Soliciting – the new DIY project to make these dinnertime annoyances a thing of the past.

Soliciting is one thing that I really cannot stand. Inevitably I am in the middle of making dinner where there isn’t really a stopping point, they ring the doorbell, rather than knocking which now means I have to corral animals and deal with their crazy barking and excitement and try to squeeze in front of them to find out what the intrusion is.

Then I can’t concentrate on what they are saying because my dog is scratching me and head-butting me so they can meet whoever this intruder is.While dinner is burning I kindly tell the person “I understand that having to go door-to-door is a tough job and I too have done it once, but I am being courteous and I would appreciate if they would also be courteous and pay attention to the not ONE but TWO No Soliciting signs, one on the front door the other directly over the doorbell.” I then tell them “if we needed a product or service, we would research whichever item would best meet our needs and would never sign up for something in a door-to-door arrangement. We at the BellaMandarin house believe in educated decisions.

After my spiel then the next guarantee is that they will say “I’m not soliciting, I’m just…” and there is always an excuse that is actually always still by definition soliciting. i.e. “I’m just hoping to complete this survey regarding X with you.”

Or my personal favorite said by a high school football player that looked like crap coming to my door, the only official thing about him was the crumpled folder he was carrying around and he said “I’m not a vacuum cleaner salesman or anything I’m just asking for money for (I can’t even remember what I was so shocked) so it’s not soliciting.” He was a senior. Scares me that naivety will be making its way into the real world shortly .

With this several things have become apparent to me. 1. We need to remind our kids if they are going out to sell something for school that they should look presentable. Throw on a school T-shirt, brush your hair, just look like you care. and the second and much more importantly people need some serious education regarding the definition of soliciting.


  1. Ask for or try to obtain (something) from someone.

  2. Ask (someone) for something

I’m not saying if you’re not invited, don’t touch that door. If you live in my neighborhood and want to stop by, need some sugar, whatever. That might be solicitation by definition but it’s what neighbors do. I will help anyone in need of assistance that knocks on the door. I’m not cold-hearted. But the kids I know are selling all the same crap, I will only be buying from the kids I know. I think its great to see them meet their goals even if I don’t really want the product. If you’re here to drop off a big check, knock and ring the bell as much as you’d like. Oh and girl scout cookies? C’mon by, Lemonades and Thin Mints are my weakness.

So with all of that ranted… I am making a new much more noticeable and funny no soliciting sign. If people don’t read this one and still ring the doorbell with a silly excuse, we may have to invest in a dunce hat. Since the other ones are being ignored even though they are extremely obvious, I have a whole new plan.


I’ve seen these floating around Pinterest and I will have different sayings but you get the idea of what I’m after. I found this great old wood sign at Hobby Lobby for $15 which I will recover with modpodge and scrapbook paper and then I get to use my new silhouette to cut some vinyl for the wording!! Hoping to get busy on this tomorrow so I can have a tutorial up since I’m long overdue for for one!

I pray that you are having a blessed weekend.


sign off


Bear… the dog… sheepdog… in a sheep costume.

So while I was decorating for halloween last weekend (pics and post to come very soon) I was going through the box of halloween stuff we have from previous years and I found a dog costume in there. My dog does NOT do clothes of any type. His clothes are his collar and heaven help the person that tries to take that off of him. Other than that collar he HATES things being over him. But, of course, when I found said costume, I HAD to at least put the hat part on him. I knew the hat and the body part would be pushing it.

So my dog, that is named Bear (remember reading about him here?) who is a sheepdog to be precise was forced to wear the hat part of the lamb costume while I got some pics. Am I the only one that finds ironic things like that hilarious? Like a pig named Moo? I LOVE when other animals have other animals names (are you even still following this)?

Sadly, the lamb has a blue ribbon tag on his right ear but Bear was only slightly willing to take a picture so having him move… out. of. the. question. Bummer because he is totally a blue ribbon dog/sheep/bear in my book. If the below photo doesn’t just make you smile or laugh a little bit, you may not have a soul. Just joking. But just thought it would bring a little smile to your morning.


Happy Thursday! XOXO

Chick Book Review: Queen of Babble Series

Time for another literary review. lol. I read the whole Queen of Babble series (3 books) by Meg Cabot in less than a week. I just get so into a book and I can’t stop reading it, I have to know what happens. But then when they are all over, I get a total feeling of loss about the characters.

So since they are a series, I’m going to kind of give the overall review for the books in one. The titles (in order) are Queen of Babble, Queen of Babble in the Big City and Queen of Babble Gets Hitched.



