Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Great Christmas Card Decision of 2011

I have been in Christmas card planning mode for ages, just not for us.  We send out an obscene number of cards during the holidays at work, and this year the task of designing those cards fell to me.  It was actually a nice diversion in the midst of a very busy season.  We ended up going with, partially because my aunt had just used them to send out some very cute Thanksgiving invitations, and partially because their prices and selection were the best I found.

Our work cards.  We decided not to use this family's photo, though, cute as they are.
So now it's time (some might say past time, but I've never been super on top of it when it comes to sending out Christmas cards) to pick ours.  I just can't decide which ones to pick!!  Some options:

Pretty and swirly but sort of subdued

Peppy and bright and almost Seussian

Sort of soft and snowy.  Maybe too snowy for a California Christmas card.  False advertising.

There are so many more too... and then comes the picture decision.  We didn't actually have pictures taken this year, so I have to choose from candids, almost none of which include all three of us!  Why, oh why, are we so terrible at posing for pictures at important family events??  Thankfully we have some cute ones from J's birthday and my birthday that will probably suffice.

Anyone have any awesome Christmas card tips and/or ways to actually get family pictures with everyone in the frame occasionally?  I could really use both!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I can't believe it's already almost here!  Yay for a four day weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} ~ Birthday Fun

round button chicken

We've had lots of happy, funny and real with plenty of pretty thrown in lately.  October ends with my birthday and Juliana's birthday so we've been go-go-going the past few weeks.

For my birthday we went to a pumpkin patch that had hayrides and a real working farm and a maize maze and pumpkin chucker and a hay pyramid (I didn't know this was a thing).  We had a blast!  We ended up with one of my favorite family shots we've taken in a while:

So happy!!  They're hard to see, but note her pigtails.  They stick straight up... hilarious.

Once we brought our pumpkins home (note: we didn't buy that giant one above... that thing was just monstrous) J decided they were for eating.  Just the stems, though.

I posted yesterday about her Halloween costume and she looked SO cute in it, but it took lots of prep.  She has a whole team:

Cuteness like this takes time.

Go check out Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {p,h,f,r}!

Halloween 2011, Pinterest-Style

Since Monday was my Jellybean's first "real" Halloween (the first one in which I was no longer recovering from childbirth, that is), I felt compelled to make her a costume.  Now, I don't sew.  At all.  It's kind of sad.  I wish I did sew, though!  I have TONS of pins on Pinterest with sewing projects just sitting there, taunting me with their cuteness.  So I had to find something that was very light on the sewing, otherwise my "making" the costume would have consisted of me asking my mom to make it for me.

In my search I found so many incredibly cute ideas:

via Pinterest
I thought this was beyond darling, but would require all kinds of sewing machine time.  Not to mention skill.

Then there was this:

via Pinterest
Oh my gosh I almost died at the cuteness. Plus it links through to a real tutorial.  Alas, though, it not only required sewing skills but some sort of plasticized belt action that was way out of my skill set.

And this is clearly awesome, but there's no way my kid is going to be willing to sit in a bucket all night.  Too big:

via Pinterest (Seriously if you're not on Pinterest I don't even know where you get your ideas.  You are awesome.)

But this.  When I saw this I knew:
Via Pinterest via Ashley Ann Photography

It has all the qualifications: 1) It's ADORABLE 2) It's completely awesome 3) It's very, very light on the sewing. Plus it has the added bonus of being a superhero costume, which meant the hubs was TOTALLY on board.

I wasn't sure how I was going to pull off the shirt, as hers was a retro printed one from Old Navy, but I figured maybe an iron on or something would do it.  

So I set out, an intrepid explorer on my lunch break and braved the Walmarts.  There I found the perfect shade of tulle, the white felt and the red felt (for the stars on the cuffs and crown) and, randomly, the last 12 month plain red t-shirt in the store.  I didn't find any suitable gold fabric, though, so that had to wait for a trip to JoAnn's.  

(I took no pictures of the progress, sadly)
The tutu was no problem.  I watched this tutorial and that was it.  Two hours one evening and done. It took me a little longer to sew in the white stars, but I just did that little by little.  I then decided on puffy painting the logo onto her t-shirt and then added lots of gold glitter, which worked great. 

