Monday, February 28

Flip Flop Sculpture

In San Paulo, Brazil local art students helped artist Florentijn Hofman create this Fat Monkey sculpture completely out of Opanka flip flops.  FLIP FLOPS!  It's like a modern Monet, my favorite.
Here are videos of the making of Fat Monkey.
Here's a rubber duck, by the same artist, that floats around the Loire River estuary

Saturday, February 26

Happy Valentine's Day, In March

The Wednesday before Valentine's Day I ordered a gift for The Pope from a seller on Etsy.  I debated between an all natural shaving kit (which he's wanted for a while) or the gift I bought him.  The item I decided on, not handmade, is unusual and was reasonably priced.  Shipping was only $3.
Using paypal, I paid for the item immediately and sat impatiently for the gift to arrive.  (I'm never able to wait to give The Pope his gifts for any holiday.  The excitement just kills me!)
I didn't really expect it to arrive by Valentine's Day (that following Monday).  But I thought maybe by the next Thursday (a week after I purchased it) it would certainly be waiting for him in the mailbox.  Nope.  On the 16th I emailed the seller and asked when I should expect the gift to arrive.  (I specified in the "notes to seller" section that I was buying this item for my husband for Valentine's.)  The seller provided me with the tracking number so, I guess, instead of bugging them I could check the status myself.
Another week went by (two weeks after Valentine's Day) and still no present in the mail.  So in order to hurry things along I thought I should send the seller another message (this is the Carlene in me).....

I have yet to receive this item that I purchased two weeks ago. Using the tracking number you provided below I get this message on "we have received notice that the originating post is preparing to dispatch this mail piece." When will I receive my item?

I specified in the "notes to seller" section of the original invoice that I was purchasing this as a gift for my husband for Valentine's. Ordering it the Wednesday before Valentine's, I realize I should not have expected it, maybe, by Valentine's Day. However, I certainly would have expected it by now given it is not a handmade item.

I hope this matter can be rectified soon.
Thank you.  

So then I got this message in return, very quickly.

Thanks for your massage,do you mean that you never got this item?or you got it?
well,i shipped it by flat shipping,it will be take approx 15-25days to your country,i hope you will understand.and anyway,it is not a handmade item.

Ignoring the awful punctuation and misuse of words, umm, what???  Fifteen to twenty-five days?  My country?  What do they mean my country?
After a little more investigating I found out that this seller is in CHINA.  Sorry, what?!  I didn't even know Etsy was international.  Way to support the US, huh.  Good grief.  Hopefully The Pope will have his gift before next year's Valentine's Day.  (shrug)

Friday, February 25

Five Question Friday

 Mama M from My Little Life used one of *my* questions for this week's Five Question Friday!  My name is on her blog and everything.  Obviously I am way more excited about this than I should be.  I'm lame.

1. Can you drive a stick shift?
Nope.  Carlene told me about this woman she read about in Reader's Digest, I think, that was kidnapped and couldn't get away because the only vehicle on the property was a stick shift.  My mom tried to teach me, but I never got a chance to put it into practice so I basically forgot. 
I don't know if I believe that story or not.

2. What are two foods you just can't eat?
Before becoming pregnant with our twins I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for almost 14 years.  But about two months into the pregnancy I started craving meatball subs, BLTs, and even eventually eating a few Wendy's cheeseburgers.  Four months later I am still eating some meat but I still can't stand beets or licorice.  Bleck!   

3. Do you buy Girl Scout Cookies? What is your favorite kind?
I have bought a couple of boxes of Samoas in the past but, in my opinion, they are too expensive.  For $3.50 I expect more than a dinky box of cookies!  The coconut, caramelness of the Samoas is AMAZING.  Edy's even makes a Samoas ice cream.  Oh my gosh!

4. How do you pamper yourself?
These days my idea of pampering is taking a shower daily and brushing my teeth.  Seriously.  Or getting to wear my hair down instead of pulled back all the time.  There's always the risk of someone spitting up in my hair.

5. What is your nickname and how did you get it?
Steph is a common nickname for Stephanie, of course.  But since I was little some of my family members call me "Stuff."  I don't know how it started.  Maybe it's just that it sounds an awful lot like Steph.  (shrug)  And of course there are the mean nicknames the boys in middle school gave me because of my red hair......

Thursday, February 24

Coupon Class II

Several people have asked me how to maximize their couponing.  I wonder the same thing myself.  Last week during Harris Teeter's super doubles I made three trips to the store and saved a total of 43% for the week.  That's the best I've done so far.  My goal for this year is to reach a savings of 60-75%.

