Thursday, June 11, 2015

How To Move Your Fathead (and other wall stickers)

As you may be aware, Aunt Linda loves Disney's Frozen (you can see proof of that here). One of her many decorations is a set of wall decals/stickers/Fatheads that she received for Christmas. While they work great on the wall - you can move and reuse them without damaging your walls - I realized we were going to have a problem moving them.

As you can see in reference to the window, these things aren't small. They're also sticky. So ... how do you move approximately three dozen wall stickers across the country without ruining them?

Welcome to the wonderful world of laminating paper (brand name, Con-Tact Paper).

Any good child of the 90s used different styles of Con-Tact paper to cover the most boring of accessories. Any serious English major who wanted to keep her books for the long haul learned to use the clear stuff to cover and protect her paperback books. All that to say I'm very familiar with the stuff and just happened to have a roll in my office supplies. 

The roll inspired me ...

Con-Tact paper has a nice smooth surface (it made all of my paperback books water resistant). I wondered how the wall stickers would work on the Con-Tact paper.


I shot a nice video to show how well this idea worked, but it's stuck on my phone (I've tried to upload to YouTube, Facebook, and my Google drive, all without success - sorry!). You'll just have to take my word for it. The stickers stay in place and peel off nicely, allowing Aunt Linda to take all of her stickers with her to her next home.

Once the stickers are in place, just roll up the paper and it's ready for easy transport.

Okay Aunt Linda - Elsa, Anna, Sven, Kristoff, and Olaf are ready for you!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Seasons Change - Up Next...

Christmas 2012
It's been a while since I posted here because there's been a lot going on and I've needed some time to organize my thoughts before putting together this post. It's finally time.

After two and a half years of togetherness, Aunt Linda is moving out.

It's true that she's spending the summer in Scottville, but it's bigger than that. Linda has officially moved out - her tchotchkes, t-shirts, and Frozen memorabilia. It's all gone as Linda prepares for the next phase of her life in Las Vegas.

When Linda moved in in 2012, Matt and I agreed to one year. If everything went well, we would continue to pray about the situation and take it one day at a time. Earlier this year the day came when Matt approached me. He'd been diligently praying about it and he knew it was time for all of us to enter a new season. Loosely translated, it was time for Linda to move out.

There was nothing wrong with the living situation. We weren't unhappy with Linda here and she wasn't asking to leave. It was simply God's time.

Abandoning us so she can spend more time
like this.
I won't lie - it wasn't easy for me to accept this. In fact, I cried quite a bit about it. Life with Linda had become the norm. I wasn't sure what life without her would look like, but I knew I wanted to honor my husband and honor God, so I started praying about the next phase - where ever Linda would go and whatever we would do. Then I called my mom and let her know. Two days later she sent me an email.

Not only was she ready for Linda to move in with her, Linda was ready to get out of northern Michigan and spend her golden years in the sun, shorts, and her Crocs. In all honesty, Linda's been volunteering to move to Vegas for the past year - this is hardly a sacrifice for her.

And so we're now transitioning from our mixed family of three back to a couple of D.I.N.K.s and two sisters living together again for the first time in decades. Though none of are really sure what this next season holds for us, we're all excited about the possibilities.

Just because Linda's moving out doesn't mean it will be the end our adventures though. If she has her way, I'll be in Vegas for her birthday, Christmas, my birthday, and a few other occasions throughout the year (we'll have to see what the checkbook has to say about that, but I'd be up for it). Even if I can't make it, we both know how to Skype, so I expect to stay in touch to discuss Dancing with the Stars, find out about Survivor, and cheer for the University of Michigan football team this season.

So here's to the next season and whatever it may bring.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Linda vs. the Gym

Post-workout selfie.

When Linda moved in with us, one of our goals was to help get her healthy. While we haven't done a great job of that in regards to weight control (I can't even control my own), we have made it a priority to go to the gym or take walks at least three times a week.

The exercise hasn't helped much with weight loss (thanks in part to our close proximity to bacon and Sour Patch Kids), but there are so many other benefits. When Linda's walking regularly, she's also, uh .... regular. She sleeps better. She's made friends at the gym. She's proud of her accomplishments. And, best of all, her mood improves.

Getting her to the gym, however, is about as easy as convincing my camo-wearing, truck-loving six-year old nephew that Barbies are better than Hot Wheels. This is how a typical workout day plays out:

Me: I'm gonna go to they gym today. Do you want to come?
Linda: No.
Me: Okay, but why don't you take a walk then. You haven't been on a walk in three days.
Linda: ARGH!!! I hate going to the gym!
Me: I know, so do I, but it keeps us healthy. The doctor wants us to go.
Linda: Why doesn't she mind her own business? (Yes, that's a direct quote.)
Me: The quicker we get there, the quicker we'll be home. 
Linda: I'm only doing 30 minutes.
Me: That's fine. You don't have to walk longer than 30 minutes.

