He’s in Kindergarten?!

 

He’s actually been in kindergarten for almost a month, and I still can’t wrap my head around it.  But just look at that guy.  He’s so handsome.  I love this kid so much.  I love that he has my squinty eyes when he smiles.  I love that his hair refuses to stay put and that it is always rumpled beyond belief when I pick him up from school.  I love that his legs are always covered in bruises from days well spent running, jumping, falling, climbing.  I love that those sparkly white shoes are now dirty and scuffed and full of playground mulch every day.  I love how he talks my ear off from the time he wakes up until the minute he falls asleep.  I love the peek into his head that his chattering gives me.

I love how much he loves to learn.  I love that he asks so many questions in a constant quest to know and understand things.  Every day he tells me all about what he learned in school that day, and then asks questions when he wants to dig into something further.

He’s good at math.  My child.  Good at math.  I never would have predicted that.

I know every parent says this, but it seems like we just brought him home from the hospital yesterday.  I’ll blink again, and he’ll be starting middle school.  I’ll look away for just a moment, and he will be graduating college.  Getting his own place.  Falling in love.  Getting married and starting a family of his own.

The days are long, but the years are short.

Those words have been ringing true lately.  Especially when I’m desperately trying to make it to nap time on Saturdays, or trying to get two silly boys settled down for the night, or clinging to my last shred of patience at the grocery store.  Because this baby that I just brought home from the hospital is now in kindergarten, and I need to soak up every last bit of this wonderful time with him.

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From Busted to Ballin’ {On A Budget}: Spray Paint Chair Update

When we moved to Georgia in 2006, we bought an average house in an average neighborhood for an average price.  We planned on being in that house for 2-4 years, and then we would be moving on to bigger and better things.  We never intended to be in this house and this neighborhood for longer than that, so I didn’t really settle into the house and just treated it as a stopgap on the road to our forever home.

It’s been 8 years.  We’ve brought 2 babies home to that house, and may possibly bring another home to it in the next two years, as we will likely still be living there.  So I’ve been bonding with my home over the last couple of years.  No matter how long I plan on living somewhere, I need to be happy in it.  And I’ve been happy in our house, but there are definitely aspects of it that I am unhappy with and it’s time to start changing those.

Our house is very plain.  Tan siding, white trim, mid-1980s split level construction with funky windows that are hard to dress.  The previous owners built a gigantic deck on the front of the house, which looks weird but it’s kind of nice to have that outdoor space, so it stays.  We’ve started replacing the boards on the deck as we get time and money with better quality treated wood since the old wood was apparently untreated and has not handled the elements very well.  But it’s still all tan and wood and boring.  The two plastic chairs and ottoman that were left on the deck had also seen better days.  One chair is broken and is being thrown out, but the other chair and the ottoman are in good shape.  Ugly, but usable.

Ugly plastic Adirondack chair

So I decided to fix them up a bit using my favorite home improvement tool: spray paint!  I’ve gone to town with a can of spray paint in my kitchen to update my ridiculous cabinet knobs, and also on our tired brass front porch light.  I was very pleased with both of those results, so I figured there was nothing to lose by adding some color to that sad looking chair.

First, I cleaned the chair and ottoman by spraying the entire thing down with Awesome and scrubbing it with a stiff bristled brush.  Dirt and grime just melt away with that stuff.  I made sure to get in all the nooks and crannies on the back and underneath both pieces to ensure a nice even paint seal.  May the spiders that had built their home on the underside of the chair rest in peace.  Then I put the chair and ottoman back in the garage to dry out until I had time to get to them again, which ended up being three days later.  So by that time they were good and dry.

I didn’t really have any kind of rhyme or reason when I chose the paint colors.  Truth be told, I let my kids pick out two colors that they really liked.  After I got them home, I realized that they had chosen colors that looked like Mike Wazowski and Sully from the Monsters Pixar movies.  Those choices would definitely provide that burst of color I wanted.  We went with Rustoleum Painter’s Touch X2 paint+primer (satin finish) in Green Apple for the chair, and Oasis Blue for the ottoman.

Then it was time to get to spraying.  I’m not a home improvement blogger so I don’t have a patented technique on the proper way to spray paint a piece of furniture.  I just…spray the paint on the furniture.  I turned the chair upside down in the driveway and sprayed the underside of the chair and legs, then turned it over and sprayed everything else.  Short even strokes, slight overlapping, avoid drippage, blah blah blah.  I just made sure that everything that was nasty and off-white got hit with bright apple green paint.  Same for the ottoman, except that its original color was dark green.  So I hit all the dark green with the blue paint.  I’m somewhat impulsive so I didn’t lay down any sort of tarp or do any other prep work before I painted, so there’s a bit of green and blue spray paint on it.  I’ll get to that sometime.

