Monthly Archives: September 2011

Feeling Crafty: Fall Foliage


In Southern California we don’t get to experience the changing of the seasons like in other parts of our country.  I have always wanted to go visit New England when all the leaves are changing colors.  Perhaps at some point I will make it there.  Maybe even Indiana has cool trees, and looks more “fall” than here.  I guess I will find out next week!  In my neighborhood it seems that people just pick whatever kind of tree they want.  One house may have pines, and another one palms and every so often you see a beautiful tree with leaves that are bright red, orange and yellow.  They all seem to flourish here, which, I guess is the beauty of this climate.  In Germany, I remember the Fall Festivals and the Apple Fests that each city seemed to hold this time of year.  The booths would be decorated with leaves and foliage from the forests.  I remember thinking, Wow, in Southern California we have to go buy these kinds of decorations at the craft store!  This morning the girls and I went on a walk and on our way home we passed by a house with a beautiful tree in the yard with those smart little leaves that know that autumn has arrived and that it is time to change colors.  I commented on the leaves and said, “let’s collect some and do an art project when we get home!”  I always have an agreeable partner when it comes to crafts.  In Germany we went out and collected fall foliage and this is what we made:  a mobile (kind of) and a bouquet.  Not overly impressive, but fun nonetheless.

And so, when we got home, I was going to go grab a vase, when I remembered I had bought some straw wreaths at a garage sale a while back.  I also found a garland of berries that Piper had taken out of the neighbors “Free” pile when they moved.  I wrapped the berries around and then started stapling the leaves on to the wreath.  We really could have used more leaves, but when we were gathering I thought we would just be tying some string onto a stick or arranging them in a vase.  Anyway, there was a bare spot on the wreath and so Piper and I went on the hunt for some fall colored ribbon.  She found the “perfect” one, glittery pink.  Not so perfect for me, and so I had the idea to make a bow out of sticks!  Piper had an even better idea, and that was pine needles.  So we went to the park across the street, collected twigs and pine needles and came back and started hot gluing them in  loops.  I held the pine needles and let her use the glue gun.  So cute!  And the buttons in the flower’s center were the finishing touch.  I love our wreath!  Not only was it a fun project just like the ones we made in the past were, but it actually looks really great too!  You should try it, really!  Go to Michael’s Craft store with the coupon that comes out every Sunday and get a wreath, or check the dollar store I hear they carry them there too.  Try spray painting leaves, gold and bronze.  Have fun with it and please, share your fall foliage projects with me too!


Reason to Celebrate


I am starting to believe that 4 is the new 2.  I heard that was the case and just this past week, my dear friend just had baby number four!  Earlier this year Brian talked about talking about another baby…luckily we got a puppy which has put that on the back burner.  That and the fact that we went camping with our friends this summer (the ones who just had baby number four) and visited some other friends with a fourth on the way.  Those tiny little munchkins are not a tiny bit of work, they are A LOT of work.  And then they grow into teenagers and they’re still a lot of work!  Suddenly, the idea of even a third seems like something possibly in the distant, distant future.  And so casually last week I asked Brian, “What’s our plan?”  And I was very pleased with his answer.  He said, “I love babies.  But more than that, I love enjoying my babies.  If there are more babies for us in the future then that is great and if not, then I am having so much fun with the ones we have.”  And then he said, “Our plan is to celebrate everyday until our days are no more.”  Okay!  It sounds like a party to me, and I LOVE parties!  Brian hasn’t had a pay check in 2 1/2 months, we need new brakes on the car, I just found out my thyroid is messed up, and yet there are still so many more reasons to celebrate.  My husband has a job (and gets paid Oct.1 woohoo!).  And to be totally unbiased (or not) my kids are pretty darn awesome.  They are smart, funny, and stinkin’ cute to boot.  Oh, and next week the girls and I are headed to Indiana to visit Bettina and the kiddos, a friend I met in Germany who has since relocated.  Staying with her is better than staying at a hotel.  She has clothes for the kids, coats, shoes, and pj’s.  She bought Tatum’s special milk and stocked up on diapers at Costco.  Now tell me that isn’t better than any hotel you’ve been to.  That is going to be a whole week of celebrating.  Apparently the Barbie exhibit has been extended at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the world’s largest children’s museum, I love Barbie!  The brakes will be taken care of soon enough, and the messed up thyroid, well, I am just happy to know what the heck has been going on.  I have too much celebrating to let those things get in the way.

