Monthly Archives: July 2011

recent discoveries


As I lathered myself up with coconut oil this evening, I decided to add it to my list of recent discoveries.  I just love it!  It smells divine and it is the perfect moisturizer for your outsides, and appears to be the perfect oil for your insides as well.  If you google “benefits of coconut oil” you will wonder why you have yet to buy this miracle product.  The claims that people make about coconut oil really do seem to be miraculous.  I, personally, cannot tell you if it is protecting me again osteoporosis, or if it is at work dissolving a kidney stone right now, but these are just some of the dozens of benefits.  It even claims to kill the viruses that cause influenza!  Besides cooking with coconut oil, I have used it to deep condition my hair and moisturize my skin.  It is not a super greasy oil like mineral oil, so you can go about your day without feeling like you have just stepped off the beach in 1985.  What I am about to say might sound crazy, but I tried it.  I heard it works, so I decided to try it.  I have not used any type of soap or lotion on my face for over a month now.  I have only used coconut oil.  Face wash for women can get really expensive!  Plus, I realized, I can not even tell you what half of the ingredients are that I am putting on my face and whether they are good for me or not.  So, I decided to try coconut oil.  And I have been pleasantly surprised.  I will say that you should use a cotton pad to wipe your face after you apply to limit your hair from touching your face.  Other than that, I like it!  Check out these recipes for making your own coconut oil based sunscreen and deodorant.

But as I said, coconut oil was just something I was adding to my list.  Also on the list was this website I have discovered  It sounds kind of weird to say that I just discovered it because it is the website to the women’s Bible study I have been attending for a year now.  BUT, I didn’t know it was so cool until recently!  They give really great recipes, crafts and other fun ideas on here.  Check out these fun party streamers, and so easy too!


And my other discovery, which is for local Southern Californians, or for the Southern California tourists, is Lido Island.  I just love it!  Yesterday, Brian and I enjoyed the movie, Midnight in Paris at the Lido Theater.  It is an old art deco theater that makes you feel like you are stepping back in time.  How appropriate if you saw Midnight in Paris, because in the movie Owen Wilson travels back in time each night at midnight.  That is all I will say about the movie so that I don’t give it away.  I thought it was a cute movie and would recommend it, especially if you love Paris, art, and/or literature.  After the movie we rode our bikes to a cute little beach on the island.  It is ideal for kids.  The playground is literally just steps from the water which means you can park it somewhere in the middle and keep an eye on the kiddos in the water or on the playground.  There are no waves and the dock makes for a nice little diving platform.  It has become a new favorite place of ours because the parking is free and there is never a crowd unlike on Balboa Peninsula.  And then we had to stop at Alta Coffee Shop.  Alta is a quaint little shop with mismatched cups and plates that features the work of local artists as well.  There is usually live music in the evenings and you cannot go there without ordering a slice of cheesecake.  I am not joking.  It really is the best.

Since I have shared some of my secrets with you, does anyone have any for me?  I would love to hear them.  Also, we will soon be making our way to Yosemite.  Is there any waterfall in particular that we should put at the top of our list?  Any special hike?  Let me know.

And lastly, Happy Birthday to my hubby!  Here is a little video we made for him over breakfast.  Don’t mind our bedhead.  Piper’s scripted voice makes me laugh.  Check out out:



Summer Service


This week we have been volunteering as a family for Vacation Bible School in the area.  You have probably seen signs on churches across your city promoting their VBS this summer.  Brian and I were saying it is about as American as apple pie.  It seems like it is just what churches do.  At Rockharbor Church they have done something a little different the last few years.  They have taken Vacation Bible School out of the church and into the communities.  This entire week at 30+ locations in Orange County kids are meeting in parks, schools and even backyards connecting with others in their neighborhood and getting the chance to be loved on.  And most importantly, many are learning about The Big God Story and how they play apart in that story.  While I miss the big production aspect of VBS that I have seen and been a part of in the past, I have really enjoyed this experience.  I am getting followed around by 6 year old girls who want to do everything I am doing and have soaked up the attention by the little boys who told me that I rocked the coolest hairstyle today for crazy hair day.  It has been 4 years since I have worked in the classroom and this brought back so many fun aspects of my job.  But the best part is being there as a family.  It was Brian’s idea to volunteer and I figured if that is how he wanted to spend a week of his vacation, I mean gosh, he only has 10 weeks ;), then let’s do it!

Straight out of Whoville

Piper was a bit shy the first couple days and today she came out of her shell.  She saw a friend that used to take dance with her and the two of them were playing a game with the older boys.  Piper has a thing for boys between the ages of 6 and 10, especially if they are the class clown type.  Tatum gets tons of attention too.  The little girls want to feed her, push her in the swing and even hold her.  She will take up the offer from a perfect stranger if it involves food and a swing ride, but she won’t let them pick her up which is fine with me.

