There is one sure way to get a cold wherein your nose runs like a waterfall and you are forced to sleep with bits of tissue stuck in your nostrils. And then your lips get bone dry because you’ve been mouth-breathing for two days. Let’s not forget the painful-skin-and-bone fever either.

The way to get that kind of cold is quite simple: it’s not about germs, if that’s what you’re thinking. They might have taught you that in science class but the real cause is running out of tissues with lotion. As soon as your body senses that all the tissues in your house are the regular sandpaper-y kind, that’s when it knows what to do.

If I had taken a shower at some point in the last three days I would go get a new box of tissues with lotion. But, alas, I look frightful. So no soft tissues for me.

P.S. You might wonder why my husband or son hasn’t driven to the store to buy any. That would be an excellent question. In the mean time I think I’ll earn how to blow my nose like a cartoon character. It seems like the appropriate skill for a time like this.

 

 

 

I’m sure most people are looking at the title of this post and thinking, “whatever”. But if you are in Texas and looking for fabric, then you need to know. I’m not sure if some of these are the biggest fabric stores in Texas, but they’ve got to be close. For years I’ve been stuck in the fabric desert of Austin. There are a few little quilt shops but if you’re looking for home decor fabric, especially, you’re plumb out of luck. There’s a great store called Cowgirls & Lace out in Dripping Springs where I bought my family room sofa. It’s the couch I knew in the preexistence. The store also sells quite a bit of fabric and accessories and is all-in-all a really awesome place. But it’s a 45 minute drive.

It’s now been over seven years since I bought that sofa. It’s slipcovered and the seat cushions and arms have gotten rather threadbare so I decided when my mom came to visit in December that we would make new slipcovers (and by “we” I mean “she”). I also bought two new chairs from the Pottery Barn outlet that needed matching slipcovers as well. The Carolina armchairs retail for $1000 each but I got two for $625. I am a very gifted shopper. I really love the colors in my family room so I didn’t want to change anything so much as just freshen everything up.

Because there is a dearth of home dec stores, I ended up getting most of my fabric online. That’s a real pain because you’ve got to wait for swatches to be sent, then you’ve got to wait for the fabric you’ve ordered to be sent. It would be a lot easier to just see everything in real life immediately.

If you do want to shop online–if you’ve got toddlers/live in the middle of nowhere/need something ultra specific–I’ve had the best luck with Decorative Fabrics Direct. They’ve got great prices and a gigantic selection. They also ship super fast. They’re in Atlanta but my fabric usually arrives within two or three days.

Here is what I wish I had known: there are a many really huge and amazing fabric stores in Dallas. I’ve heard that it’s a fabric-capital kind of place but that doesn’t really make sense. Nearly all fabric is imported* so if Dallas were a port city like LA or New York I would understand.  Whatever the reasons there are several massive fabric stores to be found. And since Dallas is only three hours away I headed up there yesterday. (You know you live in Texas when a three hour–each way!–drive is no bid deal.)

Most fabric shops are in a really sketchy part of town where Harry Hines Blvd and Perth Street intersect. Nearby are lots of strip clubs and Hispanic wholesale businesses. Charming! In a square block are 6-8 warehouse-type fabric shops. Some of these are Costco-sized.

Fabric WArehouse DAllas

 

Home Dec warehouse Dallas

Dallas Home Fabrics and Best Fabrics are entirely devoted to Home Decor. There is some crossover, though. Dallas Home Fabrics has a gigantic selection of Dupioni silk. You can use that for home dec or making a dress. There’s no real difference except for the width of the rolls. (Are you guys seeing all the rows? They just keep going and going!)

Rolls of silk Dallas

Or how about some pleather? If you need some, you’re all set. This is ALL fake leather. There was another aisle besides this one. I believe this was at Fabric Wherehouse.

Vinyl leather Dallas

My favorite place was a shop called Super Textiles. It’s owned by a guy named Steve who is the only friendly New Yorker in existence. He’ll show you all around and even give you the lowdown on the other fabric shops nearby. When you first walk in there is an anteroom of buttons. While I had heard about this before I went I was expecting a giant room with walls of buttons on little cards like at the fabric store. I seriously love buttons. Seriously. Unfortunately they were all boxed up. Not as exciting but you can find pretty much anything. (Although I didn’t see any super cool artisan buttons.) What they have is all dirt cheap.

