boys at a ballet?

My little men and I are going on a grand outing next week.  We are attending a matinee performance of The Nutcracker.  One might ask, "Why would you take two uber active boys to the ballet?"  It is a legitimate question.  I am certain that they can rise to the occasion.  Well, at least Big W.  Little Man is another story all together.  He isn't known to just go with the flow, so I am hedging my bets.

When I was teaching it was called building background knowledge.  Current day, I call it covering my a^#!  I am hopeful, not delusional.  With my entire arsenal, I am getting him pumped up to see this ballet.

I have been reading him a simple picture book that tells the story of The Nutcracker Ballet.  I am confident Little Man will enjoy the performance more if he knows the story.

[via amazon]

I downloaded the music of The Nutcracker from iTunes and burned CD's for my boys.  They listen to them at night as they are falling asleep. Of course, Little Man's favorite track is #8 [The Nutcracker Fights the Mouse King's Army].  An army in a ballet?  His interest is peaked.

As mother, all I want is to have an enjoyable afternoon with my boys.  I want see the ballet and leave feeling inspired.  Wish me luck-I'm going to need it!


twinkle lights

A few weeks back, a good friend and I were seriously debating whether or not to buy these Starry String lights at Restoration Hardware.  We weren't sure exactly how we would use them or how to hide the battery pack.  For $25, we needed a plan and since neither of us had one-we both passed.

Fast forward to this week.  I decided my mantel needed some TLC.
I used this image as my jumping off point.
I had tall mercury candle holders, white dotted votive holders, a tall white vase and pine cones.  I picked up 6' of douglas fir garland [and a hefty $.98 a foot] and a bunch of curly willow at our favorite nursery.  NOW I needed that little string of lights!  I was determined to find them [cheap] and headed to Target.

Low and behold......
[twinkling lights.  $6.99 @ Target]

I have few finishing touches to add, but I am loving it! 

Should I take the leap and just decorate with natural greens and white, with touches of mercury and metalics next year??

PS.  It was super simple to hide the battery pack behind the garland. 


holiday sanity [use gift guides]

It is easy to feel like your head is spinning during the holidays.  I have revolving to-do lists, some that I have actually written down.  Gifts, cards, meals, cookies, parties, family, kids....and... and...the lists are endless!

So, with less than two weeks to go.......
Keep your sanity.
Idea #1:  Let someone else do the thinking!  Use gift guides.

Here are a few to start with:
  1. Gift guide for the guys- cupcakes and cashmere
  2. Guide for sisters, brothers, dads..... - a cup of jo
  3. To and From - a gift guide from bloggers and tastemakers [this one is unbelievable!!]

Brilliant Idea!  Use the valet parking at the mall.  Splurge.  Why not?  'Tis the season of indulgence.


o christmas tree #1

Our first tree was 3' tall and purchased outside a drug store in Santa Clara, CA.  Since then we have had 12 Christmas trees and added 2 children to our family.  Some of the funniest stories of our marriage surround getting our Christmas tree. In the beginning, it always seemed to be an adventure.  

Year A:  I watched my husband whittle the trunk of tree down with his chainsaw [in the dark and pouring rain] so that it would fit into our tree stand.  

Year B:  We took our 18 month old to a tree farm to cut down our own tree.  After walking through knee deep mud and our little one taking a face plant, we looked at each other and agreed, without words, to abort mission.  We grabbed a tree from a lot on the way home. 

Year C:  Our favorite nursery nailed our tree stand on for us.  When we got it home, the tree had a considerable lean.  We piled coasters under one side of the stand to even it out.  A slight breeze would have blown that tree over.

I have considered getting an artificial tree, but where's the fun in that?  We actually have it down to a science now.  Chalk that up to a little experience.  Our requirements:  a dry day, all 4 family members in attendance, the same local nursery, a larger tree stand, and a quick check to see if the tree stands straight - before it's loaded onto the car. 