Each year the church picks a service project for the kids.  This year we are collecting money for “We’ve Got your Back” a project by the organization Giving Children Hope.  They provide backpacks full of food for children to pick up and take home to feed the families through the weekend.  For $20 a family can receive a backpack each weekend for a month with enough food for everyone.  I love the idea of teaching the kids about sacrifice and serving others. 


Feeling Crafty: From our house to the birds’


Recycled Trellis

It is so great having Brian home for the summer so that all of our projects can get done. I have ideas, and big plans a lot of the times, but Brian has the ambition and says, “let’s do it!”  So I had this idea to make a trellis for these jasmine plants I have growing in the front.  The gardeners always cut them like bushes, but really they are vines and they just need something so that they can climb.  Using some wood from the woodpile on the side of the house, a little rope and some chain, I (we) made a trellis.  I am now thinking two will look even better.

I have some frames similar to these and they were my inspiration.  They are made from old boat wood in Thailand.  I love the color schemes and thought something like that would look cool hanging from the eaves of the house.  The colors didn’t really go, but I thought I would tie in my new red door and use some of the same paint to paint the wood for my trellis.  Seriously, we did not go to the store to buy anything for this project.  We had the wood, rope, and some chain left over from a fluorescent light that used to hang in the garage.  As for hardware, we used 4 small hook screws.

my supplies

Brian drilled 2 holes in each side of the wood.  Then, I tied a knot in the bottom of the rope and began lacing.  I didn’t need to tie knots after each one because the tension keeps it in place, and I was able to adjust and straighten them easily once they were up.

We attached hooks to the eaves and to the top piece of wood and attached the chain for a little rustic looking trellis.  So easy!  Oh, and Brian took a piece of rope and attached it to a strong branch so that it wouldn’t bang against the stucco in the wind.  I still think blues, yellows and greens would look cool, so please, someone try it!

Decorating Bird Houses

I purchased these bird houses unfinished at Michaels for either $1 or $2.  I can’t remember.  Either way, they weren’t very expensive and can keep your child busy for at least a half hour.  Think outside of the box (or house).  Of course, you can paint it, but buttons, decoupage, stickers, glitter and even photographs are also fun.  Can I just say that I love Modge Podge.  It is a gluey paste that you can use to attach anything to, well, anything!  Nautica applied some Modge Podge onto her bird house, laid some cute paper on it, and then painted on another layer of Modge Podge.  It also makes for a nice glossy finish.  I have this plan to decoupage this kid’s rocking chair I got at a garage sale last year wtih some cute paper and Modge Podge.  If only I can get Brian to put it on his “to do” list too, then I know for sure we can get it done this Summer.

Piper went for the simple look while Nautica wanted every color and paper and even a bird house button on top

Also, right now at Michaels Craft Store, foam brushes are 14 for $1.  That is such a good price!  Saturday is the last day of the sale, but they go on sale every couple months.  They are the best for kids because you don’t get the bare spots that you would with a chincy paint brush and I am not about to let my 4 year old use my nice ones.  Plus, if they get thrashed after one or two times, who cares!  It costs 8 cents!  We used them to decorate our bird houses, but we also used them for some water painting.  Sometimes, when Piper wants to do crafts or painting, I let her do water painting because she doesn’t need to be supervised.  I don’t want paint on her clothes, but I can handle water.

Water Painting

A few months ago Piper was doing water painting in the afternoon.  The next morning the sprinklers had come on, left a water mark on the walkway and Piper thought her painting was still there.  That’s the only thing about water painting the hotter it is, the shorter your picture will stick around.  I just realized what a killing AquaDoodle is making off of their product.  The idea is the same, except you don’t have to be outside.  Wow!  And people pay good money for those!

And before I sign off, can I just share with you pictures of Tatum and her big girl pigtails.  She is growing and changing so much right now and she is keeping us all laughing.

Doesn’t she look like she could be Pippy Longstocking’s little sister in this picture?

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an anniversary present!


Piper and her cousin, Nautica, were busy at work on Monday making us the perfect anniversary present.  I bought them glitter felt at Michael’s that they said they needed (but now that I think about it wasn’t used) and some pink paper (which, now that I think about it, they also didn’t use…hey I think they were using ME!)  I drew the line at the Snow White stickers.  I told them that I really didn’t need Snow White stickers on whatever this present was.  And so, on Tuesday, I woke up to the most wonderful gift!  Wonderful only because they did it all by themselves.  They made me an apron out of leftover fabric from my curtains, too cute!  Complete with a cape-like back and everything!  No tying required.  Nautica did the writing and Piper did the decorating.  And equally as cute is the picture they took.

