading inspired vinyl decals to stick up on the walls from Amazon



Mia, talented artist and best friend that she is, also took the time to draw me up a couple original sketches of two of my favorite mythical creatures, a unicorn and a mermaid. I found these cute frames at Hobby Lobby for 50% off (I love me a good deal). 

This canvas was made my non other than yours truly. A good friend of mine is a crafting whiz and we made these (and similar style with different sayings) as Christmas gifts one year. I may do a "how-to" on these another day. They are pretty simple and a lot of fun to make. 

This next section of wall space is kind of my favorite. Yes, you're eyes saw correctly, behold, a unicorn head! Another Hobby Lobby find, this guy just screamed my name and at 50% off, of course he had to come home with me. The two wooden signs beside it came from  Kohls, and kind of fit in perfectly if I do say so myself. 

So there it is, my completed library. My safe haven, refuge from the mean muggle world. A place where magic is alive and well and a good book can always been found. I will undoubtedly continue to add to my collection of books as well as my trinkets over the years, good thing the room next door is only a dining room. Who uses those anymore anyways? Quite convenient for extending my library into one day...

Where is your "space"? Do you have a room dedicated to your books and nerdy treasures? I wanna see it!



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If you follow along with our blog, you know we recently took a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean. While it was beautiful and wonderful and magical and all those other lovely adjectives one usually uses to describe the tropics, we had some serious anxiety about one issue in particular. 

Bathing suits.

(Cue dramatic music)

Since the birth of our daughters 7 years ago, neither Mia nor myself has braved a beach or pool in a bikini. We settled for concealing but cute one pieces, and were resigned to stay covered up on the sidelines in our suits and cover-ups and let me tell you how much fun that is..... not so much!

It sucks to hang around the fringes of the poolside, hot and under layers because we are too nervous to show a little skin while everyone else is running free without a care in the world. 

So this trip we made a pact.


Our husbands have told us for years "Wear the two piece! No one cares! You look great in whatever." (Scored some brownie points with that one). But dang if it isn't hard to quell that inner voice telling you that your legs are too full of cellulite, your tummy isn't has tight as it once was, and your top half is, well.....lacking. But you know what I say to that little voice?


We bought those two pieces and proudly (ok timidly at first, but eventually proudly) swam in that water, sun bathed on a lounge chair, and explored the islands in, you guess it, those bikinis. Cellulite, surgery scars, some extra jiggle and all. 

I'm not gonna lie and say it was easy, or that I wasn't nervous or intimidated by other more buxom/toned bodies, but I will say that I am so proud of us for doing it. No one on that cruise ship or on that beach cared a lick what I looked like and the only people whose opinion I value, don't care a lick about how I look in a bathing suit. My friends like me because I am funny and kind and like a good Harry Potter joke, not because I do or don't have abs. (Let me insert here that if you do have friends who care if you do or don't have abs, you need some new friends, seriously, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life).


There you have it people, video-graphic proof of our accomplishment! 

So, to all you ladies and gents out there struggling with self esteem issues, or dreading going to participate in a social activity involving a swim suit, just put on the dang thing and have some fun! No one will ever be more critical of you than yourself (damn asshole brains), swallow that fear and criticism and... 

Dive right in, the waters great.


My First Cruise- Preparation Stage

So, we are going on a cruise! Yay! And as exciting as that sounds, for someone like me, it is also scary.  


This is going to be my very first cruise, because after watching Titanic as a child, I've tried my hardest to stay away from boats, and deep ocean waters. I guess there's always a time in your life when you must face your biggest fears, and just do it... and when your hubby books a trip and says "We are going" in a very manly voice, you kind of have to.

So here are my fears: Besides the obvious anxiety that deep water produces, I'm also afraid of being terribly seasick (add this sinus infection crap I have going on), falling off the boat, my child falling off the boat, getting lost without use of my cellphone (#FirstWorldProblems), being forced to speak to strangers, getting roasted by the sun (this girl will burn!, I mean, I think I might be part vampire), missing the embarkation time at one of the ports, losing important documents, and of course, drowning or getting eaten by a shark while attempting to snorkel.  

There. You can stop laughing now.

So, needless to say, I've been terribly anxious this week as we prepare ourselves for this adventure. I mean, I've never been to that side of the Caribbean Islands before (Bahamas, Half Moon Cay, and Grand Turks). I've been looking at pictures online and, well, they look amazing. So yeah, I'm excited about it....however, still nervous.

To ease my anxieties, I've been focusing on the positive things about this trip.  Like, the beautiful weather, poster-worthy beaches, and the smile on my child's face when she sees all these things. I guess I'm underestimating the fun stuff... I bought the alcohol package as well, so that will help (wink wink).

