Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Mouse In the House. Or Seven.

Hey guys, I'm just going through old posts that I began and never finished over the summer. Here's a post that is sure to gross you out. EEK! Another for the "For Posterity's Sake" category......

In August we began removing 95% of all items in our basement to a storage unit as we had some work scheduled to be done on our basement floor for early September. They needed us to basically clear almost everything out. Our basement was built around 1860, so it is NOT a normal basement. It's really a cellar, but at some point, the entrance was changed and now you access our "basement" down  a short flight of stairs off of our kitchen.

Our basement's ceiling is only about 5 feet' tall, but there's duct work that makes me have to duct! I mean DUCK! ;) You have to walk around crouched over, it's such a pain. One side has a cement floor and a little drywall on the walls, but the other side/room of our basement has all of the old building materials exposed. There is a DIRT floor! And the walls are dirt and large stones and OLD brick! It's amazing! I can imagine this too, being the old food cellar, shelves lined with canning jars and baskets of root vegetables.

When we were moving into a 150+ year-old house, we knew that it's not the most air tight dwelling that there is. Luckily for us though, we've only had a field mouse of two over the years.  Averaging less than one per year, and sadly, always a guy that our cat found in the basement. We had a critter control person over when we moved in to make sure any holes from the outside were sealed. We did our best to keep the outside out.

I haven't really thought about mice honestly, because it's been so long, but then, once we started emptying our basement out for the upcoming work.........all of the sudden...... MICE!!!!! (Tiny field mice only THANK GOD!) But still, MICE!

What in the world we thought!? One week Willow brought up one to our kitchen. (I FREAKED!) And the next week, she brought one to our BEDROOM. (I FREAKED EVEN MORE!) That's when we immediately caught on and realized that perhaps there were mice in our basement and moving their hiding places has brought them out!

From that night on, I was so scared that there would be more. We were hyper-vigilant at night especially, just waiting for any sound or the cats to act strange. Sure enough, the next day, we had one in our room again! And the next day, TWO, TWO in our living room , and the next night, another in our bedroom! I almost couldn't take it.

HOURS. Hours I tell you, HOURS were spent that week tearing apart our house. I mean you really have to careful take apart everything to safely catch the mice and take them outside!


ACKKKKKK!!!!!!!! RIGHT above my bed. O-M-G!

And THIS is how we catch them....with an old bucket and a record. No mouse was harmed, we just couldn't do that. But, we did have to take our curtains off the wall! (He was climbing the curtain.)


The Bob Dylan record was useful in the capture of mice. 



So we were all ready for this to be over. We found a few holes in the dirt walls in the basement and thought perhaps they were new. We called a pest control service with good ratings and the word "Eco" in their title. So, I thought maybe they would do "humane" catch-an-release with the mice. The man laughed when I said that! To his credit though, he did email us a day later though, and recommend  catch-and-release traps that he found online. Which we promptly bought! Also, when the work was done on our basement, the new holes were covered. We now close the door to the basement at night, just as a precaution.

So far, KNOCK ON WOOD.....it's been a month with no mice. Not one. Maybe it was a fluke, it had just started getting cold, maybe them came in.  I am super hopeful this is the end of that story. I will never forget working together with Jon trying to chase tiny mice into a bucket.

Until next time, don't have mice!
xoxoxoxox,
Lauren

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lolo Loves... A Few of My Recent Fall Faves! Makeup, Hair, Accessories, Shoes and Clothing.

I'll be one of the first people to say that "stuff" doesn't make us happy. It's not as important as the people in our lives and the experiences that we have. This is all true! But at certain times, most of us acquire "stuff" for one reason or another, and that's ok too. Especially for my friends who are reading today, and going through the emotional ups and downs of growing out your gray hair. Or are like me, a 30-something who sometimes likes her gray hair, but also often feels a little insecure and sad about it, "stuff" can help with our confidence! A new dress or a fresh tube of lipstick can give us all a little something to feel good about, and helps us hold our heads high! \(^-^)/
I know, this is just silly, surface stuff, but still, worth a conversation.

