That’s a wrap {February}.

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Links to Love:

  1. A Golden Girls themed café has opened in Manhattan.  My sister and I will definitely be visiting it someday.  We love The Golden Girls!  It’s one of those shows that I like to watch when I’m tired or sick or sad…those quirky ladies just make everything better.
  2. Maternity photo themed pics showing off that beautiful…beer belly??  These are funny.
  3. Did you watch The Oscars?  We didn’t.  But I read about the Best Picture debacle on theSkimm Monday morning.  Craziness!  I feel so bad for the guy who handed Bonnie and Clyde the wrong envelope.  These tweets are hilarious.
  4. Ava is officially walking more than she’s crawling.  In fact, she’s not really crawling at all any more.  She resembles a drunk sailor as she toddles around but she’s on her own two feet and loving it.  I’m so sad.  Does this mean I officially have a toddler?  These are the only shoes she’ll keep on.  We are fans.
  5. 13 Children’s Books that Encourage Kindness Towards Others.  I want Ava to own all of these.

Making Memories:

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  1. On my birthday, Kevin gave me a gift certificate for a 90 minute (!!) massage at a local skin and body retreat.  I redeemed that on the first Saturday in February and it was lovely.  90 minutes is such a luxurious length of time to be pampered.  Thanks, Kevin!
  2. Kevin went to Phoenix with his dad for their annual Sun’s game extravaganza.  They ate good food, did a little shopping (Ava made out like a bandit, as you can imagine), and enjoyed a close basketball game where the Sun’s came out victorious.  Not too shabby.  This was their 23rd annual father/son trip.  Isn’t that amazing?  They always have a great time.
  3. My mom and step-dad live a 2.5 hour drive away from us, which isn’t bad but they stay busy with their jobs/farm/ranch and we stay busy with life and the whole pack of us are homebody’s so we don’t see each other very often.  In February, my mom and I started Skyping on Monday mornings.  I think that’ll be a good way for her to stay up on Ava’s latest and greatest tricks and it’s a nice time to connect.  I’ve enjoyed that new routine.
  4. One blustery Thursday night in February, I met five of my friends out at The Melting Pot for a girl’s night.  It was so fun.  I always come away refreshed and recharged when I spend time with these ladies.  We wore tiaras and the restaurant supplied us with wands, because we’re princesses.  Have you eaten at The Melting Pot? That was my first time and I did all four courses.  I loved the cheese (bread was my favorite dipper, obviously), was underwhelmed by the salad, thought the entrée was okay, and ate too much of the chocolate.  Next time I think I’d just do cheese and chocolate.  Although I did love the mushroom caps in coq au vin with green goddess sauce.  I may do entree for those alone.
  5. Ava had a few social events in February.  She met a friend at the aquarium one afternoon, and went to a friend’s house for a play date one Saturday.  We continue to attend music class on Tuesday’s, which she always really enjoys.

Bookish:

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  1. I just finished listening to Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody and I really liked it.  I gave it 4 stars.  It is my favorite comedic memoir (or whatever that genre is) that I’ve read/listened to.  She’s not crude like so many of them are, and while there is some foul language, I think it’s well placed and not over the top.  She’s hilarious.
  2. Kevin and I finished listening to Duplicity by Newt Gingrich.  It was really well written and action packed.  Kevin gave it 5 stars and I gave it 4 stars.  We’ll probably start the sequel when we travel for Easter.
  3. I finished The Secret Garden and gave it 4 stars.  It’s a quick, easy, classic read.  I remember loving the movie as a kid, but I don’t think I’d ever read the book.  I also re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and it was just as amazing the second time.  I love that series.
  4. I’m currently still reading The Danish Way of Parenting:  A Guide to Raising the Happiest Kids in the World by Jessica Joelle Alexander & Iben Sandhal; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (reading this one on my phone/iPad); and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I’m in a jack of many, master of none phase when it comes to reading.  I need to commit to finishing the Danish parenting book and put some time in with Team of Rivals but Harry Potter keeps calling my name.
  5. Kevin has been reading The Looming Tower: Al-Quaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright. He’s enjoying his online class that he started last month as well.  They’re about to start a group project that’s a simulation of an Everest climb.  Sounds taxing.