Here are a few more pointers for getting the most out of your coupons:
-I've heard if you get the paper delivered, the coupon inserts aren't included.

-You can stack coupons. Stacking coupons is when you use multiple coupons for the same item. You can't use the exact same coupon but you can use a store coupon and manufacture's coupon.

-The best way I've found to organize the coupon inserts from the paper: use a file folder to organize the inserts by date. You'll see on Southern Savers lists it gives a date to find the coupon. That way you don't have to cut out all of the coupons, only the ones you'll use when you need 'em.

-The whole point of using coupons is to never pay full price for an item.  Items rotate and go on sale about every 6 weeks.  Wait to buy the item when it's on sale and use a coupon.  That's how you maximize your couponing.

-Initially you need to work to stock up and make a surplus of groceries.  This may take you about 3 months to get together.  Hopefully after that, you have enough in your surplus you only buy what's on sale and what you also have a coupon for. 

If you're still confused after reading my first Coupon Class post and this one, go over to Southern Savers and maybe Jenny's explanation will help.  She's super!  Jenny also travels around the southeast teaching coupon workshops.  Here's a link to her calendar of classes.
Something else I dig on her site....she has a spreadsheet to keep track of how much you're saving.  Yeah, I totally have one downloaded.  As soon as I get the groceries put away I sit down with my receipts and enter the total spent and total saved.  It's so great.

Wednesday, February 23

Mommy 101

I originally wrote this when The Babies were 6 weeks old.  Several girlfriends are pregnant or have newborns, so I thought they could benefit from the things I learned along the way.

1. Learn to swaddle!  We feed the babies, burp 'em, swaddle, and put them back in the crib.  They fall right to sleep.  We swaddle the babies first in a receiving blanket and then in a Swaddle Me.  That seems to work best.
2.  Staging is everything.  My OCD tendencies have come in handy as a mommy.  Staging, as I call it, helps tremendously especially with two.  After each feeding I wash the bottles so they are ready for the next feeding.  I lay out burp clothes before hand and even put in a dvd at the end of the feeding.  Then next time I'm all set in case the babies are screaming for food, I just push play.  Same thing with the breast pump, have it all ready and set up.  You get the idea.
3.  Make a plan and throw it out the window.  I've heard this expression before but I appreciate it in a whole new way.  Besides coming home with two healthy babies, nothing else has worked out the way I wanted. 
4.  Research stuff now.  I wish I would have looked into breastfeeding more before the babies got here.  Maybe I wouldn't have gotten so upset because I would have known what was normal. 
5.  If people bring you food, have a notebook for them to write down their address before they leave.  Then it's there for you to send them a quick thank you note.  I thought of this but only asked one couple to write their address down.  But it's not as though I've had time to write thank yous.....
6.  Sleep when the baby sleeps.  I'm sure people have told you this already but it is SO TRUE!  Forget everything else, let your husband take care of it.  Your priorities are you and the baby. 
7.  If you're breastfeeding....
-Meet with the lactation consultant at the hospital.  Once you leave the hospital, you have to pay (a lot) for their advice.   I met with a LC at home ($40 for the visit).  She was amazing and totally worth the money.  She gave me the confidence and reassurance I needed.
-Your milk may take a few days/weeks to fully come in.
-Fenugreek is an herb that will help with your supply if need be.  We had to research to find out about it.  When you smell like maple syrup, you know you're getting enough.  One day I woke up and my armpits smelled like pancakes!  True story.
-Start using nipple cream NOW.  Breastfeeding is gonna hurt, so the sooner you can start toughening them up, the better.  Your OB may prescribe a compounded nipple cream that it worth the money.   
-You’re gonna have to eat and drink a lot.  I tried to eat every time I breastfed, just so I remembered to eat.
-It helps to pump after each time you feed.  Not that you’ll feel like it always but it helps increase your milk supply.
8.  Let me say it again.  Your priority should be to take care of you and your baby.  Don’t worry about the other stuff.
9.   If you’re cloth diapering, pre-stage the diapers.  We use the bikini twist and it helps to prefold the diapers that way so when you have a squirmy baby on the changing table, it’s done.  STAGING!
10.  It’s not unusual for babies to lose weight the first week after being born.  The average weight loss is 10% of their birth weight.  We didn’t know this and I freaked out a little at our first check up.
11. Colace (docusate sodium) will be your best friend.  And know that you can take up to 6 a day.

Monday, February 21

Proctor & Gamble Coupons

Sign up to receive the new Procter & Gamble Home Mailer.  The coupon book contains over $35 worth of savings.  I requested one for us, Carlene, and Maw.  Expect the coupons in 4-6 weeks.

