15 Tips to Celebrate Your Birthday Month Like a Bombshell

I wrote this last year for my BIRTHDAY MONTH, and enjoyed reading it to remind me for this year. Thought some of you would enjoy a re read in honor of November, my BIRTHDAY MONTH!
Happy Birthday!

Celebrating my birthday is a BIG deal to me. I love celebrating anything and everything so birthdays (yours, mine, unbirthdays) are great.  I like my birthday, even now when there have been enough of them that I say I am "thirty plus twelve something".  (My hubby wants to know why I've decided to lie, since I am usually honest to a fault and without filter. Well, turning 40 was ok, but the rest of these years?  No thank you.  I FEEL old and I am not ready to embrace that yet.) Thirtysomething.  Smile and nod, ok Darlings?

As a mama with little kids it is hard to focus solely on yourself for a moment let alone a month.  With help from my hubby, my Dad and gal pals I do get good ME TIME and I guard it ferociously.   November is my birthday month, and I enjoy celebrating myself all month long.  Even with  small children at home.  My Dad mentioned his pal Gary  was appalled a the idea of a birthday week.  I used to celebrate a birthday week, but I am older now and there is more of me to celebrate so I stretch it out.  I asked Dad to correct and thus further alarm his friend.

Now that I am old enough to buy gifts for myself, and in fact do not really need gifts any more (but still enjoy them!) I prize other things more.  Like using the bathroom alone.  Eating a cupcake alone.  Having a full conversation with another adult (any adult) that isn't peppered with terets-like interruptions of "Stop it!"  "Please don't interrupt Mama, I'm talking!" and "Polibby...I mean Li-Portia...whichever one you are: STOP IT NOW."           
As a Bombshell I've always dreamed of being the 1940's Starlet in marabou kitten heels...imagine my delight that I have at last marabou on the toes of my slippers!  Thank you to Candies  for understanding some Bombshells need warmth and comfort with their glamour.  

I got these last year at Kohl's for myself during my birthday month. 

As I have ramped up birthday celebrations this month I realized not everyone is as vain and childlike as I might be around my birthday.  Some of you may need some help stretching out your birthday entitlement to fill a whole month.  Here is a list to get you started, PLEASE add your  own ideas  in the comments.

How to Celebrate a Birthday Month Like a Bombshell:
  1. Tell everyone "It's my BIRTHDAY MONTH!" with infectious glee.  All month.  Maybe even a week before YOUR month starts.
  2. Take extra care and finesse with your hair, makeup and wardrobe.  Or do nothing at all but wear your pjs and red lipstick...it is after all YOUR Birthday Month! Whatever makes YOU feel AWESOME.
  3. Get or give yourself a full mani pedi at least once.  Especially if the closest you usually get to 'nails done' is "by a four year old"  and "In Marker" .
  4.  Be indulgent with your food.  Especially if you usually pretend to diet.
  5. Make phone calls.  Remember those?  Call and have idle chats with your people and enjoy not texting or Facebooking.
  6. Buy yourself a little something at the beginning of the month.  Especially something you can wear all month to remind yourself of your month long Bombshell Birthday.
  7. Put a practice birthday candle in something.  Anything.  Get creative.
  8. Write a list or a letter to yourself about what you like about yourself.  Speak as if you are your own best friend, which you should be, anyway.
  9. Wear perfume.  Take this birthday month to select a signature scent for yourself...Sephora is AWESOME at giving you samples you can use for several days to really live in your fragrance.  If you hate perfume or are sensitive, try essential oils in a base oil and rollerball.  Something lovely to enjoy just for you.
  10. Speaking of Sephora, go and get a makeover there.  They do not make commission and are so gracious with dopes like me.  I wear the same stuff and go in there and learn all kinds of things.  Even if you do not buy, you will learn.  AND if you are a Beauty Insider  (free) they give you a GREAT birthday gift.  Seriously.
  11. If your budget allows, join Birchbox.  For $10 per month you get a little gift box of nice sized samples.  Always a surprise it is guaranteed to increase your knowledge of all that is beauty.  I am pretty clueless but really enjoy it.  For the cost of two Starbucks coffees or one lipstick mistake you get the fun every month.  I LOVE IT.
  12. Send someone a card (perhaps an UN Birthday?)with the wonderful/awful confetti in it. Add a lipsticked kiss mark on the back.  We need more lipstick marks around, don't we?
  13. Wear something useless around the house.   May I recommend a tiara? Glittering body powder? For me it is a gorgeous retro bathrobe dressing gown (Thanks to Jennifer Scott of The Daily Conoisseur Blog) with large sleeves.  I simply cannot wash dishes or anything practical in it.  I bravely make the coffee, sleeves catching on everything and then simply must sit down to sip my coffee.  Like a Bombshell.
  14. Read things that are delightful.  For me this week it was Let's Bring Back by Lesley M. M Blume rereading The Bombshell Manual of Style  by Lauren Stover and surprisingly enough this magazine. 
  15. Tell everyone it is your birthday, long before it actually IS your actually BIRTH DAY.  Explain when One celebrates a birthday MONTH, the actual DAY is almost irrelevant!
May I be the first to tell you, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONTH to you, Bombshell!  You will totally rock it, whenever it is.