Challenges:

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  1. Naps continue to be a challenge for us.  Well, for Ava.  Kevin and I would gladly go down for daily naps if we could.  I’ve weaned Ava from the mid-day feed, so it really does have to be Goldilocks timing (not too tired, not too hyper) to get her to nap.  Sometimes we stroller nap in the late afternoon if I couldn’t get her down in the crib.  Sue has tried crib napping but Ava tends to wake up early and then they cuddle nap.  This too shall pass.  Days just seem really long when the child refuses a mid-day rest.  Overall though, we can’t complain.
  2. Kiki, while doing quite well for 14 years old (76 in human years), continues to refuse her thyroid medicine every other day or so, and she has been throwing up a lot.  We did some lab work over the weekend and should get results soon.  Hopefully there is something else we can try to keep her healthy.  She did gain weight though and seems to feel fine, so it’s not too bad.

Sustenance:

  1. I posted about our favorite chicken recipes in February – we ate each of those at least once during the month.
  2. We’ve still been into the overnight oats.  Those work especially well on the mornings that Kevin has personal training sessions at the gym.
  3. I’d like a chef to start doing my shopping and cooking.  I feel like we have been in such a rut recently.  And mealtimes just keep rolling around, not going anywhere.  Blah.

How was your February?  Would you choose a maid, a cook, or a chauffer to lighten your load? 

Capsule recipe box: chicken.

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There are a few recipes we do really well in our house and these dinners are in regular rotation.  A capsule wardrobe of recipes, if you will.  While sometimes it feels like a rut, it’s a tasty rut.  I decided to share some of our favorite chicken recipes today and hope that you’ll link to some of your favorites in the comments so I can expand my repertoire.  Four of the recipes I’m sharing today just kind of evolved organically in our own kitchen, so I’m typing out the details on what we do to make it come together.  I hesitate to even call them “recipes” because they’re so basic!  The other recipes are things I found through Pinterest, usually, and I’ve linked to the original posts.

CHICKEN FAJITAS

There are a million and one fajita seasoning packets that you can get at the grocery store, or recipes for seasoning mixes that can be found online.  We do not use any of those.  We keep our fajitas really simple!  Here is the process we follow.

Ingredients:
Chicken breasts, sliced into strips
Bell peppers, sliced into strips
Onion, sliced into half-rings
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Sometimes we’ll add a little turmeric or paprika to add a little something special.
Tortillas
Cheddar cheese, grated

Tools:
Cutting board
Knife
Skillet
Tongs or fork
Plates

Process:

  1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet and season the chicken breast strips with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and any other seasonings you want to include
  2. Cook the chicken breast strips through.  Remove from pan and place on a plate.
  3. Using the same skillet (add a little more olive oil if needed, but we usually don’t find it’s necessary), cook the onion for a few minutes until it starts to soften.  Then add the bell peppers to the skillet and cook the veggies through.  Add a little salt and pepper to season them! (Side note:  if we’re in a hurry, we’ll often sauté the onions and bell peppers simultaneously in another skillet as the chicken is cooking.  Dirties an extra skillet, but does practically cut the cook time in half.)
  4. Add the chicken back into the skillet and mix the meat and veggies together.  Turn the burner down and let it all simmer together for a few minutes while you prep the tortillas.
  5. You can heat tortillas on the stove top but we always just put the tortilla on a plate, spread cheddar cheese on the tortilla, and stick it in the microwave for thirty seconds.
  6. Load the tortilla up with fajita mix and dive in.  :)

PAN-SEARED CHICKEN WITH BALSAMIC CREAM SAUCE

This is one of our FAVORITE, go-to meals.  Kevin and I especially love to make it on a weekend when we can prepare it together because we each play our roles so well in putting it together (I prep and clean as he actually stands over the stove doing the cooking).  You can access the recipe we use here.  We serve the chicken and the oh-so-delicious sauce with egg noodles.