It is also my daughter's seventh birthday while we are cruising. *AHHHH I CANT BELIEVE SHE"S SO BIG!* So she thinks this trip is mainly for her birthday, yeah, we're letting her believe that...why not.

I got sunscreen, dramamine, sunglasses, and a big ass hat ready! 

Now, I must decide what to pack.... This is going to take a while.... 

I need some wine.


Parental PTSD: A trip to the ER with my kid

After 10+ years of being a finally happened. 

Our first broken bone.

When I tell you this was the most traumatic event for me as a parent. I couldn't even have a glass of wine when it was all said and done that's how stressed I was! (I can hear the collective gasp from here- I know- no wine?!)

So it was already a pretty crappy (pun alert!) day in the Giraldo household. My youngest (6 years old) stayed home sick from school with some "tummy issues" (I know you all don't care to hear all the lovely details on that one....). So we were slumming in PJ's, just generally being couch potatoes when one fuzzy blanket + hardwood floors + clumsy child = fall to the ground with arms outstretched. 

Now anyone who has kids know they are always falling, slipping, stumbling, banging into, falling off of, really just generally accident prone little humans. As a parent, I typically kiss the boo boo, give a cuddle and keep it moving. In fact, I have often times prided myself on not being that over reactive parent who turns mountains into molehills. "Meh, you're fine, go play." But y'all.....those prehistoric, neanderthal, stomach churning mom chromosomes kicked in and I KNEW this was bad. 

*Insert panicked/frantic call to husband desperately searching for an adult to fix the situation when I was a puddle of nerves and anxiety*

**Insert double panic to realize that I, was in fact, the adult responsible for handling this situation**

So I pulled myself together, threw on some clothes, and drove us to the ER. 

*Insert Mama Bear-protect-my-baby-cub mode* 

The day was a whirlwind of x-rays, nurses, doctors, ambulance rides (yes we had to be transported to a larger hospital that could perform sedation to set her arm). When we finally arrived home, exhausted/hungry/drained, the kid was out like a light. Me you ask? Oh I just stayed awake half the night sleeping with her on the couch, reading online about possible side effects of sedation on children and checking her breathing by placing my finger under her nose ever few minutes. Fun times!

Just so you all know, beside the intial shock and freak out when she broke her arm- this was pretty much her disposition throughout the whole ordeal. She had all the nurses and doctors laughing. She is our performer that one! 

Just so you all know, beside the intial shock and freak out when she broke her arm- this was pretty much her disposition throughout the whole ordeal. She had all the nurses and doctors laughing. She is our performer that one! 

The days and weeks following "the incident" I have been suspicious and overly fearful of every mundane thing in the house. Mia has officially dubbed it "Parental PTSD".

"Don't run with socks on!"

"Dear God don't walk around the house holding that blanket!"


"Please don't fidget in the barstool, you'll fall!"

The list goes on and on but I'm sure my family is pretty annoyed with my newly developed neurosis. (I even caught myself yelling at the dog to not run down the stairs...THE DOG...) But can you blame me?! Everything looks dangerous!

You will never feel more helpless than as a parent who can do absolutely nothing to ease your child's pain. It is the most gut wrenching/terrifying experience that I seriously wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. I know this most likely won't be our last brush with a ER (God I can hope though) and I'm sure with time my fear of all things innocuous will wane and I will resume some semblance of normalcy (well, normal for me anyways) but for now, Mama Bear is on high alert!

Have you suffered from a Parental PTSD episode? Tell me I'm not alone here people!  Comment below! 



Dr. Seuss's Birthday day.... Come up with a costume, quick!

#ReadAcrossAmerica was celebrated this week. It coincides with the great Dr. Seuss's birthday, and many schools in the country celebrate this week by having special activities. One of these activities, and my daughter's favorite, is dress up like a book character day. Her school decided to have kids dress up as a Dr. Seuss character. Any character from one of his amazing books.  

This tradition is great. I love it because I can see the eagerness of the kids to learn more about these characters and to read. That's the point. Encourage a love for reading.  


The only bad part about this is when, you, as a parent, totally forget about the dress up day (because, let's face it, our brains not only get wiser with age, but mushier...*insert panic emoji*).  When my daughter reminded me the day before, about dress up day...I entered in super mom mode (after the total panic mode ended).

I came up with a great idea! Gather some black leggings, black shirt, an old cat tail from an old costume, voila! I would only need a red and white top hat to have the perfect Cat in a Hat outfit.

BUT, where can I get a hat on such a short notice??? Won't have time to have it shipped, plus I didn't want to spend an arm and a leg purchasing one. So I googled it. Have I mentioned I love google?

All you need is this:  A white poster board, a large white paper plate, red paint, scissors, glue, and tape. That's it. 


