Sunday, August 31, 2014

Seven {more} Things I Learned In Vegas

Let me begin by apologizing that it's taken me so long to actually write this post. Recovery from seven days in the chaotic flash of the notorious party city proved to be harder than I thought.  But the main thing is that I did survive and I did like it - most of it - even though there were times that I thought I really really wish my sister was here with me right now!  In the midst of it all, I shared seven things I'd learned so far. Now I'd like to share seven more:

Seven Things I Learned In Vegas - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

1. Feet are precious - flip-flops are not. The amount of walking we did was staggering and I was ill prepared with two pairs of flip-flops and my favorite little canvas slip-ons. Blisters were nearly immediate and immediately vicious and my legs ached each morning after hours of walking with poor support. Of course, we didn't let this stop us from walking some more and I purchased exorbitantly priced band-aids to counter the quarter-sized bubble between my toes.

2. All coffee is bad coffee. When caffeine is your only real vice, finding yourself without a good cup of joe can really put a downward spin on a good day.  There wasn't one cup I could even finish.  And it was at least $3 for a small coffee at any of the little shops along the strip.  Even the complimentary k-cups in our hotel room were a cheap donut shop brand that tasted like ashes and earwax. I stuck with water. Who wants to carry around a steaming cup in forty degree weather anyway?

3. Dresses are a girl's best friend. It was heat like I'd never experienced before but it was heat that I actually really loved because there was something pure about it - it was dry and light and as long as you were moving it didn't make you sweat.  The idea of walking around in jeans was just absurd. I packed one pair of just-in-case-denims but they never came out of my suitcase. It was dresses every day for me because they allowed the least amount of material against my body. And let's be honest: there is nothing more comfortable than a dress you can just pull over your head and call yourself ready for the day!

4. Your skin will thank you. I don't know if it's the heat or the desert breeze but my skin felt better than it's ever felt. It seemed smoother and brighter and healthier and clearer - even with the near-abusive layers of SPF 40 I slathered on each day when I got out of the shower.

5. Vegetables are just a distant Canadian memory. Seriously. They must not eat vegetables there. Nothing comes with vegetables. Unless you get a salad but even then it's so slathered in such a ridiculous amount of dressing that you can't tell if it's cabbage or carrots you're biting into. One of the little shops in our hotel sold brown bananas for a dollar a piece and I found a 16oz box of grapes that I paid $5 for at a Drug Store. I also bought an $8 mini tray of raw veggies because broccoli seemed as wonderful as chocolate.

6. Know your limit - stay within it. I don't mean gambling {though that's good advice} I didn't gamble once. I mean in crowd participation. Because we were going with a whole group of people I knew I had to have boundaries for myself so I wouldn't get resentful or annoyed.  There were times that they all went out and had their version of fun and I stayed back in our hotel room and ate day old mini carrots and watched George Clooney movies.  It was good for me.  It gave me the space I needed without hampering anyone else's plans.

7. Fifteen years is way too long between times away together.  In fact, I think it might be unhealthy for a relationship. We have done little one or two night trips but never a week away from our children.  A whole week!  It was GLORIOUS!  And we're going to do it again.  Because GLORIOUS!

I have so many other things to tell you. So much that it will probably get I'll try to keep it minimal.  

Watch later this week for A Sober Girl's Guide To Las Vegas - because surely I can't be the only person in the universe who had anxiety about seeing the city without beer googles!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Seven Things I've Learned In Vegas {So Far}

Seven Things I've Learned In Vegas - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

1. It's really hot here. Really hot. Like melt your sandals beside the pool hot. But it's not like home where the humidity weighs you down and makes your clothes stick to you. There's been a constant desert breeze and, except for the walk we took at high noon on a cloudless Sunday, it's been really kind of gorgeous.  I've drank an exorbitant amount of water {which puts me at a financial disadvantage to all the drinkers - Bottle of Water: $3. Beer: $1. What?} but I've discovered that our air conditioning is so strong in our room that I can refill a bottle from the sink before I go to bed and it's basically ice cold by the time I get up.

2. The grass is all astro turf. That's basically as weird as the dancing drag queens on Fremont Street. Landscaping companies are considered 'synthetic lawn specialists'. Even the trees planted along the strip are in giant pots, probably rigged up to a giant, million dollar irrigation system.

3. There is no time. Nothing stops or slows down or tells you that it's dinner time. There is nothing to mark the passage of days except the rising and setting of the sun. You sleep when you're tired and you go do stuff when you're not. It's totally strange and I have no idea how we'll go back to the real world when it's all over.

4. Black out blinds are the greatest invention on earth. Because of point number three sleep happens when it happens - not when real life would normally dictate. I woke up just before noon today and it was as dark as midnight in our room. The joy of ABSOLUTELY NO OBLIGATION is gorgeous!

5. Raphael is not a ninja turtle, he's a fast-talking European who really thinks I need a time share. Because we are frugal but really wanted to see some Vegas shows, we went to a presentation that had us fighting off some pretty aggressive marketers BUT we stayed strong - having agreed before we went through the doors that under no circumstance would we buy any sort of package no matter how amazing - and got four tickets to any show at the V Theatre in Planet Hollywood!

