Monday, December 31, 2007

My Year End Review

It's all the buzz in the media right now, year end reviews, best of and worst of lists. So, I thought I would give one last reflection on this past year and see exactly where my tangent takes me and what comes spewing out of my brain. I am going to free flow with no particular goals in mind, so come along on the journey with me.

AAh, January 07', take me back to my postpartum fog. F-O-G! I spent the majority of the month adjusting to life with my two darling daughters. Interestingly enough Sj tested her boundaries and independence more and more daily, while GL seemed to be my new appendage. What a stark contrast. Obviously, one year later has left me in a place of happy reflection, happy to be one year out, and happy to see so many beautiful moments between the girls.

I feel content in saying, maturity brings different phases in my personal relationships, which was really brought to the forefront for me this year. Having clarity to see relationships for exactly what they are AND.....on top of that clarity to leave it be. Allowing myself to accept that I can not always change or control the deficits or growth some of my relationships endured. I may always be a phone call away for a friend who lives a car ride away, but hardly ever a stop by and let's hang out. Or on the other hand, it may be worth a plane trip to see my smiling face, to spend time with me. You know what, I am fine with both scenarios and all that fall smack dab in between. I feel grateful my most important relationship, that with J, has lasted another year, and I wouldn't want to take back any of the 16 years he's been by my side.

I spent part of 2007 dabbling in things that spark my interest and curiosity, what a great way to nurture myself. I began building cakes. It's so much fun, stressing out on construction techniques, flavors, knowing my imagination is the limit to the final product.

And most importantly, I changed my mind about running. Running is all mental,your body will do what your brain tells it to, whether it be stop or go. You tell yourself you can or you can't. Well, I told my former I am not a runner self, that I can run, and I did. I just haven't run in quite sometime. I miss my Saturday morning running buddies and our weekly therapy sessions, quite terribly actually!

And then there was this little thing called my blog. It all started when my local newspaper was looking for a local mom to blog on their website. I never heard back from the editor. I started EatPlayLove instead, her lack of response didn't stop me. I don't think I am of newspaper caliber anyway. Now, I can give you the code to make a link open on a separate page, I can tell you two handfuls of ways to change your text with simple code. HTML is not so much a mystery anymore. Although, there is still so much to learn, which is something I embrace not cringe over!

My travels took me to beautiful Colorado Mountain towns and to the beaches of California. I am so proud I embraced the magic of Disney and had a wonderful time. I smile knowing my feet graced the sand of the Pacific just a few weeks ago. The sound of waves crashing is beautiful to me. Simply beautiful. I feel sad that we did not have the opportunity to visit our families on the east coast, but we will return soon. I can't wait to get Sj on a subway, eating a slice of pizza walking down the street, and cruising the halls of MOMA.

I do have to end with all the hard work we put into our house this year. Owning an older home is always an adventure. We successfully remodeled our bathroom upstairs, I just fixed our second bath's broken toilet two days ago, Sj has a huge and wonderful new sandbox, and I even rewired some new light fixtures. I love the challenge, appreciate the money saved, and savor every moment my four year old daughter sits by my side handing me tools, as mom is busy working on a Mr.Fix-It project.

Goodbye 2007. I am so happy to be here now writing, knowing that someone other than my mom, my best friend, or my husband may read this blog. Let's laugh a little bit in 2008, I promise to keep the topics light and the potential to smile very high. See you next year, wink-wink!

Year In Pictures

I am glad no one is paying me the big bucks to be a photo editor. In the age of digital media, I have more snapshots that I can manage, no less decide which may be deemed favorite. So, I am throwing out the notion of favorite and I have chosen a photo from each month, that I think is pretty darn special. Here's my year in pictures:

Sunday, December 30, 2007

School Choice

The town we reside in is the home to not one school district, but three. My neck of the woods is within the Boulder Valley School District boundaries. There is an elementary school basically in my backyard, but there's a catch to that convenience. BVSD has a program called open enrollment. That is where my stress begins!

In a nutshell, open enrollment is a program that allows parents to enroll their children in a school of their choice, not just enroll in your neighborhood school. To be quite honest, I haven't spent any time at my neighborhood school, but I do know the population and it's transient nature. I truly feel like Sj would do fine at our neighborhood school, but I know she could be exposed to many unique learning experiences at another BVSD school.

How could I say no to a Waldorf Inspired School or a Montessori School or a Math & Music Focus School? Yes, many options, almost too many.

So, where does this leave me? Visiting a boatload of schools. Most of the schools are offering open houses and/or tours before the first round of open enrollment closes. The magical date for that is January 18th.

Having worked and volunteered in a few BVSD schools in years past, I know where I want to start my visits. Kindergarten is so varied from school to school. Some offer half days, some offer 2 full days with Friday half day, and some offer full day for a fee. I feel like Sj being on the younger side to start school, would do best with a half day program. But hours are the least of my worries, ultimately the quality of the school and their programs will draw me in. If it's a full day program, we'll just have to hope for the best. BVSD offers so many amazing opportunities for even the youngest learners, I feel so lucky to be giving her a diverse range of learning experiences.

I know Sj needs an opportunity to learn through arts. She has such passion for drawing, painting, singing, dancing. I can't imagine pushing all that aside, just so she can read, write, and perform well on tests.

I suppose I must have faith in this whole "lottery" open enrollment process. I pick four schools and fate steps in. This one is definitely to be continued.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Today's Menu Is...

When a chill is in the air and lounging becomes a mandatory part of the day, food takes center stage in our house. While eating, our conversation always seems to turn to what we'll be serving for the next meal in a few hours. Funny how that happens. Today, we tried out a couple of new recipes, and I am so delighted we did.
Baked Apple Pancake, yes dessert for breakfast. The recipe used three eggs, so the protein helped me convince myself that I wasn't totally overindulging at 8 am. The recipe came from my favorite baking book, Mom's Big Book of Baking by Lauren Chattman. I first discovered this book at the library a few years ago and when I had a hard time letting it go back to the library, I decided I needed to purchase it for my cookbook collection. There are countless recipes in it that are no fail crowd pleasers every single time.
Lighter Sesame Chicken!


I offered to cook dinner tonight. J has been doing the majority, umm more like 95%, of the cooking this week. I was listening to Sirius Radio the other night and the topic of conversation turned to the Lighter Sesame Chicken featured in this months issue of Everyday Food. Believe it or not, this meal whips up quicker than calling your favorite Chinese delivery. And, better yet, you know what quality ingredients are in the meal. Fabulous and speedy, my kind of dinner. I might even give the recipe a try with tofu, for a little vege variation.To make the dinner an even better success, Sj and GL, devoured their meals, quietly with no poking, coaxing, or prodding. Two Thumbs up!

Secret Kisses/Snow Kisses!


Yes, Sj and I actually baked cookies today. I morphed the recipe from two sources. Gosh are these cookies addictive. I used a combination of cashews and almonds, because that's what I had on hand. The recipe calls for adding confectioner's sugar on top at the end, but I decided to not do that, it allows the flavor from the nuts in the cookie dough to shine through. They are pretty much all gone, which I think speaks for itself when it comes to baking.

January 1st is when I need to tow the line in the caloric intake right, I better get my cravings out of the way now!

Friday, December 28, 2007

As The New Year Approaches

Yesterday, we joked in conversation, reflecting on the new year approaching, 2008. Wow, 08! How can it possibly almost be Twenty-Ten? I actually look forward to 2010, so we can move on from the Two Thousand lingo. I prefer saying Twenty-Twelve over Two Thousand and Twelve. I guess it's the 20th century bringing itself back upon me. Maybe I am being presumptuous in my hopes, it will probably take a few years of practice. So I am assuming by Two Thousand and Thirteen, we'll cut to the chase and just say Twenty Thirteen.

Beyond those little things that can leave me hung up in conversation, I always embrace the changing of the calendar year. Looking back, I like to reflect upon where I was one year ago, and most often be grateful for the place I have arrived today. We can only hope that new place will offer up one year wiser to go with the change in my age. Sometimes age and wisdom are not synonymous, but if I am on the right path, they will be.

I have already given passing thoughts to what I am hoping for the New Year. I am honing in a possible New Year's Resolution, with every new idea. I feel change is a wonderful thing, but often jumping into something too big leaves me disappointed by mid-January. My theory is to go small, resolve on a steady and sure path with general notions.

Here are a few of those ideas I've been dancing around in my head for the last week or so:

I want to return to running, I say this with a foot of snow on the ground. Yesterday I saw those hard-core, I've run for 5 years straight types, hoofing it through the snow. I suppose I could find an indoor track or treadmill to run on a few times a week until it gets nice out.

As always, I question my potential as a mother and caretaker of our home. I want to do better, to be more content in my surroundings, and have this all come to fruition with more effort my daily life. We'll see if it makes the January 1, cut.