Small Front Porch and Stairs House Remodel on the Cheap: Before and After Pictures

We have the cutest little front porch, but it was TINY.  I wrote about my love for it for NPR and you can hear it here on WVPE or read it by clicking here.  I had too much furniture on our tiny porch, we spent lot s of meals on it, we read played and rested on it.  When the front steps started getting rickety we knew we had to have them repaired but it never occurred to us to have them widened too.  We thought about adding a wrap around front porch but the cost was prohibitive.  

I really just needed a few extra feet so the front door wouldn't swing open into "Betty" my awesome refinished metal glider swing.  I only needed a few feet.  So we we started talking to contractors and found a guy my friends had used named Jeff Brown.  He was the most affordable for us and did really nice work.  

Here are the before and after pictures of the job.    

Just widening the steps gave us room to fit two adult chairs on either side of them on the porch.  I didn't realize how much space the railing took up.  Frankly just the steps would have been enough of an improvement on the space...the porch deck extension was just cherries on top.  I do not see renovations or decorating in my head very well, so I was thrilled & stunned at the visual and logistical impact of the wider stairs.

I would have preferred the new addition's railing to come directly off of the house and main pillar instead of be framed next to it. For the price and the overall workmanship, it was just great as it happened. Several more expensive bids included removing the entire original porch floor to rebuild it all but we wanted to be more thoughtful and environmental than that.  Plus it was cheaper to use the original wood.  Once painted it all blends fine.

Framing the porch floor.  Jeff basically made a solid deck with four corner posts next to our original porch.  

Jeff Brown FINALLY removing the original porch railing...probably my favorite step in the process.

First meal actually at a table on our front porch.  Divine.  I was obviously quite excited.
The little girls and their animals liked the porch extension quite a bit.
After the addition, my porch swing glider "Betty" didn't knock into the wall or door!  We added a bistro table for our front porch meals.  FINALLY enough room for all the chairs I've been squeezing onto the porch for four years!

We had to leave the wood alone for awhile to let it cure and season and dry out before painting.  It took us several months before we were ready to paint. We hemmed and hawed about paying Jeff Brown to paint or just doing it ourselves.  After a few more house expenses cropping up we decided to paint it ourselves.

Painting the porch (ALL THOSE SPINDLES!) and fence, gate, trellis took a long time.  Probably five days total.  For normal people, maybe three days...we have little kids who like to help. 

If we didn't let them help they were pesky so either way that detracted from dedicated work time. We gave them a shallow dish of paint and foam brushes to hide any mistakes creativity on their part. 

They actually did a GREAT job.  I considered their job a decent first coat.  Even as only three and five year olds, they felt so important and helpful painting I was glad we let them 'try' to help.

I JUST finished painting a second coat of porch and deck paint on the floor yesterday morning.  I also painted the porch ceiling and trim since the new white fence and railing made the old paint look pretty shabby. I really decorate the porch when it is warm, so I am excited already for SPRING!

Tonight we will move Betty back to where she belongs, and probably put the table back...what, maybe with a pumpkin ion it?  Unless it snows.  That is right, here in NW Indiana we are expecting snow today.  This porch project was finished in the NICK OF TIME.

I'm In the Powder Room! My Personal Blog Hero Didn't See Me Sneak In..

Shhh!  I am standing on the toilet In The Powder Room, don't let her see me!  My personal hero blogger the bawdy Bearded Iris, now out in the open as Leslie Marinelli, now Editor Big Cheese in Charge of the HUGE national blog "In The Powder Room" let my little post about body love hate and nekkid yoga slip by her and it is posted there In The Powder Room TODAY!  YIPPEE!

You have heard me adore Leslie here when I first found The Bearded Iris  and also I Fan Girl out  here for her HUGE blogging help .

I've written about body image and mama hood and aging and the trouble with it here. But today on In The Powder Room I talk about YOGA.  Nekkid.  Nekkid Yoga.  Yep, it's like that.

I've begun writing things on my yoga mat.  Things that remind me of my womanly awesomeness.  Words with weight for me like "Bombshell"  "YES!" and LOVE.  And one time I did my YogaGlo yoga Nekkid. 

Quick!  Head over and read what might be too racy for this Jesus loving Wild Mama to post on my own blog.

(And before Leslie realizes I snuck in there and makes me take my yoga mat and go home!)