6. If you vacation here with your young children, I will judge you. I'm serious! Who brings their children here? Dragging them through casinos at three in the morning while people are smoking and stumbling drunk? It's disgusting. Shame on each and every one of you!

7. It's incredibly beautiful {and incredibly sad}. The architecture is gorgeous. The view of the mountains is breathtaking. The way the lights play against the buildings at sunset is truly something to behold. The fresco ceiling in the Venetian? There are no words! Yet spattered among all this beauty are the dirty, forgotten, almost invisible people, begging just to survive. Old old men with matted beards and torn shirts, a young man with his skinny dog asking everyone who passes if they just had a morsel of food to feed them both, a mother and her two children holding signs, a wraith of a woman clasping a Big Gulp cup like it was her life line, shuffling past a gorgeous fountain. Such a juxtaposition - the yin and yang of day to day in Vegas.

And this is all after only two full days. It feels like we've been here for weeks already! Here's for five more days of discoveries and thrills {and zombies burlesque shows}!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Perfect Cupcake Giveaway!

{This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you click on one of them. Photos are from the Craftsy website}

Craftsy LogoThe fine folks at the amazing crafting site Craftsy contacted me with this amazing GIVEAWAY and I want to give you the opportunity to get in on it!

One lucky winner will get a 55-piece Ateco Stainless-Steel Decorating Set {worth around $40} PLUS free enrollment in the new online Craftsy class The Perfect Cupcake! In this online class, you'll learn how to combine creative cupcake flavors, fillings and frostings with gorgeous decorating for out-of-this-world treats!

Enter to Win the Perfect Cupcake Set & Class

{Only residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible to enter.  Entries will be accepted from August 15-27 so get it while you can!}

Craftsy makes it super easy to sign up - you can even do it through Facebook - and while you're there, take a bit of time after you enter the giveaway to look around their site, they've got some amazing offers and classes that are totally worth checking out!

I would wish you luck but I'm actually hoping I win...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Wrong Way To Take Your Holidays

The Wrong Way To Take Your Holidays - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Is it Friday yet?

This has been a grind of a week. I don't want to do anything. I can't focus. I'm exhausted. I feel like the world has hooked me up to The Machine, sucking me of all my sweetness and leaving a weary shell that flaps in the wind like a forlorn sock left on the clothes line in the pouring rain.

Sheesh! I need some sunshine!

A few things are guilty contributors to my current state of being:

1. It's flipping cold outside! I saw smoke coming out of chimneys on the drive home today. Indoor fires! In August! Gross!

2. Our car had to go back to the mechanics. Again. {Fortunately it turned out to be a minor fix which was a huge blessing but let's face it - vehicle ownership is overrated.}

3. I am addicted to jigsaw puzzles. And Shark Week. And I've been staying up too late each night this week indulging in these silly obsessions.

But the biggest reason of all...?

4. Split Holidays. {It's a real thing. I promise.}

And I didn't mean for it to happen, it just kind of worked out that way.

I believe it takes at least a week to truly disconnect from the real world and get to a point where you're actually relaxed and effectively separated from your work life.  And this year, because of the kid's camp schedule, the husband's work schedule, the scheduling of family camp, and the surprise prize of a 'free' trip to Vegas, I have had to separate my holidays over a couple months instead of taking them in one big, glorious, delicious chunk.

Shame on me!

I am not ungrateful. My week off in July was full of fun little day trips and time on the deck with a cup of tea and a great book.  My week at the beginning of August - our time at camp - was brilliantly calm and perfectly lovely.  Next week - our time in Vegas - promises to be full of thrills and firsts and naps - lots of naps!

It's the time in between that is killing me.
To come back after a week - just at that point where you've finally removed thoughts of work from your mind - it's so hard!  And then to know that in just one more week you'll be off again.  Goodness.  It's so hard to focus! I've been finding myself aimlessly floating around Facebook while I should be designing the newest bulletin banner with no idea how long I've been there or how I even got there in the first place!  If I can get through tomorrow and get everything checked off my list it will be a miracle!
The Wrong Way To Take Your Holidays - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak 
Because this is how I've been feeling at work →
and that's no way to get a job done!

And then I get to jump on a plane and explore The City of Crazy!

And then I get to come back to work and - hopefully - finally - I'll be able to focus.  Because there's no way my mental state can handle another broken up week off right now.  I'll save my last week of holidays for the funk of winter.  

So please please, do yourself a favor and heed my advice - take your holidays in a big, glorious, delicious chunk if you can - your brain and your soul will thank you, I promise!  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Perfect Gift For Your Little Chef

The Perfect Gift For Your Little Chef - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

It's no secret that if mom or dad spend a lot of time in the kitchen, little fingers want to get in on the action! They want to 'help'. So, if they're going to be there anyway, why not give them some tools of their own?

