Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Path to Acceptance

A few weeks back, I wrote this letter to my brother on my blog. Posting that letter was very cathartic for me and I feel like I have finally accepted that I have a brother in jail. For a very long time, I was very ashamed and embarrassed to have a family member incarcerated. 


For many reasons, but there is one that stands out more than others: I didn't want small-minded people judging my entire family based on the errors made by one. 

"Oh, her brother is in jail? Their parents must be a real piece of work if one of their children ends up in jail."

I had an AMAZING upbringing. I never remember being left wanting anything essential. We ate homemade meals every day, rarely eating fast food and we always ate around the dinner table as a family. We had routine, structure, and lots of love. I never doubted that my parents loved me wholeheartedly. They kept us safe and led by example morally. We took family vacations every year and participated in endless extracurricular activites. There is not ONE thing that I can think of that my parents could have done differently to affect the outcome of my brother's life. We were a very typical middle-class family. The reason my brother is in jail is because of HIS decisions. He made them as an adult, outside of my parents home.

"If her brother is a criminal, I bet she has some sort of record too. Usually this stuff runs in a family."

I have never been arrested. I have had ONE traffic ticket (thanks to my husband, I totally blame him for it he is bad influence!). I have never done any sort of illegal drugs, I have never even smoked a cigarette. Yup, I am a total goodie-two-shoes-thank-you-very-much. 

I was so terrified of these thoughts by people who obviously don't know my family or me, that I kept it very quiet for years about my brother. This was re-inforced when I did trust this secret with a very close friend who betrayed me. It was not her secret to tell and our friendship ultimately ended as a result of this. That is how much I wanted to keep this "secret" kept that way.

I don't know what made me finally accept that my brother was in jail. Maybe I finally realized the thoughts of small-minded people that I don't even know shouldn't matter to me. Maybe I realized that no matter how embarrassed or ashamed I felt, it wasn't going to change the situation. Maybe its a combination of many things!

So like I said, posting this letter on my blog was therapeutic. Even after I posted it, I was not sure when I was going to actually send it to him. I love my brother but its hard let myself get emotionally invested in him when I have been let down so many times. And since the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, his track record isn't stellar. Fortunately for me, my Dad stepped in and mailed a copy of my letter to my brother. I am glad he was able to do what I didn't quite have the guts to do. 

My brother wrote back a very nice letter. But once again I am hemming and hawing about it. I received the response on Valentine's Day and I still haven't replied. I have to let myself be in a vulnerable place so I can be totally honest and real with him. I am not going to waste my time pretending to be okay with him, but if he is really being accountable for his actions then I can take the time to work on our relationship. But his response was very touching and I hope he was being honest with me.

I still have the daydream that after this stint in jail he will finally clean up. That his daughter and my daughter will be able to grow up together, be pen pals if we live far apart or be friends if we live close enough. It kills me when my daughter asks about seeing her cousin. When she names all of her friends, she always lists her cousin. But at the same time, I am afraid to expose my daughter to my brother if he is not being a good role model. Yes, he has made mistakes. But what matters most is if he learns from those mistakes and takes the steps to not make them again. I realize no one is perfect and I do not expect perfection from anyone but myself. I would just like to see his future mistakes be on a smaller scale, like forgetting to take out the garbage on trash day. 

I just hope he has as much faith in himself as I have in him because I truly believe he can change if HE wants to and he does it for HIMSELF. While changing for his kids is very admirable, the change won't stick if he doesn't realize that he must do it all for himself first. 


Friday, February 22, 2013

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Pockets

I have seriously been craving some buffalo chicken this week so I scoured my Pinterest board of recipes to find one to try out. Since I had alot of crescent rolls laying around, I decided to make a Buffalo Chicken Ring.

Yum. I *almost* ate all the filing before wrapping it in the crescent rolls. 

Of course Hubs brings the leftovers to work with him, and again I wanted buffalo chicken. Back to the Pinterest board. 

Since I liked the filling so much from the Buffalo Chicken Ring, I decided to make it again. But this time I wrapped the filling into "pockets" made of rolled out biscuits!