MUM’S GARLIC LEMON CHICKEN

This is another favorite.  It’s from The Londoner and it’s so easy and delicious.  I definitely recommend serving it with the salad that she details in the post.  We love the pairing and the salad dressing recipe she includes is amazingly good.  You can get all the deets here.

ROASTED CHICKEN WITH SWEET POTATOES

This is one is so simple and so, so good.  Kevin and Ava love it too and we’ve been eating it at least once every few weeks recently.

Ingredients:
Chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Oregano
Turmeric
Any other seasonings you’d like!
Olive oil

Tools:
Baking sheet with side (not a flat cookie sheet style pan)
Aluminum foil (optional)
Clean hands!

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spread a piece of aluminum foil over the baking sheet, covering the sides of the sheet.  This is optional but really helps make clean up a cinch.
  3. Place chicken thighs on baking sheet, skin side up.
  4. Arrange sweet potato chunks around chicken thighs.
  5. Season liberally with chosen seasonings.  Drizzle olive oil over it all.
  6. Use hands to mix things about and get the seasonings and oils spread around.
  7. Bake for around 45-50 minutes or until chicken thighs are cooked through.  Broil for 2 minutes to get the skin crispy.

GREEN CHILE SAUCE CHICKEN BURRITOS

This is a favorite because it’s so easy (slow cooker!) and really tasty.  We use a local green chile sauce – 505 Green Chile Sauce.  You can use any green chile sauce your grocery store carries.

Ingredients:
Green chile sauce – 1 jar
Chicken breasts – we usually do three or four, sometimes more if we want a lot of leftovers for lunches
Tortillas
Cheddar cheese, grated

Tools:
Slow cooker
Slow cooker liner (optional)

Process:

  1. If using the slow cooker liner, place it in the slow cooker.
  2. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and pour the green chile sauce over the top.
  3. Lid on, slow cooker on, and cook!  Times vary – you know your slow cooker better than anyone else.  Ours is pretty fast we can usually do three chicken breasts on low for around four hours and be fine.
  4. When the chicken breasts are done, use two forks to shred the meat.
  5. We usually just spread some cheddar cheese on a tortilla and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds, then load up the tortilla with the shredded meat.  Fold like a burrito and enjoy this easy-peasy dinner.  You could get fancy and have sour cream, avocado, onions, tomatoes, other toppings, available too!

HONEY SESAME CHICKEN

This is a slow cooker meal that we serve over rice.  It’s really delicious and easy.  Here is the link to the recipe.

 

Do any of these sound like something you would like?  Share your favorite chicken recipe with me please!

A bit on blogging and my favorite blogs.

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Ah, blogging.  I love looking back at past blog posts.  I love having a record of the past four (five? How long have I had this blog?  A good blogger would probably know how long their blog has existed.) years because my life has changed so much in that time – engagement, marriage, job changes, pregnancy, baby.  But honestly if someone else could write the blog posts about my life, I’d let them.  I don’t love writing like so many of my favorite bloggers do.  Writing posts falls more and more to the back burner because I’m not passionate about it and therefore don’t prioritize it.  I think I posted twice or maybe three times in December.  Maybe I’ll stop blogging altogether at some point, but for now I try to just write a post here or there as I want to, as I can.

