Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FIVE FOR FRIDAY - Happy Anniversary

Yesterday was my parents 38th Wedding Anniversary. 38 years ago my dad had just completed the Police Academy and my mom was a switchboard operator. They got married in the Catholic church across the street from my grandparent's house. According to Mom it was a very very hot day, over 100 degrees. She wore a borrowed dress and her sisters were her bridesmaids (in avocado green dresses with sunshine yellow flower bouquets...ahh, the 70s!). I've never seen my dad without a mustache but on his wedding day he was completely clean-shaven...what a handsome guy!

Christmas 2009

Yesterday was probably a near flip-flop of weather than they had 38 years ago. It was warm yesterday, but we had continuous thunder and lightening all day with bursts of heavy rain. I can't even tell you how long it's been since we had rain here!

We celebrated their anniversary last night with dinner out for Chinese food. My brother and I chipped in and bought them a silverware set. They have a serious fork-shortage in the home and I knew it was a practical gift they'd really appreciate!

So, for the FIVE FOR FRIDAY today I bring you some very special, personalized anniversary gifts and mementos.


This original screenprint linked rings card is lovely for an anniversary, wedding or engagement. Their shop has some very lovely modern cards for all occasions!


Since my honey & I met under a tree, this personalized tree pillow is especially sweet to me. In a vintage feel but crafted in fresh and modern colors, the design and handstitched details are just so classic.


The sterling silver disc pendant will be engraved with your name and wedding year, along with the cutest little wedding ring charm in the birthstone of your wedding month.


Wow, what a wonderful statement piece! So incredibly detailed with a personalized story of you both. Provide the shop with a list of information and they will create a one-of-a-kind design just for you. Available in both a matted version or print, both of which are very affordable for something so special.


And finally, an heirloom-worthy piece is this heavenly ivory colored vase, hand carved with the couple's name and wedding date in romantic cursive script. Just as lovely with or without flowers!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Root for Yourself

"At what point do we stop cheering?"

We were sitting on the sidelines watching our six year old soccer players celebrating after they'd just scored their uncontested sixth goal. The dad next to me posed the question and about 90 seconds later we got our answer when the seventh goal was scored. Parents didn't cheer and just a small smattering of applause could be heard from our side of the field.

Later in the day, I got to thinking about that question.

"At what point do we stop cheering?"

Do we ever stop cheering? Or rather, should we ever stop cheering?

And I'm not just talking as parents, but just as adults?

"At what point do we stop cheering?"

Running off to score again

I was reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance this week. The section I happened upon was about how as adults we tend to downplay our accomplishments. We shoo away compliments and never really revel in them as we should. She suggested that we pull out our awards, something we've created, or anything that really makes us proud of ourselves and put them in a prominent place in our home.

Why, as adults, do we hide our light under a bushel? Why do we shrug off encouragements from others instead of just saying, "Thank you! I'm proud of it too!" This daily reminder of seeing visually what we have done should be a push towards what we can do.

I recall hearing about a baseball player who never once displayed any of his awards in his home. The announcer noted how humble the player was and that if you walked into his home you'd never have guessed he was a ball player. This just seemed kind of sad to me. Like, if this man was a sculptor or an artist, would he not decorate his home with a few of his own art pieces. Is it not appropriate because it wouldn't be humble? Or even just to have an important plaque on the wall, or one special baseball on a shelf that was particularly meaningful, something that recognized his accomplishments? Nothing?

I'm mean, I'm not talking about constantly tooting our own horn here to the point of rudeness or painting an entire mural on our living room wall with our likeness. But really think about why we stopped cheering...Because we didn't want to come across to others as too confident? Because it might hurt someone else's feelings? Because we've been taught as children to be humble and modest, that we shouldn't be "too good"?

Now, back to the soccer game...7th goal was scored. The little boy who scored the goal had already scored 4 others in our game, but just the same he looked excitedly over to the sidelines for recognition. We put our hands together and clapped briefly and smiled back at him. He wasn't ashamed or embarrassed in the least to have created such a lopsided score.

As we were leaving two players chattered boldly to each other, "We scored 7 and they didn't have ANY!"