Being more content at home, I strive to plan out our weekly meals. It just makes more sense, we toy with the notion here and there through out the year, but have a hard time sticking to it. I believe being less stressed at 5pm on weekdays, would be a happy change.

The big one, is budgeting. Can our family budget and stick to it? How courageous do we have to be to look our finances in the face and make a change? My gut instinct tells me this must be at the top of the list. Maybe I won't be pulling out my hair at the end of the month, every damn month.

Date night...gee what a concept. Put my hubby and I at the top of the list, once a month. I don't even need date night, I could use date day, just a few hours, out with my man being adults. I can already imagine not having our children's behavior or needs dominating us. Just us. Maybe I need a sitter or just some friends to pull a swap with monthly.

I am ending with my crafty aspirations. I am a lifelong learner in the craft department. I hope to spend more time using my creativity to make other's happy. More knitting, more scrapping, more using the items that fill my office cabinets. It can be done and I am just the woman to do it. Balance, my dear.

The official New Year's list, will come on January 1st. In the mean time my brain will keep on racing, finding the right goals to set and work on, so I can find myself happier next December.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dining Out in Boulder

Our town doesn't necessarily offer us the dining options we often are craving. Close by we have a few ethnic gems, but the quality of food I often crave is a quick drive to Boulder. Typically about 95% of the time we are dining out with our children. Gosh, that's sad! But the reality of the situation is that we don't have a standby sitter, so we are at the mercy of family in town or friends being overly gracious.

So, where do we choose to eat in Boulder when we have the kids in tow?

Considering the aforementioned circumstances, our dining hours are generally breakfast or lunch. I don't care to do the restaurant hustle and bustle during peak hours with cranky, I just want to go to bed kids.

Breakfast Boulder style can most easily be found at Turley's at 28th & Pearl. Although the service can differ tremendously on any given visit. I love the alternative natural meat options and the notion that I am putting healthier prepared foods into my body.

With that said, Lucile's at 14th between Spruce & Pine is the let's go out and have a 2,000 calorie breakfast kind of place. I have a weakness for their biscuits and typically leave there having over done it. I most enjoy their alternative to the meat laden Benedict, the Eggs Jennifer with spinach and tomato! Although, I would recommend ordering a half size portion of Hank's eggs, it's delicious. Service is prompt and they know how to turn a crowd out of their beautiful yellow Victorian. You may want to bring along your newspaper and a cup of coffee, so you aren't disappointed when they tell you it's an hour wait.

Now for LUNCH, we have a few favorites, which always leave my belly content. Zolo Grill, at 28th & Arapahoe, is a wonderful alternative to traditional Mexican food in Boulder. It is more reminiscent of Santa Fe Mexican to me. Dining there always takes your palate on a little adventure from sweet to spicy, but always wonderfully balanced. We enjoy their guacamole, duck tacos, and the pulled pork sandwich. The restaurant runs a bit on the noisy side, so my children do just fabulously there.

Another nationally recognized Boulder gem is The Kitchen, at 11th & Pearl. We always seem to have our girls with us when we visit The Kitchen, but I would love to escape for a dining experience there with out them! They don't have a kids menu, but they are always wonderful about creating something a bit more 4 year old kid friendly. Their food has never disappointed, as well as their service. Their menu changes on a regular basis, which leaves the Foodie in me just thrilled. On the walls you will find the daily ingredients, hand written on chalk boards, ranging from organic meats to local produce. If you haven't been to The Kitchen yet, you must give it a try!!

An easy in and out, quick let's grab some lunch kind of place is Salvaggio's Italian Deli. There are three locations, my favorite is the original location is at 26th & Pearl, but there are also locations at 14th & Pearl on the mall and on the Hill. Hands down it is my favorite Deli in Colorado. They have fabulous freshly baked bread and Boar's Head Meats. I can't stand a Deli that tries to offer up cheap meat at a premium price. Even if you see a line spilling around the corner, it's worth the wait. I always get the Turkey American, but have the good fortune of sharing my hubby's sandwich, he's always trying something new. Don't forget a chocolate chip cookie, it makes the meal complete.

Boulder is the best place to dine out with your kids. You can eat wonderful food in a casual setting. Don't relegate yourself to the typical chain, blah experience, try something locally owned!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Snowy Colorado Christmas

I believe there is a general consensus in various parts of the country that Colorado is a super cold and snowy place. For those of us that are lucky enough to actually reside here, we know it can dump, but typically within a day or two the snow melts from our splendid proximity to the sun. It takes a whopping of a storm to find a snow plow gracing my street. Around these parts, we just let the solar energy get the job done.

Today, we made Colorado proud. It snowed for hours. A white blanket of pure fluff graced the brown grass, making everything appropriately picturesque. The newscasters were rambling off the odds of it actually snowing on Christmas Day and sure enough the odds were against us.

Our family was delighted with the fresh powder. We bundled up after our belly warming early dinner of pot roast and veggies. Little Miss GL giggled with delight when I put the scarf around her neck during our walk when the wind picked up. Sj and I raced down our block at the end of our walk to make snow angels.


What a beautiful holiday. No hustle or bustle, just lounging around enjoying each other's company.

Boy Can She Cruise, Watch your toes!

Wishing you a Merry Day and a Full Content Belly~ Smiles!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas MeMe

Yes, you've seen this email and you're welcome I didn't forward it to you. I saved mine for today and I am also going to consider this my monthly, What Makes Me Different Post, a day early.

Enjoy:

Wrapping paper or gift bags? both? I always wrap Christmas gifts, the girls each have their own paper from Santa, although sometimes he needs to borrow ours.

Tree--Real or Artificial? Always real until this year. Pre-lit with adorable pine cones, totally lured me to the other side. And the parched trees of Colorado dropping needles by the second, drives me bonkers.

When do you put your Christmas tree up? Depends on the year. This year, umm, the other day. Last year, the day after Thanksgiving. Our tree tradition, no tradition. We'll see next year, now that we have a re-usable tree, fancy that.

When do you take the tree down? Gosh Don't say take it down already, I just got it up! I'll be over it by next weekend, just before January 1st.

Like egg nog? Horizon Organic Low Fat, yummy...

Do you have a nativity scene? No.

Favorite gift received as a child? Probably my collection of Strawberry Shortcake Dolls or Cabbage Patch Dolls, the super hard to find, knock the person over in front of you-run to grab as quick as you can, Cabbage Patch.

Hardest person to buy for? I don't have a terribly hard person to buy for. I like a challenge.

Easiest person to buy for? My 4 year old, hands down. Everywhere I went, I could have picked her up something, easily. I had to restrain myself on many outtings.

Worst Christmas gift? Probably items from the dollar store or random clearance items.

Mail or email a Christmas Card? Photo card every year from Costco, although I was really bummed by the quality this year, next year I am going to try Shutterfly.

Favorite Christmas movie? A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Polar Express.

When do you start shopping for Christmas? End of November, on-line.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, to Good Will, not to someone I knew.

Favorite food to eat on Christmas? Green Olive & Pimento Cream Cheese Stuffed Celery, Cookies, generally anything that would be considered indulging.

Clear or colored tree lights? Clear, although in the past we have put blue lights on our tree out front, they match our snowman's scarf. I know, I am a dork.

Favorite Christmas Song? Sleigh Ride. A few years ago, I heard Ben Harper on Muzak in the Gap singing a Christmas Song, but I can't remember what song it was, it would be my favorite.

Travel during Christmas or Stay home? We've stayed home for 9 years now. Traveling to the Northeast in December is about as much fun as visiting Arizona in August. Missing our family is the bummer.

Can you name Santa's reindeer? Maybe, in a pinch. J did to win a free Starbucks Soy Latte, just a few weeks ago by naming all the reindeer. Lucky him.

Angel or Star on Tree top? It's an angel sitting on a what resembles a snowball, although Sj calls it our Tree Fairy. Must be the sparkles.

Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Morning. We did allow Sj to open a Christmas Book on the Eve.

Most annoying wonderful thing about this time of year? We get to spend the week together between Christmas and New Years and J doesn't have to work. His office shuts down. That's what I always look forward to. Who wants to dwell on annoying things! Oh, yeah and the after Christmas bargains, I love a good bargain!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

One Hour and Fifteen Minutes Later

When you wait until the Saturday before Christmas to visit Santa at a pretty popular shopping mall, you find lines, crowds, and a big long wait. Being a mom well versed in mall off-hours, I could not believe the zoo we encountered. Oh well, we'll be there on a Tuesday morning the first week of December next year.