The following is a post which I started last month. It's funny because since that time, I've gone from being on a mission for some snazzy fall favorites, to looking sloppier than I have in years. (That's what a puppy will do to ya!) I've traded in my dresses and boots for jeans and cotton shirts. I used to have time to do my hair, and now you can usually find me in a messy ponytail. I've been carrying around the same, unraveling mini-backpack around for the past three weeks because it's good for holding doggie treats and poop bags. Noah asked me the other day: "Mom, why do you have twigs in your hair?" "Because son, I spend my days chasing a dog through the bushes."

This is all well and good.  It's only temporary and worth it. I'll be spending less time on the floor and in the bushes soon I'm sure. I'll be back to my regularly scheduled clothing program in no time. :)
Without further ado though, here are some of my fall favorites.........

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Here's what I do every year: I buy a few new outfits in the spring and in the fall. My general rule is to try to find pieces that can do double duty for Spring/Summer and then pieces that can transition through Fall/Winter. It's really important to me to always purchase clothing that I know will last, and that I can wear for several years. Sometimes that's easier said than done, but so far, most of my Lands' End clothing has really held up. Some of my Boden clothing too. My Birkenstocks, which I basically wore daily from June-September have been great as well. I also look for accessories and other fun beauty items that can help mix-up outfits that I already own, or make old things feel new again!

I'd love to tell you about a few of my favorite, new things going into fall: make-up, accessories, shoes and clothing. None of these items have been sponsored, I just happen to really like them and wanted to spread the word!

First up is this Burt's Bees Lip Crayon in Carolina Coast. I found mine at Target for about $9. These lip crayons are a lot of fun, and best of all, pretty close to as natural and chemical-free as lipsticks can get! There are six, creamy shades that give you a highly pigmented, matte color. Caroline Coast is a nice, fairly bright pink. I find if I apply it too heavily, the pink is brighter than I prefer. My first choice was their lip color in Sedona Sands, which is a pinky-nude, but they were out.
I also really like their lip gloss in Rosy Dawn, $9 at Target. It's great for laying over the lip crayons and lasts for quite a while! Look cute and moisturize your lips at the same time.


I was at one of my favorite markets recently and started looking around in their "apothecary." This is the area where they stock aisle after aisle of fascinating, natural bath and beauty products and alternative health items. Like their homeopathy section for example. I love their "Eco" hair and beauty area. There are bins of sample and travel size products that I was taking a look at, when I accidentally dropped a small bottle of Giovanni's L.A. Natural Styling Gel.  I took this as a sign that I should try it. And, for just $2, there wasn't much to lose. I'm familiar with Giovanni's hair product line which that call "Eco Chic." I really appreciate these products because they contain "no parabens,  sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate or animal by-products. Cruelty-free-never tested on animals, pH Balanced and biodegradable formulas with recyclable packaging." That's big. I'm always happy to try more of their items. The L.A. Natural Styling get is great! It's clear, which is nice for my gray hair, and the hold is pretty good, which is great for my unruly hair! It also helps to control frizz, a definite plus in my book.


While at the apothecary, I also came across a scent that I absolutely ADORE! I never, as in never ever buy fragrance. Many highly scented fragrances give me a headache, especially strong florals, and I've worn the same perfume, Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent my entire life. Literally, the tradition was passed down from my Mother. I don't wear Rive Gauche often, only for special occasions, but have always wanted a soft, "daily scent."

So when I was perusing all of the make up and other goodies at the apothecary counter and came across Infusion Organique's "Sands of Morocco", I was amazed that to find a scent that I loved! It's difficult to explain the fragrance, but it's not very floral, it is more of a warm sandalwood and oak moss smell. Very soft. I was bummed that their $15 roller ball vile was sold out. Sands of Morocco is their best seller they told me. So, I put my name down and waited for them to come back in. Also, while at the store, I tried Infusion Organique's paraben-free Hand and Body lotion in Sands of Morocco. Winter is coming and I get so dry. I thought this would be perfect and would help to make my scent last longer.  In the end, I love both. And again, like other products that I've featured, one of the best parts is that they are organic, paraben-free, sulfate-free, not tested on animals and use naturally derived, sustainable materials. Win-win!