One of the moms said, "Shhh, not so loud", to which one of the boys looked up at her and said, "Why?"

The unabashed pride of these six year olds was actually inspiring to me. Humility and modesty will come eventually, as it should. But at this age it's refreshing to see the exhuberance about each accomplishment, whether it's getting across the monkey bars without falling off, finishing an entire puzzle without help or scoring the final goal in a 7-0 game.

And I'm going to root myself on. When someone pays me a compliment, I'm going to say a simple thank you and not follow it up with something that undermines the entire good thought (you know the kind, "That's a pretty blouse!" and we say, "Yeah, too bad I'm so fat that's too tight on me now" FROWN!). I'm going to make some gorgeous pillows and paint a big picture to hang in the living room and if anyone compliments them, I'll happily share that it's my own handiwork. I will bravely admit that there are things that I'm really good at (teaching tumbling to kids, drawing freehand, whipping up an original outfit in an afternoon...) and I'm going to promise myself that I won't be too shy or humble to admit it! And that's something to cheer about.

I took this picture, isn't it pretty? See the confidence level is rising already!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

FIVE FOR FRIDAY - Autumn Leaves

I have curtains hanging in my bedroom that are crying out to be replaced. I love the fabric, it's a beautiful brocade leaf print in autumnal colors. But I've had it hanging up for seven years and it never quite had the right effect in the room.

First of all, my ex hung the curtain rod oddly, so it's higher in the middle than on either end and it bothers me. Not enough to fix it myself I guess, but even still...

Secondly, the sun shines through the window and instead of the fabric looking rich in reds, greens and golds, it looks so faded out in the daytime that the print is unrecognizable.

Lastly, I'm just TIRED of the style. I'm tired of the olive green walls. And I'm tired of the 70's end tables that were hand-me-downs from my parents. I want to redo the whole thing, but I don't plan on living here too much longer (fingers crossed) and don't want to change anything with paint and fabrics until I have a new place to call home.

So I've been stock piling some of my favorite fabrics, in the hopes that eventually I'll have a new place to decorate head-to-toe. Picture this...sofa cushions with coordinating floor pillows for the kids and fabric storage bins on the bookshelf. Dishtowels in the kitchen with a matching apron, placemats and napkins. Curtains in the bedroom with coordinating decorative pillows and a quilt at the end of the bed *sigh!* I can't wait to start!

This is one of the fabrics I chose.


NO IDEA where I'm going to use it yet, but I love this leaf print. I've always been attracted to leaves in home decor. I purchased the bamboo/cotton blend fabric with a yellow colored leaf but I've also seen it available in green & this orange.

So here is the FIVE FOR FRIDAY, inspired by the first few days of fall and autumn leaves that will soon be dropping!

Find the orange leaf Robert Kaufman print fabric here!

Ohhh, these are so pretty and delicate and elegant! Available in either silver or gold, there are plenty of really gorgeous pieces in the shop (I'm partial to the matching well as a LOT of other beautiful things here!).


The handcarved leaf rubber stamp is totally customizable, from the name & address personalization to the shape and size of the leaf. Lots of unique stamps to use on your return address, crafting, scrapbooking or card making. Kids love stamping too, and there are some really cute designs here.


My favorite lime green is paired with handpainted leaves and a little bird (love those too!). This is a grown-up mug. Very modernly sophisticated, I image filling it with some hot cocoa, a few marshmallows...and a nip of peppermint Schnapps!


This set includes ten whimsical leaf wall decals. You can customize the colors and place them where ever you desire. I think they would look so elegant over a doorframe. Or as little accents in the kitchen along the backsplash or above the stove.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kickin' It...Soccer Style

The Boy started soccer last week. This is his third year of playing. He has said, "I like baseball... but I LOVE soccer."

This year, Blue Whales

I played soccer for 5 years, most of which my dad was the coach. Having a dad who is a coach is a mixed blessing; You get to have that bonding time with dad but it involves running practice drills at home before he plays them out for real with the rest of the team! I wouldn't trade my soccer memories for anything, I loved all of it. But I stopped playing when I was 12 and thus traded in my soccer cleats for ballet shoes.