Lucky us, we found a pretty darn good-looking noble fir this year [no chainsaw required].  
Step 1:  get tree. check.
Step 2:  add ornaments.
{clockwise from top left}
1.  The original ornaments.  Purchased in 2000 for $2.99 for our very first tree.  Only a few remain, but I can't leave them off.
2.  An ornament engraved with my name.  For the last 37 years, it has been on my grandmother's tree [along with all of my cousin's ornaments].  This is our first Christmas without her.  I lovingly hung it on my tree this year. 
3.  iheartny.  A little ornament to remind me of an amazing trip to New York City last December.
4. A bag of plastic ornaments purchased at Home Depot.  In 2007, I had a baby on the move and needed ornaments on the tree that wouldn't break [or kill him if he bit one].  Certainly not designer, but we put them on our tree every year.  It makes my heart full remembering my boys as babies. 


elf crazy

[elfie keeps a watchful eye]

The world has gone elf crazy.  These "scout" elves from the north pole are taking over the days leading up to Christmas.  

If you have an Elf on the Shelf, you may understand the madness.  Why all the fuss?  These little elves can be extremely helpful, albeit a bit creepy.  [Ever notice how his eyes always seem to be following you?]  They scout out behavior and report back to the North Pole each night.  Elves should be a mother's best friend.  I read the book each year to my kids.  It is fairly specific in detailing the elf, its powers, and its mission.  

This is where the craziness has taken over.  No where in the book does it state that the elf will come into your home and wreak havoc!!  Some elves have been known to take all the ornaments off of the tree, make cookies and toss flour everywhere, put toothbrushes in the toilet, or cover a room with post-it notes on every wall.  What kind of elf would do that?  Not our Elfie!!  [It makes no sense to me!!]

A few pointers [from our good elf] to pass along to your elf:

1.  Elfie has been know to show up in places that are "problem" areas for our family.  Man, he is on it!

2.  If Elfie has seen behavior during the day that he just doesn't want to report, he doesn't fly back to the North Pole.  [This easily explains why your kids might find the elf in the exact same spot he was in the day before.  Perfect time to review the elf's mission!  It's not mommy's fault he isn't hiding in a new spot!]

3.  Elfie is a good listener.  He enjoys hearing little boy's hopes and dreams.  He smiles, sits quietly and lets them talk.  [This is why he is invited back each and every year.]

I sure hope your elf is spreading good cheer in your home.  If not, you might consider putting in for a replacement elf.  

PS.  Have you seen this blog post?  Overachieving mommies-be warned!  Someone might be gunning for you in the Starbucks line.  It might be me!


[dapper] little men

Around my house there is no chance for velvet dresses or satin bows this time of year.  However, I don't throw the towel in completely.  The Santa picture is my one chance to dress my guys in their finest.  My oldest has always loved wearing ties and looking good.  Little Man begrudgingly agrees only with the promise of a candy cane after seeing Santa.

A few tips on dressing up little men:

1.  Keep it simple and slightly hipster. 
I am sucker for ties and we have quite a collection.  Most of them are clip on ties, like this striped one, from The Children's Place.  At $7.95, it is the perfect little boy accessory.  This gray tie [similar here] is actually a real tie I bought last year.  My husband tied the full Windsor and then we slip it over his head.  Pair the tie with a white shirt and pair of jeans-you are good to go.

2.  Forgo the dress shoes.  Buy something they will wear again.

3.  Improvise if they grow out of something.
The arms of the white shirt from last year were too short on my big guy.  I didn't want to buy new.  The rest of the shirt fit great, so I improvised.  We rolled up the sleeves and he looked casually cool.  

Rest assured.  If you are mother to boys, you can still play dress up! 


shopping counts....

If only.
Between the crummy weather and hectic schedules-I find my workout is the first thing that falls off the daily to-do-list!  Which is really a shame, since there is a box of Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark calling my name from the cupboard.  [Not sure what they put in it to make it so decadent, but it should be illegal!]

Good luck getting your cardio done.....shopping or otherwise.


finding [and creating] advent

The season of advent is upon us!  And so begins the countdown to Christmas.  It appears that kids will be enjoying many different types of advent calendars this year. 