I’m very appreciative of the friendships blogging has brought.  Several bloggers I consider friends no longer keep blogs, but we follow one another on Instagram and/or keep in touch as pen pals via snail mail, and I like that the interwebs were site for friendship to develop.  There are other blogger friends that still keep blogs and I am always excited to see a new post from them.  I confess that I tend to be a lazy blogger and mostly keep up with bloggers that seem to keep up with me.  You read and comment on my blog, I’ll read and comment on yours.  I’m trying to get better about replying, via email, to comments.  I tend to let them stack up and then do a mass deletion party in my inbox because I’ve let so much time pass since the comment came in that it would be weird to reply!  I’d like to stay more on top of things and reply in a timely manner.  I also have been trying to reply to questions in the comments instead of emailing a reply, just in case other people are curious about the answer to the question.

Here are a few of my favorite blogs – the #wemetonline folks who still blog regularly and I think of as friends.

Rach at This Italian Family.  Rach was my first blog friend and she is the most inspiring and kind person ever!  Her blog is always such a joy to read – recipes, travel, photography, her pup Oreo, and her passion for bringing happiness to people in her life.

Allie at Allie’s Life.  Allie and I have become pen pals as well and she is so sweet!  She’s a fabulous baker and loves animals and her family.  She has a dog named Lola and a cat named Malcolm, who Rue thinks is really dreamy.  :)

Miriam at Farm Girl.  Miriam lives in Canada – British Columbia, I believe.  She and her husband just moved to a new place and the photos of it are breathtakingly beautiful.  Miriam loves animals and they own a lot of them – dogs, chickens, rabbits, horses…  My favorite is her big white dog named Bear.

Amanda at The Lady Okie.  Amanda is a good writer and always has clever post ideas.  She gives great book reviews, tells funny stories, and is very authentic.   Like many of these ladies, I think we’d be friends in real life if we lived closer.

Allison at Nestful of Love.  Allison posts some great recipes and craft ideas.  Her little boy is right around a year older than Ava, so I’m always making mental notes of things to try next year as she tests them out with him!

Nicole at Just Live It.  Nicole has a cute little boy and is expecting her second baby later this year.  She posts about their day-to-day and is a great photographer.

Rachel at The New Normal.  Rachel doesn’t post often, but I enjoy keeping up with her and her family.  She has a cat named The Fonz who looks a lot like Kiki!

The list is so short.  I miss Janelle and Becky and Gina and Jenny and Jen and…I’m sure there are others, who formerly blogged!  But Instagram is good for staying in touch with them.  :)

Other blogs I enjoy but don’t often comment on include Bridget at Tales of Me and the Husband and Grace at Camp Patton.

And there are a few people I know in real life – Tiffany at Little House, Big Life, Lori at Five Feet Rising, Britt at The Fisk Files….

What are your favorite blogs to read?  What motivates you to keep a blog?

 

A day in the life – October 2016.

I’m sneaking this post in during October to stay consistent with my plan to document our typical day every six months.  Here’s April 2016 and October 2015, in case you want to stroll down {my} memory lane.

Our day begins at around 6:30 AM.  Well, sometimes Kevin wakes up at 5:30 or even – wait for it – 4:30 (apparently there is one of those in the morning too!  Who knew!?) to go to the gym or at least get a little morning Kevin time with Mike & Mike, coffee, and the paper.  But Ava wakes up at right around 6:30, which means I wake up at that time too, because I love sleep.  {I read an article recently that looked at seven things thriving moms have in common versus surviving moms.  One of them was waking up before their child(ren).  I may never thrive as a mother, by that rule.}  Kevin goes into Ava’s room first and they have a lovely morning routine – they chat and he changes her diaper.  They turn off the sound machine and open the blinds in her room.  They say good morning to the yard and then they make their way into the master bedroom, saying hi to the cats along the way.  Ava comes to see me and I nurse her.  Kevin goes downstairs to get his coffee and paper and then he joins us in the bedroom.  I usually check email and social media while Ava eats.  We try to convince her to cuddle for a bit after her meal, but she’s TOO BUSY.  She gets antsy and we move downstairs.