Here’s the only part of the post that people care about:  the before and after shot.

Pretty spray painted Adirondack chair

Quite an improvement, no?  I didn’t take a before picture of the ottoman {bad blogger!}, but here it is after being painted.

blue ottoman

And here they are in action on our nasty front deck.  Having the house painted is probably in our very near future since I can’t seem to wash the siding clean anymore.  Front door as well.  Oh well, at least my son is cute.  And I just noticed that his shirt matches the chair and ottoman almost perfectly.

Grand total for this project:  $10 for three cans of spray paint.  Not too shabby, especially considering the fact that as I left Home Depot with the paint I passed by a display of plastic outdoor furniture in these exact colors for $20 each.

I wonder how much it would cost to spray paint my house.

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Emile Noël Artisan Oils

Disclosure: I received a free bottle of Emile Noël Artisan Oils sesame oil to review.  All opinions are my own and are not influenced by scoring free stuff.

emile_noel-USA_logo-web-BLACK

 

Ooh, you see that beautiful bottle of sesame oil right there?  If you’re anything like me, you took one look at that bottle and yelled COME TO MOMMA through the saliva that suddenly filled your mouth.  I mean, it’s everything anyone could ever want in a quality oil.  Organic.  Fair trade.  Cold pressed.  Unrefined.  Sweet mother.

Somehow, some way, the gods shone their favor down upon me and I got an e-mail Olivia with Emile Noël asking me if I would be interested in testing one of their products.  I could not reply fast enough with a resounding YES.

I use various oils for just about everything on a daily basis.  I use olive oil when I cook, and also to clean my face in the evenings a lá the oil cleansing method.  It really works, by the way.  You should try it.  I also use grapeseed oil and coconut oil for cooking, and peppermint oil for baking.  In one of my constant adventurous attempts at being crafty and/or crunchy, I decided I would make organic vegan lotion bars for the teachers at the boys’ school for Teacher Appreciation Day.  One of the main ingredients I used was delicious, wonderful coconut oil.  I also used sweet almond oil, lemongrass oil, and lavender oil for scent/aromatherapy purposes.  SO CRUNCHY, RIGHT?!

About a year ago I started oil pulling (swishing oil around in your mouth; it’s a thing, look it up), so I have been using my cold pressed virgin coconut oil for that.  I know a lot of people have dismissed oil pulling as hokum, and maybe it’s all psychological, but I swear I sleep better when I am oil pulling regularly, my sinuses are clearer, and any sort of unpleasant morning breath is neutralized, and that alone makes it worth doing to me.  Being an inquisitive type, I decided to spit the oil out into an empty plastic bottle so I could inspect it after my first oil pulling session.  It was simultaneously horrifying and fascinating.  After the oil and saliva separated back out, there were all these little particles floating around in there.  That was the horrifying part, because I am a zealot about oral hygiene.  I brush and floss at least twice a day, am at the dentist every six months like clockwork, and stay far away from sugared gum and hard candy and whatnot.  So if I, a person with a very clean mouth, had all that going on after my teef cleaning regimen, then WHAT is happening in the mouths of people who are more blasé about their oral care?!

But I digress.

When I was doing my initial research into oil pulling, I kept seeing sesame oil being referenced for its healthy properties.  I am a huge fan of sesame seeds, always have been.  As the late great Mitch Hedberg would say, they make your burger buns look spectacular.  I have never left a sesame seed behind.  I eat every single rogue seed off my plate whenever I have a dish with sesame seeds.  They have such a nice light nutty taste, and I find their tiny bit of crunch very pleasing.  So needless to say, I was excited to try this organic sesame oil not only for cooking, but for oil pulling and other health uses.

Emile Noël’s sesame oil is absolutely delicious.  It is great for sautéing and stir frying, and I have also used it as a drizzle over bread and vegetables and chicken.  I love the flavor so much I could put it on almost anything.  And it is high in antioxidants and good fats and has been shown to lower blood pressure when consumed regularly.  All good things in my book.

I have also found myself using drops of this oil for moisturizing extremely dry or rough areas of my skin (think elbows, knees, and heels).  It would be a great massage oil.  Sesame oil also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, so I’ve started keeping a small travel bottle with me for cuts and booboos (both mine and my kids’).  I’ve read that it is good to use on eczema and psoriasis.  I’ve also been using it for oil pulling with good results.  It stays a little thicker than coconut oil, so I guess in my mind it grabs more bacteria and particles with every swish.  Plus I get more of that delicious nutty flavor every night!  I’ve decided that I’m going to start taking a spoonful of this sesame oil every day just for the health benefits and continue to use it externally.  From everything I’ve read, sesame oil is the king of oils and I’m really glad that I was introduced to this product.

