Previous month:
November 2008
Next month:
January 2009

December 2008

Not Today…A Quote For All Seasons and All Women

Angelina with Christmas gift hats

As the year winds down, reflection starts to set in. We ponder what might have been done differently, the boundaries we set or not, and the plans we want to implement in the New Year. I offer up a tiny tool with big impact to aid you from adding more to your daily routine. It is something I will be using today, tomorrow, and into the New Year as it is forever cemented into my vernacular.

On Christmas Eve, a little girl taught me a big girl quote. My two-year-old niece, Angelina, has mysteriously come up with the perfect quote for women of all ages to draw on in awkward moments. After opening a gift of less than thrilling wool hats, she was asked if she would like to try them on. She politely, but firmly stated, “Not today.” You can see her reaction to these hats in the above photo.

It wasn’t off-putting, insulting, or offensive, but rather definitive, simple, and clear without a trace of guilt, worry, or second-guessing herself. These two little words shoot straight to the point. There is no mixed message or cloudy intent. It is an answer that conveys neither a positive nor a negative point of view on the topic, and yet speaks volumes about your position.

We have all had a tongue-tied moment, a thorny incident, or a tricky confrontation where “Not today,” could have saved stress, time, and energy. Looking back, I think…Aha, if only I had said “Not today” in so many of these situations. Well now I will, and you can, too. So today, tomorrow, and into the New Year, whenever you are put on the spot, remember to practice this quote…simply say, “Not today.”

Try it out and let us know what happens or share another response you use that is effective.


The Holidays Are Here!

Wishing You Much Love and Happiness This Holiday Season and Always

At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows.
-- William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
    Love's Labour Lost

Snow covered tree in forest
     

Holiday Haste Makes Waste…Luci’s Blog Lesson

A Message to the Readers of Here We Are...

Gold Holiday ornaments rushing forward with stars

In holiday haste to get things done yesterday, I learned a valuable blog lesson. While I was attempting to improve this site, I ended up causing more problems. After applying my not-so-nifty-HTML-handiwork, you may have discovered that the Feed in your email or reader box was a dead link; and, if you already visited Here We Are, you might have clicked on a couple of broken links to the recent eyeliner entry.

I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or waste of time this may have caused you. The silver lining of this Internet cloud (be warned, this entry is full of clichés and could even get a bit sappy) is that I learned how much I care about your experience on Here We Are.

You, the reader, are the most important part of this entire endeavor. Without the readers, subscribers, commenters, and support of our current and future contributors, there would be no reason for the “we” in Here We Are. This is a blog by women, for women, helping each other from one busy day to the next. Your time is important and every minute you spend with us is greatly appreciated. We want you to enjoy visiting and become a part of it. 

During the last frustrating twenty-four hours of failed attempts to fix the glitches, things my grandmother always said kept resonating. She was a strong, intelligent, no-nonsense woman with whom I had a wonderful relationship.

If you’ll indulge me, I'd like to share them with you:

Always mind your P’s and Q’s. [Especially now when it comes to HTML…so, a professional programmer will be fixing the glitches soon.]

When you feel frustrated, stop and wash your face. [I don’t know why, but this does work to make you feel better…although it is much easier to do in the middle of the day when you are an eight year old.]

Count the steps of a project before you start, and figure out what you don’t know. [How clear and simple is that?]

A stitch in time saves nine. [We’ve all heard this one…so true.]

Always say “thank you.” [Thank you, Grandma...and Thank You, Readers. –- All The Best, Luci]

Holiday Stress…Breathing Through Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa

Stopwatch in Christmas tree with ornaments 

If you feel like Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are beating the clock and your list of to-do’s is growing, then take a moment and breathe. Breathe deeply, slowly, and with purpose. While there is less than a week to go before the three big holidays arrive one after the other, it is important for you to make the time to reduce your holiday stress. Notice the key words, “make the time?” Do something special for your health and wellness today, even if it is for just a few minutes. Simply take a long hot shower, have a cup of herbal tea, write in your gratitude journal, or call a friend, all the while remembering to breathe. Go ahead, you deserve it…and do not worry; everything that is important will get done, even if it isn’t perfect.

I found this quote and thought it interesting since Jane Austen wrote it nearly two hundred years ago. It stopped me from being swept up earlier this week in a whirlwind of activity and put things into perspective. I hope it does the same for you!

Life is just a quick succession of busy nothings.
        Jane Austen (1775 - 1817)
       
Mansfield Park

Butter…Spread Soft Cheer to Better Butter Up Your Toast and Maybe Your Host

Stick of butter with forkDoes your butter come out of the fridge looking unappetizing? Are you tired of cold, hard butter that refuses to spread on your nice warm bagel? In many cases, there is no substitute for the real thing, and butter is one example where this is true. Yes, you can buy “spreads” that stay soft no matter how cold it is or how long it has been on the store shelf. Nothing compares to rich, creamy, soft spreadable butter on a hot slice of toast or a stack of pancakes. Mmmmm. Unfortunately, there are those calories to consider, but a big tablespoon of the fake stuff can’t compare to a small pat of the real thing. If you agree, then a butter keeper may be just the answer to brighten up your breakfast.

