Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our Memorial Day Marathon

I think that recovering from a marathon race would be easier than recovering from the weekend we just had.  Or at least we like to tell ourselves that.  This Memorial Day weekend a lot of people probably spent time at a lake or BBQ or at least slept in.  What did we do?  

We go to two weddings in two different states.  With two kids.
And we are just not those type of people who travel well.  We like, no, we NEED a nest to come back to.  Even if we're on vacation, we like to rent a space with a kitchen and take our own mugs so we feel at home.  With as much travel as we did, we are just feeling all kinds of crazy.  I slept in 3 beds in 5 days, and that is not how I roll.  No.  

But, with all the craziness that we experienced, we really had some sweet moments.  We tried to enjoy wherever we were.  If we were eating out, we focused on the break from preparing and cleaning up a meal.  If we were in the car, we tried to focus on some downtime to talk.  If we didn't have anything scheduled, we tried to make family memories.  If we were at the wedding, we tried to sit and take it all in.

Here are a few pictures and captions to go with them...

The first wedding we left Burl behind.  We had Fern to herself for a little over 24 hours and it was special.  If she had been my first, then I think I would have come to expect all my children to be just like baby dolls.  She was so fun to carry around, kiss, and to make smile.  She is smiling a lot these days, and seemed to notice that she had her parents all to herself.  

Next up, I had a bachelorette party slumber party thingy.  We went down to the lake and I set up the self time to get a group shot, only to have it cut off the tops of a few heads.  Thank goodness I still got the bended knee pose.  Always hilarious to see!

Next up, was the wedding that I was in.  I was one of 12, yes, twelve bridesmaids and that is just so much fun to be a part of.  We were a party ready to go.  During the rehearsal, they went through their vows.  Like word for word.  Is that normal?  One of the bridesmaids leaned over and said, "so are they married now?"   

Lucky for John, his birthday landed on the same day as the rehearsal.  He got to go to a rehearsal dinner of about 150-175 people.  Here are part of them watching a movie.  After the movie, several people gave speeches and I really enjoyed them all.  It was by far the most fun rehearsal dinner that I've ever been to-but I haven't been to that many, so who knows.

Five days of not cooking and eating out was one of the wildest parts.  Walking into a restaurant with an infant and toddler, requesting a highchair and a booster seat, was wild but still surreal.  I have 4,000 Fern-in-a-highchair pictures because I am still a little blown away that I have children.  That sit in highchairs.  And I get crayons at restaurants.  In many ways, I still feel barely old enough to be a babysitter.  It truly is a blessing to share this life with Burl and Fern.

Next up, we went to the free zoo.  I think that as far as zoos go, this one was pretty lame, but since Burl has never been to a zoo, he was blown away.   

Here he is checking out the bears, specifically the "biiiiiiig bear."  We had to see this exhibit twice.  He was drooling and licking everything at this exhibit.  Some might say that means he's going to get sick, I think it means he liked the bears. 

We all had fun with this game.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of smiles.  Lots of "can I bottle this up and take it with me forever?" 

Besides the bear, Burl really liked the owls.  We've been reading a book called "Little Hoot," which Burl loves.  We think Burl makes a great little owl.  He even hoots.   

 Fern spent the entire time in the stroller.  She was suppose to be napping, but seemed to be ok with just lounging in the open air being strolled around the zoo.  

Last but not least, we stopped by the duck pond where we ran into this nice boy in his "great fishing spot where the fish are always biting."  He sounded like a regular.  That boy put on a show for Burl.  He would bait that hook with some white bread, throw it in the water, and after a few seconds pull out a fish.  Baam-Burl's hero. 

The only thing was, he had no idea what to do with the fish once it was on his hook.  He didn't know how to grab it, and neither did it.  I told him to put on the ground, I would hold it down with my foot, and he would get the hook out.  Then, we could kick it back in the water.  Well, that plan worked so well the first time, that we did it three more times.  

I headed back to the hotel, washed the slim and sweat off, and went for pictures.  Here are all the bridesmaids waiting for our turn.  It was a really fun group.

The photographers were fun and creative (and I found out late into the night that they were great dancers-especially when they taught me to wobble.  This wedding video could have been us.) 