1. The first thing to do is to measure your child's head around. Cut the length and the width of the hat making sure you leave about an inch (side) to glue the sides together. Leave another inch at the bottom to attach it to the plate.  - also, it's always better for the hat to be big than small... if it's too small in diameter it's too hard to fix.

2. Measure the stripes.  Three red.  I did mine about 3 inches each...but they could definitely be smaller.  Paint 3 stripes red, leaving a blank (white) stripe in between.  Let it dry.  You can use acrylic or water color, or tomato juice or basically anything that you can find.  I was kidding about the tomato juice in case you didn't catch that. *wink*

3. Glue the sides together forming a cylinder.  Use tape to secure around the seam.  

4. At the very bottom... where you left about an inch untouched, cut small slits (1 inch) every inch or two.  fold them out to look like the brim of the hat.

5.  You can also use a paper plate and cut the diameter of your hat in the middle and push the cylinder through, using the paper plate as the brim.  Secure with tape.

There! You have the perfect Cat in the Hat hat!! And a happy child.


P.S.  When my daughter returned from school, with no hat in sight, I asked her about it.  It was shoved inside her bookbag, shamelessly and wrinkled beyond repair.  I asked her why.  After all that work! She didn't answer.  I'm sure the wow factor died down after a full day of Dr. Seuss fun... next year I will probably buy a real, more durable hat.

Reading and the love for books is very important.  How do you celebrate Read Across America?


DIY Book-Inspired Rug. *A Bookworm's Dream*


OK you all know this, because I've said it over and over.  I LOVE Harry Potter and everything that has to do with the wizarding world.   So, you can only imagine how heart-broken I was when I realized that they actually don't sell any Harry Potter themed BIG rugs.  

I searched, and searched the web for a while, and all I could find were small mats and welcome mats, but nothing bigger...Unless I was willing to pay hundreds of dollars from a sketchy website and get my credit card stolen, no way.  Not me.  I've learned my lesson the hard way.

So I took it upon myself to research other ways to complete my library room.  After almost all search results showed me Harry Potter blanket throws that were about the size I was looking for, I stopped for a moment to think.  "What if I do it myself?"

I swear I love Google, because I can almost do it ALL after reading and watching DYI magic wand needed.  Granted, some people make it more complicated than what it really is, OR make it look easier than reality, but I like to try it out myself....I'll tell you later how I discovered a great way to cut and color my own hair, and how to clean those annoying spots in between the oven glass...Oh Google.

Anyway, let me tell you the easiest way to make your dream rug and feel proud about it when you are done.

 Here's what you need:

* A blanket, tablecloth, or throw that inspires you. I chose the Marauder's Map throw, because the colors matched my library room (and look at's just awesome).  Don't worry if it's not 100% Cotton. I think the one I got is mostly Polyester and it worked just fine.

*WATER BASED Polycrylic OR Polyurethane.  Make sure it's WATER BASED, and CLEAR Satin.  I got a small can (32 oz) and it was enough for 3 layers on my 4ft x 5ft throw.  If your rug is bigger, you will definitely need the bigger can, as you will need at least 3 layers. 

*  A small paint roller.  A cheap one would do.

* A plastic paint tray

* A Rug pad, or no-slip mat.  Big enough to cover your rug.  You can trim it accordingly.

* All purpose, permanent bond glue spray. I bought Elmer's permanent spray glue because it was only $2 add on when I bought the rug pad on Amazon, BUT it didn't work as good.  I recommend something stronger.

*Scissors, measurement tape, and a tarp (I used a large open box) so you don't stain your work area.


Prepare your work area with a large tarp, plastic cover, or something to protect your floor. PLEASE do this next step in a highly ventilated area.  I used my garage, with the door open, and still got a little loopy.... believe me, it doesn't seem like it, but that polycrylic is no joke!

Make sure your throw is not wrinkled. This step is important because if you apply the polycrylic and it's wrinkled, it will dry wrinkled. Iron it first if you have to. Once you have your throw set up on the tarp, apply the polycrylic with a paint roller, as if you would paint. Try to cover all surfaces. Do not apply too thick of a coat, as you will do this step two more times, so there's no need. Let it dry for at least one-two hours in between layers. 

Once you are done with the last layer, you'll notice that the throw/blanket has changed in texture.  It's no longer soft and foldable, but rather stiff, but still flexible. Once it completely dries, it's time to measure the rug pad and trim it to fit your throw.  

Then glue the rug pad to the throw, and let it dry.  VOILA! you have a new, unique, beautiful rug to suit your nerdy needs. Oh I was soooo happy with my rug. I can't stop staring at it.  

What are you waiting for? Get started and make your own! For your room, your work, for your book-lover friends. This can make the best birthday, or Christmas gift for ANYONE! The possibilities are unlimited! 

