My Mother’s Baby Dress Shadowbox Project

Moms Baby Dress at SkipperClanNearly eighteen years ago, I took a snapshot of my daughter wearing my mother’s baby dress. We didn’t have a great camera, we didn’t have a beautiful home, but we did have a beautiful baby girl.

The backdrop was a simple Noah’s Ark throw and the dress arrived with my mom during one of her visits to our little white house in Oklahoma. When I look back at photos like this, I realize how much I have always enjoyed photography. I love capturing moments connecting our generations.

This summer I received that dress from my mom to pass on to my now-adult-daughter one day. I found great inspiration on Pinterest for a shadowbox project.

My Pinterest projects don’t always go according to plan.

This one actually turned out simpler. I found a deal on a small shadowbox. Next, I got a free scrap of beadboard from our local home improvement store. I had my handy-man cut it to size. Finally I just placed everything inside and I have a beautiful keepsake.

And I love it. I will be adding it to the wall in our living room that has family photos. The dress isn’t in perfect condition. Mom said it used to be the same shade of purple as the thread you see in the detail.

Moms Baby Dress Detail

I am grateful for little moments like these, passing things between generations, and remembering what it was like for our grandparents. This dress was made from flour sack. I didn’t even make clothes for our children! What a change in a generation.

One more time cause she is adorable…

Moms Baby Dress on KitKat2

Moms Baby Dress On KitKat

 

Have a great week with your family!

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Trying to Eat More Veggies

You know the little green character from a certain Sci-Fi movie series who helps young Luke master his special abilities? He has a very important lesson for all of us.

Using a word like TRY is not effective. You just have to DO it.

trying to eat more veggies

After giving up diet soda, then developing a habit of drinking lots of water, I wanted to challenge myself with something focused on adding things to my food choices instead of taking something away. Having lost weight before, I knew that I maintained a healthy weight whenever I ate at least five servings of fruits and veggies every day.

Sounds simple. Try to eat at least five servings of fruit and veggies. That’s having a piece of fruit at breakfast, then a couple servings of vegetables at lunch and dinner.

Make one of those meals a salad and this should be a piece of cake!

Except I really don’t care for cold salads and I really, really like cake.

Over the 3 weeks or so that followed my goal setting, I certainly ate better. I ate more fruits and veggies, but to be honest, I rarely got to five servings.

I am still a picky eater at heart and did I mention I don’t like eating salads? At least, I thought I didn’t, but more on that in a couple of weeks. I was always so hungry after having salad as my meal. I have since realized these things were more tied together than I knew. I have always been a picky eater so I don’t eat salad dressing. At all. Which meant, my salads almost never had a healthy fat incorporated into them. Turns out this is kind of important but I didn’t realize how important at the time.

I quickly gave up diet soda – check!
I easily drank a lot more water – hooray!
I struggled in trying to eat more veggies – fail!

I was frustrated. The scale was getting stuck. I was looking for food that made me feel better, not just low calorie diet “fixes.” I have been blessed to be included in support groups with friends who changed their eating habits so I reached out to them. I started reading everything I could that fit the description of how I felt.

  • I was hungry even after eating what should have been plenty of calories.
  • I was still craving sweets even after giving up diet soda.
  • I was walking every day but still felt lethargic most evenings.
  • I started waking up in the middle of the night with insomnia or reflux (something I’d only previously experienced when taking strong medications for my back)
  • I was getting more headaches.

In short, I was trying to eat more veggies, but failing and I was starting to feel worse than when I was drinking diet soda all the time. No matter what element of health I read about, I kept getting linked back to posts, comments, or the page for Whole30.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more about what happened when I found that website and I promise, the story doesn’t go like this: found website, did exactly what they said, lost 50 pounds.

What do you do to eat more veggies every day?

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The Pink Dresser Project

 

The Pink Dresser Project

One of the difficulties we had during our transition from active duty to retirement this summer was the scope of damage to our household items. It was like the movers wanted to give a grand finale performance and make up for the relatively-good moves we had experienced during the previous twenty years.

