I thought by now I’d be tired of Pinterest. But because there are infinity cool/pretty/clever things out there, I still remain powerless once I log on.  I spend a lot of time looking at decorating and house decor. Not everything is groovy, though. There are lots of things that I just hate. Things that are so dumb I don’t know how they remain popular. In no particular order:

White sofas. They are everywhere. Every room in every magazine seems to have at least one white piece of furniture. I understand that there are people out there who have nothing better to trouble their minds about than worrying every 20 seconds that their sofa is getting dirty. I don’t understand these people at all. Not one tiny bit. I can’t imagine the amount of stress that a white couch (or chair) would add to my life. Even if it’s a machine washable slipcover. Haven’t these people ever heard of chocolate milk? Or husbands who like to lie down with their feet up? Or brand new dark jeans? Or pets with dark hair? Or just dust floating through the air?  I have had people with white sofas swear they’re not hard to maintain. I have one word for these people: liars.

Dumb Sayings. It’s really popular to have words incorporated into your decor. I have a few signs and sayings around various rooms in my house. They’re phrases that are really special to me.  But at some point this word trend is just dumb. For instance, this sign that I saw at Michael’s last week:

IMG_1573

Home. Of all the words to pick, that’s the best you can think of? Like you’re not going to know where you are unless you have a sign proclaiming it? Like your friends are going to come over and be like, “oh, I thought we were at the dentist’s office but I can see from your sign that we are in a home.”  Duh.  This is even dumber than “live, laugh, love”, another silly and meaningless phrase (“hey, I forgot to laugh today but that doormat just reminded me. So haw haw haw.”)

Karate-Chopped Pillows. This trend came out of the clear blue sky a few years ago. The first time I saw it I actually said out loud, “what in the world?”  See, we used to have this pug named Anna. Anna’s favorite thing was to sit up on the back of our sofa and lie as close to our heads as possible. If she could have made out with us, she would have. Unfortunately, when Anna would manage to get her lazy butt off of the sofa, all the sofa pillows would have a giant dent in the top of each one. It drove me insane in the membrane. I couldn’t have cared less that there was pug hair everywhere (pugs shed like you would not believe), but those messed up pillows made me lose it. So imagine how perplexed I was to see that there is a style that makes it look like pets have been sleeping on every single cushion. This is now a thing. Why? WHY iS THIS POPULAR? I think it’s ridiculous and I don’t care if Joanna Gaines* shows up at my front door and demands that I karate-chop my pillows; it’s never happening. (Bonus points in the picture below for karate-chopped pillows AND a white sofa! Too bad there’s no chevron as well; then it would have been everything I dislike the most.)

Karate Chopped pillows

 

 Open kitchen shelving. Oh how pretty it looks. There is something that makes my heart skip a little beat whenever I see a kitchen with open shelves instead of boring cupboards.  But then I remember that I actually have plastic cups. And bowls. And a bunch of mismatched mugs which I happen to be quite fond of. And several sets of dishes that are packed into the cupboards because that’s how kitchens are: full of stuff.  Maybe if all you have in your kitchen is a charmingly curated collection of vintage milk glass, then this would work for you.

open shelving

 

Or how about this? It looks so wonderful! But it is just a disaster waiting to happen. I can hardly wait until some three-year old tries to get those pretzels down for a snack.  Let’s think about this: who would keep their flour and sugar in a glass jar on a super high shelf? It makes no sense. (Truthfully I have this pinned on my Pinterest Board–me and ten trillion other people–but it’s totally a pipe dream. Like I might as well wish for a dog that scoops his own poop.)

Open pantry

 

 

My final pet peeve is  storage-less side tables. They could be anywhere but I find it particularly vexing in the bedroom. What the heck? Don’t you have any earplugs? Or chapstick? Or a pen? Where do you put these things? In the case of this room below there’s barely enough room on the top of the side table, what with the orchid and picture frame and superfluous alarm clock. There’s not even space for a box of tissues, but maybe I’m the only one who ever has a runny nose.  If a side table doesn’t have drawers it’s dead to me.

dumb side table

 

I know I must sound crotchety and old. Kind of like the decorating version of an old lady who says she only wants sensible shoes. But I’m right! I don’t care that every catalog I get in the mail has open shelving and side tables with no storage whatsoever. They’re wrong, I tell you! Wrong!