When I think about fall this year, I think about COZY! I don't know why. Maybe because last year I was wearing not-so-cozy dresses, and this year I'm ready for more warmth. And I suppose when you spend a lot of time thinking about cozy, "comfy" and "easy" aren't far behind. That's why I chose these  boiled wool clogs from Haflinger. Haflinger is a German company that has been making these wool felt shoes for over 50 years. Boiled wool is a nice, natural material that keeps you warm! These clogs are lightweight, but offer very good traction with their rubber sole. They're super comfy, like wearing slippers out to the market! I thought they were cute in a "Heidi" type of way too. 

These clogs are called the "Classic Grizzly." They come in several colors, my pair are in the color "earth" and I ordered them from Zappos.  They come in European sizing and I feel personally, that they run on the big side. I generally wear a size 8.5 in women's shoes, once in a while a 9. I tried these shoes in a 40, which was too big. I am now wearing the 39, which is better, but still roomy. I have an average width foot. These are fairly wide. 
All in all, a very nice shoe that I think you too might enjoy in the crisp of fall months!


Oh this necklace. I am so sad. I LOVED this silly necklace. I know that I'm too old to be shopping at Forever21, but I found it in their accessories shop for about $3.20. It was a little glass bottle with some golden seed beads in it. I like pendant necklaces the best, things that are little "conversation starters."  One of Noah's friends asked what was in the bottle and then told me that he thought they were magic seeds that would could give me the power of flight! I thought that was neat.

Very sadly, after wearing it for about a month straight, I looked down mid-day yesterday, only to find the bottle had cracked in half somehow, the beads gone. Actually, I really could have hurt myself on the broken glass. I have NO IDEA how it cracked. It must have swung and hit something. It is a mystery! Forever21 has a similar necklace online, you can find it HERE.


I have been DROOLING over the lockets that Lori makes for her DearestMine Etsy shop for years now! Aren't they gorgeous? Go take a look! All of the photos that Lori puts onto her lockets are just so whimsical and beautiful. It was difficult to choose just one!

I decided to go with one of her small lockets with the "New York Nights" photo. My Grandparents lived in New York City, and then later at the foot of the George Washington Bridge on the NJ side. So, I spent years visiting NYC, starting when I was just six weeks old! It's a magical place and has always been very special to me.


I love this necklace so much. I payed the extra $3 to have my locket come with a 28" chain. It's just personal preference. The photo is beautiful. You might want to also take a look at her larger size lockets, the photos are even clearer on those. The only thing that I am unsure of, is that my necklace snagged on something and the little jump right that holds the locket to the chain popped open and my locket fell. I try to be careful and gentle with my necklaces, but I felt the jump ring was a little thin and flimsy for the price that I paid. I was able to squeeze it back together with my hands, but I would be so sad if I ever lost my beautiful locket! That said, I absolutely adore Lori's work, and I can't wait to purchase another one of her gorgeous creations in the future!


Let's talk about clothing for a minute, shall we? As I mentioned before, it's important to me to have clothing pieces that are slightly timeless in the fact that you can wear them from year to year. More importantly though, I really prefer my clothes to be well made and strong enough to withstand a year's worth of washing. I kind of feel like it isn't worth it unless you get a bang for your buck!

This is why I love Lands' End.  If I'm being honest, no, they're not on the edge of fashion, they don't always excite me, especially their current season's colors,  BUT I am grateful for their quality construction, their value, the great customer service, and their fit! I've always found Lands' End's fabrics to be unlike any other brand that I've tried, and I've tried a lot! Their cotton shirts are thick, not flimsy. Their dresses are super comfortable and keep you warm. I just really like them. For you petite readers, if you're like me, 5' tall, you'll be glad to know that their petites fit great, and most of Lands' End line comes in petite! Plus size too.