Unfortunately it was not worth the wait for little miss GL, she had no idea what she was in for. An old man with a big scratchy beard, not exactly the mesmerizing Teletubbies. Although, Sj was ready to throw in the towel half way through, she made it. It was worth it for her. She took a few moments to recite her well versed list to him. I hope he doesn't disappoint her.

I Don't Sneak A Peak

I'm not really sure what has happened to me. I suppose you could say I was infamous for trying to figure out gifts, acting like a 4 year old, wanting to open gifts, the night before my birthday or Christmas. Maybe I'd peak at our bank statements or give a box a rattle. I would assess a present by size and weight and try to see how close I could come to guessing it's contents.

But, it's not so much like that for me anymore. I've grown to have gift patience. Gosh, it really is no fun having tidbits of information about a gift before it's even opened. Now, I relish the moment, and linger in the surprise.

I will even go so far as to say,I enjoy buying gifts more than receiving gifts. I love when I happen upon something unexpected that I know is going to bring a smile. Well, then sometimes I second guess if my perception of the wonderful gift will be as happily received. But, it was well intended, a notion that I think is lost in the majority of today's gift giving. It seems like today everyone is so stressed about shopping, something they have to do, not want to do. Is it really that hard to take a moment and think about what the person you are buying for would adore? I don't think it is, but I do know a few tough cookies.

Now, there's the whole gift card trend. I know they are very practical. Yes, gift cards allow the recipient to purchase whatever they desire, but it takes a bit of the magic out of gift giving. Everytime I put on a piece of jewelry or heck, even pick up my diaper bag that J purchased me, I can be taken back to the special occasion, that is if my memory is serving me well. I hardly give a second thought to items I purchase with gift cards or cash that was given me. It's strange really.

It feels special when someone takes the time, to look around, to hone in on an item they think I will cherish. On the other end of the spectrum, a pile of random gifts, that seem thoughtless, bugs me to no end. I've received things and thought to myself, does this person know me?

Aren't you glad you don't have to buy me anything for Christmas.

So, no more sneaking any peaks for me. I just hope, there are a few cute things under the tree for me, that I know were purchased with meaningful intentions. No pressure, hubby. You always do a wonderful job.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Welcome Winter

Oh, sun you are so far away today! Tomorrow you'll be closer and before I know it, I'll be digging out my capris again. I'm not sure how welcoming I am of winter this year. The girls have been battling a virus/cold that has reared it's ugly head like no other. Yes, I have to remind myself we get sick year round, but for some strange reason, it's worse for my neurosis in the winter. I see the potential for microscopic invaders around every corner.

My new mantras are "Don't touch that!" or "Wash your hands!" and even "Get your hands away from your mouth, NOW!"......

It doesn't seem to be helping.

Other than all things viral that come with winter, I do love the chill in the air. Seeing my breath in the morning when I am outside getting the paper, it's fun in moderation. Sj and I always play around in the car as it warms up, with our dragon appearing breath. Then after a few weeks, yep I'm over it.

So sun, come back soon, grace us with your rays. Warm up the playgrounds, melt the snow, and allow me to get over my winter-induced germ phobias!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mom Email Phenomenon

When I am under slept, I make strange and unusual connections. Really, in the case of my latest discovery it's silly and I am not really sure why the pattern stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Maybe it's my prior cultural anthropological tendencies screaming to be put back into use. I do have the piece of paper proving that the University of Colorado has conferred the degree, Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. Seeing the patterns, connecting the dots, it's all innate to my being, so was the natural draw to Anthropology.

Here's my latest case study. Publishers, take a number. While comparing email lists to rosters during my volunteer duties as MOMs Club secretary, I found it quite interesting the choice of email addresses. In the past, I have felt the pressure to create a unique email address, one that would be representative of me, but user friendly. I hold three email accounts, one linked to all things blog, one personal account I've used for years, and a hotmail account I've kept around for even longer. The history keeps me logging back into hotmail, it reminds me of the old broken in college sweatshirt, I still dare to put on after all these years.

But now, drum roll please, the moment you've been waiting for. My aah-ha moment, is over a third of the mom's on our roster use email accounts that are clearly tied to their husbands. For the most part, their email addresses are comprised of their name and their husbands initials with theirs. Now, the question I ask, is do they share this account with their hubbies? Or was it created with both in them in mind and then, they took over and never really gave thought to changing it. It is very intriguing to me.

It almost affects the things I would write in an email if I knew it wasn't a personal account, if it was a hubby-read account.

My husband and I shared an email account in 1998 when we took our honeymoon trip to Europe, just for the sake of convenience when using internet cafes. Easy in, easy out, one account. That account has now been deemed cyberspace fodder, for I would have no idea how to get back into it, nor would I want to.

Maybe i'm a bit too territorial over my email accounts. My hubby can read away any time he wishes, but it's all mine. My own underwear, my own debit card, my own car, my own email account. It all seems to fit, just right for me. I can't imagine getting his bicycle related emails and I am darn sure he wouldn't be thrilled by the hourly Babystyle promos, I can't seem to escape.

Now for those of you that share, please enlighten me. For I am rather curious....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's C O O K I E Swap Time...


Pressure, unusual pressure, to be Betty Crocker. Or even worse, to emulate Martha Stewart, with out a team of professionals to have my back. I am hosting a cookie swap. It's a pretty basic cookie swap in the spectrum of over-regulated and policed traditions. If you have a moment, google cookie swap and see how completely insane some women get about their cookie swaps.

Here's the guideline:
  • There are 11 total participants, so bring 10 individual bags of cookies to give out with the recipe for each.

  • Package 4-6 homemade cookies in each bag.

  • Bring an additional 1 dozen cookies to share, so we can sample them at the swap.

  • Leave with a boatload of delicious cookies!


We didn't even discuss what type of cookies people were bringing. In my opinion, if we had duplicates, we could eat both and see which one we liked better. Turns out, there weren't any duplicates and I can say there wasn't a cookie I didn't like. How democratic of me. But seriously, ten different varieties of treats, of which I didn't have to bake in entirety. Delicious and my kind of night.

So for my personal choices, I picked recipes from Martha. I found other recipes that I am going to try out, but the batches weren't big enough. I thought I would save those recipes for a personal baking session with my darling, Sj or shall we call her Little Martha. Ha! It makes perfect sense to pick some fabulous recipes for Santa's Cookies, doesn't (s)he deserve it?

In fear of breaking some sort of publishing rights, I am going to put the links for the recipes, with my personal opinions on how they turned out.

The Lime Meltaways were very unique as far as holiday cookies go. They seem like a perfect treat to make for a barbecue mid-summer, the quantity of fresh lime zest alone is what drew me into the recipe. I have to admit, they were rather fragile and other people's opinions on the site, encouraged me to hand dip the confectioner's sugar on at the end, rather than toss them in a bag. For me, they were fabulous, almost like a palate cleanser in between all the fudge and other treats.

The second choice was the Oatmeal Toffee which also lured me with the ingredients. I didn't want to drive all over town seeking out the typical Martha unique items, I went for available at my local market, but not totally traditional. The cookies were alright, nothing to write home about. I did like the dried cherries and the toffee, but we had to use Heath Bars, because our market didn't stock the Hershey toffee bits, how not convenient for me. If you are bored with chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies, switch it up with these.

The last important recipe I must share is for the Sangria I made. What's the holidays without a little festive fruity drink? This recipe is so simple for Sangria, I highly recommend it. I switched it up in two ways, shame on me, the folks at Cooks Illustrated would be disappointed I didn't follow their overly-tested methods to-a-"t". I used Grand Marnier and I warmed the orange juice and the sugar on the stove top, to guarantee the sugar would melt and not just sit on the bottom of the pitcher. It worked like a charm.

Host a cookie swap, but keep in mind a more light hearted spirit. We have enough pressure on us this time of year, leave the list of rules and regulations for more important things. Happy baking and better yet happy eating!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Factotum

One of my favorite authors, Charles Bukowski, wrote a novel titled Factotum. The main character Henry Chinaski, lives his life working one odd job to another. Most of the time, he'll stick around a job for a few weeks, collect his pay if he's lucky and quit or get fired.

Sometimes I get a good laugh thinking of the jobs I got paid to do over the years. Gosh, have I worked an odd job or two, and typically for longer than a few weeks.

My first taste of, cash in hand, came when I was a babysitter starting from about the age of 12. That path stuck with me for a number of years and when I moved to Colorado, it even grew into the profession I once called nanny. I never really cared about giving up Friday nights when I was a teenager, I looked forward to spending my hard earned cash at the mall on a Saturday night instead. Now, I wish I could find a good solid babysitter, to look after my girls, while I enjoyed some free time, or a Friday night out with my hubby.

My college years proved to be the most unique employment opportunities. My odd jobs paid my rent and in some cases even paid my schooling through work-study programs.