A picture of the apron…obviously, not our faces

Take two!

For our anniversary we went to the gym sans kids, played some racquetball, enjoyed the jacuzzi and went out to dinner at Spaghettini in Seal Beach.  It is a jazz club and restaurant and even though I grew up about 2 miles down the street from the place I had never been there.  The Tony Guerrero Quartet was playing, a comical group of guys.  And the food was fantastic.  Brian called and found out they had happy hour and it was perfect!  We had a seat in the bar which was also where the band played.  Otherwise, the music is streamed throughout the restaurant by speakers.  Happy hour was until 7 and the band started at 7!  So we ordered our drinks and an appetizer (the bruschetta with goat cheese was amazing!) and were planning on getting food off of the main menu.  Some parent in Brian’s school district donated $100 gift certificates to all the special education teachers, so we figured we’d splurge.  But, the bar menu food looked really good and we weren’t really hungry for a huge meal, so we ordered an entree and another appetizer from the bar!  I guess I can’t help myself when it comes to bargains!  I think I am going to make a list and share with you all my favorite happy hour deals.  It is one of our “skills”.

What did we get each other, perhaps you are wondering.  Well, we have done traditional gifts since we have been married, and year eight happens to be bronze.  Eight years!  Hard to believe, I feel too young.  Anyway, Brian got me some really cool earrings from the Patchwork Indie Arts and Craft show we went to a while back.  And I got Brian a Pottery Barn door knocker with the letter “R” engraved(with a bronze finish.  We give ourselves a little bit of freedom when it comes to traditional gift giving).  That might seem like a weird gift, but last week he just finished painting the house and it looks SO much better!  Complete with a red door and everything!  I’ve always wanted a red door!  And so, now we have a cute door knocker on our cute red door.

Before…the corner of the wall was permantly stained from a sprinkler that was aimed straight at the wall.

During…there’s our red door!

After…The finished product.

We are just renters, but with a few Groupon purchases from Frazee paint, and with a husband who has summers off, it really was a very small investment that was so worth it to us!  Even if we are here only another year, well, then for 1 year, I will enjoy my red door!

Friendly Competition


Today I got to have some special time with Piper which was really great.  One of the best things about having the hubby home for summer is having one-on-one time with the kids.  Piper says a lot of funny things and keeps us laughing around here.  One of the latest was she asked why Tatum had “wires of blood” going across her forehead.  Good metaphor for veins don’t you think?  Everything related to Tatum usually comes across a bit negative.  Perhaps, there’s a tinge of jealousy, sibling rivalry or just friendly competition.  However, Tatum is unaware of the competition which makes it all the more interesting.  She told Tatum in the car today, “You look like a boy.”  She says that frequently and when I told her that it wasn’t nice, she said, “No Mom, it is just because she took her hair clip out.”  And then I had to remind Piper that she wasn’t wearing a hair clip either.

I was looking through some pictures today and was just laughing and enjoying Piper for who she is: a little competitive, and a lot bossy.  She fits the mold of the first borns in my family. First, I came across these:

On this day I was taking a picture of Tatum in a hat that was given to her by her Great Aunt Susie.  Tatum was playing with a basketball in the garage when I was taking this, however, I just wanted to take a picture of her with her hat.  Piper, noticing that the camera was on Tatum said that she wanted a picture with the basketball too.

And so we take a picture of Piper with the basketball.  And then jokingly, Brian says, “I want my picture with the basketball” which starts the beginning of the family pictures with the basketball…minus Tatum, because I was never taking her picture with the ball in the first place!


On Valentine’s Day this year we went to the local senior center to pass out treats and cards to them.  We have a ladybug/lovebug costume and so I dressed Tatum in it to go there, but of course you can’t dress up the baby without Piper wanting in on it too!  And so we looked like the family who got the holidays mixed up.

I know a thing or two about competition and sibling rivalry.  I grew up with two sisters, and there was some serious competition going on.  The funny thing is, Stacy, the oldest, was just over 3 when she already had 2 younger siblings.  Her world was turned upside down before she even knew it!  You would think that since she never really got to experience life as an only child that the competitive spirit wouldn’t be there.  Oh, but it was!  I, being the baby, was told I was adopted by my two older sisters.  They told me that I had Elvis Presley eyebrows, and light hair and light eyes unlike the other two.  Clearly signs that I was adopted.  If you can relate, then there is this cute children’s book called, The Chicken of the Family.  The two sisters try and tell the 3rd that she is not really their sister, but that they got her from the farm down the street and she is actually a chicken.  In the night, they put a feather in her bed and an egg on the ground and she starts to believe them.  She goes to the farm to be with her chicken family and has so much fun that one of the other sisters wants to join her.  Not the oldest, of course, because her plan is not going the way it was supposed to.  It’s a pretty cute book.