Walk to the car. Linda grumbles the whole way. Get in the car.

Linda: (varies daily) The Tiger play today. I hope they win. The Yankees can go home. When's Adrian's baby due? I can't wait for Survivors.

Arrive at gym. Enter gym.

Gym members: Linda!
Linda: Hi! 

Polite small talk ensues. Linda starts her treadmill. I finish my 35 minute workout and let her know that I'm done.

Linda: I'm not done yet. 

Five minutes later.

Linda: I did 40 minutes today!

Leave gym. Drive home. Linda proceeds to call sisters, brother, nieces, Matt, and any other phone number on her list to let them know that she did 40 minutes today.

End Scene.

I wish I could say I'm exaggerating, but I'm not (well, maybe about the phone calls - she doesn't always call everyone on the list, but she certainly loves to let people know). Linda has lived with me 2.5 years, and 98% of the time this is what happens when we go to the gym. Sometimes there's swearing and the car conversation always changes, but the pattern remains:

1. Argue.
2. Work out.
3. Feel better/proud/accomplished.

I've been temped to let the workout slide, but the results are worth the struggle. She's never thanked me for taking her to the gym, but she does tell me how good she feels afterwards. That's all I need to hear.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Thursdays with Linda, Miles, and the Big Dog

It's been a while since I posted here. Do you know why? Because Linda abandoned me this winter to get out of the snow and spend almost two months in Las Vegas with her sister (my mom). I'm in Vegas right now to pick up Linda (a 9-day ticket is cheaper than a 2-day ticket...bummer), so I joined her on some of her adventures.

Waiting for Miles outside his school.

Thursdays were pick-up days - Linda and my dad* picked up my 6-year old nephew Miles from half-day kindergarten. While my sister enjoyed one uninterrupted day a week, Linda and my dad would take Miles out to eat, then back to their house for an afternoon of merriment.

Miles has three favorite restaurants for lunch: Wendy's, McDonald's, and Big Dog's Draft House. I got to pick this week, so we went to Big Dogs. Not only do they have better food, they have legalized gambling for kids...
Poor kid only needed two more dots to advance!

AKA the stuffed toy animal crane. Linda brought a bag of loose change for Miles. He swapped some dimes and nickles with the waitress for some quarters (and she threw in an extra quarter because this kid is so stinking cute). About 45 seconds later he was out $3, but he had fun.

His absolute favorite.

Check out that expression - he takes this very seriously.

Miles scarfed down his French toast sticks (and half of Linda's French fries), while the rest of us enjoyed soup, salads, and sandwiches. As you can see, he and Linda have settled in well to their routine.
Cuteness overload! Cuteness overload!

Since it's a draft house, Miles insisted that they say, "Beer!" instead of cheese.

Back at Babcia and Dzia Dzia's (grandma and grandpa's) house, Miles knows the rest of the routine: homework, changes clothes, then fun. He has two basic options: go to the park or use the computer. This week he chose the computer - Animal Jam ("Aunt Karin, do you want to watch me play Animal Jam?") followed by monster truck videos on YouTube. Aunt Linda joined him on the couch and played some Nintendo DS (baseball of course - it's almost opening day!).

Two peas in a pod.

I'm sure Linda will miss the routine when we're back and Michigan (especially the part about doing it in shorts and a t-shirt!) but I keep reminding her that it's spring, and it'll warm up soon (I hope).

We have a few days left in Vegas, so there may be another post in our future!

*Thursdays are brought to you by my dad, who was with us in each of these locations, but didn't quite make the cuteness-cut for photos.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Better Late Than Never: Cupcake & Smiles

It's taken me a while to get the photos up, but I couldn't miss the opportunity the show you how Linda and I spent some time in February with our friend Steph and the ladies of the Elk Rapids Women group. You'll remember a few months ago  we got together to paint (if not, you can check it out here). Well, earlier this month the same group of women got together to learn how to decorate cupcakes. (Please excuse the out-of-order photos).

"Seriously?" Yes Linda, I'm seriously taking your picture. You'd think she'd be used to this by now...

It started with Chef Andi Pellicci, owner of As You Dish, providing cupcakes, frosting, and sprinkles for everyone. She also brought a ton of disposable piping bags and about a dozen different tips for us to use on our cupcakes. 
Scooping out some frosting. There was a TON of frosting (which I tried to scam and bring home, but it didn't work.)
Our first step, however, was coloring the frosting.

