Freckles in April: December 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

From the Archives

When I stumbled across this post again it was at a time when I really needed the reminder and I've been waiting for a good time to re-post it. Heading into the New Year seems like the perfect time. I originally entitled this post Coals of Fire in reference to Romans 12:20. There's a lovely article about what that phrase could mean here and a great talk on forgiveness here.

Let us all be a little more loving and a little more forgiving this year. See you in 2011!

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A few weeks ago I read Left to Tell: Discovering God Amid the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilabagiza and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. So much of the book was horrific-the deaths, the destruction, the devastating chaos of it all- but what has really stuck with me is Immaculee's faith. Through all the horror, she found it in herself to forgive. And that is an incredibly powerful and freeing thing.

In my ramblings around Twitter I stumbled upon Rainn Wilson (Dwight)'s feed and he links to this site he founded called SoulPancake. SoulPancake is trying to get people to discuss life's big questions; to have discussions about spirituality, creativity and philosophy. For example, someone recently asked the question: Can feminists be feminine? I loved the post and responses.

But a little further down is the question: What will it really take to make loving your enemies possible? In that post they included this beautifully simple video that reminded me of the things I had just learned in Left to Tell:

Love Your Enemies from Kristen Miller on Vimeo.

I'm fortunate that I don't have anyone I could legitimately consider an enemy and, in truth, I couldn't even think of anyone who has wronged me that I need to forgive. But the more I thought about this question, the more I realized that my answer is: making a concerted effort to just love everyone. To see everyone as a child of God, regardless of their choices or how we get along. A general increase of love will go such a long way.

So today I made a greater effort to love. I reached out to someone I usually don't really get along with. I prayed to love someone I struggle with. I was nice to a grumpy cashier at the grocery store. I focused on remembering that we're all children of God.

And you know what? Tonight I feel remarkably at peace. Like the world is a good and beautiful place. So I just thought I'd share the love.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On Not Being White Trash

Via
 
We spent the first (almost) 5 years of our marriage in a cute little 3 bedroom house with a lot of character. I spent a lot of time working on the inside. I painted. I furnished. I adorned. And I ended up with a mostly finished house that I really loved (a re-done kitchen would have been nice, but you know).

We agreed early in our marriage that the inside of the house was my job and the outside of the house was Aaron's job. I occasionally got him to pull weeds but mostly our yards languished. Our backyard became a weedy jungle and the bushes and trees in our front yard became horribly overgrown. I threatened to hire a landscaper a few times but never made good and it didn't look particularly awesome when we moved out.

The investor we sold it to had a crew of guys come out and do the yards. It was one of those things where you don't know how bad something has gotten until it gets fixed. The house looks amazing. They even put grass out back and for some reason it made the yard look 3 times bigger.

The yard was always a source of a kind of constant low level embarrassment for me so seeing it all fixed up just made me feel worse about the years of neglect the yard suffered at our hands. It had so much potential! And we let it down!

I was talking to a friend from the old neighborhood a few weeks ago and she said, "Have you seen your old house?" And I replied that I had just driven by and it looked very nice. And then she went on and on and on about how much better it looked. And I officially felt like white trash.

So New Year's resolution number two? Do not be the white trash family of the neighborhood.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On Being (im)Practical

Via


I had a really good Christmas. Seriously and unexpectedly good. My parents and in-laws spoil us rotten.

My grandma, upon seeing all my gifts, commented, "Wow, this has been a very...practical Christmas for you, hasn't it?"

I took stock. New kitchen towels, a paper shredder, a bike pump, a tortilla press, a mandolin, kitchen shears, a couple cookbooks, a paper cutter.

Huh.

I was really excited about all of it (tortillas will take me like 3 seconds to make now! The paper cutter has a blade that perforates!), but my grandma had a point.

My mom piped up, "That's just where you ARE in your life. You're very practical."

Over the next few days this kind of started to bother me. As a teenager I owned 27 lip glosses just because I liked lip gloss. Now? I own zero. I own chapstick instead because it's cheaper, more moisturizing, and...more practical.

At my last-minute Christmas Eve Target run I looked longingly at a pair of super sparkly heels for a minute but didn't try them on. What would be the point? Even if I loved them I wouldn't buy them because they didn't go with anything and where would I wear them? Better to admire from afar and carry on.

It's the same story with jewelry. I don't own much because what purpose does jewelry serve? It doesn't keep you warm. It doesn't provide any coverage. I have a kid who wants to eat anything dangly I do manage to put on and I'm going to end up with a torn earlobe or chain burn on my neck. Why bother?

I can submit a thousand more bits of evidence to support how incredibly boringly practical I have become in my old age and the more I thought about it the more depressed I got. So when I started to ponder New Year's resolutions I immediately thought, "I want to be impractical."

Not all the time..that's no way to live either. But this year I resolve to occasionally put off buying something I need in favor of something I want. I will allow myself to spend some of my money on things that are sparkly, things that are lacy, things that only match one item in my whole closet.