When J and I lived in Saranac Lake, years ago, I worked two jobs. One, at a gas station. I was fortunate enough to leave that job for a work study as a library assistant, back in the days of card catalogs.

After the big move out west, that's when I landed my full time nanny job. I took babysitting to the next level. The family I worked for is still a part of my life, so that's the wonderful side of being a nanny. But there are more random jobs I worked, sometimes in conjunction with my nanny job or when I was a full time student at University of Colorado at Boulder.

A second part time job while nannying, cashier at Ideal Market.

The job my husband is most proud of me having is my work study position at the Boulder Public Library. I was a rear-projectionist, which is a fancy term for a person who switches out the reels of film while they are playing, yes mid-movie. Not much fun, sitting in a dark closet for hours.

My two other work study jobs were more typical. Administrative Assistant in the School of Education and Cashier at the Theater and Dance Box office. Both of them had there perks, like opening the ticket office on Saturday mornings to buy tickets to concerts.

While working at the T&D box office, I had the opportunity to meet a woman Sophie, the manager of an Urban Outfitters that was opening in town. She liked me, hired me, and I had the fun experience of opening a store, from the sawdust on the floor to stacked and stocked shelves ready to go. I hate retail.

Then, there was the stint as a housecleaner, while going to school. I worked with a crazy Hungarian woman, who loved cleaning the bathrooms and paid cash, at the end of the day. Ten bucks an hour cash was as good as gold to me at that stage in my life, to top it off, I never cleaned a toilet.

I also worked as a prep-cook, cashier, waitress, dishwasher, and pretty much everything except main cook at a tiny little Burrito place called Alexanders.

Ultimately, my employment path lead to bigger and more professional ventures. I landed a few part time jobs in education leading up to my big first contract. I was even a substitute teacher for a semester, which can be an eternity in that world.

Then I called a school named Monterey home for a few years, until I was blessed with a pregnancy, which got me out of working for a real unorganized and clueless leader.

They say everything happens for a reason and it sure did in that case. Thank you SJ.

Lastly, a brief stint as a Body Shop @ Home consultant. If you have an at home business in a sales field, bless your heart. I just wasn't cut out for it.

Now, I stay at home with my children. I wouldn't trade it for the world..although a magical paycheck in the mail would be a beautiful thing. The jobs I failed to mention were purely coincidental or emotionally supressed, one or the other.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Is Holiday Stress a Tradition?

It's all the rage, Holiday Stress. Overbooking, overdoing, making the world's longest to-do lists, all things that have to get done-now or better yet, yesterday. Why, I ask? It all came to me during a conversation today that holiday stress is what you make of it. My goodness, I knew December 25th would arrive sooner than later. We all know. I ordered presents online a bit earlier, so I didn't have to worry about shipping time. I browsed catalogs and some local toy stores, feeling out unique gifts, trying my darndest to avoid the ill-fated made in china.

It's funny, I can sit and joke about holiday stress, when I don't even have a Christmas Tree up in my home. Yep, it's December 15th, and nope, no tree. I've introduced a new obstacle in acquiring a tree, I've decided we need to go artificial. The fake trees, with the pine cones, are just so cute. I won't even go into where the trees are made and how they've been know to contain lead. Yes, better to buy American Fake Trees, but for that you have to order on line, and for that you need foresight. Not after-the-fact, Christmas is in 10 days, buy American.

After giving the whole tree thing some thought, I realized, we haven't had a beautiful fresh tree in years, it's totally hit or miss. And then there's the needles, they get everywhere, and our last few trees, haven't sipped a drop of water. Just last year, I went to bed one night to a fresh green tree and the next morning it looked as if it had been plucked out of the Sahara, brown, droopy, and very sad. Most years, my tree sits on the side of my house until about July, even thought we have tree recycling about 1/2 mile away. I'm about the convenience, I'll enjoy my friends real trees. Even my mood about the tree has turned lackadaisical.

See, no holiday stress.

I'm hosting a cookie swap in a few days, in which I need to cook about 10 dozen cookies, aah, no problem. Don't be surprised if I don't get to a post on Tuesday, for i'll be in the midst of a kitchen frenzy. I know the women coming by that night aren't coming to check to see how clean my floors are or if I Windexed my windows recently. They are coming by to take a load off, isn't that what we all need this time of year?

I believe in my heart of hearts, that right now, is a wonderful time to slow down. To reflect, to gather those around you that warm you from the inside. Let someone else buy the perfect present or wait in line for days at the post office, if that's what keeps them in the holiday groove. I feel grateful, my friends want some time to laugh with me, I am thrilled to partake in some holiday food indulgences, I am thrilled our family we be laying low at home, and I am thrilled that I don't need to play into the stress.

Tradition is what you make it, give yourself a break, make it a tradition.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sleep Blogging

Whenever I am a bit tossy-turny in my bed before falling asleep, I always seem to come up with brilliant blog ideas. Now, I don't have a pen and paper by my bedside, I have a co-sleeper, and at GL's age a pen in close proximity is just down right dangerous. I somehow always convince myself I will remember when I awake in the morning, sit down at my computer, and write away.

Even in this moment, I question the brilliantness of my thoughts. Are they brilliant because I am half asleep or would they make a good post?

Maybe i'll slip a mini-golf pencil in my pillow case, for an emergency moment of clarity. If I can follow through with random jottings in the middle of the night, I may just be onto something.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Because I'm a Girl of the 70's

Today's my birthday, so I am taking a break from my thought provoking posts (that was a joke). Technically this commercial was from 1980, but it doesn't get any better than this!


Now, I am going to humor you with an email I received a few years ago. I saved it because it makes me smile and it's so darn true. If you were a girl of the 70's enjoy.

YOU WERE A LITTLE GIRL IN THE 70'S IF...

You wore a rainbow shirt that was half-sleeves, and the rainbow went
up one sleeve, across your chest, and down the other.

You made baby chocolate cakes in your Easy Bake Oven and washed them down with snow cones from your Snoopy Snow Cone Machine.

You had that Fisher Price Doctor's Kit with a stethoscope that actually worked.

You owned a bicycle with a banana seat and a plastic basket with flowers on it.

You learned to skate with actual skates (not roller blades) that had metal wheels.

You thought Gopher from Love Boat was cute(Admit it!).

You had nightmares after watching Fantasy Island.

You had rubber boots for rainy days and Moon boots for snowy days.

You had either a "bowl cut" or "pixie," not to mention the "Dorothy Hamil" because your Mom was sick of braiding your hair. People sometimes thought you were a boy.

Your Holly Hobbie sleeping bag was your most prized possession.

You wore a poncho, gauchos, and knickers.

You begged Santa for the electronic game, Simon.

You had the Donnie and Marie dolls with those pink and purple satiny shredded outfits.

You spent hours in your backyard on your metal swing set with the trapeze. The swing set tipped over at least once.

You had homemade ribbon barrettes in every imaginable color.

You had a pair of Doctor Scholl's sandals (the ones with hard sole & the buckle).

You wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder really bad; you wore that Little House on the Prairie-inspired plaid, ruffle shirt with the high neck in at least one school picture; and you despised Nellie Olson!

You wanted your first kiss to be at a roller rink.

Your hairstyle was described as having "wings" or "feathers" and you kept it "pretty" with the comb you kept in your back pocket.

You know who Strawberry Shortcake is, as well as her friends, BlueberryMuffin and Huckleberry Pie.

You carried a Muppets lunch box to school and it was metal, notplastic.

You and your girlfriends would fight over which of the Dukes of Hazard was your boyfriend.

Every now and then "It's a Hard Knock Life" from the movie, "Annie" will pop into your brain and you can't stop singing it the whole day.

YOU had Star Wars action figures, too!

It was a big event in your household each year when the "Wizard of Oz" would come on TV. Your mom would break out the popcorn and sleeping bags!

You tried to do lots of arts and crafts, like yarn and Popsicle-stick God's eyes, decoupage, or those weird potholders made on a plastic loom.

You made Shrinky-Dinks and put iron-on kittens on your t-shirts!

You used to tape record songs off the radio by holding your portable tape player up to the speaker.

You couldn't wait to get the free animal poster that came when you ordered books from the Weekly Reader book club. Double score if it was a teddy bear dressed in clothing.

You learned everything you needed to know about girl issues from Judy Blume books (Are you there God, It's me, Margaret.)

You thought Olivia Newton John's song "Physical" was about aerobics.

You wore friendship pins on your tennis shoes, or shoelaces with heart or rainbow designs.

You wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer.

You had a Big Wheel with a brake on the side, and a Sit-n-Spin.

You had subscriptions to Dynamite and Tiger Beat. You spent all your allowance on smurfs and stickers for your sticker album!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday Fluff: Give It a Try!