The last hurdle was the actual sewing.  I ended up running down to the last minute and had to figure out how to hand sew the thing at work on my lunchbreak.  So keep that in mind!  It came out fairly well, but not exactly like the inspiration.  And the cuffs had to be sacrificed.  Just no time at all.  Oh well, she looked cute anyway!  Behold, the finished product, with some leggings added for warmth:

Aren't I cute, flying in my invisible plane?

The pink diaper sticking out really adds the effect.
She had a great time and looked adorable... all we could ask for really!  Happy November everyone!

To see tons of other actualized Pinterest ideas, check out Young House Love today!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real - (Mostly) Cellphone Pictures Addition (My camera is broken)

round button chicken

My sweet girl is just so pretty (totally unbiased opinion).  I mean, come on:

I cannot believe this critter turned 11 months this week.  She was JUST BORN!

This is her "looking at daddy" face.  She is smitten (she takes after her mommy in this way).

I am still loving my new office. Look at this view!  So happy.
My old office had a window into a sad hallway.  Definite improvement.
Also, note the Disneyland book in the basket.  That is my "waiting area" book that I hand to people when I need them to wait a sec for me.  It has awesome fun facts in it such as "The vegetation that lines the moat around Sleeping Beauty's castle primarily consists of junipers because it is one of the few types of foliage that swans will not eat" and "Tom Sawyer's Island was officially annexed and recognized by the Missouri State Legislature in 1956."  Now you know.

Both funny and real:

I now have to fold pretty much everything at least twice, as "helping mommy" is her favorite game.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quasi-review: Pride and Prejudice at South Coast Repertory

Tuesday night my mom and I headed down to South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa and saw a play I've been looking forward to seeing for ages: Pride and Prejudice.  I am calling this a "quasi-review" because, let's be honest, I have very, very little objectivity when it comes to Jane Austen.  I love her.  I also love anything that falls into the British-period-romantic category.  I cannot help myself.

With that in mind, let's begin.

The show is a period-correct, faithful adaptation of the book with one caveat: there is a brief "contemporary" opening in which a teenage girl is given a copy of the novel and then takes part in the action of the play as an observer and a reactor.  This, to me, was the single most distracting aspect of the entire play.  At one point she jumped into the carriage with Elizabeth and the Gardiners as they were heading to Pemberley.  Ack.  The actress playing the role, Claire Kaplan, brought as much as she could to it, but ultimately it was just incredibly annoying.

Here you can see how incongruous the "observer" character looked onstage.  Eek.
I enjoyed pretty much everything else about the play, though: the acting was good; great in some cases.  Mrs. Bennet, played by stage veteran Jane Carr, was perfect in the part, as was Randy Oglesby as Mr. Bennet and most of the other principle actors.  Mr. Collins was an absolute highlight as well.  Scott Drummond was perfectly awful as the socially awkward vicar and clearly delighted in every bit of it.

To me, the best part of seeing Pride and Prejudice live was the energy of the audience.  On a Tuesday night the show was just packed with Austen die-hards (as evidenced by some particularly nerdy bathroom-line conversation: "I agree that the '95 is vastly preferable to the '05 but have you seen the Olivier??  Oh you must, you must!"), and everyone in the room was clearly waiting for their favorite lines and scenes.  As each favorite was delivered ("An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth...") the room tensed with anticipation and howled with laughter.  It was truly an Austen geek-fest, and that is what made it such fun.

Pride and Prejudice is onstage at South Coast Repertory through October 9th.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

To Autumn

I am so ready! Ready for the crisp air, the decorations at Disneyland, the birthdays and holidays we have coming up. I LOVE fall. It is my very favorite season. I recently found this on Pinterest:

And it reminded me again of how much I love everything about this season. I want to go back to school again (and Hogwarts, but that's a totally different post)!

So in honor of my favorite season, one of my favorite poems:

To Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

--John Keats

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Disney Adventure -- Firsts, Flashmobs, and Fantasyland

Thursday evening the hubs, J and I set out for Disneyland. We hadn't gotten to go in a few months, and though she had visited before (proof:


this was the first time she was big enough to go on anything and potentially enjoy it. Stephen wanted to take her on the carousel, so that was our first stop. I was not completely convinced that she would be allowed to ride, but was quickly proven wrong. We found a horse and strapped her on and started documenting her first ride with all the thoroughness of a moon landing. I remember when I was young and would ride the carousel thinking that it must be no fun for the adults who had to tend to their kids instead of getting to ride.