I first encountered this item in France when along with breakfast, an odd looking ceramic container was placed on the table. What a nice surprise to pick it up and find the soft, room temperature butter cradled in a cool water bath. I asked le garçon about this nouveau beurre crock. Turns out, prior to refrigeration, it was the old way of keeping butter fresh.

To use, fill the lid with a stick of softened butter, and then place the lid upside-down into the base containing cold water. The water makes an airtight seal keeping the butter fresh for up to a month while it sits out on your kitchen counter. It really works, but note, the water should be changed every three days or so. I put the crock into the dishwasher between butter refills; this makes it simple to clean.

Whatever you call it, a Butter Keeper, a Bell, a Crock, or a Pot…Treat yourself to one. With the holidays closing in, this may also work nicely as a reasonably priced, unique hostess gift. Most cost between $10 and $32 (without shipping). 

Once you use one of these in your kitchen, you will always enjoy spreading a little ready-to-use soft butter in the morning. Gone are the days of cold, uncooperative sticks of butter, this is definitely a better way to butter up your toast. Bon Appétit!

 


Li’l Playzone…A Gift That Gives Busy Moms a Chance to Get Stuff Done

BigRedBow

A Post by Staci ~ The Mom Squad

For baby Elle's first birthday, her grandparents bought her the Li'l Playzone with Lights & Sounds by One Step Ahead. You can find it at www.onestepahead.com under Travel & Gear, then under Playyards. The cost is $119.95 (plus shipping). It has been well worth the money. We actually set it up before her first birthday, when she was 10 months old. This was a perfect time since she was becoming more mobile.

I can put her in there and not have to worry about where she is or what she is getting into. She likes it so much that it actually gives me the chance to get stuff done around the house. It also provides a play space for her since we do not have a playroom in our house. Now that she is two, she goes in there on her own to read books or play with her toys.

Some say that it is not sturdy enough for those babies who like to pull on the walls of the playyard, but we haven't had that problem. It's easy to put together and you can enlarge the standard 13 sq. ft. of space by buying extensions. They even offer another option that travels more easily outside.

I am very pleased that we have established this space for Elle to call her own, now I just hope she shares it with her new baby sister, Cami!

{Product Review Disclaimer: This is NOT a paid review. No consideration of any kind was offered to or received by Lucimac Productions, the parent company of HWA.}


Eyeliner…Naked Eyelids Line Up for Two Lines of Fabulous

Eyeliner with brush and mascara
What do Angelina Jolie, Kimora Lee Simmons, and Diane Sawyer all have in common at a holiday party? Eyeliner! Yep…look at any picture of them attending a party and you will see with your own two eyes that theirs are lined to perfection. Granted, a makeup artist has done the handiwork, but you can do it yourself and get the same look. It’s the easiest way to glam up for a party, and unlike lipstick, you don’t have to reapply it to keep the effect going all night long!

Some of you are with me on this topic and have seen the benefit close-up. I hope these suggestions help perfect your technique. But if you are an eyeliner skeptic, I urge you to take a look at these tips and give it a try. Who knows? You might find it is a real eye-opener! Wink! Wink! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Here are a few pointers on adding eyeliner to your makeup bag & on your eyelids:

  • Everyone’s eyes look better with a little liner. Mascara can’t do the job of defining the eyes alone. Think of these two as a pair that are okay by themselves, but work best as a team…like your eyes. BONUS: Your eyes are what people notice in person and in pictures, eyeliner is an easy way emphasize them.
  • Now is the time of year to try it. If you are afraid of looking too made up, a holiday or New Year’s Eve party is a terrific opportunity to try something new. You still have some time to practice; like anything else, don’t try it before a big event without a test run. TIP: Practice on your eyes [not the back of your hand] every night before you wash your face. Apply a different technique on each eye so you can compare what you like better. Is it a thin line? Thicker? Doe-eye corners? Top and bottom lids? Or just the top? It won’t matter if you overdo it, because you are going to wash it right off anyway.
  • Black eyeliner never goes out of style with the correct application. BUT if it reminds you of your Aunt Margie’s 1973 prom picture, then try a brown, but always use black mascara. Also, unless you are thirteen, no blue, green, or purple liners allowed; these went out with Aunt Margie’s sparkly, powdered eyeshadow in aqua frost.
  • When shopping, you will find two types to choose: a pencil/crayon type or a liquid liner. If you have a steady hand and will the take time to practice, go ahead and try a liquid. The only success I have had with a liquid I owe to a makeup artist, so I prefer a pencil type. TIP: Avoid “waterproof” eyeliners (and mascara); they are difficult to remove during an application mistake and at the end of the day.
  • Having tried most brands (from high-end to drugstore chain), I like the Almay Eyeliner best overall…long lasting, great price point, easy to use, easy to carry, and it even has a hidden sharpener.
  • TIP: After lining, use a small brush to even and smooth it out. You can also use the brush to apply loose translucent powder over the liner…yes, over the liner. This sets it and adds staying power for extra long coverage; great if it is hot outside. After powdering, take the small brush and lightly run it over the liner again to remove any loose powder.
  • You will need an eye-makeup remover to gently remove any brand or type of liner. I recommend the Almay non-oily pre-moistened makeup remover pads. BONUS: No spill, so they travel easily; no cotton to get stuck on your eyelashes; plus, they are helpful if you make a mistake when applying.
Naked eyelids everywhere deserve some liner-love…start practicing, improving, and experimenting tonight. Do you have a makeup tip to share? Tell us so we can apply it this Holiday season. Have fun and be fabulous!