What The Holidays Mean to You

For you, the holidays are about generosity. You give as much as you possibly can to friends, family, and charity.

You celebrate the holidays in a minimalist style. You are likely to only give one great present and decorate your house with a few special items.

During the holidays, you like to feel cozy and comfortable. You're happy to stay inside with a roaring fire and a warm drink.

You think the holidays should be comforting and relaxing. You don't like the holiday rush... you just like the simple pleasure of the holidays.

Your best holiday memories are of childhood foods and traditions. You secretly still wish you believed in Santa Claus.


Yep, it's all true, I admit it.



Your Holiday Stress Level is Moderate



The holidays sometimes stress you out, but mostly because they wear you down.

Take it easy! You can have a fun holiday without running yourself ragged.


hmmm, moderate, not sure if I agree with this one, at this moment.


Although you won't find a blogroll here, I read a good handful of blogs everyday. I'm just being a bit lazy in creating the links, shame on me. Hands down, I really enjoy having a glimpse into other people's lives through their words in a blog. Never a Dull Moment is a blog I read and Jen has posted many fun links. The *What The Holidays Mean To You* & *Holiday Stress Level* links above came from her site. I've always had a weakness for multiple choice surveys, especially when they follow up with some cutesy prediction or insight into the real me. LOL. It's so much fun to do it online, there's no tallying your points and then flipping to the back of the magazine to see what your total score means. It's instant gratification.

I will warn you, they are a bit addicting. Take a moment to waste some time and get a chuckle out of a blogthing or two.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Where's The Spirit?

Going to California this weekend is a great excuse for not having any of my holiday decorating done. But in all honesty, it should have been done before we left. My poor decorations are in the guest room closet, wondering why they haven't been called to duty. Each day that passes, I start to feel like the holiday cheer is flying out the window. What makes me feel even worse, is the blanket of snow on the ground and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere but in my home.

I mentioned to Sj yesterday, maybe Santa will put the presents under the floor lamp. How lame is that?

Here's the truth of the matter. J is in charge of the Christmas tree buying in our family. He's done it for years. The one year I went along, I dragged the family to eight different lots and hardware stores, looking for the perfect tree. Funny enough that year, we bought some dwarf 4ft tall tree that just wasn't our style. J knows our style. Hopefully he can get the memo that is definitely "go time" for Christmas tree buying and decorating.

Our home is not completely void of all holiday decor. We have out two Hallmark animated song-singing stuffed decorations. I pulled them out when Sj just couldn't take the holiday-less blahs anymore. We've had many chuckles over these little decorations. GL has mastered turning them on and off and typically every time she turns one on, she dances, wiggling her hips and turning her shoulders back and forth. It's just darling. The music typically puts me over the edge by the fourth repeat, but it's just for a few weeks, I can handle it.

Maybe this weekend, cookies will be baking, holiday music will be playing, and ornaments will be crashing to the floor as we get in the spirit around here! It's about time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

to be HOME

Traveling is good for my soul. Although I experience much trepidation mentally leading up to the airplane travel, in the end it's all very much worth it. We joked about our full SmartCarts for a long weekend away. J felt as if he was handling the baggage for one of his film shoots. We had our two car seats, two pieces of luggage, a carry on with just electronics, and then a carry on each for three of us, containing mandatory plane distractions. I am not even sure if my memory can dig deep enough to recall those occasions when J and I would travel for the same time period with a small carry on, no checked luggage. It's all part of the experience now, all part of the adventure.



Although we were only away for four days and nights, I thoroughly enjoy watching Sj and now GL, playing with all their toys when we returned home. I think an hour went by when I didn't even hear any alarming noises, it was pure reacquainting play and gosh, may I even add, appreciating our things that were missed. Mr. Potato Head hasn't seen this much attention since he was fresh out of the box. Lucky guy.

Now, if I can only have such zest for all things that come with being home. For me the transition is a bit harder, no room service to clean my place daily, no walk a block away for an afternoon snack and treat, and not an ocean in sight. Could there be an upside to the sea of laundry that is just outside my office door? Hmmm, no not really. Time to settle back into reality and start planning another getaway.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Food Glorious Foodie

Life is really tough when you have too many choice restaurants to eat at and not enough time (and after a few days, appetite) to fit them all in. My hubby prides himself in being a Chowhound afficionado. J drops Jonathan Gold's name in a conversation, like he was a good friend. Jonathan Gold, for those of you who don't know, is a food critic for the LA Weekly and it turns out his opinions are as good as gold. Of course, I am going to share three of my favorite foodie experiences, so I can remember them, and it may just explain why my jeans aren't fitting so well these days.

Our first night in town, we were a bit wiped from the travel, and famished. It just so happens our hotel was 1/2 a block away from a pretty decent restaurant called iCugini. Being steps from the beach of course we had to indulge in some seafood. We started with an Insalata Granzeola, which had blue crab meat from atleast three crabs, Trenette pasta dish with some of the best pesto I have ever tasted, Ozzobucco, and a sampler dessert plate. I may have fallen asleep before my head hit the pillow that night, content as ever.

Have you ever wanted to capture all the best flavors of Mexican food, but with high end ingredients? I am by no means a Mexican food snob, but sometimes I wonder what exactly is in my favorite dishes, when I am bloated a few hours later. Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger have taken Mexican food to the next level with their Santa Monica restaurant, Border Grill. I pride myself on finding Border Grill a few years back, after seeing a special on Mary Sue & Susan on the Food Network. I can still recall the first time I had one of their tamales, it's like no other tamale I have ever eaten. It is so moist, you almost need a spoon to eat it. I can't tell you how many tamales i've choked down in the past few years, chasing that beautiful Border Grill experience, never to find a close comparison. Once again, it did not disappoint. We took the girls there and the waiters were just so wonderful with our children, a bonus for families who like to dine on decent food with their kids. We even found Border Grill to go meals at Whole Foods, so hopefully, if I get lucky eventually their food will make it's way to Colorado.

You could say, pizza is pizza, it's all basically the same, right? In my humble opinion, I think that's absurd, not all pizza is the same, not even close. Many people consider it a waste of calories, while others subsist on it a few days a week. But I have to say, oh my divine food goodness. Pizzeria Mozza in the heart of Los Angeles, has catapulted the world of pizza to a level beyond comparison. The Mozza Caprese was no less than divine, the cheese is artisan made in house, and was like no other cheese I have ever tasted. We also ordered fried squash blossoms, Brushetta with butternut squash applewood smoked bacon & dandelion greens, Insalata mista with gorgeous micro greens, and two pizzas the Margherita and a freshly made sausage pie. I have to admit, I never-ever eat sausage on pizza, but boy am I glad I did here, it was splendid. We topped off the meal with Gelati- egg nog, Pistachio, olive oil flavors and some biscotti. The Gelati did not disappoint and actually surpassed my expectations. If you wish to indulge in Pizzeria Mozza, make a reservation, we arrived shortly before noon, which was opening, to a line of people out front. We luckily were seated in the first round. I would have waited hours for such a meal.

Oh Los Angeles, it's only been a day and I am longing for more wonderful culinary experiences. I am amazed that a city that has thousands of starving size zero women is chock full of what I would consider to be America's best restaurants. Is that what we call irony? I end with one piece of advice, eat your heart out, indulge your senses, and bring stretchy pants.

Friday, December 7, 2007

DISNEY Magic

I could barely sleep last night, I was full of such anticipation for our secret excursion today. The weatherman was forecasting terrible storms. Just last night some of J's local buddies were trying to convince him to bag the trip to Disney, because the forecasts were that extreme. We knew we had to go, rain, hail, wind gusts, or shine, we had to experience the magic. When I pulled the curtains back this morning, I held my breath, and let out a loud cheer when I saw clear skies!

By this morning, the girls had already settled into the reality of freeway travel in California. GL magically closed her eyes moments after our Cadillac hit the 10. We really did luck out in our forty mile drive to Anaheim, the home of Disneyland. I think we made it there in under 40 minutes. In Los Angeles, that is of urban-legend proportions.

Finally, as we entered the park complex, we told Sj, the name of the street we turned on. I can't remember the exact name, it was Disneyland Parkway or something of the sort. She was a bit giddy and shy about what we were doing. I think the first thing that entered her mind, was oodles of pirates walking around, scaring the crap out of her. Our conversation quickly turned to the Princesses and it was all over from that moment on.

We had one day park hopper tickets and a reservation to have lunch with the Princesses, so we didn't have to spend our day trying to hunt them down. We decided to start our day at California Adventure, where Ariel's Grotto is, the lunch restaurant. Chalk that up to yet another brilliant Disney idea, offer the chance to meet and greet the Princesses over a lunch setting, charge an exorbitant amount of money for mediocre food, and make the magic happen. Even though the food was cafeteria-ish, both J and I agreed what we paid was worth every single penny.