Buttons Dallas

Speaking of dirt cheap, everything at Super Textiles is dirt cheap. I found some cute striped cotton for our Easter dresses/ties that I’d seen around town for $12/yard. Steve had it for $4/yd. I also got some really unusual rayon that has the loveliest blue and yellow bird motif for $3/yd. And invisible zippers for $1 each!  They’re $3.75 at JoAnn!   Needless to say I walked out with 15 of them.

Most of these stores are not your typical well-lit, nice fabric stores. You may have to pick thorough bolts and ask for prices because things can be a bit jumbled. But there are some crazy great deals and a lot of fabrics you simply won’t find anywhere else. Also don’t expect any customer service. Aside from Steve, pretty much nobody spoke to me the entire day.

Home Dec Crammed Dallas

Some shops are quite a bit more organized.

Rolls of home dec dallas

There is a shop called Golden D’Or (which means Golden of Gold. Allrighty then!) around the corner from these that has a lot of everything. Everything. Never have I seen so much spandex (are people making leotards or what?) or my mom’s favorite: cotton knits of every color and pattern. Racks of minky, bridal lace and everything in between. Need to make a prom dress?  Georgette and Organza of every color. There’s another shop on Perth that also sells nothing but special occasion fabrics. If you want to make a bridesmaid or Quinceneara dress, this is your place!

Special Occasion Fabric Dallas

 

Sparkly fabric Dallas

 

Also of note is another home decor store called Childress Fabrics. It’s closer to downtown (2512 Ferris St. Another super sketchy area. There are other locations throughout the Dallas area but this main shop is their biggest). Unlike the warehouse-type stores that I talked about above, this shop has many employees who are super helpful and asked a hundred times if I needed assistance with anything. Childress also has an online store. As a matter of fact I had ordered a pretty floral for my sofa from them. I’m still looking for more fabric to cover the pillows on the back of my sofa so I wanted to be sure to stop by Childress to see some things in real life that I had my eye on. Just look at these poor naked pillows!

Sofa unfinished cushions

Anyway, Childress did not disappoint. It’s also humongous, but arranged according to color. There is a lot of beige these days. Beige is the Lifetime Channel Movie of decorating. It is a meaningless color. But I still have beige carpet in my house. And several beige walls (I didn’t pick them out, obviously! And I’m not made of money so change is slow.) But there is plenty of fun and colorful stuff at Childress too.

There is also trim. Oh my goodness gracious Agnes. There is a whole huge room of fringe and cording and every other thing you could sew onto a piece of furniture. Nothing was exactly right for what I needed, though. I picked colors for my family room that don’t seem to be terribly popular right now. Which is partly frustrating and partly makes me happy that my house doesn’t look like everyone else’s.

Rooms of trim Dallas

 

If you happen to be in Texas and you know how to sew, a trip to Dallas is most certainly worth your time!

 

*Back when I was a little girl there was still a big fabric industry down South. We’d go to visit my grandparents who lived right on the border of North/South Carolina and sometimes I would get toted around to the fabric factory outlets. Those days are looong gone.

You may or may not know about how I’ve been the Relief Society President at church for the last two and a half years. If you’re Mormon no further explanation is needed. If you’re not Mormon, take my word for it when I say that it’s pretty much a part-time job. It means that I’ve been in charge of ministering to all the women (and, hence, their families) in the congregation. I help with their temporal needs if they need extra food or help making ends meet, or if they need meals brought in after surgery or having a baby, or help packing to move–you get the idea. I have to be friendly and welcoming to all (which I can do but as an introvert is extremely draining); I have to be a shoulder to cry on or a giver of advice; and I have to coordinate activities, get-togethers and parties for the women (and the entire ward Christmas Party because we all know that men can not pull off something like that). And then there is coordinating and supervising Visiting Teaching which is a beast unto itself.  All in all being President is a lot of work. It’s very fulfilling and I love the women like crazy, though. It’s been draining but rewarding all at the same time.

But my time has come to step aside. When the bishop told me right before Christmas, I cried. Happy tears as well as sad tears. My replacement is one of my counselors and also one of my best friends. We have had a jillion talks about what she needs to be doing and how and with whom and for whom. Fortunately she’s a ton more organized than I am and she already has lots of experience in Relief Society, so she’ll do a great job. I handed over the keys (literal, not figurative) last week and did a happy dance.