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What To Expect After Turning 40: Stuff You May Not Be Ready For

Old people are everywhere, and one keeps trying to slip into my mirror!  They may say "forty is the new thirty" but Ladies, 40 is NOT the new 30.  It is a totally different age and that is why the numbers are different! As I wait to go to a gallbladder scan, after having a CT scan a few weeks ago, after hitting menopause (WTH?) after 40, after buying more pairs of orthopedic shoes for my lower back pain issues I thought to myself,  "Wow, this is a fast downhill slide!"  I thought I would warn you about three things I noticed happening after I turned forty so you were better prepared.  Just in case it happens to you.  And then at the end I have an awesome article for you with deeper thoughts on the subject to buoy you right back up.

Spackle that face, y'all!

1) Your skin changes after 40 even if you don't suddenly get all wrinkly.
Yes,  This.  I noticed the texture of my skin changing enough that I decided to wear makeup more often. Actually, it was more like I would add concealer  to cover my new dark circles.  Then I would add a BB cream to even out my complexion. I looked so much better I would just keep right on going with a full face of makeup.  I've always worn lipstick or lip stain and little else, but most days now I wear everything else too. Spackle that face, y'all.  (Or don't, but be prepared for your skin to change even if it doesn't wrinkle.) (Yet.)


2) You might not be able to eat everything you used to.
Enjoy eating what you want NOW.  Weight gain may not always happen, but weight redistribution was a surprise.  Apparently linked to menopause.  Which I am now in. Early.  Yay.
Also, I used to roll my eyes at my sweet Mother In Love who would say "Oh, I can't eat that, it doesn't agree with me!"  I thought that was code for "I do not like that food so I will claim I cannot 'tolerate it."  Then I started getting HEARTBURN.  And my gall bladder started acting up.  The two have intertwined symptoms so it took a couple years to iron that out with lots of doctor's visits and expensive tests.  Enjoy eating whatever you are eating now.  Your days of chowing spicy and fatty and suchthelike may be numbered, Babe.

I cannot hover over them at a playground and keep them from taking jungle gym risks to discover the world 
(and gravity) for themselves.

3) You may become Tired and Afraid.
The thrills and risks of your youth maybe be OUTTA THERE after 40.  As I've gotten older I am more worried about health and illness, safety, and school shootings.  I have these two precious daughters who have ruined crime TV and Jodi Picoult novels for me forever.  I am battling against myself to be cool and fun, but many things are harder for me to get excited about.  I also need to shut my mouth when it comes to the kids and their simple excitement.  I cannot hover over them at a playground and keep them from taking jungle gym risks to discover the world and gravity for themselves.  I am often tired and cannot fathom running hither and yon like my kid lets do.  What happened?  For me having kids changed some things.  Taking care of people is a gift and a challenge and it makes me tired.  And I wouldn't change a thing.

 "Becoming a bag lady. Getting Alzheimer's. Ending up alone. All of these concerns speak to a fear not of aging but of living. What is a fear of living? It's being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself—for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don't know what you're here to do, then just do some good. I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good." (Maya Angelou)

This quote really resonates with me as I grow older and settle into myself.  Regardless of the changes in getting older, I know my mindset and daily choices will determine the quality of my days.  If you want more inspiration, read more thoughts from this Oprah article on women getting older.  I found lots of great thoughts including the Maya Angelou paragraph above.  I would love to hear what you have noticed about becoming older, and how you are ensuring age isn't all you see when you look at your life to come.  Please share with us in the comments.

Lets live, folks!  Live Your Love out Loud!

What Made My Day: Making a Home and Making a Life

When I opened the front door and saw it I thought "NO WAY!" and began to plan to drive instead.  Our house is about four blocks from Portia's elementary school and we usually walk or bike to school.  I plan enough time to stop and dawdle and look and chatter on the way to and from each day.  Today it was pouring rain.  Not light misty but deluge.  I automatically defaulted to the car.  And then I didn't.

I may be occasionally short tempered, but I am not a Wizard of Oz witch who will melt in water.  All three of us girls have rain boots and rain coats and adorable umbrellas.  Even wet pants will dry.  Eventually.  So I talked myself back out of the car idea and we geared up.

The girls and I enjoyed our stroll, waded through two inch deep puddles, and breathed deep breaths of rainy weather air.  Our walk to school made me feel alive even with awful rainy day hair.  (A hat would be good. Maybe a big old rain hat in slicker yellow?)  I delighted in watching my girls marvel at wading through streams in their waterproof boots. It was wonderful to enjoy the rain with them.  It was the best part of my day. 

I think I have grown so comfortable I forget that conquering even the slightest challenge can refresh me completely.  When I bicycle places instead of driving, I feel like I am embracing a deeper way of living.  Walking in the rain even though I certainly do not have to made me feel wild and free.   Like camping in a tent, crossing a fallen log or cleaning the whole house at once.  I am in charge of my life and I am living OUT LOUD instead of passively.

Making dinner tonight feels like that too.  Truly tonight I would rather order pizza or reheat leftovers. That admitted, when I give myself over to the process of "Making a Home" as the Daily Connoisseur Blogger says, I come alive.  I slow down, I relish, and I even enjoy the process.  Tidy home, healthy meal and rain boots drying in the front hall.  AMEN.

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