I will read a fluffy novel instead of cleaning the kitchen. I will try on things I have no intention of buying in stores I can't afford. I will put off meal planning and take a nap. I will wear my jewelry even if it means taking it off within an hour so it doesn't get destroyed by baby hands. I will get myself a tube of lip gloss. No, I will get myself two lip glosses. And I will like it.

Gifts from 30 for 30

As hard as it got toward the end, 30 for 30 was really good for me. I am much more content with my closet since I suddenly see it as full of possibilities instead of the same old boring stuff. It helped me weed out a few things that really weren't working. And it made me super speedy at outfit creation.

Sundays used to be a closet disaster over here. One morning, after watching me try on no fewer than 6 outfits, Aaron observed, "Getting dressed is kind of rough for you, isn't it?" And my response was to sigh, "IT'S SO HARD" and throw myself on our bed in despair.

Now? Bah. Watch me pull 3 perfectly workable outfits from my closet in 3 minutes and be out the door with time to spare.

For example, a very long weekend combined with a rough night for Baby 2 saw me kicking Aaron out of bed on Sunday morning so he could take care of the kids and I could sleep in. Which is how it came to be that Aaron woke me up at 8:50 by saying, "Hey, are you going to this baby blessing on the calendar at 9?"

Gasp. Expletive. Fly out of bed, throw on makeup, brush hair and thank the heavens it's already curled and not too greasy, grab an outfit, run out the door, sit in seat just in time to hear, "We will now be privileged to witness the blessing of a new baby..."

Phew.

Dress- Shabby apple, Belt- JC Penney, Boots-Charlotte Russe


This isn't one of my default dresses...it isn't even one that I've worn in the past year (at least). So the fact that I was able to put this on and not second guess myself to the point of changing three times was a miracle. Second guessing would have meant not making it in time to see my dear friend's baby get blessed and I would have been very sad.

And then I got home from the baby blessing and realized I couldn't nurse in that dress without completely removing it (probably not super appropriate in the mother's lounge) and had to change into something else to go to our church a couple hours later. Normally this would be a cause for great distress but...eh. I could handle it.

Dress- Seesaw Vintage, Scarf- old, Belt- thrifted, Boots- same as above, Earrings- Armelle Jewelry

Sunday Outfit: The Sequel came together within minutes and I didn't spend ages fretting over it. I have this great dark blue knee length jacket I was able to throw over both outfits and I was set. And it wasn't hard or painful or sigh-inducing. I just got dressed and it was easy and that was that.

Hallelujah. Does the fact that I'm finally able to dress myself mean I'm a grown-up now?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wish Fulfillment

In my previous blogging life I wrote about how much I LOVED Anne Hathaway's white motorcycle jacket in Get Smart. She came on screen wearing it and both my mom and I sat up and said, "I WANT THAT."


I actually found a really similar one online shortly after the movie came out but, at the time, it was $1200. And, I don't know about you, but I don't typically have over a grand just hanging out around my house for the buying of cute jackets (it has since dropped to under $800! Better hurry and buy one for yourself!!).

Fortunately, motorcycle jackets then decided to have a fashion moment and they're all over the place. I even saw some decently cute ones this week at Wal Mart for like $15.

I, however, fell in love with a Gap one a couple months ago while it was still hot outside and brought it home with me.

Please ignore the water spots on the mirror. Thank you.

It may not be white (I have two children and no delusions about how long a white jacket would last in my house) but I love it. A real leather version would be nice (understatement) but this one is a kind of structured knit and is super cozy. I wore it on the plane to Florida for our cruise since I tend to freeze on airplanes and it ended up being wise since we had a layover in BUFFALO that we somehow didn't know about.

(Aaron didn't know we were going to Buffalo until the plane was landing and it was snowy and subzero outside. He seriously has his own world going on sometimes. I at least realized what was going on during the takeoff announcements)

After months of staring longingly at it hanging in my closet, winter has finally kinda sorta decided to descend upon us and I'm getting to wear it sometimes!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

New pajama pants! These except blue and white striped.

I hosted a holiday at my house for the first time ever last night. Dinner was less than an hour late AND I didn't burn anything. That sounds like success to me.

We ate outside. For reals. I love where I live.


Now we're hanging out in our jammies while Baby 2 naps and Stinky eats himself sick from the candy Santa left in his stocking (in retrospect, I probably should have put some up in the candy bucket on top of the fridge before he half gnawed it all).

Hope you're having a lovely Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Striped

When I woke up this morning I was like, "Something is happening today...what is it..." And then it dawned on me.

I could wear whatever the heck I wanted.

I sprang out of bed and ran to my closet and, well....

Via
Let's just say it was a really joyful reunion.

And then I had a sort of a crisis. What do you wear when you have like a million things to choose from instead of just 30??

And my crisis was followed by an epiphany.

I blogged.




I thrifted.

$3 at the GW. With tags still on!

I sewed.

And I waited very very patiently....

And today, I finally wore.


Well, I say FINALLY like I've never worn it before, which isn't quite true.