Now I have a lovely large hole in my life. All this free time! OK, so by the time I get the kids out the door and do all the little things around the house that need to be done there isn’t all that much free time. But mentally and emotionally I feel so free. Wheeee! Only my family’s problems to worry about!

In order to celebrate being released as Relief Society President I have spent as much time in bed as possible. I have taken a shower rarely. I have gone to see a couple of movies. But I have not done much else because I have seriously needed time to decompress.

Here’s the most excellent part of it all, though: I can blog again! No more worrying about being a respectable figurehead! I can be just as ridiculous as I please. And I will have time to do it! Yippee!

I have so many great plans for my poor little blog that has languished in forgottenland. Stay tuned!

I love baby names so much. There are very few topics that give me more pleasure in discussing. So I was super excited when Nameberry asked me to write a couple of blog posts them. My first? The outlandish world of Mormon Baby Names. Mosey over and have a read!

 

Christmas morming

You might assume that even though it’s January 9th I haven’t taken down my Christmas decorations. And that assumption would be correct. I did actually undecorate my tree–a real one this year!–because it was garbage day last Tuesday and I didn’t want that fire hazard standing in my living room for one more second. So as I heard the garbage truck making it’s way down the street I ripped all the lights and ornaments off and got that sucker out to the curb in the nick of time. But since then I haven’t quite packed the stuff up. This is what I’ve been staring at every day, wishing that somehow the ornaments and lights would pack themselves and trundle up to the attic without bothering me. Kind of like at the end of The Sorcerers Apprentice when the mean wizard does his magic spell and all the brooms get with the program and clean themselves up. I just need that spell . . .

What’s really nice is that this is right in my living room so it’s the first thing you see when you walk in my house. Shame that this photo doesn’t quite capture the trillions of pine needles scattered about the floor.

Christmas wreckage

 

This year we decided to spend Christmas in Texas. As far as I’m concerned we are never having another holiday on the road. I’m staying at my house and if relatives want to see with us they can fill out an application and wait to be approved come down here.  India came home from college (yay!) and if everything goes according to plans, she and York will both be on missions next year.  So I wanted to be sure we had a festive holiday since it’s our last one together for a while. Which meant I actually decorated my house as much as possible. I’m not one of those people who puts junk on every surface, but I did do Christmas lights outside, which I only get around to every three years or so. You know what the secret is to doing really great Christmas lights? A hot glue gun. It’s completely brilliant at getting lights to stick to your house. I know you’ll completely forget I told you this by next year so I’ll remind you in November.

I actually hung wreaths on the door too. One wreath might be good enough for all you people, but I’m so festive that I need three! Also I really need to stain my front door (thanks to Margaret scratching the crap out of it. Dumb dog!) and three wreaths seemed the perfect way to distract from that. Kind of like wearing a low-cut bathing suit when you need to lose a few pounds–everyone is so busy looking at the cleavage that they don’t look at the hips. Pure genius.

front door three wreaths

Last year after Christmas I was at Hobby Lobby and all of their leftover wreaths were 80% off. Which meant the little window-sized wreaths were less than $3. So I counted up all my windows and bought a wreath for each one. Then, because I occasionally have flashes of brilliance, I bought the most gigantic roll of velvet ribbon too. When Christmas rolled around this year I was all set with a wreath for each window and some ribbon to hang it with.

As with everything I plan in my mind, this was much easier said than done. I wanted the ribbons to hang from the tops of the windows without there being a bow or whatever, as if my windows opened from the top, which they certainly do not. Nor did I want to drill holes into my brick or window casings. I finally figured out how to do this but it took me a lot of tries and several different methods.

window wreaths

Turns out hot glue does not work so well trying to stick things to smooth surfaces. Son of a nutcracker!

window wreath falling

But like I said, I figured it all out eventually. I’ll share my secrets in about eleven months.

You know how in the movie Elf when Buddy decorates the toy department with paper snowflakes and chains and all those sorts of things? I’ve always dreamed of doing something similar to that in my family room because it’s decorated in pastel colors and red and green don’t look very good. And I happen to think that pink Christmas decorations are vomit-y.