Have a questions?? Ask me or tell me about your rug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Christmas lights! from NASCAR's Charlotte Speedway to Christmas Town USA.


One of our (many) holiday traditions is to visit Christmas shows, tree lightings, and of course Christmas light shows around our area. Fortunately for us, we don't have to travel far to experience the best Christmas light shows in the Carolinas. The two places we visited this year were, not only breathtaking, but full of the Christmas spirit we were looking to find! 

Charlotte, NC is famous for many things, and among those, NASCAR.  Home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we also house the Charlotte/Concord Motor Speedway. Just a short drive outside the city, the Speedway presents races like the All-Star Race and the Coca Cola 600, as well as many other events and car shows year-round.  

From November 19 through December 31, the Speedway Christmas is the place to go. One word of advice, come in early so you don't have to wait too long to get in. Gates open at 6pm and you will have the opportunity to drive your own car on the tracks! (not at race speed though) Cover is $30 per car. Signage will direct you inside the speedway grounds, and through a magnificent spectacle of thousands of lights dancing to Christmas music. You can tune your car radio to their personalized station and listen to the music in your own car.


The perfectly synchronized Christmas lights move to the Christmas jingles making your spirit bright...and if that doesn't put you in a jolly mood, stop at the movie drive-in and Christmas village.  The village includes a walk through, live nativity set, petting zoo (with beautiful, well-taken care of animals), carnival rides, carriage rides, local vendors, great food, and of course, pictures with Santa!.  


The Charlotte Motor Speedway light show is a tradition every year in our family.  We come in prepared with warm outfits, hats and gloves since it can get chilly at night, and it's best to enjoy the outside attractions when you are comfy and warm.  



Another amazing Christmas light adventure is also a short drive south of Charlotte, NC.  The nationally famous, McAdenville, also known as Christmas Town USA is located between exits 42-47 on I-85.

Arrive after dusk, and this quaint little community comes alive with Christmas festivities. You can choose you park and walk the streets, taking in the sights or slowly drive through the pre-selected route through the streets guided by local officers. If you choose to walk, bundle up and make sure you put on your walking shoes! Stop in at the town center and enjoy some hot chocolate and sweet from the bakery! Christmas music can be heard playing through the streets and don't miss the beautiful water lights at the pond. The attention to detail and originality of the decorations is truly breathtaking.

McAdenville is open for the month of December from 5:30pm-9:30pm on weeknights and until 11:00pm on weekends and is open to the public free of charge! Be sure to check out the community page for exciting and fun events going on during the month of December! 

The Lighting of the Tree; An American Town Tradition

If you pay close attention, your city (or town) will have a Christmas Tree displayed for the public. Usually located in a central place, easily accessible, and highly transited. If your city is large, they may have several Christmas Trees around town. These special trees are no ordinary trees.  hey must be gigantic and splendid in order to be visible from far.  

If you must have a visual, think about the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree that appears in so many movies, TV shows, and pictures. A magnificent tree 80 ft in height, and illuminated with over 20,000 lights. You know what I'm talking about. It's a Christmas staple of our country.  

There are other famous Christmas trees, like the US Capital Tree, or the National Christmas Tree in Washington DC. There are also festivities, music, shows, and just plain Christmas magic happening every time one of these trees are lit for the first time every year.  

But, not every town or city can afford to place an 80 feet tall tree. And not everyone can make it to NYC or Washington D.C. to watch the tree lighting. Don't fear! You can still participate in this amazing Christmas experience from your own town.   


The lighting of the tree happens in almost every city, town, or community in the US, and, although it's not Rockefeller Center, it can as wonderful and Christmasy as one of the famous ones. We visited our hometown's lighting of the tree, and our kids loved every minute of it!

Our town had a beautiful tree in the park across from the Town Hall. There was live music, dance groups, local artists and crafters, local cuisine, horse drawn carriage rides, free candy for the kids, and of course, Santa.


The ceremony was short as the crowd counted down with anticipation to the lighting of the center tree. Once lit, the party began! Local dance groups, like our friends at Dance Fusion of Harrisburg, participated with beautifully choreographed Christmas performances, as well as  local school and churches chorus and music bands performed to Christmas music.  

Our spirits were lifted, Christmas mode was on, and we left the place with big smiles and ready for Santa!

So next time you are wondering what it feels to attend a lighting of a tree... check out your town or community events! You will have a jolly time.  

Friends!!! What is your towns' tradition?? We want to know!


Need some date night ideas?

If you read my post about my recent 10 year wedding anniversary- you know that my husband and I take the idea of date night seriously. We love to try new and exciting things, foods, places. Falling into a date night rut is easy, especially after you  have been together for 10 years, so here are a few date night ideas to try if you are looking for something outside the dinner/movie routine to spice things up!