Grand Cayman! Hanes v-neck. Locals flip flops. Grocery store sunglasses.
But that doesn't really count.

Sweater- old. Mervyns?, Boots- Charlotte Russe, Socks- Target (not on the website but I just got them...$2 a pair and they're AWESOME), Bracelet- DEB, Undershirt-Blush (pulled up instead of down)



I went with the pockets. And I originally wanted black and white but GW only had a dark blue and white striped shirt that fit the bill, so I ran with it. And I love it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

30 (29) for 30 (29): Day 29

Accessories: scarf-from my good friend Marisa, wedding ring

I'M DONE I'M DONE I'M DONE!! Yaaaay! I was only supposed to be done like...three weeks ago. This has dragged on way too long thanks to vacations and illness and the fact that we haven't gotten out of pajamas this week. But now I'M DONE and I can finally put everything back where it goes in my closet in its proper place (having things out of order this whole time has made me twitchy).

Also, I put extra effort into getting out of pajamas today (despite the nasty weather) because it's our fifth anniversary (yaaay!). And my kids even cooperated by sleeping in and giving me plenty of time to get dressed and whatnot.

And then it turned out there was a reason for Stinky sleeping until 9:30. The Plague has descended upon our household (darn you, church nursery!!). And if Stinky is sick then Baby 2 is doomed which means I am likely doomed since Baby 2 loves to nurse and then cough in my face. Aaron might come out of this unscathed but odds are not good.

So I'm enjoying my health while it lasts and will probably have to go shopping today before I am quarantined for a week. Not that I'm complaining.

Can I just say how awesome it is that scarves can be belted?? I am one of those idiots who wears a scarf and always ends up dragging the ends through something gross because they're just hanging there. But then some incredibly smart person decided to throw a belt on there and ta-da! Significantly reduced draggage factor. I cleaned the kitchen in this outfit with nary a speck of oatmeal or mashed graham cracker ending up on my scarf. Brilliant.

I'M DONE!! Also, I am a nerd.

Recipe: Baked Spiced Grapefruit


Right before I married Aaron my parents moved into a house on almost an acre of land. I don't remember the exact number, but there were about a bazillion grapefruit trees on the property. Even after they ripped out the vast majority and put in a backyard they still had around 15 trees left. And none of us actually cared for grapefruit all that much. It seemed like such a waste.

Lately I've decided that I need to like grapefruit. Fruit options this time of year are pretty much limited to apples and citrus so I should probably learn to like whatever is available.

As I was looking up different ways to eat grapefruit I stumbled across a few different recipes for baked grapefruit. It suited the rainy weather we were having that day so I gave it a try and found myself really enjoying it. I've had one almost every day since. The flavor reminds me of my favorite mulled cider we usually have this time of year (I'll post that recipe this week). It's not exactly a whole foods recipe since there is some sugar, but it's pretty minimal so eh. Oh well (look at me! Throwing caution to the wind!)


Baked Spiced Grapefruit

Half a ruby red or pink grapefruit
Equal parts cinnamon and sugar (it doesn't take much..probably like 1/4 tsp each)
A dab of butter

Use a sharp paring knife to score along the membranes of each section of grapefruit. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar and put the dab of butter in the center. Bake at 350 on a foil lined baking sheet for 12-15 minutes. Eat with a spoon (or one of those fancy grapefruit sectioner things would be nice). Enjoy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hair

As it turns out, I'm kind of trendy. Which is A. hilarious and B. a little confusing. I'm pretty sure this is the first time in my life I've ever been on trend with anything and I kind of feel like it should be commemorated. Do I get like a certificate or something? Maybe a little plaque? Because that would be awesome.

(Reminds me of this post. If you've never read her blog you need to click over. So. stinking. hilarious. And weird. And relateable.) (also, this post made me think I might die because I was laughing too hard to breathe)

Anyway, I have a lot to cover on this subject, so on to the questions! I pulled these from emails and comments on both the original post on my old blog and the re-post here.

First, let's talk DIY Sea Salt Spray.

Q. What purpose does the salt serve?

A. I have no idea. But I can tell you that just gel mixed with water doesn't have the same effect (I got lazy one day), so it does do SOMETHING.

Q. How thick is your hair?

A. Very medium. My hair is average in all things. Average brown color. Average length. Average thickness. Average texture (a little wave, mostly straight).

Q. How much do you use?

Depends on what I'm trying to do. The original spray I bought suggests saturating damp hair with the stuff and letting it air dry for beachy waves. I never did that because it was like $8 (+ shipping!) per bottle and I had really long hair and I had no desire to use $4 worth of product just to see what happened. Plus my attempts at "beachy waves" always look messy and gross.

If my hair is going to be down then I just do a few spritzes. The more you use, the stickier your hair will feel and if my hair is down I like it to feel relatively normal. But I do need the volume boost it gives me so I concentrate it a bit more on my roots on hair-down days. It helps my hair hold curl a lot better than it naturally does but it also helps it stay straight if that's the way I decide to go. So pretty much I use it every single day.