I set Arabella to work on the paper chains (it took her, like, a trillion hours. She’s a real slowpoke) and I got to work making snowflakes with my Silhouette Cameo. Remember how I said that sometimes I’m brilliant? I was in charge of the church Christmas party (my third time. Ugh.) and I thought ahead and decided that I’d kill two birds with one stone. I’d make a ton of snowflakes and use them for the Christmas party (theme: Winter Wonderland!) and then save them for my house decorations (in case you’re being nitpicky, I paid for the snowflakes myself). I ended up only using about half of the snowflakes in my house. Mostly because I was putting them up right until the first guests rang the doorbell. That’s always how I know when to stop decorating–when the guests arrive. (It would be really nice to not be a procrastinator.)

I feel like I can leave these decorations up for a few more weeks because they’re winterish, not just for Christmas. I also added a few touches of gold because I like gold. And plain white is just boring. It turned out not quite as festive as Buddy’s decorating job, but I still love it.

White paper Christmas Elf movie

Paper snowflakes are real brats about being photographed. They’re always turning to the side so you can’t see them all at the same time.

The secret to hanging them is fishing line and clear pushpins. Don’t bother with tape. It’s useless on ceilings. Pushpins are my best friends. I’m alarmed at how often they come in handy.

So there you have it; Christmas chez Hildie. We gorged ourselves on schnitzel and spaetzle and had a grand old time.

essential-oil

Are you on the essential oil bandwagon? Nevermind, don’t answer that. Because if there is anyone more missionary-minded than Mormons, it’s people who are into essential oils. You would think that essential oils are the cure-all to every ailment under the sun, the way do-terra people talk. I do like the idea of essential oils, though, and think there are all sorts of nature-ey substances that can help people get well.  I tend to be a little distrustful of mainstream medicine. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good antibiotic and my kids are vaccinated right on schedule. But on the whole I think doctors are just educated guessers. Sometimes they can hit the nail on the head but a lot of the time they are just way off-base. But they refuse to believe that they are; so instead they throw a bunch of expensive prescription medication at every ailment and think it will all be OK.

A couple of months ago York got a nasty case of Mono. If you’ve ever had Mono you know there is nothing to treat it. Just take some Advil and get a comfy pillow because you’re going to spend the next six weeks sleeping your life away.  That’s it. That’s seriously all the doctors have to say. So I was more than happy to have a friend of mine offer to help out with some essential oils. Essential oils are especially appealing to me when modern medicine has zero to offer.

She came over and gave York some oils to gargle with to help with his killer sore throat and some other oils to make into pills to boost his immune system. Or something.

After three doses York was feeling well enough to drag himself to school. But he called in absolute dismay by the end of the day. He was covered with a red rash and his face and lips were quite swollen. I called my friend who had given me the essential oils;  “A rash is just a symptom of the body adjusting to the powerful essential oils,” she explained. “This is just his body’s way of detoxing.”

I raised my eyebrow. A rash doesn’t seem like a reassuring side effect. What’s next, getting rid of bad humors through blood-letting?

I was assured by my friend that it wasn’t an allergic reaction, and after doing some investigative reporting on the almighty interwebs, I felt assured that York wasn’t having an allergic reaction. (Just to be sure I gave him Benadryl which made zero difference in the rash or swelling.) If essential oils are powerful enough to cause this sort of reaction after just a few doses; there needs to be a lot more education before people start recommending these products, willy-nilly. Obviously essential oils can pack a punch if this is what can happen. Learning how to use these products properly should be a much bigger deal than it seems to be.

Here’s my big beef with essential oils: it’s really hard to find actual, truthful information. Instead people are being “educated” by the companies that sell the oils. That seems all wrong. Everyone knows that corporations exist to make money. They can say that they just want to help people, but if that were true they wouldn’t be charging the prices they do for their oils. They want to make a buck (well, lots of bucks, actually). So of course these companies want to sell all the oil that they can. I get that and I understand that’s what business is about. But I think this causes a conflict of interest. I basically don’t trust what these corporations have to say. It’s like a petroleum manufacturer making cars; wouldn’t a petroleum company make a car that requires you to use even more gas because that’s how they make money? Selling people gas? So why would I trust them to make a car that gets good mileage?  Same idea with essential oil companies.