I’m Really Not Tired…A Bedtime Solution for Tired Parents and Shoppers Alike

I'm Really Not Tired, Lori Sunshine Tired of standing in the children’s section of a bookstore or surfing websites swamped by so many choices? As you look around, colorful covers of cute characters look back at you. Which one to pick? Maybe Emma or John already has it? Hmmm…perhaps a hat and gloves set will do fine instead. Wait weary shopper! I have the book that will not only make you happy, but the child, and the parents, too. How is that for a win-win-win situation? Read on my friend…

I’m Really Not Tired hit the market about a month ago; good odds it won’t be a duplicate gift. It is an entertaining, clever, and well-written story of a boy’s curiosity about what goes on after he is put to bed. Lori Sunshine (yes, that is her real name), a mother of two and an award-winning writer, does an excellent job of interpreting the child’s imagination. The lively illustrations in this picture book, by Jeffrey Ebbeler, support the story in a humorous, straightforward manner.

The story opens as the little boy, Sam, together with his bear, Petey, climb into bed for the night. After lights out, his imagination runs wild as he attempts to uncover what he is missing.

    “We miss all the fun, Pete. It’s really not fair,”
    Sam said as they slid on their seats down a stair.

    “Could our basement be filled with a thousand toy trains?
    Does our bathroom have fish swimming up all the drains?”

Besides being a great holiday gift idea, the back-story intrigued me. The book came about because the author took lemons and made lemonade. Motivated to address a common issue, Lori expanded her career into a new area. When asked what inspired her, she told me, "When my son was little, he NEVER slept! He was sure we were having fun without him. So the book was written in a sleep-deprived haze! I thought it would be a creative way to point out how silly he was being. And have a little fun writing it! Plus, I figured we weren't the only parents with this problem. Other parents might get a kick out of the story, too!"

Indeed they will, Lori, as their children take a bedtime journey without having to get out from under the covers!

 

{Product Review Disclaimer: This is NOT a paid review. No consideration of any kind was offered to or received by Lucimac Productions, the parent company of HWA.}


BFF + RSS = RFF… Reconnecting Female Friendship

Littlegirlsholdinghandsonearth

 

This entry was scheduled for December 31. But it is only Dec. 2, so why am I posting it today? I even bumped an eyeliner review! Sometimes things just can’t wait. When I wrote the original entry, I figured that the last day of the year was a good day to remind the busy readers of Here We Are, and myself, to reach out to our female friends. It can be as simple as saying Hello or Thank You or I Miss You. A message that tells your friend she is important in your life.

The passage of time, distant miles, work, or busy lifestyles can make you too tired or distracted to pick up the phone or write a note. You know what I mean, you intend to call, then a week goes by, then a month, and before you know it, a year has passed and you can’t believe your day planner!

But something happened this afternoon that made me realize today was the day for me to share this lesson. The message can arrive in an obvious or obscure way. It is what we do with the message and how we respond that counts.

For me the message arrived as a Google Alert delivered to my email. My childhood friend, Juli, wrote about Here We Are to help it begin rockin’ and rollin’ into the blog-o-sphere. Thank you for the shameless plug; but more importantly, thank you for reminding me of the bond we share as lifelong friends. While the miles may separate us and sometimes years have passed with little contact, today you illuminated the importance of maintaining and appreciating our female friends.

This message reminds me again that it is never too late to reach out, reestablish, and reconnect to those with whom we have a bond. The end of a year, on the precipice of a new one, offers a chance to close chapters and start a new page. While it may only be December 2, I urge you to do what Juli did for me, remind a friend what she means to you. So today, I urge you to reconnect with your BFF, using RSS on a blog post, email, text message, cell phone, or the old-fashioned handwritten note, and say Hello or Thank You or I Miss You.

[Hello Juli, thank you for your support and friendship, and I do miss you. -- Luci.]