Long and pin straight? Sea salt spray (also, that was 30 weeks with Baby 2. Not a recent picture) (I SO do not miss being fat)

Wavy? Sea salt spray.

If I'm wearing my hair up I use quite a bit more. The stickiness factor helps my hair hold its style for a really long time. I am a leeetle embarrassed to admit this, but I have been known to make a bun last 3-4 days with this stuff. I sleep on it and everything and just use some dry shampoo on my bangs (Batiste, if you're wondering. Got mine at Sally's). Or, if they're getting really greasy, I've gotten pretty good at pulling just my bangs out of my shower cap and shampooing them and blow drying them without messing everything else up. By the end I'm usually pinning up a few pieces but mostly it just stays where I put it. That's the power of The Spray.

This? Is a 3 day old bun. A little bedheady? Yes. But still holding? Absolutely.

I really do think I'm going to try a nicer gel next time and see what happens though. I love my sea salt spray, but its not perfect.

Q. How exactly do you use it?

Towel dry my hair, spritz all over, blow dry, style. Nothing fancy going on over here, folks.



And now for The Bun!



Any and all questions I've had relative to The Bun pretty much boil down to: how do you do it?

I had planned a full on photo tutorial for this but the very day I was going to cart my camera into my bathroom to take some amazingly awkward pictures of myself doing my hair I realized that Syd over at The Daybook has a bun VIDEO. And we have almost the exact same process.

The only differences are that A. I use a ton of sea salt spray before blow drying. Her hair is much longer and textured thanks to her curl. I have to get my volume and texture from the spray, otherwise my bun looks pretty anemic and doesn't stay up well. And B. She tends to wear hers a little higher than I do. Some people can pull off the bun directly-on-top look. I think I am A. too old and B. not stylish enough for this. Know your limits when it comes to pony placement. I shoot for high but not directly on top of my head.

Also, she spends a lot of time combing out her bumps while getting her pony arranged. I...rarely take the time to do that. But my hair lays pretty straight on its own and combing it out the way she does would steal some of my very hard earned volume. Experiment a bit and do what works with your own hair.

Ok, I think that about covers it...any more questions or requests? Did I miss anything?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

30 for 30: Day 28

I am really really trying to finish up 30 for 30 here but THREE DAYS this week I got up, got dressed, went the whole day and then realized I had already worn that exact outfit. I am seriously lacking in creativity (and, apparently, the ability to look through my pictures to make sure I haven't worn something before).

Also, I've decided since I went this long with only 29 items (I DID finally find the 30th item...a shirt that got kicked under my bedskirt and collected dust bunnies for a month) I'm just going to do 29 for 29. It's good enough for me. And it means I only have one more day!!

Accessory: cheapy headband

Also, I DID iron this shirt this morning. But then we had a pancake breakfast with Santa. And then there maaay have been a little bit of clothes shopping (I know, it's against the rules! I'm sorry!). And ya. The ironing just didn't hold. Oh well.

Friday, December 17, 2010

From the Archives

A couple years ago I got writer's block and asked readers for some writing prompts to get my brain going again. Janell gave the prompt to write about something I was really scared to do. Since our 5th anniversary is next week it just seemed appropriate to re-post my response!

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When I read that prompt I could FEEL the terror of December 21, 2005. The thudding heart, the clammy hands, the churning stomach, the dancing vision.

The day I got married.

Oh yes. I was scared. Panic-stricken! On my wedding day. I almost threw up.

All through our engagement I was perfectly happy. I was thrilled to be marrying Aaron! I didn't even care much about the details of our wedding because I was so busy being totally smitten. The day couldn't come quickly enough.

And then it actually came.

First I have to explain something to my non-Mormon readers. Most members of our church strive for temple marriage. We believe that families can be eternally bound together when married (or "sealed") in the temple. We also believe that temples are sacred and only those who are worthy and prepared can enter and observe and take part in the ordinances that happen therein. Most boys enter the temple before leaving on their missions at age 19 and most girls enter right before they get married or serve a mission at age 21.

All this means means that my sealing to Aaron would be the first temple wedding I had ever seen and therefore I had NO IDEA what was going to happen. My actual thoughts were horribly irreverent, so let's just say I was worried about some really strange possibilities.

Plus there was that whole sex thing.

Mormons believe in chastity before marriage. Meaning you get to do a little light smooching but that's it until you're good and legally wed. After that you are encouraged to go for broke and multiply and replenish but that means after a lot of years being told, "no no no no" all of a sudden they're like "GO." And you're like, "Wait, what, now? All the way? Are you sure?"

So there was kind of a lot on my mind as we drove to the temple that morning. I asked Aaron if he was nervous and he said, "Nope!" And that just made me MORE nauseous.

By the time I hit the bride's room at the temple I was really on the verge of a panic attack. Aaron's mom, Sharan, was dabbing at her eyes while I got ready. Such was my state of mind that I looked at her and asked if she had allergies. Because clearly that's the only reason she would be teary on her son's wedding day. I was too busy to cry. I had to keep my eyes open for exits.