We were first in line for the 11:30 lunch rotation, so Sj was the first little girl to meet Ariel. Talk about the stars aligning. During the lunch, Jasmine, Cinderella, Belle, and Sleeping Beauty stopped by our table for a photo-op and some chit-chat. They were gorgeous.











After lunch, when Sj came back down to earth, we wandered over to Disneyland. The day was so mellow, much mellower than I could have anticipated. I think the time of year and the weather forecast really gave us the opportunity to experience Disney in what I would consider optimal conditions! I really do loathe large crowds, I just get nervous and stressed beyond belief.






We took the opportunity to ride most of the rides for Sj's age, multiple times. She really became a huge fan of the rides, her first roller coaster experience turned out to be a huge hit. She demanded J take her on right after we stepped off. She was screaming, "I want to go again, Can I go again, Let's go again!!!" I felt so proud because I love roller coasters, loops, drops, fast speeds, I can't get enough. In that moment, I flashed forward to my perfect amusement park partner, my little Sj, our daredevil.

Shortly after the sun went down, our energy levels dropped as well. We had taken in all the magic we could handle. I can't wait to go back, I know it will be a stop every time our family visits the Los Angeles area. Here's the proof the girls had a great time:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Room With A View

Our arrival into Santa Monica last night was graced with a dense fog. The fog stretched from the beach past the Promenade a few blocks east. The wet air was a refreshing departure from our normal moisture-sucking Colorado air. When we finally made it to our hotel room, on the 6th floor, I felt as if we were in a cloud when I looked out the window. The weather conditions seem to be so crazy everywhere, I could only imagine we were in for it the next few days. Luckily, it turns out I was wrong, the weather was mildly chilly for LA norms, but wonderful for us coming from Colorado. And, the feeling of being in a cloud quickly subsided in the morning, when I pulled back the curtain and saw this:Living in Colorado, I am unfailingly enamored with an ocean view. It doesn't matter how many times I have seen the blue sky melt into the ocean, it's always magical, always. Yes, smile indeed.

We made our way down to the beach, to set the girls free in the largest sandbox of all. GL, made the cutest little footprints in the sand. Her little toes pranced so gracefully when her feet first met the cold, wet sand. Sj, was instantly ready to create some castles, get dirty and wet. Unfortunately, our fun was shortened by a little wave that knocked her off her feet. Wet 4 year olds on a chilly December day is not very fun. Hotel bath to the rescue!
Sj loves traveling and hotels and I am sure GL will follow in her footsteps. The girls had so much fun exploring every inch of our suite. New drawers to open, a couch that pulls out, some out of the ordinary pillows, all a recipe for fun, fun, and more fun. I highly recommend a stay at the Georgian Hotel, if you are ever in need of a place in Santa Monica. The staff was wonderful with the girls, the room service is from a great neighboring restaurant, and well the location just speaks for itself.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

and They're OFF....

Packing, cleaning, wiping snotty noses, eating (which reminds me I haven't eaten yet), and unplugging have been on the "To Do" list. I wonder what my level of neurosis is when traveling and preparing for a trip. Does anyone else out there, make multiple lists, check them off..Like unplug all the electrical devices while you out of town? Is that silly for just a few days? I don't know..I do it anyway. I feel like a weirdo.

Can I just twinkle my nose and arrive at my destination? Realistically no, but before I know it, the car will be loaded and we'll be singing songs, driving out east to our beloved Denver International Airport.

I'll be back soon, with my restaurant and shopping reviews of Santa Monica. And, in case you are wondering I have managed to keep my big mouth shut about DisneyLand, it's still a secret, I think this deserves some sort of reward, it's a miracle!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

GL's First Birthday in Photos



Beautiful
How could I possibly choose just ONE favorite photo from today.....

ONE Year Later!!

My mind has been working over time, again. As I celebrated my daughter's first birthday today, I thought, there really should be something in this for me. I know, I know, honestly I relished in the moment, reflecting on the year's passing, and all the milestones we have been through. I feel so grateful to be one year out from birth, from newborn-ness, and so much closer to better communication and independence. I can't seem to put down the video camera these days. I just want to capture every little moment, the phases of development, everyday something new and fabulous is happening. Right now it's steps and language. They don't get much bigger than that. Splendid.

But, back to the there should be something in this for me. I envision a gift for me, for the greater good of our family, the You've Made It Another Year, gift. If I were to choose, that gift would be a single night's stay in a hotel, alone. Well, not just a hotel, a nice hotel with beautiful linens, a spa, tons of channels on cable, and room service complete with a top notch pastry chef. Really, is that too much to ask? Gosh, I'd probably even be home in the morning before the family was out of pajamas.

Instead, I'm going to settle, (snicker, snicker) for a long weekend away with my family. All of us in tow, headed to the beach. May I even add, I will be staying in a suite, with an ocean view, not a partial view, a full right out my window, gorgeous ocean view. When you live in Colorado, an ocean view is priceless. I will eat food glorious food, that I have not grocery shopped for, or cooked, and I will not do a damn dish. And, I will be thrilled to have my family by my side.

So, I'm taking this show on the road. I've never blogged on the road before. Join me for an adventure, Southern California Style...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Our Birthday Tradition: Streamer Fairy

The "Streamer Fairy" entered our lives, just a couple of years ago, around Sj's second birthday. It's a tradition that was born out of pure fun and magic, which I feel should be the basis for any birthday, young or old! It doesn't require much time and it brings out such joyous anticipation and excitement in our daughter.

The tradition began, when I decorated our house with streamers and balloons the night before Sj's birthday, while she was sleeping. When she woke up in the morning, she found the downstairs decked out in streamer glory! I have to admit, typically the eve of a birthday is spent putting together toys, or preparing a cake, so choose your level of decorating wisely! We always have a little chat before bed, discussing if the Streamer Fairy would remember her again this year! Yippee, she did! As soon as the sun was up, I think Sj's anticipation was that of Santa proportions. The Streamer Fairy may be in contention with Santa, I love it!

It's funny how the Streamer Fairy has turned out to be a big thing in our house. Who would have thought something so simple would have such a big impact? It has even caught on with some of Sj's school friends. Sj's preschool teacher approached me for all the details. Sj mentioned the Streamer Fairy during her show and tell around her birthday and a couple of her friend's were just so curious. One mom mentioned how her son could not stop talking about the Streamer Fairy, and was wondering why she hadn't been by his place yet. His mom convinced him the S.F. would appear this year, he just had to be patient. See, we are spreading the magic.

It's the eve of GL's First Birthday, so the streamer fairy is already getting mentally prepared. Here's the big list of supplies, streamers, balloons, tape, scissors, and creativity! I like to twist two colors around each other from our dining room light to the walls, like a beautiful sunburst. We always decorate with plain hanging streamers the entry way through the kitchen, it feels so festive to walk through streamers.

Unfortunately the Streamer Fairy didn't come on my birthday last year, which Sj took note of. Hopefully the Streamer Fairy's love will help out in that department this year.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

16 years later..

Making the most of this special day, my lovely GL, decided to help me start celebrating at the wee hours of the morning. The poor babe has a snotty nose, more like a spigot, draining thick sludge. It's affecting her desire to eat solid foods which in turn kicks in her night nursing cravings. I can't turn her down, for my string bean needs as many calories as I can pack into her. Which basically means, I have been up all night, sometimes every hour for the last few nights, nursing my dear back to health.

This morning, I was given the opportunity to stay in bed until 8 am. Shortly after 8, a frittata, toast, a clementine, and a chai all on a tray, was presented to me in bed. It was even topped off with a kiss. I thought that was strange considering I haven't been the most fun to be around the past few days. I've been a bit more zombie like. I enjoyed my breakfast while watching Nigella Lawson prepared some 5,000 calorie Christmas Feast.

As the morning progressed, I was sitting on the floor knitting, helping GL eat some toast, SJ was painting, and the hubby was reading the newspaper. J casually said to me, "Happy Anniversary."

...... silence......

My eyes glanced at the newspaper, December 2nd, sure enough our anniversary. That's why I received the kiss, I thought. I then returned the gesture with a, "Happy Anniversary-Darling!"

It's not our wedding anniversary, it's our original anniversary. Our 16 years later anniversary. Which means we've spent basically half of our lives together. Umm, yes from the sounds of it, I have no Hallmark card to celebrate the day, no rushed out and bought a gift to recognize the momentous occasion. I think a better gift is to turn my frown upside down and have a nice remaining half of the weekend.

Just a few moments ago, I asked the hubby, that was doing a load of laundry, "So, where are my gifts?" He replied, " Where are mine?" I told him his was the Nano, because originally he wanted to buy me one, but instead we decided that he was the one who really wanted it. A couple of weeks later, watching him play poker on it every night for long periods of time, I realized he really-really wanted the Nano.