We were in an excellent walking routine and we’d immediately put her in the stroller, get my water and Kevin’s coffee, and go for a walk around the neighborhood.  In the past few weeks it has gotten a bit too chilly and stayed dark too late for us to do that at 7:00 like we were during the summer.  So we’ve gradually changed our routine and now the norm is to play for a little bit in the living room or family room, then eat solid breakfast.  Ava’s breakfast is usually veggie puffs or Bamba and some kind of fruit (blueberries, raspberries, and bananas are the go-to options) and a bit of whatever Kevin or I is having – sometimes toast with jam, sometimes an English muffin with peanut butter, sometimes an egg and cheese burrito.  She’s also really into applesauce go-packs recently.

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If we have time (don’t have a lot to do to get ready or have to be to work before 9:00), we go for our walk around 7:30.  I really enjoy our walks.  Ava loves checking on the neighborhood and Kevin and I enjoy the quiet time to chat and stretch our legs.  We start to get ready when we get home – around 8:00.  Kevin’s mom gets to the house around 8:45 and she and Ava embark on their play time.  Kevin and I head to work.  Things have been less intense for him recently since our new EHR that launched July 1 has been in play for a few months.  Our new HR person is amazing and has taken a lot of HR work off of my plate and our office manager is back from being out and has taken over her stuff that I was covering, so I’ve been able to focus on the internal and external audits that have come up.  It’s definitely less stressful than it was a couple of months ago!  We work until 1:00 and then head home – Kevin for lunch and me for the afternoon.

Sue catches us up on Ava’s morning – was there a nap, what she ate, how they played, and then leaves.  I nurse Ava and then we all eat lunch together.  Ava loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I like to have leftovers if there are any from earlier in the week, and Kevin usually has soup or a sandwich.

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Kevin goes back to work after we eat and Ava and I plan our afternoon.  I try to structure the afternoon around when she took a nap in the morning, if she took a nap in the morning.  We’ll run errands if needed.  We’ve been going for an afternoon walk as well because the weather has been so fantastic and it gets us out of the house.

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A trip to the park is fun too.  She usually takes at least a 45 minute nap (Nursing her to sleep is no longer an option – she’s too wired while nursing.  It also doesn’t work to put her in the crib and leave the room.  She immediately stands up and begins wailing like I told her I’m leaving forever.  So instead I usually hold her in a cradle position and walk around in circles in her room, sound machine on.  If she’s wound up she may fight it a little bit, but I do a “sh sh sh sh sh” sound and walk with a light bounce and she usually calms down really quickly.  Her eyes get heavy and soon she begins dozing.  I wait until she’s pretty well asleep – my arms burning – and then set her gently in the crib.  I know it’s not good to have that kind of sleep association, but I’m really a live-for-the-current-nap kind of girl.  This is working now – I’ll deal with the future later.)  and I use the time to catch up on work emails and/or phone calls, work a bit if I have my laptop at home, and watch some Gilmore Girls.  :)

When she wakes up, I’ll usually feed her because she doesn’t tend to wake up from her afternoon naps in an especially cheerful mood, and then we’ll play.  I usually start cooking dinner around 5:30.  Kevin has been going to football practice each week day until around 6:00, but the season is now over so he’ll begin coming home around 5:00.  I’m so excited for that – it will be great to have that extra hour with him back.  We eat at 6:15 or whenever he gets home.  As soon as we’re done we clean Ava up and go upstairs.  We only bathe her once or twice a week.  I mean, why do more than that?  We clean her up well after each meal, she doesn’t sweat, and frequent bathing dries out the skin – we live in the desert and don’t need additional drying.  :)  So all that to say, when we don’t need to do a bath, our usual nighttime routine is Vitamin D, brushing teeth, diaper change, pajamas, and then I nurse her.  She’s usually in her crib by 7:10.  Ava occasionally cries out in the night but unless it goes on for more than a few minutes or sounds especially upset (there’s a nightmare kind of cry and a I’m-between-sleep-cycles kind of cry and we’re learning to tell the difference), we let her be and she soothes herself back to sleep.