While Aaron and I were waiting to walk into the sealing room I told him I was thinking about running. Props to him for not being too offended (although, he still brings it up from time to time).

Finally, we walked in, we were sealed. It was simple and beautiful and totally normal. There was nothing to fear.

Except by then the damage was done. I ate a few saltines at our luncheon, excused myself to the restroom a couple times because I was pretty sure I was going to throw up and finally had Aaron take me home so I could lay down before our reception. After napping for an hour I was finally able to get a hold of myself and enjoy our reception (...and overcome my fear of that other thing).

Getting married. The scariest thing I've ever done.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

O Christmas Tree




Finally got off my Grinchy behind this week and got on the Christmas train. Thanks to our cruise it took me a long time to get into the Christmas spirit this year. Normally, we set everything up after Thanksgiving dinner or on Black Friday but this year I was frantically packing swimsuits instead of trimming the tree.

 


We decided to get a real tree this year and it was my first time on a Christmas tree lot since I was probably 15 years old. And the smell...oh my goodness, I thought I was going to burst into tears right there in the Home Depot parking lot. Reminded me of this quote I read the other day:

Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.

I found myself longing for the house I grew up in and being little and "helping" my dad carry our tree in. It made me glad that I have kids this year. I may not be able to quite recapture that thrill for myself but I can certainly make some rose-colored Christmas memories for my kids!

My first Christmas ornament from 1985






My parents came over to help us decorate the tree because I am kind of inept when it comes to Christmas trees and lights. I made this soup (even though it wasn't actually cold outside...) and we decorated the tree and listened to Christmas music and tried to keep the almost-mobile Baby 2 from eating a strand of lights and it was lovely.

Tribute to Aaron's Hawaiian upbringing. We have tons of flip-flops and surfboards on our tree.


I've been listening to Angela's Christmas playlist and the "Peaceful Holidays" station on Pandora and now I've got the permanent warm fuzzies going.

I am officially ready for Christmas.

One of my favorites. My mom gave it to Stinky (maybe for his first Christmas? I should really write these things down...)

Whole Foods (ish) Recipe: Granola

It's 80 degrees today. In December. I know some people around here are kind of annoyed but I? Am reveling.


I'm not sure if this recipe deserves a Whole Foods badge. I mean, if it's not entirely made up of whole foods then it's at least really really close. Since I was trying to be pretty strict during our 3 month trial period I never made it because I was unsure about the powdered milk thing. But now that our 3 months are up I'm relaxing the rules a bit and trying to find a happy medium that allows us to eat as healthily as possible within a budget with some convenience mixed in.

So last night I made granola and then I ate it with organic yogurt. And I was happy.

This is the softer kind of granola. It gets crunchier the longer you cook it though, if that's your style. You can mix in whatever you want, which is the beauty of granola.  My favorite is sliced almonds and craisins. My friend who originally gave me this recipe always does shredded coconut in hers along with whatever she has on hand. I added a good pile of cinnamon to this last batch because I'm throwing large amounts of cinnamon willy-nilly into everything I make these days and I loved the way it turned out.

Edit: I've discovered that you can substitute a large portion of the oil with apple sauce. It cuts the calories way down AND somehow makes the granola turn out a little softer and sweeter. I've changed the recipe a bit to add the applesauce.


Granola
Recipe originally from my good friend Catherine

5 cups rolled oats
1 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple sauce (make sure it's a heaping 1/4 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
Whatever mix-ins your little heart desires

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with foil then grease.

Mix together oats, salt and mix ins. Stir in powdered milk and mix well to coat everything. Stir in olive oil, honey and vanilla and mix until well combined.

Spread on foil-lined cookie sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it and pull it out when it's getting nicely browned.

Let cool on cookie sheet for 30 minutes to 2 hours. After 30 minutes it will be really crumbly. After 2 hours it will break into large chewy pieces.

Monday, December 13, 2010

30 for 30: Day 27

Phew, back to feeling myself. Which is good because I totally thought I was going to be one of those people who comes back from visiting foreign locations with a stomach complaint that won't go away and then one day you finally drag yourself to the doctor and they go, "Hey, look at this 3 foot long tapeworm parasite thing living in your intestines!" Because that would totally happen to me and, after almost a week of feeling like trash, I was starting to worry.


The plus side of having a nasty stomach bug is that I (very temporarily. HOLIDAYS!) fit more comfortably into my skinny cords, which are my very skinniest pants. So that's kind of nice.

Miracles

I got to see pictures of a friend's brand new baby this weekend and I found myself teary much of the day as I thought about this sweet friend and her much-wanted and long-awaited (5 years!) teeny daughter.

I've been very lucky...everything works for us. When we decide we're ready for a baby everything goes the way it should and, after a miserable pregnancy, we walk out of the hospital holding a bald squishy little bundle.

I have a fairly strict "no babies on the blog" policy but I really doubt anyone is going to recognize Baby 2 from this picture or Stinky from the one below. Newborns are pretty anonymous looking.