 

*Joanna Gaines is the main decorating lady on the HGTV show Fixer Upper. It’s a really good show filmed right up the road in Waco. I have only watched a few episodes thanks to a Fixer Upper marathon that was on TV the last time I stayed at a hotel. Someone really needs to invent a cable system that only has HGTV. I would be a very happy girl. BTW, I went to Joanna’s shop, Magnolia, last week. It was very cute but verrrrrry tiny.

Kimmel Austin

In case you missed this little detail, I live in Austin, Texas. Right now in Austin it’s SXSW. Which, for those who live under a rock or are just over the age of 60, is a super-mega-gigantic movie/music/gaming/computer festival that lasts for a week and a half. It also transforms our rather small downtown into a raging cesspool of traffic, drunks and weirdos.  Everybody calls it “South By” (emphasis on the first syllable). It sounds semi-pretentious but “South by Southwest” is a redundant mouthful.

Mister is into the movie scene and because of his job as a video producer has employed pretty much every actor in the Central Texas area. So it’s always fun to see what the tykes have been up to. Also, it’s pretty fun going to see the movies when the directors and several of the stars are right there in the audience. He always gets a platinum pass which allows him first dibs on every event. And there are about a jillion events going on all over downtown at every hour of the day and night.  He manages to get fed several meals a day for free just by attending the right parties and get-togethers.

I am rather non-impressed with the entertainment industry. I don’t like how important they find themselves. At this point in my life I find it incredibly annoying how hard they try: to look good, to be “unique” and “edgy”, to pretend to be so much more awesome than they really are.  At one point I would have cared a lot too. But now I am old. Make that Old with a capital -O. And I know this because I crave authenticity. I really want people to be themselves and get rid of all the crap and façades. Just be who you really are, man!

Mister occasionally drags me out of the house to a movie he thinks sounds like something I’d be interested in. I have to wait in the pitiful “general admission” line which might as well have a sign that says “losers stand here”. He gets in first and saves me a seat while I wait there knitting and eavesdropping on everyone’s conversations. Yesterday’s foray into SXSW was a taping of the Jimmy Kimmel show. We were required to stand in line in the sun and heat for two hours which made me peevish beyond belief. I was ready to throw in the towel but I held on and it actually ended up being really fun and interesting. (Listen, I may complain about all this stuff but when I go out, I do it with enthusiasm. Because nothing is more annoying than self-conscious people who won’t cut loose.)

Mostly I stood and watched all the hipsters around us. And I saw them with their silly clothes that are supposed to be ironic but mostly make them look like rejects from 1989. A few years ago I would have felt super self-conscious like I wasn’t cool enough to stand outside and wait in a dumb line with all the stylish people.  This year I came straight from taking York to the oral surgeon to get his wisdom teeth out. I didn’t really care if my shirt was awesome (although it was St. Patrick’s Day so I did make sure it was green), or that I had trendy shoes or edgy accessories.

This year I feel fine with who I am. Am I thin? Heck no! I’m fatter now than when I was pregnant. Am I stylish? Not if you consider the fact that most of my clothes come from Steinmart or Costco. Is my hair awesome? Well, I’m 44 but I don’t have any greys so that fact alone makes me drip with pride. (Take that, all you people who must get your hair colored!) My hair is not super styling but I think it generally looks pretty decent.  I do have nice makeup so I have that going for me. You can wear awesome sunglasses and overall shorts (yes, they’re back) with high-heeled booties, but if you haven’t got on an attractive shade of lipstick, you really aren’t all that.

So I guess I’m really a grown up now. Or maybe I’m an old fogey. I don’t know. But I have to echo the sentiments of Jasper who announced after looking at everyone meandering around downtown Austin, “who are all these awful people?”.