The cuties at the cafe

all tatted up

Piper and I had our first slumber party which was so much fun!  My first mommy friend, Cheyana and her family are moving to Florida next week!  While that is definitely something that I am not celebrating, we are trying to enjoy every minute until then.  Her husband is away on business right now and Saturday was Chey’s birthday.  So, Piper, Rowan, Cheyana and I had a slumber party at their house on Friday.  The girls watched a princess movie and we ordered Thai food delivery.  We read books and told stories.  We woke up early, sang “Happy Birthday”, and went out to breakfast and then…and then…we all got henna tattoos!  Perhaps not the typical slumber party thing to do, but it was so fun.  I am loving it, even though my Grandpa was very disappointed that I would put such a thing on my wrist.  I put him a little at ease when I told him it is temporary.

Hair done, makeup on, oh and my new tattoo, I'm ready for a night on the town!

I'm going to miss that girl

Saturday night was Cheyana’s big birthday bash and farewell party.  It was an amazing night where we all laughed and cried over the memories we have shared together.  Cheyana was the first friend I met through Piper.  I was a new stay-at-home mom and I had a very fussy baby.  I didn’t know what to do with her.  I remember thinking, I just have to make it until noon.  Because the one thing Piper did very well was sleep.  Once I laid her down at noon she would be out until 4 o’clock and Brian would be home.  She liked baths, so I would spend a very long time in the bath with her, and at 6 weeks old I decided to sign her up for mommy and me swim!  Crazy to think of how little a 6 week old is, but I did it!  And Cheyana joined the following week with her 10 week old.  Sweet!  I wasn’t the only crazy one with a new born.  She had just moved here from Canada and we instantly connected.  I know that we will stay friends despite the fact they will be on the other side of the country, but I am going to miss watching the girls grow up together.  You’d think I’d be a pro now at saying good-byes, but I am not sure it ever becomes easy.  I know that fear can prevent us from stepping out into the unknown, but beautiful friendships often lie in the unknown.  The farewells in Germany were unbelievably hard, and saying good-bye to Cheyana will be so difficult, but it just gives me one more place on the map that I have to go visit.  And I am sure we will.  And that gives me reason to celebrate.

Our first play date

Family Ties


Every family has their drama.  Or at least that’s what I hear, or maybe that’s what I hope.  Otherwise, maybe it is just me!  I was thinking of the line from the old T.V. show, Family Ties, “and there ain’t no nothing we can’t love each other through”.  I feel like my parents shielded me from the dynamics of the family when I was younger which I am so grateful.  And then you grow up and start seeing things for yourself.  Suddenly, things don’t seem so picture perfect any more.  But there also becomes a sense of ownership, that now these relationships are up to me to maintain, not my parents.  And I think Brian and I have done a pretty good job of doing so.  Family dynamics can truly drive you mad at times and even so we decided we wanted to move back for them!  Being close to the relatives was an important factor in why we moved back here.  The babysitting is free and a flight to Arizona is a lot cheaper from California than from Germany!  We have been hanging out with fam lately and I just thought I’d give a shout out to the ones who gave us life!

My mom and sister have been awesome about making the trip to SoCal to see us, and a few weeks ago we decided to go and see them.  A quick email went out that we’d be in town and would be staying at The Pointe Hilton and what do you know, 43 people showed up!  Talk about fun times!  We cruised down the lazy river and hung out in the pool because that’s about all you can do when the temperature is above 110.  We skied and hung out on the boat at Lake Pleasant one day and made it up to Prescott for a jazz concert on the lawn of the old courthouse.

Staying cool in the tub, lake and pool.

And then, since it had been a whole 3 weeks since they’d seen us, my mom and Mike came and camped with us at Crystal Cove while Brian did his first triathlon.   No photos of Brian and the big race, but how adorable is this one of Piper wearing Brian’s swim cap?