Burl could have cared less about dancing.  He loved the drums.  At one point, he got to play them, but most of the time he stood in awe of the band.  Eventually I had to move him, because we all know the rule: No Parking On The Dance Floor. 

Eventually, the festivities were over, we were wiped out, and we were so ready for home.  Again, it feels like our preparations and recovery are similar to marathons, but I guess we did our own Two Weddings in Two States with Two Babies Marathon.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Super Journaling

I've got this new thing that I do.  It makes me feel so cool and so hip.  Like, major cool in my book.  I've picked up journaling, yet again.  I've been journaling off and on since I was in elementary school.  I still have that first journal with that first journal entry about riding my bike and stepping in dog poop, which is very noteworthy to a 10-year-old.

Today's journaling is not just any journaling.  It's super-journaling.  What's super about it?  Well, I kinda have to be in the mood for it.  Sometimes, I make myself be in the mood for it because it's so rewarding when I'm done.  It's like being on a journey that I take myself on without knowing where I'm going, but not as serious sounding as that.  

Super journaling is what I call it, but the practice has been around for a while.  I was first introduced to it in 7th grade.  I loved it!  English was my worst subject, but journaling was my jam.  Doesn't everyone love to say they journal, verb not noun.  I admit, that sometimes I like the idea of journaling instead of actually doing it.  Except super journaling.

English was my first period class, to which I was usually late, and we would start off the class with 10 minutes of journaling.  We could write whatever we wanted to write, but the only rule was that we couldn't stop writing.  We had to keep that pen moving.  Even if we wrote, "I have nothing to write about.  The walls are khaki.  What should I write about."  

Just a few weeks ago, I tried it again.  It's great.  I don't think that I'm ever going to go back to plain old, thoughtful entries.  No, I want it on paper.  Everything.  Without screening myself.  Without editing.  I want it all.  

As I mentioned in an earlier post, sometimes I get a little time to myself every so often.  I don't need much.  In fact, time to myself is still a little awkward.  Being an extrovert, I've never needed it until now.  I just need a little space to stop and think.  A few weeks ago, I packed a Meg-Bag, and headed to the river.  I took some pictures, walked around, but mainly I just sat on the dock and spent some time super journaling.  It was wicked.  

I've done it a few times since then.  It usually has to happen outside.  Late at night or early in the morning are the peak times for good thoughts.  If I'm feeling overwhelmed by what I have to do and what I want to do, this little exercise seems to help me have just a brief escape while I recharge.  If I'm having a hard time collecting thoughts to write a post, talk with John, or explain things to Burl, a quick 10 minutes of writing can help me hone in on the subject at hand.  If I just want to feel cool, then sitting outside on my 3 little steps with a journal does just that.  

To my 7th grade teacher, thanks for letting there be no rules except the most important one:
Don't stop writing.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

This Week's Menu

During one of our phone conversations last week, I told John that I was going to try out something new and different for dinner this week and I'm not sure he was going to like it: falafals.  But, I'm sweetening the deal by serving fries on the side.  He said that he was cool with it and it will be ok and he would try and eat anything that I make.  He really does, too.  ...even when I make something I know he doesn't like.  ...even when I try something new and it's a bust.  ...even if it has onions in it.  He'll try it and eat it.  And if it's not good, then he helps scoop my confidence off the floor and gently hands it back to me.  "I love that you try new things.  Don't ever stop trying new recipes."  Words that this good girl needs to hear when the food isn't good.

falafel ingredients in cuisinart

Beef stroganoff, lima beans
5 bean chili
Falafals, fries
Singapore chicken salad

picture from here, but recipe in my own

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Coffee At Jenny's

"I just potted some colorful plants on my porch.  Ready for a coffee date!"
-read a text message that I got from my friend Jenny a few weeks ago.  