Last year, The Bolts (gotta love that headband, it became his signature)

The Boy's soccer coach this year was also his Little League coach. He also happens to be the dad of one of my son's classmates. Needless to say, I'm glad that the Boy is in good hands and can be comfortable with his familiar coach because my son has some anxiety issues. Any way that we can ease with transitions, the better.

Oh mercy me...this was him three years ago on The Ball Frogs. He was sooooo tiny!!

Game 1 - I think the Boy was half asleep, honestly. He was standing on the field, clasping his hands together nervously.
I called out to him, "Run up to the BALL!".
I swear the look on his face pretty much told me, "Ball? What's a ball?"

Corner kick

Half time - the Boy says, "This is hard work this year!"

Final score - Tied 1-1 (and that was only because one of our kids accidentally scored for the other team).

Game 2
- Had to leave the house at 7:15 am (so much for sleeping in on a Saturday). It was still quite foggy with a mist in the air. But I think it helped to wake up the boys because they were much livelier this game.

The goals hadn't been delivered on time so the coaches did three periods instead of four. The Boy was thrilled to be able to play Goalie for the final period. He stopped the ball three times. A kid on the other team didn't get the memo that you can't harass the goalie and continued to kick the ball even as my son was laying on the grass, ball curled up in his arms!

Wearing the Goalie uniform

Final score - We won, 1-O.

And I have to throw in this image because just looking at the randomness of the kids on the field just makes me giggle.


The goalie is throwing the ball and the other team isn't paying the slightest bit of attention. Love the expression on that one kid; I'm thinking he was slightly dejected that his attempt was stopped by the goalie.

Every players favorite part, running through the "bridge" at the end of each game

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

FIVE FOR FRIDAY - Woodland Creatures

When my stepson (who is now 12) was little, he had quite a bit of difficulty waking up in the morning. I would come in at 5am to get him up for school and what are you kidding, of course he was crabby!

Out of desperation to get him moving one morning, I grabbed a finger puppet that was next to his bed and had the puppet wake him. It was a Queen finger puppet that I'd made from a kit. She wore a red dress with gold braid trim, red yarn hair and had the biggest, goofiest head you've ever seen. Ridiculously large, I'd obviously stuffed her head about three sizes too big. In fact, if you didn't hold onto the finger puppet with your thumb, the top-heavy Queen would fall right off your finger.

"Gooooood Morrrniingg!!!", I called out in a heavy British accent. Of course, my crabby kid had to unbury his head from under his pillow to see who was talking. When he saw that Queen on my finger, he sat up and giggled. And so I went on...

"Gooood Morrrninggg, I said!", to which he replied, giggling more.

"It's TIME to get UP!" And I took the Queen's big head and gently bopped him on the nose.

Well, as you can imagine, the Queen was in charge of waking him from that time on. When the novelty wore off, I introduced a few new characters to the morning wake up call, including the Knight and Brownie, the horse.

In addition to being part of his morning, I would also use the puppets when he was upset. It was much easier for him to talk to the puppets than to me. It sounds silly (because obviously he knew that the puppets were attached to me and that it was really MY voice) but it sort of broke the ice somehow and it really did work.

I was looking around on Etsy the other day and saw these PRECIOUS finger puppets and was reminded of how well they worked for us. Try them with your youngster, I'd say any kid 5 and under will still appreciate them and any kid 5 and up would love to play with them on their own. You just really have to go for the gusto; don't be embarrassed to make a complete fool out of yourself. Pull out that wacky accent, dance around, try to use multiple characters at once (keep the accents straight!)...seriously, the kids LOVE it!

And with that here is my FIVE FOR FRIDAY...I was inspired by the sweet woodlands finger puppet sets to make a list of woodlands creatures Etsy items this week.


The detail on these finger puppets is amazing, you have to look at the site and see the other sets (mermaids, princesses, robots, dinosaurs, etc)...they are all beautifully made! I'm already plotting my first purchase.


Every print in this shop is lovelier than the next, I'm having a hard time finding my favorite! I've had this site bookmarked for a good long while and I know that when I finally do move into my own place, I'll be sure to choose at least one of these prints to grace my wall. With the soft colors, I think they would make a particularly thoughtful new baby gift.