My boys have the Christmas doors-or so they call them!  It is actually an advent box from Restoration Hardware that I received quite a few years ago.  [Sorry to say, it is no longer available.]

Each day one of them has the opportunity to open the next door and discover the treasure inside.  This year-each day is a mini Star Wars LEGO to build, taken directly from the LEGO 2012 Advent Calendar.  Not creative in any way, but it is exactly what they want.  However, others I know are creating unique advent calendars.

A girlfriend's children have a special advent calendar made for them by their grandparents.  They both have a small bag to open each day.  Each bag {light green for sister, dark green for brother} pinned on a line with a clothespin, spray painted red, and lovingly hung by the Christmas tree.

My cousin has made an experiential advent calendar.  Each day reveals a holiday experience to do together.  I love her inventiveness to think of 24 different things to do with her five year old daughter.  A few of her ideas?  Write Santa a letter, make coffee filter snowflakes, watch a holiday movie, go to see the nutcracker,  take a trip to a Seattle nursery and visit real reindeer.  This has inspired me to add a few experiences into my advent box.   This is such a special way to honor traditions-new and old!

Pinterest is brimming with ideas as well.....

[via martha stewart, along with 11 other ideas for calendars]



How much do you love this grown up advent calendar?!?  A bottle of wine a day.  'Tis the season for love and good cheer!   

It isn't too late to start an advent calendar.  If you are feeling inspired, go for it!  Kids would love to open multiple doors, envelopes or bags to catch up!


isn't my life glamorous?

Let me set the stage:
I was picking up my two boys up from school.  It wasn't raining and they asked to play for a few minutes with their friends.  I readily agreed; it would give me a chance catch up with some girlfriends.  As I was chatting, I caught sight of Little Man.  I knew at once we were in trouble.  He was walking like the tin man [stiff legs and at a slow pace].  He had one hand behind his back holding his bottom.   I watched the scene in slow motion and calmly said, "Hurry, buddy."  Then he stopped quickly and froze. [Oh. no.]  "It already came out, mommy."  [Breathe in, breathe out.]

Quickly shifting in to crisis management mode, I gather my oldest and told him we had to go.  "Why?" he asks.  Poop in the pants.  Is that reason enough?  Living less than a mile from school, I just needed to get him home.  However, he refused to walk.  I convinced him to just get into the school bathroom and we could dump the contents of his underwear - so that he could walk to the car and sit down for the ride home. Thank goodness I wasn't a rookie.  It is a delicate process of getting a soiled pair of undies down cleanly.  Score one for mom. Step 1 complete.  Next, quickly home for clean up and new clothes. 

Once in the car I quickly fire off a text to my dear friend who witnessed it all... 
"Isn't my life glamorous?"

Her reply: "Poor thing! This is why we drink!"   [I do love my girlfriends.]

A few hours later Little Man was dancing and catching snowflakes.  I watched him and smiled.  My heart full.   [And I sure do love him!]

Is my life glamorous? No.  Do some days include poop-filled Ninjago underwear? Yes.  
Let's be honest motherhood is not for the weak.   Thankfully, the low moments are often followed by some of the best! 


personalization error

I recently ordered these cocktail napkins from Pottery Barn.   A little napkin with our initial could only make appetizers and cocktails a little more fun. I was giddy with excitement when the package arrived yesterday.

[one might refer to this as an epic fail]

The monogram was supposed to be {T}.  Fun, right?  Somehow their order system added two dashes after the single letter T that I entered.  {T - - } then translated directly to the embroidery.  I had to just laugh.  Can you imagine the person packaging my napkins?  Do you think they saw the humor in this ridiculous monogram?  For a moment, I thought about keeping them.  It could be my inside joke with my husband. A test for our friends and family.  Who would mention or ask about this odd personalization?  You know that awkward moment when you notice something, but don't say anything in case it would be rude.  Slightly evil, but still funny.