Trying to find a reputable website or book to educate myself has been almost impossible too. What I’ve had have a hard time finding is a book that is unbiased. Many of the books and websites are affiliated with essential oil producers and affiliates. These books want me to use all sorts of oils every day for every complaint I have–surprise, surprise!  Again it makes me very skeptical of anything E.O. companies have to say. These are huge corporations that have all sorts of catch-phrases and hype that are meant to replace education with enthusiasm. (And lets not forget about the whole MLM aspect which makes me plain old uncomfortable.)

Here’s something I would like every essential oil company to know: the more copywrited terms you use, the more skeptical I become; so save your “certified pure therapeutic grade”, “seed to seal” and “certi-5″ testing and just give me the honest truth. I am not interested in your slick marketing and websites featuring beautiful people surrounded by flowers.

What is a smart and savvy girl to do? I stumbled upon a few resources. Here were some incredibly helpful blog posts:

Which Essential Oil Company Should YOU Buy From?

The Great Essential Oils Showdown

These great articles piqued my interest in finding out the truth about Essential Oils. Just this week I took a big jump and registered for a couple of courses from Vintage Remedies. I’ve done a ton of info-gathering on the web and it seems like these classes are just what I’ve been looking for: research-based classes using actual science to educate and teach the way to use essential oils properly. These classes are not cheap but I really feel like I’ll be able to get the truth that I’ve been looking for to help my family find a healthy way to use natural substances to heal and prevent illness.

I’ll let you know how my journey goes!

 

Tomato Products? Say what? Yes. This is the week when you’ll be buying tomato-based items. That sounds weird, I know. But think about it: spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, salsa . . . These are all things that most families eat pretty often. And they don’t really fit in any other sorts of categories. So think of your favorite tomato-y thing and stock up! Buy several jars and cans of the items you use.

harp-hands-toned

As you may or may not know I play the harp. Back when I was but a child, I saw somebody playing a harp and I just fell in love. Unfortunately for me my mother had musical fantasies of her own and I got to live those out instead. It didn’t matter that I had less than zero desire to be the church organist, that’s what my mother always wanted to be so my siblings and I were chained to piano lessons starting when we were small. I was never any good–truly–and I hated it with a white-hot burning passion. “Oh, one day you’ll thank me for forcing you to play!” my mother assured me as I sat and cried yet again before another piano lesson.

When I got old enough I started taking organ lessons. Excuse me, organ lesson. Did you know that you play the organ with not just your hands, but also your feet? There is a whole other keyboard in front of the bench on the floor!  I took one lesson and I was like, no way is that ever happening in a million years. I can’t even play a hymn with my hands let alone my feet.

Let’s fast forward to the conclusion of my piano career: I was lucky enough to get in a car crash and break my arm really badly when I was sixteen. No more lessons! I didn’t touch a piano for years after that and still avoid them at all costs. I hated, hated, hated playing and have thankfully forgotten how to do it so I will never have to play again. So, yeah, thanks Mom! I told you when I was ten that I would never play the piano when I grew up but, nooo, you just didn’t believe me.  Moral of the story: Music education is very important. But if your kid wants to play a different instrument, let her! Second moral of the story: Don’t get in a battle of wills with me. You’ll lose.

When I was thirty or so I decided that my time had come. I have always been a collector of hobbies and harp-playing seemed perfect to add to my repertoire of semi-pointless but enjoyable skills. At that time I lived in Utah where there are about a jillion harpists. (I don’t know what it is about Mormons and harps but there is a total love connection.) I found a super awesome teacher and adored it from day one. The best thing about playing the harp is that it sounds really wonderful even when you aren’t very good. It’s quite a bit more complicated than it looks, though. It has a lot more in common with playing the piano than, say, a stringed instrument like a guitar.

Even though I love playing the harp, I just don’t have a musical self. Music does not come naturally to me. I like visual stuff way more. I should be way better at playing the harp than I am, although I totally quit after I had Jasper; harp lessons seemed like a laughable folly when I had six children under age ten and could barely even handle simple tasks like brushing my hair. I can also be a bit of a perfectionist. So playing and making mistake after mistake kind of stresses me out.