And just like that Monday-Funday made an appearance again in my life.  I outsourced the kids to their grandparents' house and went to Jenny's porch for coffee.  We used to get coffee semi-regularly on Mondays, but that faded out.  We both use Mondays as get-stuff-done days, and squeezing in a coffee date can get challenging.  Except for the summer.  In the summer, we are both extremely dedicated to Monday-Fundays.  Because we meet a bunch of friends at the pool.  And tan.  And lounge.  There is always time for that.  Other friends have joined in and somehow we all gravitate towards Deb's pool on Mondays.  And I've even heard a rumor that one friend is going to start taking Mondays off this summer with all of her extra vacation time.  {Wink, wink, Keri!}

Pools and lounging are great, but I'll be honest: I love a good girl coffee date with a friend.  Especially, Jenny.  Where I am simple and classic, she is colorful and vogue.  She turns cute into a verb.  She totally cute-d the coffee date and set out a turquoise set for our cream and sugar.  

To set out that cute little set for just the two of us makes our coffee taste better.  I think I tipped up my shoulder and said, "oh, this is so cute.  Love the color!"  To which she replied with an excited, "just a little somethin-somethin' I picked up in Europe."  Isn't so fun to use a line like that.  Not in an arrogant way, but in a fun I-know-this-is-cool kinda way.  We can all do.  Read those "made in ______" labels in your clothes and drop it conversations.  "Oh, just a little somethin'-somethin' from Taiwan."  

Ok, now that we all know ways to hint to world travel without actually travelling the world, I'll get back to coffee at Jenny's. 

Now, I could take this deep and talk about our conversations.  We have only known each other for a few years, but we are really close and know a lot of each other's stories.  We can go deep quickly or keep it surface-y, whichever we want.  And I know that everyone has a friend or friends like that and it's all great.  

But, what's extra special about hanging out with Jenny is her flair.  She loves color and pattern and fun pillows and cute things.  She didn't even mind that I brought my camera to take pictures of her house, because she gets it.  She not only likes pretty things, she understands that taking pictures of pretty things is cool too.    

The coffee and talk were great as well, but come-on, what girl doesn't like coffee and talk?  I just loved these pictures and wanted to share them.  Whenever I see what Jenny's wearing or am at her apartment, it always makes me want to maker bolder choices.  

Pattern and colors and designs are so much fun and looks so cute.  I need help remembering that.  Jenny's place does just that: reminds me to break out of my solid-colored rut and put the fun back in Monday-Funday.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Loads Of Pictures

...there are so many captions that could be added to these pictures.
However, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A 60th Soiree

Everyone has that family that is not related to you, but they kinda are because they've been around forever and you grew up close to each other and you borrowed each other's stuff and the kids are all the same ages.  (For the record, I think we borrowed way more stuff than actually loaned out.)  Well, I have a family like that and I just love the stuffing out of them.  This weekend, Heidi (the daughter) threw her mom a surprise birthday party.  Well, her sons and husband were involved too, but being the only other girl in the family, she did all the sweat-work.  I soooo get that.  

The party was awesome!!!

This party had all the elements that are needed for a great party (in my opinion): fun and chill people, a killer location, and creative details that made everyone ooo and aaa.  I think that's called a trifecta.  I loved this party so much, and I wasn't hosting, so I took a ton of pictures.  Most of the night, I was seen doing this:

Luckily, I have a blog to display all these pictures.  It's taken a lot of time to choose, edit, and post these pictures, and I hope everyone enjoys them as much as I do.  I'm first going to say a little something about the party details.

First, there was the food.  There were a few salty snacks, but the main food that was served was cupcakes.  Everyone knows that cupcakes are so hot right now, and we all know why.  They are so cute.  These are my cupcakes that I brought.

Heidi asked several of the friends (who wanted to help) to make 2 dozen cupcakes each and bring them.  We got to choose which ones we wanted to make.  That way, we had tons of different flavors to choose from.  Which proved to be difficult because it was hard to choose which ones we wanted.  Luckily, I attacked the cupcake table in a group of 4 people, so we each got one bite of a few different ones.  

Heidi is a graphic designer, so she made cute little menus for the cupcakes and the bar.  For the bar, she served cokes, bottled water, beer, and one featured cocktail called The Divine Deb.  It's a little something she made up the night before the party.

When guests walked up to the party, they walked into the covered porch area where the bar was.  Everyone was given a shot of vodka and a drink and within minutes we had a bunch 50 and 60 year-olds drunk off their faces.  Not really.  Not at all.  Everyone kept it classy and no one drank too much.  I'm pretty sure.