How wrong I was. We probably had more fun than she did. It was so precious.

Next up was a trip on Small World, which is something of a sensory overload for a seven month old, I think. She sort of like it. Sort of.

A rare mom-baby photo. Usually I wield the camera.

Earlier, when we had arrived at the park, we could see there was some sort of media event going on, but I didn't do my due diligence beforehand, so we didn't know quite what. Had I done any research I would have known Thursday was the opening day of the new "Mickey's Soundsational Summer" Parade and they were having a huge sort of VIP opening for it.

Lots of media guys.

Normally we're not huge parade-watchers, but my sister's boyfriend's mom was involved in a flashmob which opened the parade (we knew there was going to be a flashmob, we just didn't realize what it was for).

Finally the flashmob began. They faux-interrupted a speech.

Don't they make you want to dance? Between this and the return of So You Think You Can Dance, I'm one step-ball-change away from signing up for jazz class.

By the time the flashmob was over, I was SO stoked to see the parade, which ended up being pretty great (not surprising, given it was Disneyland). The floats are themed to look like pop-up picture books, and were really gorgeous.

Click on read more for all the float-goodness.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stumble: Yoga and Starbucks Water Cup Edition

This week I went to yoga.  I love yoga.  I am not very good at it (Ali would say I need to have "compassion for my practice," and she'd be right, but my faint competitive streak comes out in these situations), but I am always calm and sore after, which is a nice combo.  Anyways, she kicked our tailfeathers on Saturday morning, making us do things like dolphin:
Copyright All rights reserved by Richard-

Um, I had no idea my arms could bend like that.  Although I definitely didn't look like that.  

Which apparently leads into things like peacock scorpion, which, I seriously doubt:
Photo by maureen miranda

When I got home I realized I had somehow managed to skin my elbow during all the dolphin-ing.  It was weird.

As further evidence of my definite inability to be able to do any sort of freestanding armstand, today I attempted to use my very broken Starbucks cup (I dropped it on the way to work and the inner cup separated from the outer cup).  I filled the sad cup at the water cooler (yes, we have a literal water cooler.  No, no cool gossip or American Idol chitchat occurs there) and started on my way back to my office when I dropped said sad cup (I would like to blame this on its being broken, but let's be honest) and it bounced and then splashed ALL OVER my sweet, pregnant co-worker who was using our copy machine.  Also, the whole office is carpeted.  I'll just let all that sink in.

I got her some paper towels, I sopped up the water, I furtively swiped at the copier (I'm sure it's fine...), we laughed and moved on but seriously.  I cannot be trusted to do peacock scorpion!  It's a very, very bad idea!

Via Snuzzy

The end.

UPDATE: Ali informed me the above shots are of something called "scorpion," which sounds rather more unpleasant than peacock, but is perhaps more appropriate.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Redundancy is Extremely Real



When I was pondering over what I could post for this week's installment of pretty, happy, funny, real, I worried because it turns out there is only one thing I have taken pictures of this week. I'll leave it to you to guess (how could you possibly) what that might have been. After despairing for a few moments, a light went on (I decided to cheat). WHAT could be more real than a mom who incessantly takes pictures of her child? Nothing, I tell you. So here we are.

Here you have the "evocative black and white quasi-profile shot."

I like to call this one "Mommy please put down the camera and play with me."

This one is my favorite:

There are more (oh, there are more. We're just scratching the surface here, people) but they're all from the same baby photoshoot, so I will spare you!

But oh! I just remembered I took some pictures at our church fair last week. And, is it just me, or does this:

Just look like the worst idea ever? Eek.

We had fun on the ground, though.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

7 Things That Made Me Cry This Week


I'm adding an eighth because Becky made me cry today too.


Listen, it doesn't take a whole lot to make me cry. I can think of three things just today that did it (Note: this has not always been the case. Getting married nudged me in that direction and having a baby pushed me over the edge. I now cry with almost no prompting). Most of these are sweet, happy things. I actually think things that are sweet and happy make me cry more than sad things, which probably says something about me but I'm not sure I want to figure out what.


This video:



Simcha's post on Robins.  I understood it so well, and I've only had one, and that one only for six months!