Don't let those cute faces deceive you!

What’s your sibling story?  Were you the one doing the taunting or being taunted?


Feeling Crafty: Exploding with Fun


Spray bottle Fireworks

Painting Fireworks

Yesterday, we decided to do an Independence Day craft.  Once again, I pulled out my handy dandy roll of paper, stapled it to the fence and we spray painted some lovely fireworks.  All you need is, a paper plate, paint, spray bottle(s), and paper.  First you, cut triangle shapes out of the plate to resemble a firework.

A paper plate firwork template

Then, you hold the plate on your paper, and start spraying it with a paint and water mixture.  Maybe 5 ounces of water and a few squirts of paint.  The more paint, the darker the color.  But, if it is too thick, it might clog up your spray bottle.  We hung our paper up so we had drippy paint, you are probably better off laying your paper flat.  I just told the kids that it was a falling firework after it was done exploding.

Spraying her fireworks

It looks cool when you over lap with different colors.  We had only one spray bottle, so we switched to red after a little while.  Some other fun things to apply paint on paper are medicine droppers and old bath toys that squirt.  Submerge them under a paint/water solution in a bowl and fill them up and squirt or drop the color onto your canvas!

Piper’s cousin, Nautica, is here visiting and she wants to have a lemonade stand with Piper after seeing the pictures of the last one.  So, our art work has turned into our lemonade sign.  Nautica is 9 and loves Ramona and Beezus and the girls spent the whole afternoon pretending that they were Ramona and Beezus, and Tatum was the baby sister Roberta.  Nautica even wanted to misspell our lemonade sign like Ramona does, but I didn’t think that was a good business move. 😉

Lemonade and Rockets...what a combo

Fun with Rockets

Well, I was going to leave this craft out since my ultimate goal was to launch these bad boys and after visiting various hobby shops it was a no go.  It all started when Piper and I rented a DVD from the library called, Popular Mechanics for Kids.  The show was about spaceships and there was a short segment on how to make a rocket at home, and I figured that a kid is never too young to learn about drag, propulsion, and force, right?  Okay, really we thought that a real rocket that could blast off into the air seemed cool.  First you need a toilet paper roll and a paper towel roll. (But if you don’t have enough, you can do what I did and I bought poster board, cut a piece about the size of a piece of paper, wrapped it around an empty wrapping paper roll and hot glued it.  Plus, it made for some pretty festive rockets too.)  You can add fins and a nose (highly technical terms, I know).  The fins are just triangles cut out of cardboard, and the nose is a triangular shape, folded together to make a cone.  And then we glued it on the top.  To attach the two pieces together, you need a roll from plastic wrap or aluminum foil because it is smaller and will fit snugly.  I used the wrapping paper roll and cut about a 3 inch piece off.  I glued it to the inside of the bottom.  And then if your goal is to just make a rocket, then you can glue it to the top piece as well.

Me looking ridiculous with my nephew, Isaiah

BUT, if you want to try and launch your rocket, you may want to attach a parachute first!  Cut the handles off of a plastic bag and use thread about 12inches long to attach to each corner.  Tie all 4 pieces of thread into one knot.  Next, you need a rubber band cut to make it a string, or about a 4 inch piece of elastic.  tape the knot from the parachute to the center of the elastic.  Now, attach with hot glue or tape, the elastic into each section of your rocket.  Stuff the parachute in and fit the two pieces together!

And so that’s what I did and I figured I would buy CO2 cartridges and insert them and somehow light them.  I thought it would be easy, but not so.  I had done a CO2 car in middle school, so I figured it couldn’t be that dangerous if a class full of middle schoolers were working with explosives.  But I guess rockets don’t work that way.  Apparently you have to buy rocket engines and a launch pad and a battery operated fuse kit, and so on.  My little rocket project was going to turn into a $40 investment, and I wasn’t ready for that.  So, now we have rockets for the sake of rockets, not for blasting off into space.  I figure sometime in the future we will buy a kit and then we will have all the pieces when we want to make and launch our own.

And last, but not least, a water balloon fight is always exploding with fun.  Piper and her cousins had a blast and it cost me $1, now that’s a deal.  Even Tatum thought it was great and was shaking with excitement saying, “ooh, ooh”.

This is Tatum's "Oooohh" face