But I feel like I'm one of the very few. SO MANY of my friends have had to struggle with the pain of infertility and so when they do finally get their sweet bundles I feel that much more overwhelmed by gratitude. I know many little "fertility miracles" these days and their births always feel a little more special because they were just that much harder to get and, in many cases, I know of the devastated tears that preceded the happy ones.

And don't even get me started on adoption. When a dear friend adopted her second daughter I couldn't even talk about it for weeks because I'd burst into tears. I was just. so. happy. for her and so overwhelmed by the the sacrifice of another woman that allowed that darling baby to join my friend's family.

So this morning I've been thinking about how thankful I am for these babies; no matter how they get here, no matter how long they take, and no matter where they originally came from. They're all little miracles.



and now I totally want another one. Darn baby pictures get me every time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

From the Archives

My grandma has been on my mind a lot over the past few weeks so when I ran across this post about her on my old blog I knew I wanted to transfer it. She was so beautiful and SO funny.

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Mama is my mom's mom. That's her on the left with her sister and brother. (How pretty is she??)

There are several fun bits of family lore concerning Mama that, having verified some details with my mom and gotten permission, I will now share.



Mama and Papa on their wedding day, August 13, 1942
We're not sure the first bit is completely true. There are a couple possible explanations as to why Mama wore blue on her wedding day. One is that they were poor and she already owned a blue dress that suited her so she just wore it. The other is this:

When my Mama and Papa were engaged they went on a trip with another couple. One night, they were supposed to stay at a hotel, girls in one room and boys in a different room. Except the hotel messed up and instead put them in one room with two beds. They strung a curtain up between the beds and the girls shared one bed and the boys shared the other. However, the damage was done and since Mama had "slept with" Papa before their wedding, she just didn't feel she could wear white.

Apparently, my uncle talked to her about this at some point and explained that the modern definition of "sleeping with" someone was not exactly what she thought it was and she was kind of offended.

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The next bit is verified and true and awesome.

Apparently Mama could never hold her liquor. On her honeymoon she overdid it a bit and had several glasses of wine when one was usually plenty.

That night, totally sloshed, she went around to the other rooms in her hotel, knocking on doors and offering to wash people's socks.

When she awoke in the morning her room was hung with freshly washed socks and she had no idea who any of them belonged to.

(Aaron and I have the same question: who are these people that they are willing to hand over their dirty socks to the first drunk woman who knocks?)

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And I'll finish with a memory of my own.

I had my first raspberry at Mama and Papa's house. She possessed a green thumb that neither my mom nor I inherited and kept a garden in the backyard with different vegetables and a few fruits. I've never much cared for vegetables, but oh! Her raspberries! I always looked forward to them. Nikki and I spent many wonderful hours picking over her raspberry bushes, collecting some to bring inside but mostly just eating them. Raspberries always reminds me of Mama.

This morning I had raspberries on my oatmeal and thought of her with every last glorious bite.

Still Not Getting Dressed

Sorry guys, still feeling like junk. I thought I was feeling better and then it kind of went downhill again and then today I'm maaaybe feeling better but it's too early to call it either way. I think I brought a fun little stomach buggy home with me from my trip. Not cool, Belize. Not cool.


However, Belize DID give us a monkey that climbed on to our boat as we wound our way upriver to check out some incredibly awesome Mayan ruins. So I might forgive. Maybe. I have to think about it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Whole Foods Recipe: Mashed Potato and Roasted Veggie Enchies

Back in the early days of whole foods I found this recipe for mashed potato and roasted vegetable enchiladas. I was really strapped for recipe ideas so I just thought, "Well, this should be interesting." And then I made my sister start chopping because she was visiting and what are sisters good for if not manual labor?

I consoled myself with the idea that if they were awful then at least only Aaron, my sister and I would know of my culinary failing. But then my parents invited us over for dinner because they like my sister and wanted to see her and I told them we had enchiladas underway and they were like, "Great! Bring 'em!" And suddenly there would be three more people (including my bro) eating my very sketchy sounding enchiladas. I was worried.

But then? These were delicious. It's pretty much straight vegetable from start to finish and we all LIKED them. It was a miracle. And now we have them as frequently as I can manage.

The dark side of these enchiladas is that, if you make them from scratch as I'm about to post below, they take every bit of three hours. I know, I'm so sorry.

BUT! The nice thing is that you don't have to make your own enchilada sauce or tortillas. You can go the store-bought route and I will not judge you at all and then these will take you like no time at all. I frequently double the recipe and freeze the extra all ready to pop into the oven. Or I've also been known to just freeze the filling in a baggie and work from there. Anything to cut down on the time investment because these really are quite good and I like to have them as often as possible.

Mashed Potato and Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas
Filling recipe adapted from here


Filling:
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
3 small zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter
3 russet potatoes, baked

I suggest you start by making your tortillas and then move on to the filling. Make the sauce while the veggies are roasting.
In a large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, zucchini, bell pepper and carrots. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread vegetables in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Roast vegetables in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes; stir halfway through their cooking time. When finished cooking, remove from the oven, and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Mash baked potatoes with butter (and milk, as needed to get a good consistency). Mix in roasted vegetables. 
Sauce:
Recipe adapted from here. It ends up never being quite enough so I usually end up kind of very unscientifically increasing it a bit.