Lazertag: We have ventured to play lazertag quite a few times and let me tell you, it makes for a really fun group date night! (And if I'm being completely honest, a really good workout!) Playing a couple rounds of guys vs girls or couple vs couple is a great way to blow off some steam and have some fun. Loser buys a round of brews when you're finished!

Drive in movie: While we haven't tried this one out yet together- It's on the short list of date night ideas. Bring a comfy blanket, snacks, and settle in for a couple new release movies. Much cheaper than a traditional movie theater at around $6 a person. Bring some cash for the snack bar! 


Paintball: What better way to work out pent up aggression than to shoot your husband with paintballs? (I kid, I kid....kinda...) Another great group date idea, this one is best reserved for the colder months. Trust me on this- you will want to have several layers of clothes on for this one, those suckers sting! 

Take a cooking class: We tried this out while visiting NoLa earlier in the year. It was definitely a fun and unique experience. We got some great recipes and ate some freshly prepared food! Check out local universities or Sur la Table to find one near you! 

Try out a local ethnic restaurant: Hubby and I thrive on trying out new and exciting food spots. We have sampled some great restaurants in and around our area including Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Thai, and Colombian. Not only do we get to sample unique cuisines, but they often times take us into areas of the city that we have yet to explore. 

Brewery Tour: Breweries are popping up left and right these days and for good reason, they rock! Go take a tour (or two) and check out some local craft beer. You can often times check out live, local music while you sample new brews, this is a perfect summer month date night idea! 

RELATED: Want to experience good beer? Try GOOD HOPS Brewery

Murder Mystery Dinner: This was definitely, by far, the funnest date night! I actually found a Groupon for this one (half priced? Yes please!) and immediately snatched it up. We were treated to a night of murder, intrigue, dining, and drinks. The actors were all great, and really got everyone involved in the plot and figuring out the "who dun it" Professional photographers greeted us at the door to snap a 20's inspired shot. The almost three hour event flew by and we had a blast!

Catch a Game: Living in a large city like Charlotte, NC offers us lots of options for this one. Charlotte Checkers (ice hockey) , Knights (baseball),  Hornets (basketball), and of course, the Carolina Panthers (Go Cam!) No matter what time of year, there is always some sporting event to go see! Live in a smaller town? Head out to the local highschool/college games! Relax with a beer and some nachos and enjoy the night. (Can you tell snacks/food play a large part in our date night ideas- I'm a foodie at  heart!)

I am always on the hunt for new and exciting date night ideas, what do you guys like to do? Anything I should add to the list?

Kids are Weird: Part Three

If you haven't already heard, my kids are weird. I enjoy chronicling the absurd and ridiculous, and sometimes downright creepy things they say. I'm banking on using this as blackmail when they enter their ornery teenage years. 



  • I notice my 5 year old sniffling in the backseat. "What's wrong with her?" I ask my 9 year old. "Oh she's just upset that she's not psychic..."
  • "I love the way your armpits smell"
  • "Oh my gosh you scared me! I almost had a heart-a-cat!"
  • "I'm more mean now than when I was 4" *shrugs shoulders* "It's just how God made me"
  • When I tell my five year old that she is, in fact, not allowed to bring a purse filled with cosmetics to the Carolina Panthers Fan Fest "But Mommy, I need my lipstick so I can look good for Cam Newton!" 
  • L: "I am definitely getting married when I grow up." Me: "Oh yeah, why do you say it like that?" L: "Because I am NOT doing all the chores by myself"
  • "Why does music make me feel special inside and make me want to move around?"
  • S: "Mom have you ever been to a warehouse?" Mia: "Yes? Why?" S: Weren't you scared of the werewolves?!"
  • "Wouldn't it be great to be like a queen a never have to get out of bed, just have people come and carry you around on a chair like in the movies?" ** Glances disapprovingly at me** "Well maybe they could push you around in something that has wheels, you might break their bones if they had to carry you like that"

what at things do you hear from your kids? We want to know!!!!!   

Twas the Night Before School....

(I can't believe is back to school already!!! so, here...enjoy this classic with a tweak)

Twas the night before back to school, when all through the town,
not a child was stirring, they had all been lain down.
The bookbags were hung on their hooks with great care,
and nutritious school lunches packed in the fridge over there.


The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of recess and new friends danced in their heads.
And Dad in his sweats, and I in my yoga pants,
had just settled our brains and did a happy little dance.


When up in the bedrooms there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
Right on up the stairs I flew like a flash,
tore open the door and kicked aside kid trash.


The moon on the lawn of the summer burnt grass
and a child awake in bed, with a face full of sass
she wants a book, he some water, and of course a song too
"Who do these kids think I am, do they think that I'm new?".