I thought to myself, I think I could to this tri.  It was a beautiful course and it is a short race 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3 mile run.  Well, I thought I could do the race until I was swimming, okay more like playing in the water when I looked at the next wave about to break and there was a massive black silouhette of a fish-like creature.  I knew it wasn’t a shark, but it was big enough to bite my foot off if it wanted to.  It was at least 4 feet in this clear wave which was about 6 feet away from where I was standing.  You never saw me run so fast on to shore in my life.  Mike saw it and had his arms stretched out telling me how big it was, a confirmation that I wasn’t crazy.  It turned out to be a seal, but an unexpected swim with a seal is still freaky!  So, needless to say the thought of a half mile ocean swim seems out of the question at the moment.

Catalina Island

And if that wasn’t enough fun for one fam, this past weekend we headed twenty-six miles across the sea where Santa Catalina was waiting for me (and hundreds of others who were herded off the boat).  The island was very cute and had a European feel to it with all of the houses built into the hills.  It was Brian’s parents 34th anniversary and I guess after that many years they don’t need to celebrate alone.  We hiked to the not-so-impressive botanical gardens, ate ice cream, and strolled the miniature streets of the city. Check out these miniature vehicles.

This little golf cart said "PATROL" on the side and it was a tow truck!

"Honey I shrunk the FedEx truck!"

I have experienced being thousands of miles away from the ones who don’t need or want to be paid to watch your kids, so now I can truly appreciate what it is like to be close to my family.  It is so much fun seeing the kids with their cousins and knowing that we can go and make a trip to see our relatives whenever we feel it has been too long.  So despite the quirks of those people that we didn’t choose to be in our lives, there ain’t no nothing that could tear this thing call family apart.

And just to be fair, I know that I have my own quirks that can be annoying and frustrating at times.  So here they are (at least the ones I am aware of):  I am often times too honest, but don’t realize it until after the fact (if I ever realize it), I am a stickler when it comes to my kids’ schedule which sometimes makes me not so flexible, I am forgetful and disorganized but I have an amazing long term memory which is also bad when I bring up things from the past.  Just to name a few 🙂

Recipes for your Rugrats (and for you too!)


I am always looking for new ideas when it comes to cooking.  Lunch seems to be the most difficult meal to keep from becoming dull.  Recently, however, I came up with some new foods that I think you may want to try.  They have a healthy spin on some old favorites.

The other day I got creative with lunch and made pita pizzas.  Well, that’s what I called them at least.  A healthy sandwich alternative!  We went to the farmer’s market and Piper picked out some avocado cilantro hummus and pita.  I spread the hummus on the pita and for toppings we used sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.  Then we proceeded to cut it into slices.  Voila!  Pita pizza!  Perhaps your kids don’t like tomatoes, or perhaps they don’t like hummus.  I was thinking you could also spread some mayo and mustard and top the pizza with shredded zucchini, carrots and cheese.  Maybe I will try that next time.

I also made some rice crispy treats yesterday that turned out AMAZING!  If you like Chic-o-stics, then you will love these.  First of all, I didn’t have butter, so I used coconut oil.  As I was heating it in the pan, it smelled SO good, I decided I should add some unsweetened shredded coconut to the recipe.  But, I had already decided that I was going to add peanut butter.  Peanut butter and coconut?  I wasn’t sure, but I figured what the heck.  I melted the marshmallows, added all natural peanut butter once I took the pan off of the flame.  Then, I put about 3/4 cup ground flax seeds and 3/4 unsweetened shredded coconut.  And, who says you have to use Rice Crispies?  I have used flakes, O’s, or whatever I have.  This time I had rice crispy cereal (you can get it in bulk at Sprouts or similar farmer’s market type stores) and also mixed it with Nature’s Path Ancient Grains flakes.  If you are thinking this sounds too healthy, you have to just taste it.  You will be having Chic-o-stic memories flood your mouth!

And lastly, a yummy smoothie recipe that won’t disappoint.  I have been frequenting Nekter, a juice bar up the street that I wrote about in my new section Restaurant tips and tidbits.  They have this smoothie called Popeye’s Acai with spinach.  You can’t even taste it and it blends really nicely without any pieces floating in your cup.  My Aunt Michelle gave me a recipe for a similar smoothie, minus the acai, that you can make at home.  So so delicious.