They were oh so yummy! They were super easy & quick to make too, which is a good thing when you are trying not to eat parts of your recipe...

Here is how I did it:

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 packet ranch powder mix
Diced celery to taste
Buffalo wing sauce to taste
Diced/shredded chicken, cooked (2-3 chicken breasts worth, or 1-2 cans of canned chicken)
1 can Pillsbury Grands biscuits
Ranch dressing for dipping (optional)

Turn your oven on to 375~
In bowl #1, mix together the hot sauce, cooked chicken, and diced celery.

In bowl #2, combine the cream cheese (soften it in the microwave about 30secs) and 1/2 ranch seasoning packet.

Combine both bowls together, mix well.

Next, open up your can of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits. Take a biscuit out and roll it out flat, about 6 inches in diameter.

Place your flattened biscuit on your baking sheet (I use my PC stoneware!). Put a dollop of your buffalo chicken mixture onto one side of the biscuit. Make sure you leave room around the edges. Fold over one side of the biscuit over the buffalo chicken mixture, then pinch the edges together.

Put them into the oven at 375 for 9-15 minutes, until they are golden yummy brown!

Did I say YUMMY yet?


Monday, February 18, 2013

"Big Sister" Applique Tee

After making my nephew the football blanket I shared a couple days ago, I decided I couldn't send him something without making something for his big sister! I have been wanting to make my niece a special shirt ever since we found out she was going to be a big sister, I finally made the time to do it.

I picked up the t-shirt from a local resale shop for $2.50, its a nice brand name shirt that looks like new! I especially loved the 3 ribbon roses around the neckline. 

I had a fat quarter bundle with 6 coordinating fabrics, so I had a nice palate to choose from. I followed my favorite applique tutorial, over at Skip To My Lou!

I downloaded a cute font (thanks Pinterest!) to use for the lettering, you can view the font HERE on my Pinterest board. 

I typed out BIG SIS in my Word program, printed it out, then cut out my letters. I traced the letters BACKWARDS onto the SMOOTH side of my HeatNBond. Backwards. Backwards. Backwards. Or else you will end up doing it me.

I put the rough side of the HeatNBond onto the WRONG of the fabric. Then I ironed the HeatNBond to the fabric. After it cooled a bit, I cut out the letters that were now attached to the HeatNBond. I peeled off the paper portion and placed my letters where I wanted them onto the t-shirt. After making sure everything was where I wanted it, I ironed the letters to the t-shirt. 

After it cooled, I added a simple stitch around the letters with my sewing machine. I used my Fray Check around all of the letters to prevent fraying. Voila!

The stitching around the letters didn't turn out as fantastic as I wanted. Sewing around curves isn't my forte. But overall, I think the t-shirt turned out cute. 

I hope my niece loves this shirt and loves being a Big Sister! Its a tough job, but someone has to do it :)


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Beauty Routine Updates!

I have tried out a few different beauty products and I wanted to share them all with you!

Have you heard of The Small Things Blog? If you haven't seen this lady's hairstyles pinned all over Pinterest or if you don't read her blog, my dearies you are missing out!

She recently wrote up a post comparing different eyeliners and even made a video showing how to apply gel eyeliner. I am a creature of habit and while I love my eye pencil, the effect I wanted wasn't lasting all day. It would slowly fade away...

So after reading Kate's blog post, I decided to try out gel eyeliner. I went to my tried and true, cost-effective brand so I don't feel guilty blowing money if it doesn't turn out the way I like: e.l.f. makeup. 

e.l.f. Studio Cream Eyeliner
I found it at Target for $3, it came with the small angled brush shown in the picture. I decided on the appropriately named color, Coffee. 

I was VERY impressed with how this liner turned out: it applied easily, there was no fading throughout the day, and it didn't rub off my lower lid either. I was wary at first about applying it, its always a challenge to maintain a steady hand with a toddler running around distracting me. But I followed Kate's video instructions and had no problems!

This is definitely my new "go to" eyeliner.  

Also on The Small Things Blog (see I told you, lots of good tips!) she talked about her "Raspberry Love" and lipcolor. I am usually too afraid to do a colored lip, but I came across a great gloss and I decided it was time to take the plunge. 