Over the past month I've bought several items. One thing to keep in mind is that I never pay full price. Lands' End is ALWAYS having in-store and online sales. They're always sending me coupons too. In fact, I think for all of the items below, I was able to purchase most if not all of them at 30% off! Isn't that great?

The first thing that I tried was their new Heather Down Coat in a soft blue called "Nautical Heather. It's their attempt to make the classic down coat a little softer, a bit more romantic and feminine. Do you know how difficult it is to find a down coat that fits, when you are only five feet tall and have a short torso? On regular sized coats, my hips often begin where other people's waists begin to start. It just doesn't work. That's why I like to try Lands' End coats in their petite line. Also, I wear my down coats everyday in these Michigan winters, so they're essential for me, especially with the school run and now with the puppy. I'm tired of all the black and gray puffer coats. I've been there for years in the same shades. So, when I saw this soft, heathered puffer, I just had to try it! (See photo below.)

You should click on THIS link to see more pictures of the coat up close, then you can get a sense of the texture and color. I love it! This coat fit me well, is SUPER warm with attention given to not adding too much bulk, and it has nice finishes. The best part is, with sales and coupons, I was able to purchase if for about $100! I think that's pretty good for a quality coat that will hopefully last a few Michigan winters.

About a month ago, Lands' End came out with a jeans campaign highlighting their newly redesigned jeans. In addition to having sales, Lands' End sent me a coupon for a no-risk trial of their new denim, which included free shipping both ways. I decided to give them a shot and I ordered two pairs, one in a smokey gray color, and the other, not pictures here, in indigo with tiny white polka-dots! I really liked these jeans and ultimately ordered a third pair in a slightly washed, medium blue color.

My verdict: The jeans are pretty good. They're comfortable, mid-weight, I like the color and print selection. (Check Lands' End for more prints!) The length, 28" is pretty good for me. I can wear anything from 28"-30".  My only thing is, is that these jeans do stretch out a little after you wear them for a couple of hours. Although, this could be exasperated by the fact that I am literally crawling all over the ground with a puppy all day. This said, I'd still buy these jeans again, and perhaps if they come out with a heavier denim version, the stretch-out factor will be reduced. Oh! One more thing, I had to buy the "Fit 2." which is a mid-rise and the only fit that their gray and polk-a-dot jeans came in. I tend to prefer a lower rise, I think it looks nicer on me. Just know that they come to, at least on me, belly button level. I like these jeans a lot over all, and definitely think they're a great deal and worth a shot!

Finally, I purchased over time, three of Lands' End's cotton, 3/4 sleeve, boatneck shirts. The reason I have now bought three is because the cotton is quite thick, the first one stood up to wash after wash, they perfectly skim the body and give a little shape and they're comfy! I bought a classic ivory and navy nautical stripe, and then another striped shirt with pink and grape stripes. The last one is navy with large, green polka-dots! These shirts + the jeans = a comfy, casual outfit for running around in during the day.

Oh! And one more thing, I almost forgot..... I rarely get to the Lands' End store at our local Sears, but recently I ran in to make a return. After purchasing two of the boatneck shirts on sale, plus using some Lands' End "Shop Your Way Rewards" points, I was able to essentially get a fleece pullover that I chose for free! You can find it HERE, mine was in pale pink. Freezing cold dog walking, here I come!


6.) Women's Petite 3/4 Sleeve Stripe 1x1 Button Boatneck Top in Wine/Grape Stripe.

My mother and father-in-law were so sweet and gifted me with a Boden gift card for my birthday. I wanted to have some Boden clothing to share with you too today. I ordered three pieces with my card, a soft, belted cardigan, a basic scoop-neck Essential Tee  and a raglan sleeve sweatshirt. In the end, for one reason or another, I didn't keep them. I've sent them back and will try again soon! So, more from one of my other favorites, Boden, in the future!

And there you have it.  Some of what Lolo loves. (That's me by the way. Have I ever told you my nickname?)

Until next time, find a little of what you love and bring it to your everyday!
xoxoxoxoxo, 
Lolo