So since this is a series, you will read straight through them in like .2 seconds. The main character, Lizzie is just out of college (sort of) and she makes all kinds of seemingly rather silly decisions which I must admit I’m only in my later 20’s and I can totally relate to still thinking about making some of those mistakes. For the most part it is the same old story – girl has a disastrous visit and breakup with this boyfriend that she thought was so wonderful – she goes to Europe to see him and things are anything but wonderful. When he asks her to lie to the government she freaks out and hops a train out of there to fo find her friends who are in france for the summer and ends up meeting this super handsome awesome guy on a train. He of course ends up being the owner of the summer house her friends are staying at over the summer. Totally the normal cheese meeting and interactions in the first book and part of the second but good easy reads.

Its really the middle of the second book and all of the third book that I feel totally differently about Lizzie. She finally explores the idea of being in love with the idea of someone who seems so picture perfect vs. actually being in love with them. I think this is a HUGE problem for me personally and a lot of other young girls I know. We are supposed to fall in love and get married. But sometimes, I think we start to fall in love with the idea and forget that we have a lot of non-negotiables that we have let slide somewhere along the way for the sake of the idea of love. Lizzie has found something she loves and really learns to stand up for herself and comes into her own throughout the series. I relate to a lot of the qualities that she has in various ways and I just think she is such a real character and totally hilarious. Definitely some great chick reading here!

Rating: 10 – best for those who want a small series to read and love the slightly neurotic characters who are themselves without apology all mixed in with a bit of a happy ending. It is a chick book after all. lol.

I’ve gotten a couple of suggestions and comments since the last book review I posted. Keep posting suggestions. I’m adding them all to my “to read” list and always love finding new things!


1 step forward. 12 steps back. A leap forward has to be next.

Hey y’all. I wish I had some great inspirational post about my new “getting healthy” kick and the truth is – it is a constant battle of my own will. So am I going to give up? HELL no. I just see these blogs all the time where people say they just made the decision and then its like poof it just happened from that day forward. If you are anything like me – it NEVER happens that way. It is a constant mind vs. stomach vs. heart battle for me.

I’m beyond exhausted all the time which I am SO tired of feeling. Part of it is some stuff i’m dealing with medically but the other part is just forcing myself to get moving.

I am so tired of not working and all of the let downs throughout the search process. I had a GREAT job prospect that I was totally excited about, I mean I really thought “this is it, i’ve found the perfect spot” for both me and felt that I would be a great addition to the organization as a whole. Womp womp. Turns out they hired from within for the position which likely means it was just posted as a formality and a requirement. Talk about just feeling that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I know that God has a plan and I believe that all these applications, cover letters and events I try to get involved in are just all a part of his plan and I know he isn’t going to leave me hanging out here with nothing. My hardest part is the constant reminder that God has it under control and my worrying is unnecessary. Tell that to my anxiety attacks which have been constantly lurking over me and attack at any moment they see fit including in the middle of the grocery store, during normal activities, etc.

Through all of this, I have some great friends who are there for everything. All the medical questions, my ups and downs, etc. but the one person I feel like who could snap me out of all of this is gone. Some of you may know me well enough and know that about two and a half years ago, I lost my best friend very suddenly and tragically. The person I could tell anything to, no matter how shocking, and she wouldn’t even blink. It was always like “uhm, ok, moving on, what should we do now? have lunch?” and its that attitude and her ability to rationalize and make me realize the insignificance of some things that I just miss so much.

I’ve been having so many vivid dreams with her in them lately. It’s like she is still trying to show me she’s here and sees whats going on but it just crushes me when I think about not having her physically here. I know two and a half years seems like a while but I have had the hardest time coming back out of my shell and getting back to the wild and crazy and fun me I used to be. I pray all the time that the ache will go away but I just feel like something is missing all the time and I’ve felt that since the day I got the phone call.

I’m not giving up. I’m not backing down. If my friend were here I imagine this down in the dumps talk would earn a wake up slap in the face. So each day is a new day. I may not be as far along on my goal of getting healthy in all aspects of my life but I tell you what, everyday that I make some kind of change is progress and I WILL get there.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing my journey with me. It means the world to know that maybe some other people can identify that its okay to not always be a picture of perfection. Its okay to not have it all together. I hope if any of you are where I am that you can find comfort you are far from the only one.

Stay tuned – I have some new book reviews coming and a tutorial on a super cute bday hat I made for the sweetest little almost 4 year old that I know.


Those Changes I was talking about…

You may remember this post just a couple of weeks ago or so discussing the course I want my blog to take. As you have seen, I am still sharing some awesome DIY’s and other projects but the 2nd part of this blog is a call to changing myself and letting you, my readers, be the reason to stay accountable. I want to be healthy – in every aspect of the word. Mind, body and spirit. I definitely have some work to do on all three things. While the spiritual aspect may take me some places more personal than I want to share, I assure you I am going to do my best to share all of these struggles here. Don’t expect it to be a flowery “I just woke up this morning and started jogging and it turned into 5 miles and I never want to eat bad food again and praise God.” Nothing happens that easily. Ever.