Such a sweet handstamped & glittered blank journal, wouldn't this make a great stocking stuffer? Yes...already I'm thinking ahead to gift giving! Make it a sketch book, a journal, a note pad...a combination of all three?


Ack, babies in animal costumes, not much cuter in life than this!! These hats are just heavenly. They are being sold custom made or you can buy the pattern and do it up yourself if you are so inclined.


My grandmother would have called this little guy "schnissy", her way of saying, "isn't this so CUTE!!" The artists has some clever and unique designs from her original paintings on everything from prints, postcards, tees & necklaces like this one.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It does run in the family

I am requesting prayers for my mom, who was just diagnosed with breast cancer today.

My Mom, taken Sept 5th, 2010

We didn't think cancer ran in our family. But apparantly now it does. It runs in MY family. On both sides of my family. As some of you know, my dad has terminal renal (kidney) cancer and has been maintaining his health with generous doses of daily medication for the last two years. Hearing the news about Mom has been a total shock.

With my Dad, Christmas 2009

She'd gone for her regular doctor's appointment two months ago. They did a routine breast exam and didn't detect anything unusal. However last week after her yearly mammogram, she received a call the next day saying that they'd found something suspicious.

With her grandsons on my son's birthday, Dec 2009

They had her come in the next day for another mammogram because they thought it might be a cyst. It wasn't.

So they did an ultrasound, thinking it might be a fatty mass of tissue. It wasn't.

With my brother, Christmas 2008

So they took four samples of the mass via a needle biopsy. They inserted a piece of metal inside her and her doctor said it was so the surgical team would know exactly what spot to operate on. They didn't tell her right away that it was cancer... but she suspected that it was based on how they were talking.

Me and my mom, Christmas 2009

So now we'll wait and see what the surgical team has to say, what they say will be her next step...likely a lumpectomy followed by 2 months of radiation treatments.

Please send up some prayers for her health and recovery, to my Dad in his continuing struggle, and to my brother and me as we struggle ourselves knowing now that cancer does run in our family.

Row, Row, Row Your...Canoe!

So, last month my son and I took a solo day and went to Disneyland. I have a major "thing" for Disneyland. I could seriously go every week and the 90+ minute drive doesn't daunt me... it's nothing when you have the excitement of the Happiest Place on Earth to look forward to!

However...driving home after a long day of walking is another matter in itself!

Though we'd had mild summer weather, of course that day it was over 100 degrees! We spent the hottest part of the day seeking out air conditioned rides like Small World & the Haunted Mansion and watched a great comedy show inside the Golden Horseshoe during lunch (though we were disappointed that we missed Billy Hill & the Hillbillies, we love them).

In the Court of Angels, New Orleans Square

Many breaks were taken to sit in the shade. We shared mint julep, which was so refreshing. The Boy also ate a chocolate covered banana that melted all over the place and I had to buy him a new shirt.

Sipping on julep

Then the Boy spotted the canoe boats. The canoe boats LOOK like a lot of fun. You sit inside the carved out canoe, the guides are dressed like Davy Crockett in fringy pants and coonskin caps, they hand you an oar and you paddle your way around the River of America with 18 other lucky saps on the cool, mossy green colored water.

My Explorer, ready to row

But what you might not guess is that you are actually doing the rowing. Yes, there is a guide at the front of the boat and one at the back end too but consider that half of the rowers on the canoe are going to be small children wearing constricting life jackets and you'll soon figure out that rowing the canoe is no easy task.