 

Have you been hearing all the brouhaha about the movie American Sniper and how the US military referred to the people in Iraq as savages? I don’t even watch TV and I keep hearing about it. To me this is very interesting because I’ve known loads of Iraqis. I grew up in Detroit which has the largest Middle Eastern population outside of the Middle East. When I was very young we lived outside of Detroit in a town called Dearborn which was (and still is) the seat of the Ford Motor Company. My dad was an engineer at Ford (or as he called it FoMoCo).  There is a huge Arabic population in Dearborn. Much larger now than when I was growing up. I spent hours watching the Arab TV stations out of sheer fascination (let’s just say their home decor and clothing styles were quite a bit different than most of the Anglo people.)

When I was five we moved just north of Detroit. You know that Eminem movie called Eight Mile? Well, we lived just off of Nine Mile.  This area is where a huge number of Iraqis lived. When I was in high school I worked for an Iraqi dry cleaning business and then at an Iraqi frozen yogurt shop. The Iraqis owned most of the party stores around Detroit (party stores are a cross between a liquor store and a small grocery store. Like a 7-11 with a really huge selection of alcohol and some fruits and veg. You know how 7-11′s always have a little donut case? In party stores that is replaced with a baklava case.)

I went to school with Chaldeans and worked with them and the same thing happened that always happens when you spend a lot of time with someone who you initially think is “different”: you find out you’re pretty much the same. Except Chaldeans have about three hundred times more cousins than I do.

Most of the Iraqis are Chaldeans which means they are Christian (almost always Catholic although we had a few in our Mormon ward in Detroit). As Christians they have been the victims of the horrible Muslim regimes in Iraq. Interestingly, most Iraqis were Christian until the advent of Islam. Most arabs in Iraq came from other places in the Middle East. It is the Chaldeans and Assyrians who are the true Iraqi natives.

So, no, I can’t get on board with calling all people from Iraq savages. There are many ethnicities, tribes and cultures in the Middle East. It’s not right to just lump everyone together. I will, however, make an exception for the arabs who are killing Christians. I have a hard time finding a better word than “savage” to suit them. Maybe we could try bloodthirsty minions of Satan.

In case you’re interested in really finding out more about the Chaldean culture and history in Detroit  (I LOVE learning about other cultures), here’s a longish video for you. I thought it was pretty cool.

 

I have four teenagers. I knew when I got pregnant the fourth time in five years that one day this phase in life would come. I imagined the teenage years as being full of all sorts of drama and emotional outbursts, but honestly having teenage kids isn’t so much like that for us. Certainly there are times when I have no idea what happened to put these children in such a petulant mood but that doesn’t happen too often.  Instead the problem we face on a regular basis is stupidity; sheer, incomprehensible idiocy.

This seems to afflict boys a lot more than girls.  Let’s take tonight, for example: York, who is 18, was driving his brother Finn, who is 15, home from a church activity. They were also giving a ride to one of Finn’s friends.  They dropped off Finn’s friend and as Finn’s friend was getting out of the car, Finn got out of the back seat to get into the front seat. But York, being a teenage boy (and always ALWAYS in a hurry), didn’t notice his brother wasn’t actually in the car and drove away.

So I got a call from Finn saying that he was standing in front of his friend’s house and to please send York back. When York walked into the house a few minutes later I asked him where his brother was. “I don’t know. He was in the car and then he wasn’t.”

He was in the car and then he wasn’t.

Oh my gosh, how will this boy ever survive in the world?

When I told York what happened, he informed me that he wasn’t going back for his brother because it “wasn’t his fault” that Finn was left behind.

This, dear reader, is the other phrase that comes out of a teenager’s mouth at least once a day. Whatever happens, whether it’s flunking a class, running out of gas or not charging a cell phone it is never that child’s fault. Even if every shred of evidence points clearly to the teenager, it doesn’t matter. The teenager is always the victim.

Because I am the mother and because I am tired of such shenanigans, I sent York back to get his brother. When he got home I gave him a drug test. For real. Because either this kid is high or is totally dumb.

He was in the car and then he wasn’t.

Turns out he’s just dumb.

Every day I want to hit my head against the wall. I do not know how I am going to survive the next five years.

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!