I am not even going to end with a moan, what's another trinket right? Although, this place could use some floral cheer. I've really been given the best gifts of all, sixteen years with a man that has put up with me through it all and two beautiful daughters, topped off by a life I love in Colorado. Now that's love, Hallmark doesn't have a thing on us.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Birth of a Mermaid

A photo essay, from Sj's painting session, with narration from the artist herself:




This is Ariel and I love her. Ariel loves the sea , sebastian, and flounder.

















I'm adding the hair. It's red and I love how it's long and flowing. She's under the sea because her hair gets soft and beautiful.




















It's the loveliest picture I ever maded. And I didn't know I made Ariel, and now I did, so I love it. We didn't know it was going to turn out so beautiful. It's not very scary, it's beautiful. It's like unusual princess, I love it. So, I love it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

goodbye November!

The last day of November is the unofficial last day of Fall for me. Time to move on autumn, Eco-Cycle will no longer take leaves in their organic matter recycling. One could assume we would have taken care of the leaves months ago, but the leaf duty around here is cyclical. We have a ginormous Cottonwood in our backyard. I think back to our love for the old thing when we bought the house. Now, if I had the extra $2,500 hundred bucks laying around, to kill a tree , it would be fueling the neighborhood fireplaces for years to come. But, that seems like a silly waste of money, so instead we spend many man-hours and exert tons of energy to bag the discarded leaves. I would approximate about 50 bags a year. That's not an exaggeration. And, to top it off, there are still leaves on the ground, even a bit wet from the recent snow, makes raking oh just so much more fun.

As December approaches, my nesting urges want to pull out the holiday decor. Last year, in a bit of a hormonal-about-to-give-birth impulse trip to Target, I purchased a lovely 10ft tall inflatable snowman. I really do adore the big guy, but he's still in the garage, hibernating until we deem it time for his arrival. Or more honestly, until I get out the ladder, climb up to the menacing shelf he's resting on, pull him out, stake him down, get out the extension cord, plug him in, and hope he still works. Even better yet, we can just appreciate all of our wonderful neighbors hard work with their holiday lawn and light displays. See how easy that was?

I haven't even made mention of the Christmas Tree. I have such hesitations with little Miss GL toddling all over the place. The type of toddling that requires holding onto whatever large object is in her reach. Which leads to an instant light bulb moment, we better anchor that puppy this year to the wall, just for peace of mind. And, I guess no ornaments under 3 feet. It's a plan. Now we just need the tree. Rumor has it trees are drier this year, so they'll drop more needles. Welcome to Colorado. I can't imagine a tree shedding more needles than our past few trees have. Oh, the fun my one year old is going to have. Oh, the hair I am going to lose over the next couple of weeks. Happy Holidays!

Time to find that cheer! I am ready for you December. It's going to be a whirlwind trip to the New Year. I'll be kissing my man at the drop of a ball before we know it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 1st Edition

Thirteen Things That Make Me Smile:
  1. I've made it 360 days as a mother of two girls.

  2. This little blog.

  3. Seeing my husband's name on the big screen.

  4. Staying in bed an extra hour most mornings, while J plays and feeds the girls, and even brings me breakfast in bed.

  5. A clean sink.

  6. Buying gifts to bring someone else joy.

  7. Chatting with a girlfriend.

  8. Imagining my naked feet tickled by sand, my eyes gazing upon an endless horizon, and the roar of the Pacific Ocean gracing my ears in less than one week.

  9. Outdoor light displays.

  10. Two girls tucked gently in their beds asleep at 7:30.

  11. The arrival of my organic vegetables and fruit on Wednesdays from Door To Door Organics.

  12. A pair of jeans that slide easy over my hips.

  13. My mother's voice.

Thursday Thirteen is a blogosphere thing. I am not sure if it will be here every Thursday, but it will definitely be back.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Budget Now or Throw the Budget Out the Window?

Maybe I'm preparing myself for the expenditures in my near future. It's time for holiday cheer which means, buy, buy, buy. Well, that's a bit dramatic, for I am a devoted bargain hunter. I search around numerous websites, making note of the best deals on shipping and price. I even get a rush at the very last screen, your card will be charged , click now, hoping I won't later have buyer's remorse and find a better deal elsewhere. I drive to Costco to load up on our necessities, even though I will make impulse purchases that will totally negate the money I saved by buying in bulk. It's the holidays! Happy Holidays!

The reality of my holiday cheer adds up in subtle ways. It sorta goes more like, pick up a few extra bottles of wine, to have on hand. Grab a pumpkin pie to have with the chicken dinner. We really should buy new lights to string on the tree out front. And then there's the baking, pounds of butter, special ingredients which I won't use again after my baking frenzy is behind me. It's all part of the spending. I won't even go into stocking stuffers, they get me every darn year. Oh, those little cute things, oh that damn $50 bucks later.

For some odd reason budgeting keeps coming up in my thoughts. I don't see us evolving into the "that isn't in the budget" family, but I am enamored by the notion of controlling our spending. Which brings me to November 28th and the gut feeling that starting a budget now would lead to my demise. I am not afraid of having some wild spending spree in Los Angeles next week which would blow the budget. I am more afraid of consciously spending my holiday cheer. So for now, I will take the moderate approach to my spending in the weeks to come.

January sounds like a perfect time to re-think our finances and maybe introduce some consciousness to our spending in the form of a budget.
To Be Continued...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Work With What You Have

Destiny is my inability to avoid my current circumstance. Although that may sound ill-fated, it really isn't. Being the mother of a four year old, has opened my eyes to what I can and ultimately can not control. Sj loves engaging in Princess play, everything from role-playing in dress-up to drawing.

I on the other hand am not so devoted to Princess play. All I see is the mass marketing success on my impressionable daughter, the toys, the dress ups, the make-up, the mounds of plastic. Eventually flashing to my future, I envision a grandiose wedding with a white horse drawn carriage. Then I take a deep breath and a step back. And I wish to the powers that be, that this is all just a developmental phase. It's just a phase.

Everyday I draw upon the beauty within my daughter. Her love for role playing is amazing. We sometimes play Cinderella and I allow her to help me scrub the dishes or wash the hard wood floors on our hands and knees. Or I am the witch offering "my dearie" a nice shiny red apple. My ability to improv has increased tremendously as of lately. That's a good thing, right?

J is the ultimate partner for role-playing, daily he takes Sj into the world unknown, always kindly accommodating her character requests. One minute, it's the Prince and the next it's Ursula. Every night in the bath, I can hear singing and laughing pouring from the upstairs. It's wonderful.

As our trip to California gets closer, my anticipation grows. Honestly, I can't wait to experience Disney. I've never been to a Disney Park. I believe a part of my childhood will return with the magic that Sj will experience there, a part of me will become more whole. A smile returns to my face and my cheeks have a glow, knowing some passion has returned to me, a gift from Sj.

Today we took the Princesses to a new level. Sj and I crafted a ship for Prince Eric, so Ariel could rescue him, in the comfort of our home. All I needed was a card board box, scissors, some toothpicks, and a hot glue gun. Sj added all the colorful details. We make a good team and we definitely know how to work with what we have.

click on our ship for closer detail!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back To The Grind iComic Relief

We all have to sort through the links that coming flying into our inboxes daily. Most of the time, I can't open them, because I don't have the appropriate Microsoft Player. I use Safari and a Mac, so I feel blessed I am kept out of the loop on most of that randomness.

Anyway, I did find this YouTube link hilarious because it is so true. This is in honor of my hubby, who has just gotten a new iPod Nano and a Crackberry in the last week. Yes, you are correct, I've been reduced to the bottom of the list. Conversations have turned into, "what honey- were you talking to me?" Nevermind.
Enjoy and listen closely! Friday will be here before we know it.



BTW, the real Feist song, from the commercial, is one of the first songs that made me go out and slap down my buck for it on iTunes!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What Makes Me Different

If you've been around here in the past, that title may sound familiar. I re-visited my previous post W.M.M.D.-October and well, wouldn't you know, it was the 25th of October that post was created. So, I from here on out deem the 25th of every month, the What Makes Me Different post day. Hopefully, by revisiting the topic with me each month, you'll join in, take a moment to celebrate yourself and being one of a kind! Maybe even gather up the courage to make your very first comment, right here on Eat Play Love. I dare you!
  • I believe the universe will bring good into your life, if you first take the step to do good.

  • I have a difficult time throwing things away, if I know it can be re-used or re-purposed by someone else.

  • I love staying snuggled under my covers in the morning when snow is blanketing the view from my window.

  • I enjoy watching my daughter's play with trucks and balls just as much as their dolls.