In the end I decided to return them.  The return reason code: WP-personalization error.  Yep, I would say that pretty much sums it up.  

The clincher:  I wanted to reorder the napkin with the correct monogram. Nope.  On back order until January 9, 2013. 


washi tape

After putting my pumpkins in the compost bin, my table needed a little cheer.  I gathered a few items and found my washi tape.  I dig this decorative paper tape.  It makes a novice look really crafty!

{washi tape from anthropologie and michael's}

{materials:  red hots, scissors, dollar vase from michael's, and washi tape}

I chose to use the white and silver tape.  It is as simple as masking tape {and easy to remove}.

{dollar vase with washi tape filled (filled with red hots), "rudolf" glassybaby , prayer candle}

Hmmmmm, how else can I use washi tape?  What would you do?


make a [lighting] plan

 {'tis the season to be jolly}

I know that we made some important decisions about our Christmas lights last year.  There were some critical changes that we were going to make this year.  We had a plan.  Not sure what it was now-but I am certain it was good.  Has that ever happened to you?

As soon as it is dry and I am fairly sure he will not slip and fall, I send my husband up on the roof. Sunday turned out to be a perfect day.  In the end, we decided to simplify this year.  I love the look of these bulb lights.  When you use light clips you can get an almost perfect line with perfect spacing.  {I am an "all white lights" kind of girl inside, but I splash out out with red bulbs on the house.} I spent most of my afternoon up a tree.  Methodically, I wrapped hundreds of white lights around the limbs of our Japanese Maple.  Risking my life, numerous times, to get a strand just a little bit higher.  The pay off is totally worth the risk.

The Christmas train has left the station and I am joyfully on board.  Don't let it run you over.  Just take small steps and find the joy of the season. Make a plan. 

What is the first thing on your to do list?


thankful for [the little things]

[wooden pumpkin by Jen's Signs, "hide and seek" glassybaby, prayer candle]

[crafty pumpkin Little Man made for me]

Dorothy Dean's Turkey Talk.  Instructions my grandmother sent to me when I was preparing to roast my first turkey.  She had received it as part of a Homemakers Service mailing printed by the local paper.  Decades later, nothing has changed.  I love that I have this!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  I am thankful for the little things.
{And also all of you.  Thank you for being so supportive of my little blog!}


dark and stormy

The weather yesterday here in Seattle, pushed me to hunt down the essentials for one of my husband's favorite drinks, a Dark and Stormy.  Fitting, right? 

The key is finding good ginger beer.  Ice, Bundaberg ginger beer, and Gosling's Black Seal Rum.  The perfect Dark and Stormy.


pumpkin shrimp curry

I do love my iPhone.  It is just so darn handy.  I often take pictures of magazine images with my camera in waiting rooms.  It is easy to snap pictures of recipes, exercise routines and restaurant tips that I want to remember.  This recipe is a perfect example.  Not sure exactly which magazine it was from last fall, but I have made this many times over.  My obsession with butternut squash has not faded and this curry dish is the perfect mix of the "other" squash and pumpkin. 

Sorry for the blur, but I was pretty darn excited to eat!  


chevron stripes

Pumpkins are still the #1 decoration for a few more days.  I am crazy about chevron stripes and could not resist this project!
Grab a pumpkin.  Make a pattern of chevron stripes with masking tape or painters' tape.  Paint entire pumpkin with white spray paint.  [I used Krylon Flat White.]

Fun, right? 



I am totally digging my new plan to meet up with friends.  I will call it my, "Let's do breakfast." plan.  Lunch is great, but it happens right in the middle of the day. [Funny how that works!].  With lots to do, meeting a friend right after I drop the kids off at school allows me ample time after to get sh*t done!  With a bit of rummaging, I have been finding some amazing places that serve mid-week breakfast. 

I recently lingered over a breakfast at Oddfellows Cafe + Bar.  Exposed brick, repurposed furniture and fixtures, and tons of light make this Capitol Hill eatery comfortable and easy.  They are open 8am-late daily-with a full bar.  Breakfast was delicious, so I can only assume lunch and dinner would be too!  Oddfellows gains total bonus points being next door neighbors with Elliott Bay Book Co.  That is a perfect one, two punch! 


the holiday card....