There is an older woman whose home is adjacent to the parking lot I use at work.  The area is a beautiful "old town" with 100 year old homes and huge trees and antique stores.  This woman's home was once beautiful too, but has fallen into disrepair.  She has many, many (many many) cats running around her property and a good deal of broken down stuff in her front yard (imagine a scene from "Hoarders."  It's like that.).  The house gives off a smell that makes me think it isn't ever cleaned.  Maybe not in a decade or two.  She is cheerful and always says hello when she's outside, but isn't outside often.  The last couple of days I have noticed a dumpster out in front and today as I was walking to lunch I saw that all of her things were being piled up on the sidewalk and a man (who looked like a city worker, not a relative) was busily sweeping and throwing things away.  She was sitting on her rocker, looking scared and sad.  It was so heartbreaking.  I hope very much that she is getting some help, as I think she needs it, but it was so hard to see.


This song:

I am so late to the Mumford and Sons party.  I love this album, though.  Total roll-down-all-the-windows-and-sing-loudly music.


PW's post about her boys at Universal Orlando.  Okay, this is an older story, but I cried lots when I read it the first time (and I just read it again and I misted up so it counts for this week!).


My hubby and I watched Pride and Prejudice last Friday (he lost a bet) and I cried.  Can't tell you how many times I've read that book and watched that movie and I still cried.  The end gets me every time (and several parts in the middle, but that's neither here nor there).  I'd link to it, but I can't find it, so just go and watch the last five minutes of the 2005 version.  I know that version gets a lot of hate because of no Colin Firth and all, but I still love it and the (admittedly somewhat cheesy) ending.


This picture:

I mean, what is she, three??  Five and a half?  Voting??  Going to college??? (at least I'm not dramatic about it, am I right?)

That was fun!  Cathartic, anyway.  Go see Jen over at Conversion Diary for other 7 Quick Takes that hopefully won't be about crying.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Playdate {pretty, happy, funny, real}



This is going to be a "funny, real" installment.  My little Jelly Bean recently had her first "real" playdate (all the others being more excuses to hang out with my girlfriends than opportunities for J to play with other babies, her being unable to hold up her torso and all).  The girls sat facing each other and stealing one another's toys and squeaking at each other, which was adorable, and generally having a good old time.

What we did not take into account, however, was the fact that my hubs has recently taught J a game called "Baby Attack" in which he sits the baby on his chest and lets her fall forward and gnaw on his chin, nose, cheekbone, and whatever else she can get her chubby little hands on.  It's hilarious but she is STRONG and will happily chew on your face with full force.

Now, you, being a rational human, have already figured out what was bound to happen here but it took us a little longer.  First, J grabbed little L's pacifier leash and chewed on it for a while.  After she had lulled us into complacence, she did some sort of baby kung fu move and toppled L in one fell swoop, diving in and grabbing her head in a truly masterful round of Baby Attack.

We have taught her well.

I'm sure they'll come back again one day.  Once the gum-marks have faded from her forehead, that is.

Go see Leila and Rosie at Like Mother, Like Daughter for more Pretty, Happy, Funny, and Real!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pinterest Precaution

I love Pinterest.  It is the most addicting site ever.  I love pinning every pretty thing I see and keeping reminders of cool DIY projects or decorating ideas.  It is seriously the best.  However.  Last week (during the great blogging hiatus of 2011) I pinned this super pretty pair of incredibly inexpensive earrings as a reminder to myself to go back and buy them the next day.  Here they are:

So cute right?  And only $12!  But!  After I pinned those earrings I went to bed, blissfully ignorant of what would await me in the morning.  My pin went viral (Pinterest-style) and got repinned a ton.  When I went back the next day to buy the earrings they were... wait for it... SOLD OUT!  So learn from me, dear friends: if you want to pin something, buy it before you pin it.

PS- If you want a Pinterest invite, let me know.  It is still invite-only, but it is easy to invite people.  You'll like it.  Fair warning, though: super addicting.

More Soon

Hello my sweet blog! I have missed you! Turns out new jobs take attention away from little, lovable blogs. I hope to post a real post tonight. Until then, you've earned a baby picture:

You're welcome.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tina Fey's Prayer for Her Daughter

Below I've excerpted one of my favorite chapters of Bossypants.  There is a little cursing and inappropriateness; be forewarned.
First, Lord: No tattoos.
May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.


Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from
Acting but not all the way to Finance.
Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes
And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.


And when she one day turns on me and calls me a
Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

I started out laughing, and now I'm crying.  It's just silly and funny and really beautiful all in about 3 minutes, and I think we can go ahead and categorize that as "really good writing."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Family Secret Cinnamon Rolls

Okay, seriously, these are the best.  They're our family go-to holiday sticky bun cinnamon rolls and they are universal favorites.  We make them to eat, to give away as gifts, to bring to holiday work potlucks (everyone goes bonkers for them), and for most major holidays.  They use some old-fashioned, non-snobby ingredients (read: frozen dough), but that really just adds to the fun.

Here we go!

You'll need four things.  The fifth is optional.

1. Bridgeford Frozen Bread Dough(I have literally no idea what might substitute for this... some other white frozen dough, I guess)

2. Butter

3. Brown Sugar

4. Cinnamon

5. Cream (optional)

First you must thaw your bread dough.  It doesn't take all that long, but if you can remember to get it out 45-60 minutes before you want to use it, that's best.  Then you stretch and knead the dough into a 12x5" rectangle that's about 1/4" thick, like so:

No need for a rolling pin and/or a ruler.  Just approximate.

Now spread a thin layer of butter over the top.  Please don't ask me for measurements here... just a thin layer of softened butter.  On top of that sprinkle a good amount of brown sugar.  I'm guessing about half a cup, but mostly just sprinkle on, smooth out, and look.  Is it about 1/4" thick?  That's right, then.

Smooth it out with your hand.  Getting messy is good.  It's very natural.

Doesn't that just make you want to take off your shoes and lie down with a good book?  No?  Just me?

Sprinkle cinnamon over the brown sugar.  Don't cake it on thick, just sprinkle it evenly over the brown sugar.

Now you get to roll!  Starting from the long side further from you, start working your way back and forth, tightly rolling the dough toward you.

My sous chef is preparing her favorite: l'hoof d'Sophie:

Once you reach the front side of the rolls, pull it up and over the roll, pinching a bit to seal it off.  At this point I always stretch it a bit, although I believe my mom omits that step.

Before you start slicing you have to prepare your pan.  Melt about 1/2 stick of butter (did I mention this is not low cal?) and pour it into a round cake pan (or pie tin, or 8x8" square pan) and add about 1/2 cup brown sugar and a 1/2 tablespoon of cream and mix it all up with a fork (the cream is optional but helps keep the mixture from crystallizing).  It will look something like this:

Now start slicing the log into 3/4" rolls and place them face up in the pan.

Anything extra on the counter?

Add it on, baby.

Waste not, want not.

Now is the hard part (for me, anyway): waiting for them to rise.  Sometime in the next 45 minutes or so go ahead and preheat your oven to 325.

Here they are ready to bake, about an hour later (if you have a warm, non-drafty spot in your kitchen it will work best).  My rule of thumb is that they have to have risen to the top of the pan.

Note: it's a good idea to put a large baking sheet on the shelf underneath the rolls, as the sugar and butter often overflow and (and this is hearsay, I wouldn't know anything about it personally) occasionally light on fire.  So I've heard.

And here they are about 25 minutes later, lovely and golden brown.   One thing I didn't get a picture of (full hands): flipping them onto the plate.  As soon as they come out of the oven invert them onto a plate (they're HOT.  Please be careful.) and let them cool that way.  Like so:

Now, important note.  If you, say hypothetically, decide to re-organize your baby's dresser drawers (post on this coming soon) while you're baking your cinnamon rolls, do remember to set a loud timer and/or do not get engrossed in an old episode of Grey's Anatomy while folding because you may 1) frighten your husband when he comes home and finds you bawling uncontrollably over a sad season 2 incident and 2) burn the heck out of your last two batches of rolls.  Like, I don't even want to say how long these baked.  It was probably less than an hour, but not much less.

Bright side: they still look pretty!  And shockingly, did not taste terrible.  Not good, but not charcoal.

There you have it!  The bestest cinnamon rolls in the whole wide world.  Go forth and conquer your jeans' top button (it, uh, might not like you so much after you eat a whole pan of these).