The bar and the bartenders were the first things that I saw and the party could have stopped there because it was so cute and fun.  That guy and that girl.  That's my high school Sunday school teacher who laughs at everything I say and that's Heidi, kinda like a sister.  We laugh at everything each other says.  

The cocktail had mint and lemons in it, which is what is in the picture.  The ingredients for the cocktail doubled as simple decorations.  Love it!


Ok, so let's talk about the house.  Elise (the hostess) told us that we could look around anywhere we wanted to.  I've heard her house is adorable, so I was eager to do that.  But, if I'm ever in your house, then beware.  If I'm given permission to "look around," then I assume that I can take tons of pictures and post them on my blog and look in closets and make myself very much at home.  Home, Sweet Home:

Isn't that sign so precious?  Awesome.  Perfect.  Colorful.  Are you asking yourself what it is?  It's broken plates and some white filler stuff.  She made it herself.  Deb makes them too.  They used to make them as presents.  One Christmas they made street numbers for everyone.  (101 Awesome Street got a cute "101" to in colors to match the house.)  I'm so doing this for my home and maybe for people for Christmas.  

My mom and I looked around the house.  Well, really, we walked around and took notice of everything.  My mom kept telling me, "take a picture of ____.  I need to remember that!"  We picked up on the details and took note.  

The picture above is of a cute room, but what we really loved was that wire basket of loose pictures.  What a great idea and conversation starter.  My mom and I are both looking for wire baskets now.  You should too.  Add this picture to your Pinterest right now and don't forget to do it.  It's a great idea.

Oh, lookie-there.  Loose pictures again.  This time, they are stacked in two baskets.  Why are we all filing away our pictures that we've printed.  I want to put them out for all to browse.  

My mom LOVED the dining room and sun room beside it.  I think she almost had a seizure in there.  I couldn't take enough pictures of that room for her.  We both loved the simple center piece on the formal dining room.  A cute hand towel with three vases of greenery.  Simply perfect.

My mom is a huge fan of plates on the wall, so of course she loved this.  The plates are interesting, cool, and unperfectly perfect when it comes to size and balance.  Why put china on the wall?  Go crazy.  Life is short.  Use fun, wild plates.

What a perfect place to get a mother-daughter picture.  Especially when our shirts match the room.  Oh, it's like twinky-cute.  Ding.

The picture above is a perfect example of the cool pieces of furniture she had and the little vignettes that went with them.  I love the combo of cool furniture and sweet vignettes.  There is an art to them, and I'm not sure what the key is.

I decided that her kitchen was my dream kitchen.  The cabinet doors were simple, with less fuss to wipe down.  The counter was flush with the subway tile back splash.  The stainless steel appliances went well with the counters.

The lighting was bright and warm.  The room was simple and natural, which let the accessories make the noise.  Note to self: get an aqua kettle.

The upstairs was very cute too, but I only grabbed one picture.  Of their master bathtub.  See, this is what happens when I'm given all-access permission to "look around."  I showed the hostess this picture, and told her that I had to move a pink razor out of the picture.  She told me it was leftover from a big girl slumber party her daughter had.  I told her I was probably putting this on my blog.  All those frames leaned up against the side like that-it makes that impressive bathtub into something warm and inviting.  Personal touches do that.  

Off the kitchen was this little screened in porch area.  That is one thing that our house doesn't have right now: outdoor living space.  We miss it and hope to have it again one day.  For now, I'm just enjoying other peoples spaces.  My favorite thing about this space was the ceiling.  IT doesn't show up great in the picture, but take my word for it, it was painted such a wonderful shade of aqua.

When looking around at all her pictures, I noticed this frame.  The photographs seem a little bit old, or at least not current.  All the pictures are jumping pictures and I thought that was nothing but good ole fun.  Jumping pictures, they're not just for today's teenagers.  They're old school.  Rad.

The last, and most important part of the party was the people that were there.  I took tons of pictures of groups of people, but I'm not sure if they would like it if they were posted here.  So, I'm just posting a picture of the family.  There's Deb in the aqua and her daughter, Heidi, in the black top.  The blond is her daughter-in-law.  The back row are her sons and husband.  This family is like an extension of my own family and I just love them.   Their friends, their attitude, their attention to detail made for one festive night!