1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed well
1 serrano chile pepper, tops cut off
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and chopped
Put the tomatillos and serrano chile pepper in a sauce pan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the tomatillos are cooked, and have changed color, but are not mushy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. 
Use a slotted spoon to transfer tomatillos and serranos to a blender. Add 1/2 cup of the tomatillo cooking liquid to the blender, as well as 2 cloves of garlic, chopped onion, and about 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (packed). Add one teaspoon of salt. Purée until completely blended, 15 to 30 seconds. Add more salt to taste if necessary. Pour sauce into a skillet, bring to a simmer and let simmer for 5 minutes. Then remove from heat.
Assembly and cooking:
Standard enchilada assembly. Put a little sauce in the bottom of your baking dish for non-sticking purposes. Warm tortillas (I usually stick them in the microwave for a few seconds), dip them in sauce, spread on some filling, roll, place in glass baking dish (this makes enough for a full 9x13 but I like to divide mine up and freeze the extra). Pour extra sauce over the top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45ish minutes. Uncover, top with a bunch of monterey jack cheese and bake for an additional 15 minutes or however long it takes your cheese to get good and melty.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Whole Foods Recipe: Apple Yogurt Pancakes


This is Aaron's Official Favorite Pancake Recipe. I can't blame him, they are completely and totally delicious. I think they still come in behind Orangette's oatmeal ones but the jury is still out on whether or not they come in behind the pumpkin ones. They both taste like autumn in tender, flat, circular form and these have the bonus of warm cinnamon-y chunks of apple throughout. I especially love that they help deplete the plain yogurt that I, for some reason, always have on hand.

I think I originally got the recipe from Cait.

Apple Yogurt Pancakes
Adapted from here.

2 eggs
1 2/3 cups milk
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour works really well)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 good sized apple - peeled, cored and diced
In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, milk, yogurt and oil until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir into the milk mixture until smooth. Fold in chopped apple.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each cake. Cook until bubbles form in the cakes and the bottoms are golden brown. Flip and cook the other side. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Re-do

I bought this Gap sweater at the end of the season for like $4. I love gray and I love stripes so this was right up my alley. I was just starting to look full on pregnant with Baby 2 and wore it once before it got too warm and I got too fat.


When I pulled it out a couple weeks ago I was incredibly annoyed to learn that during that ONE WEAR I managed to get a grease spot on the belly. I don't know what my problem is but I ruin a ton of clothes that way when I'm pregnant. Something somewhere is really greasy and I can't keep my fat belly out of it.


Unfortunately, the placement is such that an embellishment would be weird. A flower up by your neckline? Cute! A flower smack dab in the middle of your belly?  ....kind of odd.

I initially tossed it in my fabric pile thinking maybe I'd make a stocking out of it for Baby 2. But then along came Kathleen of Grosgrain's Embellish Your Knits month. I didn't do anything real fancy like most of her awesome re-dos but she gave me the ideas I needed.


Turning the thing into a cardigan allowed me to cut right through the grease spot and fold it under as part of the hem. A little lace around the edge allowed me to cover up my heinous stitching (she makes it look really easy. That's because she's perfect. I suspect witchcraft).


I also bought this sweater in a pink and cream stripe. I have some frilly cream colored lace I got in a grab bag at GW. I am seriously tempted.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

30 for 30: Quick Hiatus



Sorry friends, I have to take a quick break from 30 for 30. To be honest? I haven't actually been here at all this week. As a matter of fact, when this posts I'll be finishing up a week-long child-free Caribbean cruise with the hubs during which I mostly wore swimsuits and not 30 for 30 items (most of my picks were not cruise wear. A few made the trip though!). I totally spaced that I had our fifth anniversary cruise on the calendar when I signed up to participate. Oops.

Assuming I haven't gotten eaten by a shark or plundered by pirates I'll be back to blogging on Tuesday to pick up with the last few days (and probably share waaay too many vacation pics). I tried really hard to double up occasionally (This is what I wore to church! This is what I wore after church!) so I would have outfits to post the entire time I was gone but I didn't quite make it. Darn. Points for trying, right?

Friday, December 3, 2010

From the Archives

This post was crazy popular on my old blog. It brought in a ton of Google traffic and I got a ton of emails from people thanking me for sharing it. So I figured it should get a repost! I still use this DIY Sea Salt Spray all the time (still using the same bottle, gel and salt) and, in fact, it's the secret to getting my go-to high bun looking decent now that my hair is kind of too short to hold the style real well. I've also noticed that it keeps my hair from looking greasy and I'm able to go longer between shampoos. I don't know why it does that, but I don't argue.

________________________________________________________


When I posted about the one thing I can't live without and the 4 things I really really like I had a lot of questions about and interest in my Sedu Beach Beauty spray. Coincidentally, while I was working on that post this post from notMartha popped up in my reader explaining how to make your own. I meant to link to it but then forgot. And then I ran out of spray and it became this how-to post.