Since it was early February, pink seemed appropriate for Valentine's day, though we did play around with a few other colors throughout the night. Even though neither Linda, Steph, or I had ever decorated cupcakes before, we all took to it pretty quickly. Maybe that's because cupcakes are so easy and forgiving - not a lot of surface area, and you can hide mistakes behind candy flowers.

Linda was a big fan of the sprinkles. She didn't mind piping, but she preferred the candy bits.
Steph, the naturally-talented decorator. I tried to keep my cupcakes away from hers so they wouldn't feel ugly.
Technically we each paid for six cupcakes, but Chef Andi had a bunch left over, so she let us decorate more. That worked out well for us, because we had so much fun that, even though I brought a dozen of my own gluten-free cupcakes, we still left with about 20!

Another fun night out with the girls!

Linda and Chef Andi - I swear, they didn't plan to match :)
Here's a look at a few of our creations:

One of the things I love so much about Linda is how she dives into all of these activities with me. She's never painted, used royal icing, or decorated cupcakes before, but it doesn't stop her. She's willing to try pretty much anything, and she almost always has a good time. In fact, we had so much fun with the cookies and cupcakes that I bought my own set of Wilton bags and decorating tips. You can expect to see many more creations from Linda and me :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It's Freezin' In Here!

You've heard her sing the songs. You've listened to the stories of her love. Now it's time for you to see the obsession that is Linda's love for Disney's Frozen. It all started with a poster...

That's right - she hung it with duct tape.
Then she got some wall clings. You can see the little Elsa below the poster, but that's only one of dozens of Frozen wall clings. They're on her door...

And on every wall in her bedroom!

I also found her some stickers, which she decided to put on her window. Here are a few of them:

Those the up-close versions. This is what her window looks like from a distance:

She put them up before I could tell her they aren't removable, like the wall clings. Should be fun to scrape those off.

Did you think we were done with wall clings? Silly you...

Then there's her alarm clock and the Frozen charm bracelet she got for Christmas.

And more wall clings! Right next to her 2015 calendar, of course.

Which is next to her bed, which is now forever covered in Frozen sheets (because she has two sets).

And just to make sure she doesn't miss her Frozen heaven while she's away, Linda also received this canvas bag, so she can carry Anna and Elsa with her where ever she goes.

Yep, Linda has just about everything ... but she doesn't have the brand-new Frozen music box advertised in the coupon section of today's Sunday paper! That's next on her list of must-haves.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How the Grinch Stole Snack Time

So much sugar...
 The new year approaches and we're getting ready to make some major dietary adjustments around here. My inspiration isn't the new year, it's the post-holiday food comas that have Linda, Matt, and me sitting on our duffs for days on end. It's time to get serious about eating well.
When aunt Linda moved in with us, one of our goals was to help her get healthy. In the past two years she's been able to eliminate one of her prescription meds (yea!), but not only has she not lost any weight, we've all gained it. Suggestions and will power don't work around here. I hate to have to do this, but for the sake of all of it, I'm locking up the food.

This hasn't been an easy decision to make. I'm an emotional eater. Matt's a late night snacker. Linda loves to munch while she watches the football/baseball/hockey game. That shouldn't be a problem, but it's the quantity of snacking that's showing up on our waistlines - three people splitting a bag of potato chips in one day. Yikes.

I've been trying to avoid this, but my attempts at portion control haven't worked. I bought single-serve salad dressings, but Linda put two on her salad. I pre-measured servings of peanuts, and she ate four throughout the day. I buy low-sugar cereal, but Matt eats 2-3 bowls at night. You don't want to know what I eat when my hormones are out of whack. We have serious impulse control issues.

We also have a late-night scavenger. I've been reduced to hiding Christmas cookies and Chex mix in my bedroom at night to make sure it doesn't disappear while I'm sleeping. Knowing that food disappears at night also prompts all of us to eat extra during the day because we never know if anything will be left in the morning.

Enough already.
We've even pulled our neighbor into our sphere of food.

I haven't broken the news to Linda yet, but I'm locking the pantry. My plan includes two 32 oz. water bottles for each of us (to make sure we're drinking enough plain water during the day), as well as snack bowls. Each day I'll set out a serving each of nuts or trail mix, crackers or chips, cereal, etc. When those are gone, the only other option will be the fridge, which we keep stocked with veggies and hard boiled eggs, and the fruit bowl. 

This may seem drastic, but when normal will power fails, sometimes you just need to lock up the chocolate chips. I'm anticipating some hostility and crankiness from all of is as we wean ourselves off large portions and too much sugar, but I also remember how much energy I had 30 lbs. ago, and I'd like to return to that lifestyle. 

Here's hoping the health benefits off-set the cravings quickly!