Top Ten Reasons to Avoid the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes at Disneyland -

1. It's impossible to coordinate everyone to row at the same time. It's a guarantee that you are going to knock your oar into either the person in front or the person behind you.
2. You can't switch sides. I was rowing on the left. That's fine, I'm left handed. But after rowing for 10 minutes without being able to switch to my right, my poor arm was achin'!
3. Someone loses their oar into the water just about every canoe ride. Another one bites the dust and you are down one you get to row harder!
4. You will sweat, this is hard work. And it was 100 degrees that day, what were we thinking?
5. You aren't on a track. There is no button to push that will allow the track to pick up the slack. If you don't row, you don't move!
6. You will get wet! When I was done, my pants were soaked and the Boy had accidentally poured a stream of swampy green water on my head when he lifted his oar out of the water.
7. Did I mention it was 100 degrees? And that most of the River is unshaded?
8. Don't sit behind a child because they will merely drag their oar across the water when they can't keep up with the rowing, sending a spray of that lovely green water right into your face.
9. You are at Disneyland to go on the rides, right? This is a ride but you really have to work for it!
10. I think I might have mentioned that it was 100 degrees? And that I'd rather be sitting in the shade, sipping another mint julep?

Okay, okay so I sound like it wasn't a good time but actually it was a blast. Yes, it was extremely hot but those little splashes of green mystery water are actually refreshing. And yes, it's also very hard work but I do like the canoes because they are a Disney classic. It's also something very basic and physical and the kids get a big 'ol kick out of holding an oar and floating on the water.

Thumbs up for the day so far, even after sweating it out on the canoes

After touring around in our canoe, the Boy was ready to explore Pirate Island (aka: Tom Sawyer Island). We do like the improvements that have been made and the little details that were added to the caves but it's still a very tight squeeze in some of those caves, you have to follow your child or risk losing them when they emerge from a cave on the opposite side of the island and do you remember me mentioning that it was over 100 degrees?! Those dusty caves get stifling hot inside. But we did find this very cool pile of treasure under the shade of a tree and the cold-hard-cash felt so nice to sit on!

Sitting on Jack Sparrow's treasure on Pirate Island

Thursday, September 9, 2010

FIVE FOR FRIDAY - Back to School week

Okay, so a lot of kids have already been a school for like a month or something, I know, but my Boy just started this past Tuesday. He was so over-the-moon about being a first grader this year and I have to say that he was much more at ease this year. We haven't had any of the anxiety that came with starting school last year...hope it stays that way!

Here is my guy in a side-by-side comparison this year versus last year. He's wearing the exact same clothes because they still fit around the waist but you can clearly see in the kneecaps that he's grown a few inches in the year (3" to be exact).


This week's FIVE FOR FRIDAY brings us Back to School with some great Etsy items to bring more organization, more creativity and simply more fun to the school year!


How COOL is this hand-embroidered felt alphabet?! I know these would be so much fun with a toddler, teaching colors & letters and then later with a preschooler, practicing spelling words. I like the colorful travel tic-tac-toe game in the shop, too.


Sturdy, unbendable plastic tags that are personalized so you can easily label lunch sacks, backpacks, sports bags, luggage...whatever! The shop also has an allergy alert tag that can be specifically designed to alert caregivers to your child's allergy.


We've all seen crayon carrying cases but this one is special because it not only holds the crayons (or pencils) but also holds a sketch book and is a fantastic price as well! I have the Mini-Shopper tagged as a Favorite for myself, such a great idea, I can't wait to buy one...just trying to decide which fabric to choose, there are so many!


Even if you couldn't afford a whole new back-to-school wardrobe this year, just a few little accessories can really make an older outfit look fun & new again! Pair a sweetly detailed set of pig-tails bows like these with a simple tee and jeans for a snazzy new look.


Lastly, I have this Crayon set ready to mail. Please take a look in my READY TO SHIP section, where everything has been reduced 15% for a limited time (or until they sell out). Shop ahead, there is a handpainted Christmas tote as well as a Halloween outfit.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Birthday Extravaganza!

So the birthday extravaganza weekend has come to a close...sigh!

It kick-started on Friday with a "date night" that included a trip to Sears for Neighbor Boy's required tools for a new job, a walk over to Boot Barn for a new pair of steel-toe boots for him, a grilled chicken Caesar salad at Chili's, and a stop at Home Depot to pick up the tools that Sears didn't have in stock.

Okay, so that wasn't much of a date but we still had a fun time out together.

Me, with my (store bought!) carrot cake

The next night was more "datey" (Datie? Daty?)