The recipe is really simple:
4 oz water
generous squirt of water based hair gel
1 tsp epsom salt

I just mixed it all together in the old bottle (but any of those little $2 drug store spray bottles would work) and voila:

New spray!

I have mixed feelings about the result. It doesn't have quite the same "stick" as the original (which could probably be remedied through the use of different hair gel but this CVS one was dirt cheap and I am dirt cheap and thus we were meant to be) and my hair got kind of tangly while I was trying to dry it but Aaron mentioned multiple times how awesome my hair looked tonight. So it works just fine, but if you decide to try it you might go with a different gel. The original post at notMartha mentions a couple gels in particular, so maybe try those. I might up the salt too, just to see what happens.

Also, the original has this amazing coconut smell and my version has this vague, watered down floral scent from the gel. I'm wondering if I can find some coconut scented oil or something to give my DIY version that same wonderful whiff of the tropics.

The big bonus of making my own is that I didn't feel like I had to be quite so stingy with it. I have tons of gel and salt left, so running out doesn't mean spending more money. Also, you can mess with the formula after it's mixed. Too sticky? Add water. Not enough stick? Add gel. Easy!

Edit: go here for more info!

30 for 30: Day 26


You can't really tell thanks to the supreme cruddiness of the picture, but the bedhead? Was amazing. I forgot that I agreed to do something for a friend and had to throw on clothes, snap a pic and run out the door and...that's what happens. I was bobby pinning at stop lights trying to make myself look like I hadn't completely spaced it (so not my style).

Oh, and see that scrap of striped fabric right there on the floor? May or may not be related to this project....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Whole Foods Recipe: Butternut Squash Ravioli

Image from here

In a lot of ways, Aaron and I were made for each other. We both despise seafood (and he was born and raised in Hawaii, which makes it that much weirder). Neither of us like much on our burgers. We hate mustard and mayo. We were picky about our veggies (we've come a long way on that one together).

But he doesn't like filled pasta.

Which leads to him sort of picking at any ravioli or tortellini dish while I stare at him like, "It's cheese. Wrapped in pasta. WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE?!?!"

But I had to try these. My pasta turned out a little too thick (it happens when you don't have a pasta roller) but we both agreed that the filling is amazing. Like, slather on a piece of toast and kick back in your favorite chair to enjoy with your eyes closed amazing. I've got some more in the freezer that I've been trying to come up with a good use for. But if you can get your pasta a little thinner (I'm kind of impatient) then these are absolutely worth the time and energy to make.

If you click over to where I originally got this one she has a recipe for sage butter to top the ravioli with. I did that the first time and it was really good but plain old melted butter with a sprinkling of parmesan is delicious too.

Find the recipe here.

30 for 30: Day 25


Another, "Aw, crud. It's 11pm and I never took a picture" picture. I think I'm getting WORSE at this instead of better.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Wednesday Want

In our almost 5 years of marriage we've never had a headboard. We spent all our money on a really nice mattress (that we still looove) and got some cheap bedside tables and a dresser at a garage sale and called it good. The lack of headboard just wasn't a big deal. But I've recently decided that I really do want a headboard now. It would make our room seem so much more polished and so much less young-marrieds-can't-afford-furniture-ish.

As Aaron and I have discussed it we've both decided we really want an upholstered headboard since we're both the read-in-bed type and like something comfy to lean against.

Even though we're looking for something softer, when I stumbled across this Morocco headboard from West Elm I couldn't help go, "Ooooh!"


I love the cutouts and that you could do a million different things with bedding and it would all work beautifully (not the case with the gray and cream striped one that I really want...). And I really love the white against that gray wall. Ah to be able to paint again!

30 for 30: Day 24


I love this picture. It's so totally me. Aaron is kind of over being my daily photographer ("Um, I know you're working and all providing for the fam and stuff but...can you come take my picture??") but seeing as he is an ACTUAL photographer he has some fun little gizmos, like a really nice tripod and a fancy remote shutter thing that I've been begging him to teach me how to use since, oh, the week before 30 for 30 began.

So this morning he finally changed the settings on my camera, slapped the remote in my hand, and went back to some important phone call thing. And I was already late for my spa day (!) so the one picture I got was a, "How the heck does this stupid thing work??!?" and then I had to run out the door. So here ya go. This is what I wore to my spa day.

Speaking of my spa day, I kind of always think facials are a thing you do just because it's fun and it's nice to lay around for 30-60 minutes while someone rubs nice smelling things on your face and then gives you a scalp massage. But when I went in today my skin was in the middle of its annual AGH! THE WEATHER! IT CHANGES! freakout and I was kind of looking like my 15 year old self all over again. But when I walked out? Well, it wasn't perfect or anything (she's a facialist, not a magician), but it was about a thousand times better. And all the way home I had daydreams about budgeting for monthly facials and having gorgeous skin and...aahhhhh. And then I got home and came back to reality, but at least it was a reality with nicer skin.
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