One of destroyed pieces was a particle board cabinet I used in my office as a work surface. Even though we are still in the process of negotiating the claim for our furniture damage, I knew I would have to replace that piece. I also knew I needed better storage for my business supplies. {Bonus if I could make it look pretty.}

Then, what should appear in my Facebook feed several weeks ago but this solid wood changing table and dresser.

pink dresser project before

SkipperClan may or may not think I am completely nuts for having a changing table in my office at the exact time both of our children have officially crossed the mark into adulthood. Ahem. 

I immediately went to Pinterest for inspiration. I knew I wanted to do something fun with color since the rest of my furniture in the office is black and dark wood. I painted the walls a cool grey as soon as we moved into the house and eventually the flooring will be replaced with a laminate wood material.

While I loved the idea of doing something truly bold like hot pink or teal, I also knew deep down in my soul I’m a classical romantic. I love transitional decor and timeless pieces. Have you ever asked for opinions on Facebook when you really had already made up your mind? The votes were overwhelmingly for the soft pink to represent my business.

Pink Dresser Project FB Post

Fortunately, I’d also connected with a talented local artist on the same swap group when we were getting rid of our moving boxes. After seeing my post, she talked to her paint supplier and custom designed this new color. I was thrilled when she contacted me a few days later and offered for me to be the first one to purchase the shade and use it! The paint requires no priming or wax finish.
{I loooooooove it and I mean it, I paid full price and everything}

Over the course of several weeks, I went from deal shopping, to paint purchasing, to knob searching and finally to completed dresser. I love the final result.

Pink Dresser Project Final

It is soft without being overly distressed. It’s classic but fun. It’s uber functional. There is no point in having pretty things that aren’t useful.

This piece is now my go-to workstation for gift wrapping, customer gifts with purchase, shipping supplies and appointment supplies.

Pink Dresser Project Organization

The overall look is the soft pink finish, but when you lean in close you’ll see the light distressing…

Pink Dresser Project Distressing

 

Pink Dresser Project TopAnd you’ll see the knobs I finally selected from ebay after weeks of searching for something vintage yet affordable. These are reproductions.

Pink Dresser Project Knobs

 

The Pink Dresser Project

I am thrilled with the results of the Pink Dresser Project, what do you think? 

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Just Another Reminder to Drink More Water

Just Another Reminder to Drink More Water

I know, you probably don’t really need to hear this again but you probably need to drink more water.

I certainly did.

When I made the decision to really quit drinking diet soda, I knew I needed to replace it with something on purpose or I would be right back in aluminum-can-land before I could blink. I also knew the only guaranteed healthy option was water. That goal became my second change towards a healthier lifestyle.

I didn’t like the taste of our tap water.
I wasn’t good about keeping track of how much I was drinking.
I didn’t care for the ‘taste’ of drinking from many reusable cups.

I may have been making excuses…(although we definitely have poor tasting tap water!)

The simplest solution for me was one that would make environmentalists cringe: purchasing bottled water.

I knew that for the short term, drinking bottled water would help me track and ensure I was drinking at least the minimum recommended water daily. Of course we recycled the bottles and given how much diet soda I was previously consuming in cans, I’m not sure the environmental impact was any worse. I also got a pitcher at Costco that allows you to place fruit in the center to infuse flavor into your water without using anything artificial. I used it consistently for about 3-4 weeks with meals, but now I usually just drink plain water even at meals.

After about 6-8 weeks, I simply  craved water and am now able to tolerate our tap water (with ice) and drink about double the recommended minimum daily intake with ease. All those benefits you read about? They happened for me too.

  • Sleeping better at night
  • Feeling fuller, therefore eating less
  • Almost no headaches (and those that have occurred seem to be sinus-related)
  • Firmer skin
  • No midday crash

I know you don’t really need another reminder to drink more water, but what we know and what we do are often two different things. So what is holding you back? Do you need to train your body to crave hydration more than flavor? Do you feel you need the caffeine of other drinks?

If you drink almost only water exclusively, what motivates you to maintain that discipline?