So expect it to be a very real venture into my need to get back to exercising and need to lose approximately 80lbs to be at my desired goal of being fit and healthy. This will be more fit than I have ever been in my life but I think it is important to get off my butt and do it now so I can live a long healthy life. Right now i’m in my 20s and taking my health for granted.

So my major things to tackle:

– Lose weight and exercise (GREAT for stress relief – I deal with anxiety and I need to realize that working out and getting those extra endorphins will make me feel so much better and is SO much cheaper than therapy)

– Eat better and more balanced meals

– do an overall check of my body and try to get rid of the minor illnesses that often plague me – adult acne (has to be a result of a poor diet, stress, etc.) – allergies – I take a daily medicine but feel that if I am also more active these won’t keep me down quite so much.

And true to form – I am starting all of this on a Thursday (why wait until Monday a great friend told me) and I totally agree – i’m gonna get a 5 day jump on changing the rest of my life for the better so by Monday, i’ll already nearly be a week into making new habits.

So, I hope that you will follow along with this journey, from small steps in the beginning to the bigger things to come. I know God has set us all apart to do great things in his name and tomorrow, I’m going to start taking care of the blessing that God has given me of health and abilities that I am wasting.

Notes of encouragement, questions, kicks in the rear and motivation are all welcomed. You guys are the reason that I feel like I can do this. I have readers who are going to look at this and remember that I said on September 6, 2012 I made a promise and because of you all, I will stick to it because I know that if I can work hard to turn everything around and get healthy, anyone can.


Boarding School – remembering things that have laid a foundation for my life.

I moved around a whole lot when I was little – with both parents in the Navy it was guaranteed we would be somewhere new every three years or shorter and I was always starting a new school. I believe between pre-k to middle school I went to something like 14 different schools. I lost track at some point. I didn’t have any siblings so I always had this “me against the world” feeling and I totally loved it. I got so used to always being new it made me very outgoing and eager to meet new people. A skill that I think really helps me out today. I’d lived in Hawaii, Rhode Island and England (several different locations in each) all by the time I was 7. All of those things shaped who I am today and I wouldn’t trade the awesome experiences that I had for anything.

So wrapped in all that information are several facts that you may or may not know about me (even if we have been friends for a long time, sometimes it just doesn’t come up): I’m an only child, I went to a british boarding school when I was 8 and had the most proper british accent. We moved back to the states, California specifically, before I was 10 and I promptly lost my accent (after a certain age most people retain their accent but when you are young you pick up accents and drop them easily) I’m sad though, it would have been so cool to still have a british accent. However, now I’m just a jumbled mess of accent, people ALWAYS ask me where i’m from because I don’t sound like anywhere in particular.

I am telling you all of these things because I just was thinking to myself about how many things I probably don’t know about some of my closest friends. I never “grew up” with one group of friends that I know everything about. A lot of my friends have completely the opposite experiences.

Boarding school – what a cool chapter of my life. Here in the U.S. everyone automatically thinks you were a wild child for going to boarding school but it is very common in Europe to attend prep schools and boarding schools as just normal kids. In my case, my parents were stationed somewhere with not a lot of kids my age so I asked to go to school there because I knew a friend that was there.

I came across my boarding school online tonight and I just couldn’t help but share it. It is called Hanford and while I know there have been many changes since I was there some 18 or so years ago, the pictures on the website are just as I remember the school. An old mansion with a lot of rooms and some very long standing traditions that make sense to no one else other than Hanford “old girls” as all the alumni are called.

I really cherish the time that I had there and just wonder what kinds of experiences other people have had that seemed totally normal at the time but now that you look back on it you realize that it was a truly unique once in a lifetime kind of deal?

Here are some pics of the school – totally reminds me of some of the scenes from Harry Potter. Below is the dining hall. We had a chart of table manners that started at piglet and went to Royal Guest. You did not want to stay at the piglet level long. Great way to teach manners! I still utilize those manners today.

This is a view of the main school building where most of the dorms are for the younger girls. There were all sorts of rules and if you know me at all then you know that I was often in trouble. For me, this was like a huge sleepover every night. I lived in one dorm that had 4 girls and then the next term there were like 10 or 12 of us in a large dorm. A bunch of 8-9 year olds = trouble. For sure. Below is the back of the school and the large lawn and then the bottom is the front of the school. Huge old mansion.

Do you have some random adventures from childhood that you love to share?