Neutrogena MoistureShine Gloss in Berry Fit
I ended up getting this on sale (and with a coupon) at Walgreens so once again, I didn't feel as bad "wasting" money if I didn't like how the color turned out. 

I loved the color and liked the gloss. It was not sticky or goopey, it applied very smoothly and the color is a very nice berry against my pale skin. Not too vampy or anything like that. I like the spring time feel I get when I wear it, I am so ready for warmer weather! Now of course since this is a gloss the color doesn't last very long so it requires reapplication throughout the day.

Showing off my berry colored lips!

 Thanks Kate for the good tips!

There is one last beauty related tip I want to share for wintery, dry weather skin!

My legs have been extremely dry lately, to the point that they itch. I read a trick online where you combine a little bit of baby oil GEL with your normal lotion and then apply it right after a shower. I had no idea they made a baby oil gel, so I was curious to try this out.

So every day immediately after getting out of the shower, I just mix a dime sized amount of the gel with my usual smell good lotion from BBW in the palm of my hand then apply. This has worked out very well for me, my legs are much smoother for longer now. And the best part? I don't get that uncomfortable itchy pulling of dry skin between applications anymore. 

Johnson's Baby Oil Gel

Right now if you want a good deal on this baby oil gel, head over to Target this week (2/17-2/24). Check out Target Savers for more deals like this!

Johnson’s Baby Oil Gel $2.99 – $3.49 (Regular Price)
-$1/1 Johnson’s Baby Item 4oz+ Target Baby Mobile Coupon (Text BABY4 to 827438) x2/23
-$1/1 JOHNSON’S® Baby Oil (excl 1-4 oz)
= .99 each after stack
For only $0.99, it won't hurt the pocketbook to try it out! Unless of course you are one of those people that go into Target for one thing and come out with 5 bags full of stuff...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cozy Football Blanket

How did people share great ideas before Pinterest came along?

I have the hardest time finding cute crafty things to make for boys, so when I found out about this pin I just had to recreate it! 

This super easy tutorial is from Happy Together and it was simple to follow.

Here is my model showing off the final product:

Doesn't baby Cinderella look cozy?

I will be sending this blanket to my newest nephew, I didn't know which football team they root for so I just went with a cute baby flannel print from Hancock Fabrics.

Since quite a few friends are expecting baby boys, I know what I blanket I will be making for their baby baskets!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our Valentines Day

I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of Valentines Day.
It puts too much pressure on people to show their love on just this ONE day of the year. Flowers are pretty and chocolates are yummy, but do they really mean more on Valentines Day? I believe that you should show your love and appreciation 365 days of the year. Why should one day in particular be any more special just because Hallmark says so?

I mean, I have nothing against flowers and chocolates! But I want to get them for reasons other than "because its Valentines Day". 

Like yesterday.

Yesterday was not one of my best days. I was in a sour mood for quite a few reasons. Mostly things that are beyond my control weren't going my way (imagine that...). Anyways while I was out and about running errands, Hubs picked up flowers, chocolates, and a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks and totally surprised me. The gifts weren't because of Valentines Day, but because I needed a pick-me-up.

So I bet you are wondering what we are doing today to celebrate Valentines Day. Today we are just hanging out at home. Spending time with each other. Does that seem too simple? Well, this is the first Valentines Day in years that Hubs has NOT been on deployment or had duty like the last 3 years. 4 years ago I had morning sickness all day but thought it was the flu, so that Valentines Day wasn't great. Like I said, its been a while since we have "celebrated" Valentines Day together. 

And this is how I want to spend it: Together. At home. Time is the most important gift we can give each other because it is something that is so valuable, its priceless.

Oh yah, and we have gym time tonight too. Yup, we are working out on Valentines Day. I am making ribs for dinner, but it wasn't something special I bought just for Valentines Day. I totally got them on sale at the commissary last week for $0.99/lb.

We are definitely not normal. Haha!

For that special someone in your life, whether it is your spouse, significant other, someone you are dating, or your child, remember to show the love year 'round.