 

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The Reason I Make My Bed Every Day

Reason I Make My Bed every day

Have you ever arrived at your hotel for vacation and felt the complete relief of knowing…

someone else is cleaning and making the bed for the duration of your stay?!

This seemed extra sweet the year SkipperClan was assigned overseas without us and the kids were still small enough to make more messes than they could clean up.

Even though everyone is all grown up now, I have carried one habit with me throughout the years. Whether I worked full time outside the home or worked from home while the kids were homeschooled, I continued to make the bed {almost} every single day.

There is something relaxing about walking into your room at the end of the day and having at least that one place be a sanctuary from the challenges of day-to-day living.

I am not the first to proclaim the benefits of making your bed, I originally started taking care of our master bedroom because of teachings from The FlyLady. However, after sharing the photo above with some blogging friends this week, I realized I have never shared the reason I make my bed every day.

Honestly, the last reason I have kept up with this habit is because of how neat it makes our room appear- even though I love clear, flat surfaces.

  • Making the bed first thing in the morning, I am showing priority to the space that belongs exclusively to our marriage
  • Keeping that space clear of clutter helps create an atmosphere of peace
  • Having the bed made when we come into the room at night helps the entire room feel relaxed and welcoming (think hotel stays)
  • Maintaining the habit leads us to be more consistent with other homemaking chores – it’s like it’s contagious

Maybe you are thinking this is a type-A, neat freak habit and won’t make a difference in your home. I think there is a small population for which that is true – however I dare you to try it for two weeks and see if it makes a difference.

No matter how cluttered the rest of your room is, spend 3 minutes pulling up the bedcovers each day for the next 2 weeks and tell me if you sleep better (or if your spouse notices a difference).

If you are already in the habit of making your bed, when did it start and why do you keep doing it?

 

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Preparing for the Holidays: Updating Addresses

Last week, my daughter and I saw one of these at an antique shop.

Updating Addresses

First of all, she couldn’t believe I knew immediately what it was, and second, I couldn’t believe something I’d seen at my grandmother’s home was officially an antique…but it reminded me of a simple step I took a few weeks ago to make the holidays a little simpler.

We moved three times in just over three years. That is not the norm for most Air Force families but through a combination of choices and circumstances, it was our experience in the last few years leading to SkipperClan’s military retirement.

And yes, it was pretty much as overwhelming as it may sound.

However, living in two of those homes for just under 18 months left us with great friends – friends we feel as though we have known for years, not months.

Once we were unpacking in our current home, I found how many practical things we just hadn’t dealt with over the recent moves. Paperwork, updates…I started getting genuinely confused when people asked for my address! (it would be four moves if you add the home we stayed in with family most of the summer waiting for closing on the house we purchased)

So here we were in our new home, starting to settle in, looking at the calendar when I realized we were genuinely 75% of the way through the year and the holiday season would be here before I could blink.

As I started updating our new address with family, friends, and businesses, I realized how many updated addresses I needed from others. I decided to take a simple step towards preparing for the holidays by updating addresses.

It seems like such a simple thing but it makes a huge difference. Whether we will be visiting these loved ones, mailing gifts and cards, or simply need to have up to date contact information – having current contact information is becoming a lost art. It’s so easy to use Facebook or texting to get quick information out, but it’s also easy to find yourself without internet signal or losing your contacts in your phone.

I think of my contacts much like a spiral going outward with our family as the center…

  • parents
  • siblings
  • nieces & nephews
  • aunts & uncles
  • cousins
  • coworkers
  • clients
  • favorite service providers (mailperson, hair stylist, etc)

Take a simple step towards a simpler holiday season today and make sure you have the most up-to-date contact info for your friends and family.

{Bonus points if you compile them into a separate group in your contacts or on a list for your holiday cards}

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I Quit Drinking Diet Soda but…

I quit drinking diet soda but...

Anyone with internet access has seen the articles slamming diet sodas. They list the negative effects in a way that feels like someone is driving a nail into your coffin with each symptom.