Emile Noël Artisan Oils are available in select Whole Foods stores in the U.S.  In addition to sesame oil, they have so many other products that I want to try.  I’ve got my eye on the pumpkin oil and hazelnut oil.  If they are half as good as the sesame oil, then I will be buying them in bulk when I pick up some more sesame oil.

Guys, I don’t do a lot of reviews.  I only agree to test things that I will actually use in my daily life and I always promise to give it to you straight.  So when I say that Emile Noël is the real deal, it’s what I sincerely think.  This stuff is great.  Rachel Approved.

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Dear Woman on Social Media With A Hot Bikini Body…

outraged

You know who you are.  And I know I am not the first one to say HOW DARE YOU, MADAM.  You, with the audacity to possess breasts.  You, with the gall to have a perky little round butt.  You, with the chutzpah to have flat washboard abs.  How dare you not have the common decency to hide your body away from the public eye?!

The noive.

I mean, there are women out there with husbands who have eyes.  EYES, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!  They might SEE you at some undetermined point in time!  And you, shameless hussy that you are, have the nerve to walk around on the same planet as other humans with nothing covering your body and protecting vulnerable husbands from the shameful thing that it is.

Oh what, you thought going to the beach or pool was supposed to be fun and relaxing?  How can I relax when I KNOW you’re going to be flaunting your boobs, butt, and flat perfect stomach around for all the world to see?  You should be totally uncomfortable in a hot, restrictive one-piece swimsuit, or a billowy tankini with a skirt, for MY comfort.  If you aren’t shaking your assets around in a skimpy bikini, then I can rest assured that my husband will remain faithful and have eyes only for me.

But listen, hottie.  Some women are married to guys who are dicks.  They relish every opportunity to leer at women in bikinis.  Heck, they leer at women in one-piece swimsuits.  Or sundresses.  Or shorts that don’t pass the fingertip test.  Or just any clothes in general.  You know whose fault that is?  YOURS.  Because you have the boobs and they know it.  They know what you’re working with under that 10-year old ratty t-shirt from your university.  You, with the legs brazenly sticking out of those cutoff sweatpants that you wear to do yardwork.  Why couldn’t you have put on some freaking pants before leaving the inside of your house?  But not tight pants, that wouldn’t do at all.  If you wear tight pants, a man might see the slight curve of your butt cheek and be forced to stare and think lewd thoughts about you.  Remember, any attention that you get from another person is YOUR FAULT, so you should dress in such a way that no man would ever find you attractive.

But if you’re going to vacation on Whore Island in your bikinis and halter tops, I’d really appreciate it if you would not document said vacation on Instagram and Facebook.  You see, I am married to a man, and because he has no control over his basest instincts, I am afraid that he will be overcome with primal lust at the very sight of your cleavage, and he will seek you out for procreation.  It’s also mandatory that he not only be on Instagram and Facebook, but that he follow you and view each and every one of your photos.  So I’m going to need YOU to step up and protect this man, who you have never met and likely will never meet, from himself.  You’re responsible for his thought life, after all.  This might mean you have to deal with not being in ANY photos from your vacation.  Feel free to post photos of the rest of your family at the beach (especially your former swim team captain husband, hubba hubba), but NEVER YOU IN A BIKINI.  People might start to doubt that you actually go on vacation with your family, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to guard my husband’s honor.  It’s your duty to him AND TO ME to never ever let him see that you have a better body than me because you went to the gym while I went to Krispy Kreme, mmmkay?  Because you’re making me insecure.

Oh yeah, that’s your fault too.  How I feel about my body is irrevocably tied to your body and how much of it you show off.  How can you deal with that kind of pressure, knowing that you are responsible for making men lust after you AND making women feel bad about themselves?  You’re really just not a good person, are you?  Don’t you know I’ve had two babies and there’s no way that you can understand how it feels to have your body wrecked by carrying and bearing children, never to recover again?

What’s that?  You just had your third last year?

Bitch.


 

I hope you enjoyed that little bit of satire.  I feel the need to point out that it was, in fact, satire because unfortunately I’ve seen so many posts in various places on the world wide intertubes saying these things.  Oh sure, the words are more flowery and we’re supposed to believe that the authors are coming from a place of concern and not of insecurity and judgment, but all I can see is women dripping with envy and jealousy while insisting that other women uphold their standards of modesty and virtue.

Newsflash:  It’s not all about you, pumpkin.

So you’re unhappy with your body.  You’re insecure.  I get it.  I do.  I’ve been there.  I AM there some days.  But you know what?  That’s not Gisele’s fault.  Beyonce didn’t come to my house and personally ridicule my body.  Kerri Jennings and Misti May-Treanor didn’t seek me out at the beach and laugh at me for not looking like them.  I am in charge of how I feel about myself.  Some days I could strut the catwalk with the best of them.  Some days I want to break every mirror in the house.  That is 100% on ME.