Noa recently celebrated her 6th birthday {while we were at camp!} and while she received many amazing and thoughtful gifts my favorite was a little 8 piece cooking starter kit compiled and given by my mother, grandmother extraordinaire

The Perfect Gift For Your Little Chef - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

1. Spatula
2. Measuring Cups
3. Mini Muffin Tray
4. Cookie Cutters
5. Prep Bowls
6. Mini Muffin Liners
7. Just For Kids Cookbook
8. Apron

And - to underscore her awesomeness - she made that apron herself.

I know. Amazing. Adorable. Charming.

The Perfect Gift For Your Little Chef - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Children's cookbooks are brilliant because they simplify recipes and make them very easy to follow.  Noa has already made us mini muffins that used only four ingredients and they were surprisingly delicious - reminiscent of Yorkshire pudding {but with jam instead of gravy}.

If you have a little person in your life who likes to get their hands dirty in the kitchen, this is the perfect idea for the perfect gift!  And every one of those tools can be found at your local dollar store {even the apron, I'll bet, but there's no way it would be as cute as a homemade number and let's face it - you know you want to try your hand at that sewing machine, right?  Right?!}


Here are a couple of ideas for sewing your own aprons from some wise, crafty bloggers...

My goodness, what is it about a child in an apron? It's just the cutest, isn't it?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Your Complete Camping Checklist

Your Complete Camping Checklist - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

One of the greatest keys to a fabulous camping trip is an organized packing list! I would have been lost without it when we went away for five days of relaxing bliss last week.

My lists made everything easier, from loading up the station wagon to shopping for exactly what I needed.

Lists reduce stress and increase victory over the chaos of packing!

So, because I want to lessen your burden and help you have a positive camping experience, I am offering you my lifesaving lists for a teeny tiny price {because it did take me a bit of time to pull them all together and clean them up for you}.

Your Complete Camping Checklist - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Or go to my printables shop and you can get 25% off just for sharing on facebook or twitter!

Or sign up for my mailing list and you'll receive a 55% off discount code just for signing up - good on everything in the shop!

Or sign up for my mailing list and share this post on facebook, twitter, or pinterest and contact me with proof of your share {by including the link to your share post} and I'll email you the pack for free!

Happy camping everyone!

And don't be like me and leave your list at home when you go.  Having the list to refer to when it's time to pack up again will be a great help.  I didn't take my list and I ended up leaving behind the book I was reading...ironically called The Leftovers...which I was really enjoying - so much in fact that I'm going to go and buy another copy!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Family Camp {Your Ticket To Rest & Reconnection}

Family Camp {Your Ticket To Rest & Reconnection} - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

There's this little pot of gold if you read through the employee handbook - this little gift that feels a whole lot like a treasure - this little paragraph which states that all salaried employees may take one week to attend an EMCC family camp of their choosing without having the time count against their holidays.

Did you get that?

Essentially, I get paid to go camping.

I think they view it as a time of spiritual rest and rejuvenation.  

Until two years ago this little paragraph was only for the pastors but then it was amended because, darn it, admin staff deserve a Sabbath too!

How beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterwards - Spanish Proverb on SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
On the first day, as we sat on those terrible wooden pews in the century old tabernacle upon those grounds that look the same as when I was eight years old, I tilted my head back to look up at the old beams and the cracks where the sun slipped through and said to my son beside me, "I love this place. It makes me feel young."

Family Camp {Your Ticket To Rest & Reconnection} - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

I grew up on those grounds.  Attending Stayner Camp as a child, a teen, and now an adult.  I've fallen in love there.  I found independence there. I've had my heart broken there.  I found truth. And joy. And built forever memories that weep to the surface anytime I smell a pine tree.

It is my happy place.

Family Camp {Your Ticket To Rest & Reconnection} - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

There is no obligation. Family Camp is first about family. Anything else is up to you. 

I spent hours reading while the children ran wild - coming back to the cabin when the bell rang marking meals. We attended evening chapels and slept past nine most mornings, cheered through the three on three soccer tournament, were entertained by a juggling comedian and a talent show, went crawfishin' in the river, ate too much ice cream, and balanced along the railroad tracks. The pace was slow and the spirit was light and even things like boiling water for washing the dishes or making instant coffee made me feel content and thankful.

Family Camp {Your Ticket To Rest & Reconnection} - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Five days and four nights was all we had. I would have doubled it if I could have. 

{Come back tomorrow - I'll be sharing my packing list and menu for anyone looking for a little help as they get ready to head out on their own family camp adventure!}

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cheers To 100,000 Views!

Cheers to 100,000 views! SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnakI'm going to keep this short. Truth is, I'm on a camping trip with the family and haven't had access to the internet.

At this moment I have slipped away to a nearby Coffee Culture for a quick connection so I can say an equally quick thank you.

If you've liked SelfBinding Retrospect on facebook you should have seen my post last week announcing that I was nearing 100,000 views.

100,000 people who have taken a moment to read a bit of what I have to say.


In the craziness of internet worthiness that actually means very little but I'm going to hold on to it as a great big atta girl and pat myself on the back!

Right now, the view counter is bragging a whopping 101,145! So thank you for each and every time you've stopped by my little online world. {You can find the counter by scrolling all the way to the bottom of the blog site.}

And 100,000 - you can eat my dust!

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