The pressure is on.  Time to pick a picture and theme and get my holiday cards ordered.  Each and every year, November arrives and I scramble.  We have a few requirements in our home for the picture that we choose:

1.  It MUST include all 4 of us.  [My husband stands firm on this one.]

Wait, I guess that is just one one requirement.  Easier said than done. How many of you get to the end of a calendar year and have yet to take one picture that included your entire family?  I was so desperate a few years ago I bought $1 Santa hats, put my camera on self-timer and posed us in front of the fireplace.  Not our best picture.  Professional shots are the easiest, but we only have those done every few years or so. 

Last year we were crazy enough to go indoor skydiving and I had a bystander snap a quick picture.  In the end, it was the picture that summed up our year.  [Oh! What fun!]

What I love the most about our card in 2012 was that is was TOTALLY us!  It is completely freeing to give up on the idea of the "perfect" family picture, for the "perfect" holiday card. Who's perfect anyway?  Perfect is boring.   We didn't sky dive this year, so our picture won't be quite so awesome.  Nonetheless, I do have one of all four of us-so I am on to step 2.

{PS.  I love everything about the upcoming holiday, including the cards! If I didn't find enjoyment in the process-I wouldn't do it.  My thought: if it doesn't feed you in some way, shape or form, DO NOT do it.}


and the trophy goes to....

Uh, oh.  I am so screwed.

Both of my sons are wrapping up their fall sports seasons.  And yes, they will be receiving trophies for simply being on a team.  I am indifferent to the idea of awarding trophies for nothing special.  I am pretty sure if, and when, either of them get a trophy for an actual accomplishment they will understand the difference. 

Actually, we should roll this idea over to parenting.   You wouldn't actually need maternal skills or exhibit exceptional ability.  No need to go above and beyond-just conception and birth.  Mother of Year!


daily dishonesty

The little lies we tell ourselves...daily. 

Hey, why not write 'em down, make 'em pretty, and frame it.  How brilliant?  Check out the rest @ Daily Dishonesty.


this takes the cake [plate]

I took down all of my Halloween decor, but fall is still center stage.  I loved this simple idea to showcase a mini white pumpkin.   A small cake plate, white hydrangeas and the pumpkin-that's all you need. 
I placed mine on a side table in the living room.  It would be right at home in an entry or center stage on your table. 


hello november.


November is [somehow] upon us.  I am still sneaking Halloween candy from my kids' stash and yet have Christmas in the back of my head.  The calendar indicates lots of extra time with my kids [no school and 1/2 days are scattered throughout the month] and an end to fall sports schedules.  Forecasts predict cooler, wet weather.  I hope to share with you- in the next few weeks -ideas to stay sane and live creatively.  We should all be able to find time to share good meals, take care of our bodies, and love those around us-abundantly.

hello, november.  happy to greet you again.


grilled pb & banana sandwich

I present an alternative afternoon snack or brunch idea.  Grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich.

You have the ingredients on hand.  They are all staples.

white bread, peanut butter, banana, butter and cinnamon sugar

I started with this recipe, but made a few changes to my sandwich [I added butter and cinnamon sugar].
  1. Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread and place sliced pieces of banana on top. [I cut the banana in 1/2 and sliced it the long way.]
  2. Place other slice of bread on top.  Butter top of piece of bread and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  
  3. Heat skillet over med. high heat and place buttered side down.  Butter other side of sandwich and sprinkle on more of that cinnamon goodness!  Grill until golden brown.
It far surpassed my expectations.  The addition of butter and cinnamon sugar created a crispy, sweet outer shell on the bread.  The insides were warm and gooey.  It is certainly more sweet than savory.  Kids of all ages will devour it!  And the variations are endless. 

[this. is. good.]

PS.  You could use a natural peanut butter.  I use Jif.  I am choosy like that. 
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