With a little mom luck, being lively and quick,
I threw back on their covers with a simple old flick.
More rapid than eagles, I dashed from the room,
while Dad whistled and shouted and said with a boom:

"Now Daniel! Now Lily!
Or, Thing One and Thing Two!
All Children must listen!
It's bedtime for the both of you!
Back on top of the bed!
And right up under the covers!
Now go to sleep! Go to sleep!
Go to sleep all!" 


As quickly as possible we dashed from their rooms,
and down the great stairs, to the living room did we zoom
exhausted and tired we fell into the couch,
with a sigh and a hump,  let our weary bodies slouch.


The summer was over and thank God for it we thought!
For all summer long they fought and they fought!
Over old toys and broken crayons, video games and the lot
better behaviors than that I thought that I'd taught. 


Too much time together in the same four walls.
So we took them on adventures to pools, libraries, and malls.
Their insatiable appetite kept the grocery bill high,
I couldn't eat that much as an adult if I tried!


My house what a wreck! They delighted, how merry!
Let's take out all my clothes and be the fashion queen fairy!
And my makeup was raided for dressup of course,
have you ever seen lipstick on a plastic toy horse?!
Because I have this summer, and much more to be sure,
I even found some in the carpet, ground into the floor!
She giggles and prances, without a care in the world
Singing and dancing, "Mom watch this great twirl!"


And what about that letter I received, right there in the postbox?
"Summer reading project is due soon, and you have to dress as a fox?"
A mad dash to complete and craft a costume to wear
"No I wont dye red your bleach blond locks of hair!"


But this is all in the past, we thought gratefully with a sigh.
We lay our heads back and ride the euphoric high.
I hold tight to my wine glass and pray to God that I find,
my sanity and sense, as this summer I have lost my mind. 


Once our drinks we had finished, and our shows over and done
Upstairs we tiptoed the weight of summer off our shoulders equaling a ton.
Quiet as a whisper, Dad turned to me in delight:

"Thank God school starts tomorrow, I cant wait for daylight!"

Reflections on 10 years of Marriage

Today is our ten year anniversary and so I find myself reflecting on marriage. Husband and I were young, still in college, and (surprise!) expecting a child. We had NO idea what we were doing. We knew we loved each other, we knew we wanted to be a family, but other than that, we had no idea how to "be married". So we figured it out. Together. I can't say that our story would have turned out the same for anyone else, but it worked for us, and here's why:


1) We take time for ourselves (individually and together). We are so lucky to have amazing parents who really support us and our marriage. My parents live locally and take the kids every Saturday overnight so that husband and I can enjoy some time alone. The work week is crazy. We see each other in passing as I work night shift at a local hospital and he does his 9-5 thing downtown at a bank. It's SO IMPORTANT that we have that time to reconnect and be present with one another. Hubbys mother lives in Colombia and even though she is far- she checks in on us daily, encouraging and supporting us from afar. We also have friends and interests separate from each other. Hubby is a member of a local beer club and goes weekly to sample new, local brews and unwind with his friends/colleges. I make time with my girlfriends to watch the latest RomCom and binge on popcorn or attend a bookclub to devour coffee and discuss books. It's equally as important to have time apart, doing things we love separately, as it is to do things together.

2) Understand that marriage isn't disposable. Although we were young and star-y eyed when we exchanged vows, we both understand the gravity of promising your life to someone. Through the good and the bad we know at the end of the day- neither of us is going anywhere. There is something comforting in knowing that no problem we encounter can't be worked through. Don't get me wrong- there have been times I have wanted to pull my hair out (and his hair out) in frustration. We have argued and bickered and been stubborn and unforgiving, but we are human, we are going to have bad days. But bad days don't equal a bad life. And that's important to keep in mind.

3) We don't take ourselves too seriously and we have fun! While we both are working professionals, raising children, doing the whole "grown up" thing- we are both still kids at heart. Date night for us may be paintball and drinks at a local bar, running in a "Wipe Out" style 5k (also please note I am NOT athletically inclined), lazer tag, epic gin rummy showdowns (I AM THE RUMMY MASTER!), haunted corn mazes, you get the drift. It's so easy to get caught up in "adulting" that you don't take some time to just have fun. We make it a point to have adventures and never shy away from trying fun things together.

In a world where people treat marriage as such a disposable commodity, I am proud that we have made it 10 years. We have fought hard for it, worked tirelessly at it, and loved fiercely through it. Looking forward to however many more decades God gives us on this merry-go-round of life!


What do you all do to keep your marriage alive? Any fun date night suggestions?

Fairy Gardens 101

Let me let you guys in on a little secret, I'm kind of obsessed with fairy gardens. Really all things whimsical and magical, but fairy gardens hold a special place in this fantasy lovers heart. 

"What in the world is a fairy garden?" you ask.