So tell me something.  That woman who had the nerve to wear a bikini in your presence, or post a photo of herself in said bikini on social media.  Would you feel any differently about yourself if she were in a one-piece?  She’d still have that rockin’ body and you wouldn’t.  And everyone would know it.  Is it still her fault that you’re unhappy?  Put her in a cover-up.  What about now?  Everyone still knows she’s fit.  How about a maxidress?  Look at how it hugs those curves.  Nope, that won’t work either.  Matter of fact, you’ve seen this woman look dead sexy in a loose-fitting cardigan and baggy boyfriend jeans.  So what can this woman possibly do to make you feel better about yourself?  Just not be thin in the same location as you on any given day?  Every woman thinner than you should just stay home whenever you decide to go to the pool or beach so your precious feelings don’t get hurt?  Well, what about billboards?  Magazine advertisements?  TV commercials?  Basically any form of visual entertainment and advertising medium is going to expose you to women with bodies far better than yours.  When are you launching your vendetta against industries that objectify women as a business model?

Or are you saving your ire concern for people who will actually see your cutting glances or read your words?

That woman who has struggled with her weight her entire life and finally found a diet and exercise plan that works for her.  She lost 75 pounds last year, and she should be able to show off the results of her hard work.

The mom who reclaimed her body after years of childbearing and putting the needs of her family above her own.

The young sheltered woman who is finally figuring out that her body is an amazing and beautiful thing after a lifetime of hiding and protecting herself from imaginary evils underneath layers of clothes because “daddy said all boys think I’m good for is sex”.

The curvy middle-aged lady with a few extra pounds, who people might think has no business wearing a bikini, and who finally had enough of letting other people tell her what she can and cannot wear and sports her bikini with a confidence most women would kill for.

Who are you to rain on their parade and blame them for your insecurities when they’ve overcome a boatload of their own?

Moreover, why do you think so poorly of your own husband?  You know your wedding vows didn’t mention anything about “until death do us part, as long as she keeps that rockin’ little body.”  Also, there were hotter women in existence when he met you.  There were hotter women in existence when he married you.  Guess what?  He still chose you.  So maybe try to look past his “maleness” and realize that he is the only one in control of his thoughts and feelings.  A woman in a bikini will not make him forsake his vows to you.  Conversely, some women are more visual creatures.  I am the first person to admit that I don’t mind seeing a nicely sculpted man walking down the beach, but I can’t even imagine blaming him for thinking dirty thoughts about him.  If my mind wanders somewhere it shouldn’t, that’s entirely on me.

And hey, if your husband is the type of man who gets all lathered up over a random woman in a bikini on Instagram, howsabout talking to him about how that makes you feel instead of placing all the blame on the woman for leading him astray.  Because social media isn’t mandatory.  He doesn’t have to check Instagram or Facebook if he doesn’t want to.  Nobody is prying his eyes open Clockwork Orange-style and forcing him to look at pictures of scantily clad women.  That’s his choice.  He chooses who to follow.  He can curate his social media experience to suit his preferences and your insecurities, if you insist upon it.

But let’s not feed into the culture of blaming women for men’s lack of control.  Women all over the world are blamed for their own rapes every day.  They MUST have been flirting with the guy (by merely walking down the street), or dressed inappropriately (in a baggy t-shirt and jogging pants on an afternoon run), or somehow given some indication that his sexual advances were welcome (by avoiding him, telling him to back off, or screaming NO).  So in addition to being held responsible for sexual assaults perpetrated against us, women are now completely in charge of policing a man’s potential for lustful thoughts?  Thoughts that happen INSIDE HIS HEAD??  Please tell me in what world that makes any sense.

I’ve been with my husband for nearly 11 years.  If he’s ever looked at another woman on the beach or at the pool, I have been blissfully unaware.  As far as I’ve ever seen, he has only had eyes for me.  And even if he does take a look from time to time, what of it?  He still leaves with me.  And I couldn’t even tell you the last time he logged onto Facebook or Instagram, so it’s obviously not compulsory.  He loves me and makes me feel beautiful every single day, and I never have to worry about him comparing me to another woman.  Because he’s not a dick.  Men are much more than a hunk of flesh being led around by the penis.  It’s time we start treating them as such, and that means admitting that they are ultimately responsible for their own thoughts and actions.

Ladies, instead of blaming other women for causing our marriages to crumble, let’s take it upon ourselves to seal up any cracks in the foundation before they deteriorate. Let’s deal with our own insecurities instead of letting other women take the blame for them.  How about we just live and let live and stop focusing so much on other people and how they make us feel, and work on being happy with ourselves.

Anyone can have a bikini body.  All you have to do is buy a bikini and put it on your body.  You should try it.  You might find that both you and your husband like what you see, and then women can hate on you for being too hot.  Isn’t that the highest form of flattery?

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