I knew that he wanted to take me out and I'd already lined up my folks to babysit for the evening. He called around 4:30, I was just getting ready to take a shower.

"Let's leave around 5pm!"

"Uh...okay, I'll try and be fast, we'll see how it goes..." I catch a glance at myself in the mirror, unshowered, messy hair, no make-up, yikes! I ask, "What should I wear?"

Now, please note that Neighbor Boy very VERY rarely makes a mention of what I am wearing, I'm not sure he ever notices to be honest, he's just sort of a man's man, know what I mean? He has never EVER made a request for a particular outfit.

That day was the exception, he was very specific:
"Wear something that shows off your shoulders...a dress...and either the yellow or hot pink heels."


That was quite a request...and I complied. I had a lovely new halter dress I was planning on wearing anyway and I slipped on the yellow strappy, platform sandals. My only regret? Not getting a photo!! We looked so cute *wink*

He took me to dinner at the Brigantine & we each got a seafood plate & then shared between us the jumbo fried shrimp and fish planks, so yummy! Afterwards we took a drive up to the top of Mount Helix to see the view but there weren't any parking spots so we just drove back down again, oh well!

The next day after church, my brother, sister-in-law and nephew came over and we celebrated with steaks and baked potato (yah, no calls for delivery pizza this year!) and margaritas...lots of margaritas! It was a lovely day so we hung around in the front yard in the shade, took the kids swimming for a bit next door at NB's house and then back to my house for carrot cake (store-bought but still good!)

NB took this one of the kids playing in the yard

I had the wise idea to hand my camera to the kids...blame it on the margaritas! Well you know if ONE kid gets the opportunity to take a photo then the next kid wants to take one and then the third wants his chance too! Generally I'd be pretty nervous handing over my pricey Canon to a 5 year old but they were all very good with handling it.

Taken by the 5 year old, not too shabby. That's me & NB

Taken by my 6-year old son, he got a little too much of the shelf in there at the bottom but I love NB's daughter's expression in this shot! That's my brother with me and my sister-in-law and nephew

Taken by the other 6-year old, she requested I pose with her Princess Peach doll

So on my "real" birthday, which was Monday (Labor Day), we went to the zoo and then to lunch at In & Out for burgers and milkshakes. Of course, I forgot to bring my camera along for that so you'll just have to imagine the hippos snuggling underwater, the naughty monkey and the grilled onions on my cheeseburger yourself.

Happy Birthday to's to another fantastic year!

Friday, September 3, 2010

FIVE FOR FRIDAY - Birthday Celebration begins!


It's my birthday early next week. It falls on Labor Day this year, which is nice because that means I get the day off!

I'm in a celebrating mood. I LIKE my birthday (though not necessarily the whole "getting older" part). I like that my family gets together even though I've told them this year they are not allowed to go the easy route and just order pizza! I always like to go all-out and plan parties but seems that others don't quite enjoy the process as I do and my birthday (since it falls around a holiday weekend each year) is usually lumped in with a bbq that just happens to include store-bought cake *wink*

So, I have no idea what they will be planning for me this year. I just know that I won't be eating pizza (right everyone? RIGHT?)

Here is my Five for Friday today, featuring Etsy items in a BIRTHDAY theme!


Sign the card...
I adore letterpress and this birthday card takes the cake. The range of colors is so pretty (I'm a sucker for the lime green!).

Get dressed up...
If you are a little girlie, my cupcake appliqued tee and coordinating twirly skirt is just what you need to bring some fun to the party!


And if you are a big girlie, wouldn't these charming cupcake earrings put you right into the party mood?



String up a sweet handcrafted customized birthday banner & it's an instant PARTY! Lots of different designs to choose from here, the monkey ones are great too!


Set out the cupcakes...
The birthday girl could have her cupcake served on a specially themed ceramic stand! Wowwy, I love everything in this shop, in particular the azure cake stand, the lacy detailing around the edge is incredible. Any of my family listening? :)


Blow out the candles...
No way, edible butterfly cupcake toppers?! Just beautiful, simply beautiful. Lots of other designs including some personalized fall leaves.

Thanks Mom, for spending her Labor Day so many years ago laboring to bring me into the world!