A fairy garden in a small little container garden where fairies come to hang! You can jazz them up with moss, miniature sized furniture and gardening equipment, flowers, houses, the possibilities are endless. 

I've put together a little "how-to" on creating your fairy, I mean very, own!

First you need some sort of container. You can really use anything, I happened to have this flower pot from a recent move that the sellers left behind (free? score!)  

Next you need some moss to cover the dirt inside the pot. I purchased all my supplies from Hobby Lobby (tip: download the lobby lobby app for a 40% off one item coupon). Here is an example of what to look for- check your local plant nursery or crafting store as well! 

Using scissors, cut the moss to cover the container you chose:

Now decorate with your choice of fairy decorations! As with the moss, you can find these miniaturized accessories at crafting stores (Hobby Lobby, Michael's) or local plant nurseries. Amazon also has tons to choose from. 

Ready to see the finished product?

For more examples and ideas for inspiration, check out this little garden my mom put together:


I wanna see your fairy gardens! Tag us on Instagram and Twitter with your magical creations! 


Fathers Day

There are all types of dads out there. The fun dad, the strict dad, the goofy dad, the intellectual dad, the stay at home dad, the working dad, the single dad, and the every other weekend dad (sometimes by choice- others times not). Sometimes you aren't biologically a dad but for all intents and purposes you are a dad. Sometimes you are a single mother who fills the role of mom and dad. Whatever kind of dad you have, let me let you in on a little secret, they won't be around forever.

Take my own dad, pretty easily dubbed the "goofy" dad, you could catch him dancing around in his tighty whiteys on a  Saturday morning in the living room, or sneaking McDonalds happy meals as an after-school snack. He was the first to volunteer at the annual Christmas tree lot sale at church, and was front row at all my basketball games. He relentlessly embarrassed me by jiving around the house when I had sleep overs, much to the chittering amusement of my friends. 

He paid out weekly allowances in crisp $2 bills and never skimped on book fair funds. But don't even think about ordering a drink at a restaurant ("that's where they get ya is on the drinks!") water only for the Barlows. He took me on my ever fist roller coaster ride (and promptly instilled in me a fear of heights... to which I still cannot get over to this day) and terrorized me while watching Nightmare on Elm Street (really who lets a 3rd grader watch that?!) but he never complained when I faked falling asleep in the car so he could carry me inside and put me to bed.

So many people tell you to enjoy every moment with your children, "they grow so fast" they say. "Don't blink or you'll miss it" we are constantly reminded as we watch our children enter various stages of development and growth. What we don't hear enough of, is to enjoy our parents. We take for granted that they will always be there for us with a quick call or drive across town. Words of wisdom to calm pre-motherhood jitters, or interest rates and home loan questions when you purchase your first house. We simply take for granted the one constant in our lives, the one thing that's always been since we've been old enough to create memories, our parents.

My dad is terminally ill.

I have had to watch as the past decade has eaten away at the goofy, loud, tighty whitey dancing man that I have loved. Due to a degenerative brain disease he has slowly faded away both physically and mentally. The big tall man I remember from my childhood looks so small, frail in comparison. While that light and fire can sometimes be seen beneath the medicated sleepiness in which he so often finds himself, he is relegated to a bed, or a wheelchair unable to walk, needing help with everyday activities of living.  Gone are the days of bookfairs and dancing. 

So readers I leave you with this, enjoy your parents, they won't be around forever. They may not be perfect, in fact they are most likely equal parts infuriating, embarrassing, and loveable, but they are yours. 

I would gladly ride another million roller coasters to have my dad back, healthy and happy.






Part Two: Kids are Weird

Welcome back to another installment of Kids are Weird. If you are silently asking "Installment?" to yourself, you obviously did not read Part One: Kids are Weird. Have no fear, click the link here to read more hilarious and often cringe worthy things my children have said

  • "My shoes smell like seaweed."
  • (While eating some horrendous lollipop concoction from the grocery, Juicy Drop Pop or some other ridiculousness.)"This tastes like Monday. It's sour but also kind of sweet" (Sorry kid, I think you meant Sunday...that's what a Sunday evening tastes like, Monday is just plain sour). 
  • "It smells like ranch out here" (Ikea parking lot)
  • After a fun field day at the local high school "It seems pretty cool there, all they do is hang out, drink Coke, and sometimes write essays". 


  • "I love your farts, they smell like icecream"
  • "Let's just call him Donald Poop." (I'll let you decide who the 5 year old was referring too)
  • L: Who's your teacher? Me: I don't have one L: *Eyes widen in wonder and disbelief* So you can do anything you want?!
  • "So when I want a husband what do I do? Just walk up to someone and tell him he's my husband or what?"


 I swear these kids are crazy!!  