Kevin and I hang out downstairs until around 9:30.  We spend the time watching football or something else on TV, reading, looking stuff up online, and talking.  It is really, really important to me that we get those two hours to just hang out together.  He’s my favorite and I love being with him.  We’re usually in bed by 10 and that’s the day.

Tell me something about your typical day.  How is your day today different than your day six months ago? 

This and that. And then some more this.

I’ve been listening to The Woman In Cabin 10 on Audible as I drive around town. I can’t decide if I find the British accent of the narrator pleasant or annoying. The storyline has been keeping me on the edge of my car seat.

You’ve seen those three fictional character posts, right?  You choose three fictional characters to describe yourself.  Kevin and I played the game last week and here’s what we came up with:

img_8924For Kevin:  Coach Taylor (Kevin’s pick), Captain America (Amy’s pick), Peeta Mellark (mutual pick)

Honorable Mention:
Adult Simba from The Lion King
Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights.

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For Amy:  Hermione Granger (Kevin’s pick), Rory Gilmore (Amy’s pick), Pam Halpert nee Beesley (mutual pick)

Honorable Mention:
Lizzy Bennet from Pride and Prejudice
Kathleen Kelly from You’ve Got Mail.

There was a request (hi Allie!) for a photo of Ava in the grocery cart with the cart cover my mom made.  Isn’t she the cutest little eleven month old?  Just sittin’ there, waiting for high noon on Sunday so she can buy beer at Costco.

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We’ve had the final Mockingjay movie for about four months, courtesy of our Netflix subscription.  Four months is a long time.  I’m surprised they haven’t demanded it back at this point.  I’ve heard it’s good.  It’s just so hard to commit to a full movie.  It’s not hard to commit to five consecutive Friends episodes, but a movie…

I did recently discover (thanks to my mom and sister) that Milk Money streams on Netflix.  If you haven’t seen Milk Money (Melanie Griffith, Ed Harris), please…watch it immediately.  1990’s comedy at its finest.

And now I’ll leave you with a series of pizza photos because…they’re adorable.

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What three fictional characters are you?  What’s your favorite 90’s movie?  And pizza toppings – what do you order?  {Ava likes cheese.}

There’s a basket for that. And other “life hacks”.

One day, out of the blue, I noticed that I love baskets. There are approximately a million of them, scattered around my home. Each fulfills its basket destiny by bringing some semblance of organization and containment to what would otherwise – I’m certain – be a chaotic space. Here are a few of my favorite uses for my wicker friends.

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This one is the keeper of my flip flops and sandals. A nice sturdy square basket, it sits stoically in my closet, keeping the summer shoe selection out of trouble.

Also: life hack – I put a rubber band around each pair of sandals. Keeps me from digging through the basket to find that elusive (fun fact:  I recently learned the difference between allusive and illusive and elusive.  I’m so proud to show off my newfound knowledge.) other sandal.

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A vanity basket. Our master bath has a long vanity and one sink. Kevin keeps his manly toiletries on one side of the sink and I keep my Listerine, coconut oil, and other potions on the other side. When we first moved into this house, it was chaos. We each had our side but the stuff was just sitting out, getting shuffled about and knocked over and so forth and so on.  I stumbled upon these sweet baskets at Cost Plus World Market (aka:  the store that makes me want to buy everything in the store) and they have been perfect for keeping our stuff organized on our his – and – her sides of the vanity.

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A toy basket.  There are two toy baskets in the house – one in our den and one in Ava’s room.  I really don’t want to become a house that is overrun with toys, so these two small baskets are perfect for keeping toys contained but accessible.  I’m sure they’ll continue to have magic keeping-the-house-picked-up powers once Ava is more mobile and has fine tuned her toy transport skills.  Ha. Ha. Wink. Wink.