Which I am now realizing since I agreed to play the harp at church on the Sunday before Christmas. I haven’t learned a new piece in about a decade. I just keep playing all the ones I’m already good at. That seems incredibly lame now that I write it out. What’s the matter with me? I guess I like coasting along.

I found a piece that is not too challenging (“In the Bleak Midwinter” because I just dig those oddball carols) but–oh my goodness gracious–is it killing me!!! I have been practicing all week and I still haven’t gotten past the second line. I can’t even play the first two lines without making a dozen mistakes! This does not bode well. And because I suck and because I agreed to play in front of the entire universe I have a permanent stress-knot in between my shoulder blades (also my eyelid twitches but that’s not such a big deal). Apparently I won’t be able to relax until after December 21st or unless a true Christmas miracle occurs allowing me to learn the music better.

Bleak midwinter, indeed.

 

Since we did flashlights last week it only makes sense to buy batteries this week. Is there such a thing as too many batteries? No. Not even.

If I were you I would buy at least a ten-pack of everything. If I were me I would buy at least twice that much because we go through batteries like they were giving away a prize. And unlike canned soup, batteries last for quite a while. Wait, so does canned soup. Anyway, my point is that it’s not like your batteries are going to go rotten. So you should stock up.

I know batteries are spendy. But we’re getting into snowstorm weather and you can’t go wrong having too many batteries.

If someone told me I would start getting zits again as I sauntered into middle age I would have punched them in the face. And then fainted. Because it’s not bad enough that my hair is getting really wimpy and my metabolism has come to a screeching halt. Now I’m getting pimples again like I’m 16 years old. What the heck, body? Why are you doing this to me???

But I have good company because both my teenage sons are breaking out too. I’ve only got chin zits now and again but they definitely need some help, skin-wise. So I did what I do anytime I think there must be a product to cure my ills: hop over to Amazon! Sho’ nuff, I found something magical.  This stuff:

Gel peel

It’s Perfect Image’s Salicylic Acid Gel Peel. It eats pimples. I’ve had professional chemical peels many a time and I’m a huge fan. This is a similar kind of thing but it doesn’t make my skin peel like the professional ones. It does get rid of zits, though. Totally. I use this once a week and I have not had one single pimple since then. I’m not exaggerating. No zits whatsoever.  Just wipe this on with a cotton ball, let it sit for between 45 seconds to 2 minutes and then rinse it off very thoroughly. Easy peasy.

Just a warning: it burns like a mother. The first time you use this you will barely be able to handle 30 seconds. Each week I upped the time until I got to about two minutes. That’s my limit.

After I use the gel peel my skin is super dry so I slather on some of my extra-luxuriant homemade moisturizer. The chemical peel makes skin more sensitive to the sun, so products with an SPF are a must! The rest of the week I use this Roc Retinol Correxion moisturizer which my dry skin just drinks up.  It’s quite heavy but since I have dry skin, it works for me. Sometimes I get this on Amazon but I can usually find it cheaper at Costco.

Roc moisturizer

(Yes, I use a product that is designed for “deep wrinkles”. Let’s just gloss over that little detail, mm-kay?) This moisturizer has got a big fat SPF 30 and you’d better believe you need that every single day. Especially if you live someplace sunny. If you have greasy skin this isn’t the product for you, but if you’re on the dry side, this Roc moisturizer is great.

Truthfully my sons haven’t had as good of results with the chemical peel as I have. Their zits are of the angry teenage sort and they’re hard to stop. The gel peel has reduced their break-outs by about 50%, I’d say.  I’ve given them a face wash that has also helped. Because Finn has dry skin he uses a moisturizer too.

They’ve had good luck with this cleanser
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 11.58.18 AM

And this mositurizer:
Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 12.05.21 PM

The good news is that we’re a lot less zitty than we used to be a couple of months ago. I think you’ll agree that nothing is as big a drag as having a big fat pimple on your face.

 

P.S. Okay, yes, there are things that are a lot more of a drag than a big zit. No need to give me a laundry list of what a drag it is to be missing an arm or whatever.

P.P.S. I bought all these products with my very own money. Well, my husband’s money if you want to be technical. But I do receive a small pittance if you buy any of these products through my links. Which you should definitely do because I try to do right by you guys. And these products are legit.