  • I long to re-paint the walls in my bedroom, but seriously lack the motivation.

  • I haven't read a novel in months (shame on me).

  • I had a dream I won the lottery, woke up, wrote down the numbers, and play them occasionally.

  • I can put my feet behind my head!

  • I am always in search of learning something new.

  • I think it's fabulous when I am exhausted from a hard day's work.

  • I am more sensitive than I allow others to believe.

  • I've spent 16 years with the man of my dreams.

  • I wouldn't spend my days any other way, than raising my two beautiful girls.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Watch Out Closets

Believe it or not, yesterday I really did spend the entire day at home. I didn't venture out into one retail marketplace. Although, I did have an urgent dilemma, I needed some personal hygiene products. So what is a hormonal woman to do in the face of a retail boycott? Yes, as you can guess, I sent the hubby. We needed some things at the grocery store anyway.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that my hubby called me while out on his excursion. I answered the phone, " Just Buy The Damn Pads!" I had a flashback to one of my favorite movies from the 80's, Mr. Mom, when Michael Keaton was embarrassed beyond belief with the loudspeaker price check on the pads he was purchasing for his wife. What a fabulous hubby, to call me, to confirm he was indeed purchasing the correct product, thickness, length, and wingspan! Mission completed.

Taking advantage of my opportunity to be home with out the girls, I started my clothes project. I was smart enough over the years to pack away Sj's old clothes in plastic bins that were organized by size. My job yesterday was to unload the 12-18 months sized clothes and pack up/sort out the 6-12 months older things GL is no longer in. Sounds easy, right? Well, it turned into a project of rampage proportions. I've been a bit lazy in the organization of clothes that Sj and GL have grown out of the last 5 months or so, which means they also had to be organized. They were on the top shelf of the closet, in a bin downstairs, in a closet downstairs, and also in their dressers. So, while just pulling out some clothes from the girls' closet, I managed to organize the guest room closet, the 2 hall closets, and pack up tons of crap for the ARC Thrift Store.

Now, I am dirty from digging around all our closets today, tired, and oddly content. The girls' closet looks amazing. I don't think it's been as organized since Sj was a baby. All the clothes in the house are clean and PUT AWAY (that's the battle around here)! Even J, decided to sort out some of his clothing. He joked with me while putting his things away, "damn, I just wore these socks yesterday". I call that good. I am next, my half of the closet, where I keep my sweaters folded resembles a church rummage sale. Yikes. Watch out closets, I am on the prowl, and making progress. Who needs spring cleaning, just give me 20 degree weather and a tummy full of Thanksgiving leftovers. I am on it!

Here's a peek at some of those tasty leftovers:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Buy Nothing Day!

Yes, I said it. Buy Nothing Day! The folks over at Adbusters really do a fine job of encouraging us to take a spending break today. All the media buzz is pointing to the success of retailers on this holy morning-black friday, a prediction of the holiday season that is to come. Am I worried that the Walton Family is going to go without their caviar this Christmas? Or that Sam Jr. may have to put the fuel for his environmentally disastrous personal jumbo jet on his Black American Express Card, if I don't spend $100 bucks on bargains today? Umm..no, not really!

I know it's tradition for lots of folks out there. I carefully flipped through the ads today and couldn't find one single bargain that would make me push over an old lady and run in a frenzy through the store. Silly me, I am content with my older electronics, our antiquated 500lb free television, and all the battery powered lead laden toys I can handle.

So instead, I am going to pull out Sj's stockpile of 12 month old clothes for her darling little sister GL, now that the weather, I think has officially turned COLD! We will celebrate them and talk about the memories from 3 years ago and chuckle about what is yet to come in them. I am also going to do a quick sort through our toys, as the new ones will be arriving with a Jolly Ol' Soul in just a month. I'll be passing things along to friends, doing some donating. Feasting on left overs. And, quite honestly not feel like I am missing out on one big Retail farce.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

GRAZIE

Growing up Italian American in New York is an experience. Well, I shall clarify, I grew up in "Upstate New York" which to the city dwellers is farm country. In reality it's not farm country and it's not an urban mass-transit culture either. It's smack dab right in the middle of those two extremes, a typical surburban township, with a heavy dose of ethnic pride.

On occasion, I long for that dose of ethnic pride. A Coloradan experience is much more watered down. I could go as far to say it's a bit more WASPy. If I really went to great lengths I am sure I could find an Italian Market, but I can almost guarantee it would pale in comparison to the one that was blocks from my parent's house. There is no possibly way to recreate the sensory euphoria that comes over me when I enter Roma Food Imports. When I was a little girl, I would linger in front of the glass cases, staring at the 20 or so varities of decorated Italian Cookies. I would snicker at the white buckets of sundried fish and curl my nose, when I would take a daring closer whiff. All the while, my mom would catch up with our family friends that have run the business for decades, while our deli meats were sliced to our liking. Only a week had gone by since our last visit, but we relished in conversation like long passages of time had passed.

On Sunday mornings, on our way home from the local Roman Catholic Church, we would always stop at Bella Napoli. As you can infer, it's the local Italian Bakery. Hard rolls, soft and warm, would be placed in a paper bag, buttered when we got home, and my father would dip his in coffee. Their pastry cases are chock-full of sweet fond memories. Cookies, bread, eclairs, cannoli, cookies, doughnuts, all decorated in their own special way. It was a beautiful moment the first time I took Sj there, I felt like a child myself. Maybe that's what makes our trip back to NY special. If we had those experiences in Colorado, it would be just another everyday thing, but it really isn't. It's ethnic pride.

Of course my reminiscing is about food, but my childhood was defined by relationships as well. The vast majority of my girlfriends in school had last names that ended in vowels and yes indeed they shared that Italian American existence. And now I fast forward to that one girlfriend that has stuck around for quite sometime.The two of us, bonded over a combination lock in 7th grade (she tells the story much better than I do). We both know what it's like to have Italian fathers & Italian mothers, a reality like no other. She knows the places I am all too fond of. We live only miles apart today, but 1800 miles from the memories of our past.

And today, I will raise my glass in honor of her, in honor of a shared history, and a warm feeling of Grazie in my heart!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family around this lovely globe.







Here's a true family tradition, the unspoken kind. Bell's Poultry Seasoning, store brand won't do. Thanksgiving just isn't the same with out it, trust me!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

China Free Christmas -The Ongoing Saga

After our trip to the mall, I realized this Christmas may go down in history. Sj was bouncing from rack to rack in the Disney Store, making mental notes of all the junk she wanted to ask Mr. Santa Claus to bring her Christmas morning.

Here's a snippet of my experience:

Sj exclaiming with excitement, "WOW! Look at that, a Polly-Pocket-esque grand plastic castle, with a prince and princess. WOW, This is amazing, a talking plastic dressing table. Did you see this Ariel, I don't have one of these?! Wait until I see Santa!!!!"

My mumbling reply, "Sj, you already have the Princess Story Book Castle and almost all the princesses in that size! Yes, that's nice darling, but you don't have any room for it in your bedroom. Gosh, that Ariel has a creepy distorted face (they have a weird line of barbie like dolls & a line of more normal ones).We probably should wait until we get back from California to start making Christmas toy decisions, they have so many new and exciting toys there!"

We shuffled our way out of the Disney Store only to walk right into Santa's path. We were above him, so we waved. Sj could not get over her direct interaction with Santa even if we were a balcony apart from him! I played into it, I can't believe Santa remembered you, I think he even said your name. We didn't do pictures, because I forgot my digital camera. It's like $20 bucks to get your picture taken with Santa these days. I promise, next time. Although after this experience, visiting the mall with children doesn't seem to be too smart.

Unfortunately, Santa isn't bringing any Disney-Potentially Toxic-Overly Marketed-Break In a Week-Toys to our house Christmas morning, for Santa is shopping online this year. Santa already dropped a bunch of loot at Nova Natural of Vermont.

Here are a few things Santa is delighted to deliver to our door:
I saw these wooden walking blocks and was mentally transported back to my pre-school years. Can anyone say, Romper Room!! I can't wait to see my 4 year old on these! We even bought the sling, mommy loves her sling, Sj needs to wear her babies as well.

These are playsilks. Sj has a few of them already. We are expanding our color selection. Sj is so creative with them, we use them for dress up, for imaginary play with dolls, even for her wig on Halloween! We even bought our little munchkin a baby peek-a-boo silk in orange, so she can delight us with her fun tricks.

Sj has given GL one of her dolls, but GL needs some things of her own. Little Pink friend. She loves babies right now, she just points at them, smiles, and always wants closer interaction.

Hopefully the mass marketing that oozes into Sj's reality will be fleeting. I know my heart will be more content with toys that I believe have some magic in them.