  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • weight gain
  • joint pain
  • insulin-resistance

Despite having successfully lived without it for weeks or months at a time in the past, I found myself drinking 4 or more daily again this summer. Just in case you didn’t notice the complete lack of activity here for six months, I will tell you that our transition from active duty family to retired military life was long and stressful. Stress often equated to an increase in diet soda consumption on my part over the last few years, no time more than this summer. August arrived and once again I felt I just had to have those drinks around the home.

As a woman who believes strongly in my Christian faith, I don’t believe Jesus designed us for a life controlled by any food or drink. Even if you aren’t of the same faith, can you imagine living life to the fullest involves mandatory trips to the grocery store for a drink in order to function? 

The third week of August began a truly new stage of our lives. We were living in a home we had purchased, our household items were out of storage and under the same roof as us, and it seemed like we had just stepped foot onto a new territory called Retirement. If there were ever a time to make a change for the better, I figured this was it.

So I quit. Cold turkey. No soda. Again.

But something was different this time. It was like this summer and all the change it involved hit this deep, emotional chord I didn’t know I had within me. Much like the season of selling our home in Pennsylvania, this summer forever changed me because of the emotions experienced in what should have been a very business-like transition. I’ll be writing more about it all since that story could fill a book in and of itself. The point is, I knew if I’d been prepared physically to take on the changes of retirement, it would have made even difficult elements less emotional and draining.

I committed that Thursday in August to making one change a week until I had baby-stepped my way back into excellent health. Without a doubt the first change had to be leaving the diet soda addiction in my past. After a month completely free of any soda, I had about 3 over the course of the following month (with popcorn on a movie date with my husband, etc). They actually tasted horrible to me, I was shocked.

So YAY!! I quit drinking diet soda but…my life still wasn’t perfect.

Shocking, I know. But in the world of social media shares, health do’s & don’ts, advice on every www – I think we begin to assume that something like giving up diet soda is the magic pill.

We think it will be the instant gratification, quick-fix, magic cure we have been searching for to make everything better.

I quit drinking diet soda and my life still isn’t perfect, but it was the first step on a journey towards more discipline and better health than I think I have ever lived. I want to encourage you if you are trying to quit. You can do it and it is worth it.

I will be sharing a little each week about the changes I am making that are working for me. I am no doctor or health professional, just a wife, mom, and writer who believes we can live our lives to the fullest when we are healthy.

If you have quit drinking diet soda, or given up something else you felt was controlling your food choices, I’d love to have you share in the comments below to encourage someone else!

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What’s On Your Christmas Wishlist?

All year long I have a list of things I would go out and purchase for myself if I didn’t think other things were more important. A new camera lens, my 100th purse, those shoes

I seem to develop amnesia in early November when family members and my husband start asking me what I’d like to receive as gifts.

I tend to become reflective in this season of the year and realize how ridiculously blessed I am, both materially and emotionally. I also think of all the projects I didn’t complete and books I haven’t read which automatically gives me enough to do for the coming New Year.

There is probably a lot of deep, psychological stuff we could get into here but I don’t want a debate over materialism or consumerism, I simply wanted to share what I am doing differently this year. I didn’t start creating my Christmas Wishlist because I need more stuff. I genuinely hope that my husband will be able to get me something I would honestly never buy for myself.

I love the wishlist feature on Amazon but it’s cumbersome and sometimes the item isn’t available from the same seller when you are ready to purchase. I have a “To Get” board on Pinterest but some of those items are just in development (or way above my family’s budget).

This year I started My Wishlist on Pinterest.

MyWishlistPinterest

With this new Pinterest board, my husband can see quickly the image of what I’d like then click to purchase. I can also have a variety of prices and retailers there so I can still be surprised with what he chooses.This would have been a fabulous tool for our kids when they were younger and we lived across the country (or ocean) from their grandparents.

I think the possibilities go way beyond just pinning items from stores. Yes, you can pin products, or you could pin a link to your local zoo’s annual pass page. You can post info on sizes or quantities in the description of the pin. You could even post links to charitable causes you’d rather have supported in lieu of gifts. There are tons of options. When you get asked, “What would you like for Christmas this year?” How will you answer?