-Thanks Jenny

Sunday, February 20

Etsy Sunday

Today I'd like to focus on the oddities of Etsy.  Just look at these amazingly strange things I have found for you.
Egg Shell Art- Goldfish
Man Face Beetle Collection 222
Furry Flask
Zombie Foot Necklace
Industrial Cactus Lamp
45mm Brass Casings  -Didn't know you could make money off of these, not on Etsy.
Set of Dentures Soap
Pink Fetus Catnip Toy

Friday, February 18

Five Question Friday

I have joined the bandwagon of other bloggers already participating in Five Question Friday, hosted by My Little Life.

1. Have you worn the same outfit more than one day in a row?
As a mother of four month old twins it is not unusual for me to spend two consecutive days in the same yoga pants and hoodie.  And even on day two, I may only change my outfit because someone spit up on me.  True story.

2. If you had to choose any LARGE city to live in, which would it be?
Hands down I would choose Memphis.  Granted I've only visited but the city was amazing.  The people were incredible; there was no segregation.  Everyone was having a great time dancing and socializing on Beale St.  Your race, age, or place in life didn't matter.  And then there's Elvis.....

3. Fly or drive with the kids on vacation?
With all of our family living at least an hour away, we're pretty used to driving all over.  I can't imagine trying to keep up with children (big or small) and luggage, or navigating airports.  Night-mare!

4. What is your idea of "spring cleaning"?
 I don't think I clean more around springtime.  I guess I should.  (shrug)  I know there is sort of a list of annual projects you should do around the house (ie flip matteresses).  I suppose it would be a good idea to have such a plan.  "Every April we flip the mattresses and wash the curtains."  Maybe we'll get there one day. 

5. What is the best book you have ever read?
I'm not much of a reader.  I barely read (or didn't read) books for school that were required.  I remember having to read Beowulf during my senior year of high school.  Bleh!  
Now onto the question....I read The Time Traveler's Wife years before the movie came out.  It was fantastic.  It was such a different book from what I had read before.  The imagination and emotion that it stirred up was super.  I cried and cried!  (I also really liked The Red Tent.)

Monday, February 14

The King Potato

A second Elvis Mr Potato Head is being released soon!  The new toy will be released at the 2011 New York Toy Fair.  The new version will replicate Elvis' '68 Comeback Special and will include the famous (sexy as hell) black leather suit and mic stand.  Five hundred lucky customers will also find a gold microphone stand included in their box.  The Mr Potato Head Elvis '68 Special will be available at specialty shops for $20.  You can pre-order yours here.

Watch an excerpt from the '68 Comeback Special here.

Thursday, February 10

Cloth Diapering Twins

There have been so many things that I wanted for my delivery and for my babies (which reminds me I haven't shared my delivery story yet).  I wanted a natural delivery with no drugs and little assistance from the doctors.  The idea of a huge needle in my spine always freaked me out!  Well I did end up with a needle in my spine and a c-section.
Then there was breastfeeding.  I always knew I definitely wanted to breastfeed my children even before I was married.  When I got pregnant, that desire was reconfirmed.  Five weeks into breastfeeding two babies, I decided it wasn't for me.  The babies weren't gaining weight like the doctors would have liked and I was exhausted.  So now they are strictly formula fed.  *If you're pregnant, I highly recommend taking a breastfeeding class.  I wish I would have.  I guess I assumed since I had larger than average breasts, I wouldn't have any trouble breastfeeding.  Wrong!
One of the other hot topics I was passionate about during my pregnancy was cloth diapering.  My mom cloth diapered both Sister and me, and the idea of spending all of that money on disposable plastic didn't seem like the right thing to do.  Most people told me I was crazy to think I could cloth diaper two babies.  (You know how when you're pregnant you get all kinds of unsolicited advice?)  Sure we have to wash diapers every other day, but it's just sort of become part of our routine.  And to know we aren't adding to the loads of diaper waste already in landfills is great.  I am so glad there is at least one thing that worked out for me.
We bought our supplies from Mothering Grace.  We use indian prefolds in combination with Thirsties Duo Wrap covers.    (I prefer the velcro closure covers instead of the snaps.  With wiggly newborns, the velcro is much easier.)
To wash our diapers we start with a cold rinse.  (If the diapers are extra poopy we add an extra rinse to this cycle.)  Then we wash our diapers in a hot cycle (always rinse a second time after this cycle) with Purex Free & Clear detergent.  Here's a great list of detergents to use/not use with cloth diapers.  Never use bleach or softener when washing cloth diapers.  Hanging your diapers in the sun will naturally bleach any remaining stains.   

Here's a great article comparing cloth and disposable diapers.