Netflix Night

I am a huge fan of Netflix, enough so that recently hubby and I decided to cancel cable *gasp* and use Netlix (and Hulu) exclusively for our TV viewing. 

Are you stuck in a rut and need a new show to binge on? Have no fear! Pop that popcorn and grab you a cold one because I have complied a list of my top 10 TV shows to binge on!

1) Supernatural: Into fantasy/horror/legends/lore? Oh and also really hot brothers? With 10 seasons on Netflix (and just renewed on the CW for the 12th season) you have binge worthy material for weeks, months even! In a nutshell you have two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester cruising the country in a '67 Chevy Impala fighting all things that go bump in the night (and looking dang fine when they do it).

2) New Girl: Everyone loves a good sitcom. Zooey Deschanel is too cute in this comedy about a group of 30 something's housemates navigating life, love, and careers. Episodes are 30 minutes in length and there are four seasons currently up. This show literally has me rolling it's so hilarious, all the characters are great. 

3) Orange is the New Black: If you haven't heard of this one you have probably been living under a rock for the past 2 years. A Netflix original with three seasons currently out, this has been a smash hit as far as shows go. Loosely based on the memoir of Piper Kerman, prim and proper main character Piper Chapman has been remanded to prison for a term of three years. Watching her acclimate and adapt to life on the inside is a good mixture of hilarious and heartbreaking. What really makes this show are the supporting cast members. Pipers fellow prison inmates are so well written and their story lines addicting. 

4) Gilmore Girls: Mother/daughter duo hilarity ensues through each hour long episode. Single mom, Loreli Gilmore and daughter, Rorie Gilmore have such great onscreen chemistry you can't help but fall in love with them and the small town in which they reside, Stars Hollow. All seven seasons are available on Netlix and the best part? Netflix revival is in the works with new material being released later this year (binge and blog to come when released!).

5) Jessica Jones:  A great Netflix original done by Marvel about superhero (I'm pretty sure she would hate that title) Jessica Jones (imagine that). Jones is a whisky drinking PI with superhuman strength and hard as nails attitude. There is only one season available now (bummer I know) but I'm pumped to see what next season has in store. Season 1 is a cat and mouse game between Jessica and her fellow super powered nemesis Kilgrave who is able to control others through verbal commands who is strangely obsessed with Jessica since she escaped his mind control previously. 

6) Breaking Bad: Chemistry teacher turned meth maker Walter White kills it in this five season long drama which originally aired on A&E. Watching his downward spiral from clean cut family man to drug producing mastermind is fascinating to say the least. My favorite part of the show hands down is his bumbling sidekick, Jessie.

7) Daredevil: Another Netflix original done by Marvel which revolves around Matthew Murdock, small time attorney by day, ass kicking superhero Daredevil by night. Oh and did I mention he's BLIND? Blinded in a horrible accident as a child, Murdock has come to work around his "disability" to be one bass ass superhero. Righting the wrongs across the city. Being that it's in the same Marvel universe as Jessica Jones, I see some crossovers in store for us (squeal!).

8) American Horror Story: Whats really neat (if you can call horror and gore neat) about this series is that while all 4 seasons consists of (roughly) the same cast of actors, the story lines change from season to season. A haunted house,  an insane asylum in the 40's, a coven of witches in New Orleans, and a traveling circus/freak show in the 50's. Season five which hasn't been released yet was my favorite so far alternating time periods in a haunted hotel. (Lady Gaga nailed it in her TV debut!). It should be available in October 2016.

9) The X-Files: So I recently discovered X-Files was now on Netflix and I have been on a binge ever since. It takes me back to 3rd grade when my mom would make nachos and we would stay up late to watch in her room (parenting win or fail? I say win but I'm partial). FBI agents Mulder and Scully travel the country investigating paranormal and extraterrestrial events, events that seem to defy all logic and explanation. With a whopping 9 seasons, this binge could last awhile so stock up on goodies!

10) iZombie: This is a new one for me that I am not finished with as of yet, but Mia raves about this show. I had seen commercials on TV (back in my cable watching days) and written it off as a cheesy way to cash in on the zombie craze. Mia finally convinced me to give it a try and I am so glad I did. Liv Moore was on her way to a prestigious career as an MD when an impulsive night out with colleagues just so happened to be the night she was turned into a zombie. No shambling, moaning creatures here, more like a normal (if pale) chick with a intense desire to eat brains. Quitting her job as MD and working for the hospital morgue she has access to all the brains she needs to satisfy her cravings but with one interesting side effect, she temporarily gains personalities of the dead, as well as flashes of their memories. I'm only a couple episodes in, but if the rest of the season keeps on pace with the first few, I don't think I'll be disappointed!

So that pretty much wraps up my top 10- what do you guys love to binge on? Any good shows/movies I should add to my list?!