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Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce

I’m the furthest thing from a television food show host. I can bake the sweetest, flakiest deserts but I am no match for SkipperClan when it comes to dinner. The man can glance through the pantry, throw together some basic ingredients with seemingly unrelated spices and voila! the most delicious dinner you can imagine will be on your plate.

So when I manage to take a recipe and figure out what needs to be tweaked to make it oh. so. good…well, that’s cause for celebration.

Or a blog post, same thing.

After a discussion on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of this delicious combo. I’ve modified the recipe from one I received years ago at a women’s retreat. I doubled this time and put half into a pan lined with aluminum foil for the freezer. I can take the aluminum foil-wrapped food out after it’s had a chance to freeze overnight and place inside a zippered bag for the deep freeze. This leaves my pan available for use for other meals.

Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce

Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, boiled
  • 3 cups chicken broth (I keep this in the freezer or at least use the broth from cooking the chicken)
  • 8 burrito size tortillas
  • 8T salsa (the chunkier the better)
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1t cumin
  • 1-3T flour
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 8 oz grated cheddar-jack cheese
  • 1 cup black beans cooked (I cook these then freeze in 2 cup portions)

Instructions

  • In a blender, combine cumin, cilantro, yogurt and 1 cup broth
  • In a skillet, heat butter slowly and whisk in flour til smooth
  • Slowly add remaining broth until smooth and creamy, you may need additional flour to thicken.
  • Add sauce to the blender and combine with yogurt mixture
  • Mix cooked chicken with enough sauce to coat and salt to taste
  • Fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded chicken, 1-2T salsa and black beans
  • Roll tortillas and place in casserole dish
  • Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas, covering completely
  • Top with cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Now, I am full on confessing here that since I made big adjustments on what I eat on a regular basis. This wouldn’t be something I would make often ’cause that is a lot of butter, flour, cheese, and other yummy things. I think in moderation these things are still wonderful, and you should get extra points for making everything from scratch in this dish. Going for a longer bike ride is worth it for something this good! Enjoy my friends.

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How Do You Win on a Monday Like That?

I believe we choose our response to our circumstances. Even in the midst of grief or frustration, we can act in a way consistent with our beliefs instead of our emotions.

I also believe it is easier to live that out some days than others.

Days when you forget the access card you need to do almost anything at work.
Days when you have a backlog of work because you were on vacation.
Days when the negative seems that much worse because you were on vacation.
Days when the power flashes and your computer loses the work you had open.
Days when the software systems glitch and no one is able to fix it.
Days when your coworker says you look like you’re on the verge of tears.
Days when the doctor’s office submits erroneous info to the insurance company.
Days when your child finishes practice early and tells you just as you park at home.
Rainy days. Snowy days.

How do you win on a Monday like that? How do you choose joy then?

I write because I need to be reminded. I didn’t get it right today. So far, I didn’t win. I mean, if it’s between myself and Monday, there’s no contest.

The thing is, my joy doesn’t come from Monday even on a good day. My joy comes from God. What He has given me beyond this day-t0-day life. He’s given me eternal life. Peace

It’s a peace I can feel, an emotion I can choose, when I tell my mind to go there. Ignore Monday. Remember and count the blessings.

Days when my husband understands the barrage of demands against me.
Days when my daughter is healthy enough to run on a track team.
Days when my car starts every time I turn the key.
Days when the power is on, the water is running, and the home is warm.

Days when the friend calls to say she’s expecting or her daughter is a national champion or she’s pursuing a new dream to teach in her field or regaining her health after years of struggling with her weight.

So I put myself in time out. I remember the verses engraved on my heart.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The Spirit has given this to me. It’s done. Even if it takes me all day to remember, this is how I win on a Monday.

Refocus. Choose joy. It’s hard, but it really doesn’t get any simpler.

Life Simplified at SkipperClan.com

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Family Life, Military Style