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A bread basket.  Our counter was laden with gluten (wheat bread, tortillas, and oatmeal English muffins are staples in this house) and the bags were driving me bonks.  So I hid it all in a basket.  Naturally.

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A mail basket.  We’re pretty good about going through the mail right away and recycling/shredding/filing as needed.  But there was inevitably a few items stacked up and what better place to keep them semi-hidden than a basket.  It’s also helpful for storing charger cords, etc.

That’s it for baskets today.  But there are two more storage idea “life hacks” I want to share.  First, one that I learned from Tiffany, my college roommate – kind of a rolodex system for addresses.  It’s just a recipe box, alphabet separator tab things, and index cards.  I list the name and address of my nearest and dearest on an index card and then when they move, it’s a simple thing to shred the old card and create a new one with the updated address.  Or a friend gets married and changes her name – create a new card with the new name.  Gone are the days of crossing out names and addresses in an address book.  I also like storing stamps in the address box.

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I also have an expandable file thing where I keep cards and letters and ticket stubs and Playbills and other memorabilia associated with my closest family and friends.  I’m not one to get too attached to things as I’m not especially sentimental and I don’t like clutter.  But I do love keeping some items and I’ve found this is a good way to store them.

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Do you have any organizational life hacks?  Do share! 

An amazing concert.

My mom is a huge Keith Urban fan.  Well, I mean, she’s actually quite petite, but she really loves Keith Urban.  ;-)  When she found out he was coming to the city I live in, she asked my sister and I to go with her to the concert and of course, we said yes.

My aunt knows people – actually, she IS people.  She asked around and, eager to impress her, someone hooked her up with the. best. tickets. with which she in turn hooked us up.  They were in a box, super close to the stage, and they came with VIP parking which basically meant we got to park a 30 second walk from the venue.  Yeah.  It was amazing.

Lisa, Mom, and I drove to the concert, flashed our VIP parking pass a few times and poof – we were there.

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Like, right there.  That parking!  I feel like you can’t truly appreciate how glorious this is unless you’ve trekked for 10 minutes across the boiling hot asphalt that leads from the back of the general parking lot to the amphitheater.  I have, so my heart runneth over with glory.

And yes, that is a red carpet which we walked across to get into the VIP club.

We found our seats and this was the view of the stage – no zoom on this photo.

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Maren Morris opened the show.  I had never heard of her, but she has a really good voice. This was my favorite of the songs she sang – it’s called My Church.  Then Brett Eldredge (whom I had heard of) played and he was really great.  He seems fun too!  My favorite of his songs is Beat of the Music.

Then it was the main event!  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always liked Keith Urban.  But now I really, really like him!  He puts on such an amazing show.  So much energy and my goodness, can that guy play a guitar.  (And I think many other instruments as well.)  He seems like a genuinely good person too.  And that Australian accent….he could sit on stage and read the phone book and I think he’d pack concert venues.

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At one point, around halfway into the show, he said it was time to go see the people on the grass.  The amphitheater has this huge lawn section in the far back.  It was full of people and the place went wild when he said he was headed back there.  He and his band hopped off stage and walked along the route – right behind where we were sitting – to get to the little stage that was set up on the lawn.  He played several songs up there – gave away a signed guitar – and then started to walk back toward the big stage.  The guy who was hosting us in the box pulled my mom up to the entrance of the box and Keith walked right by her and gave her a high five.  As you can imagine, she was ecstatic!

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It was truly a great night.  A wonderful concert – one of my top three for sure (maybe the best ever concert experience as a whole.  But will anything ever top the Backstreet Boys?) – where we were fortunate enough to have a top notch view and even the opportunity to be very near Keith at one point!  I found a new favorite song!  Keith’s The Fighter – so catchy.  I’ve had it playing nonstop since the concert.  And, most importantly, I got to hang out with my sister and mom, whom I adore.

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So much fun.

Tell me about your favorite concert experience.  What concert would you want front row tickets to see?