2 bananas (preferably frozen, otherwise toss in a couple ice cubes), 1 handful of spinach, 1 cup milk (any type almond, 2%, rice, etc.), 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  BLEND!

To be honest I don’t remember exactly how much vanilla, but I don’t use a measuring spoon anyway, just add a splash and go from there.  The girls love this and so do I.  I have even substituted and used half milk and half coconut water.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised, but just know that your smoothie will be green!


Dedicated to the One I Love


Love and Marriage

Brian and I have a fantastic marriage, really I am not just saying that.  He is my best friend and truly we have so much fun together.  My friend, Cheyana, jokes that Brian is half-wife.  He helps with the duties around the house.  He does dishes, laundry and he even cooks.  Don’t be jealous about this one, he even is a regular at this amazing flower shop!  And somehow, life gets the best of us and we start taking those things for granted.  We are in love, but have long since passed the phase of infatuation.  I wouldn’t have it any other way, really.  Yet, last night I was reminded just what a lucky girl I am.  We needed to talk about some things that were bothering us.  And then we kissed.  As I kissed him as tears welled in my eyes.  Isn’t this the same guy who consumed my mind just thinking about when he was going to kiss me?  I remember our first kiss, and I remember coming back to my dorm room to share the big news with my roommate.  I wrote about his “soft lips” in my journal that night and anticipated the next time he would kiss me again.  And now here we are, nearly 13 years later from that first kiss.  Sometimes it is a quick peck, a brief embrace, or an “I love you” over the phone.  That is the reality of our lives.  We are not actors in a romance film.  Everything is not always peachy keen.  But I am so blessed that this boy that I dreamed about is part of my reality.  May we not forget why we fell in love.  May those signs that let us know that he or she is “the one” be signposts on the journey of our marriage.

Fun and almost free


I contemplated writing this under “Fun and Free” but it isn’t exactly free.  Plus, I thought it deserved an entry all to itself.  The nail lady I went to in Germany once asked me about things to do in L.A. because they were going to take a family holiday.  I am not an “L.A. Girl”, but I venture there occasionally.  I gave her a few ideas like going to the Grove and checking out the Farmers Market there as well as walk around the outdoor mall.  From the parking structure of the Grove, you have a great view of the Hollywood sign.  Next on my list is to hike to the sign!  I also thought she could hit up the Getty or spend some time in Malibu and go to the Getty Villas.  But what I didn’t tell her, and now want to tell you is that you should go to the Hollywood Bowl!  Brian and I make it there about once a year during their Summer concert series and we always enjoy ourselves.  What you may not have known though, is that it is practically free!  I didn’t know that either.  We paid 10 bucks a ticket, but they have seats for $1!  No joke, $1 to listen to a topnotch concert at the historic Hollywood Bowl!  I am guessing you would have to get there early for those seats as they must sell out quickly.  Anyway, go there!  It was so much fun and the view was amazing.  And best of all alcoholic beverages and outside food is encouraged!

And so it was a lovely double date with Kristal and Adam.  Kristal and Adam and Brian all went to elementary school together.  Cute huh?  I met Kristal at Biola and thought I would have to befriend her because she was the new girl coming in my sophomore year and she was friends with Brian.  Little did I know that I didn’t have to, I wanted to!  Shortly after we met, Brian and I broke up and she and Adam broke up, so we got together and boy-bashed on a regular basis.  That’s what friends are for, right?  Oh the drama of young romance.  I am glad that is over.

One more thing, while I am writing about “fun and free” stuff in the wrong section.  If you are local, you should go to the Farmers Market at the O.C. Fairgrounds.  Turn your errand into an outing!  At 11 am. (every Thurs.) they have a raffle and hand out free stuff from the vendors.  I always go there right before 11, so that I don’t buy something that I might end up winning.  They also have a raffle for the kids.  And (bonus!) it is in the parking lot right in front of Centennial Farm!  Go take the kids to the farm and check out the crops and animals!  I love that place!

Look how little my Tatie was last year! Piper took this picture of us (obviously) just seconds after I realized Tatie had an amazing blowout in her pants.

Lastly, we had a great time at the Wild Animal Park last week, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.  After searching for my keys for 20 minutes, I remembered there was a spare taped to the gas tank.  Brian wasn’t thrilled that I removed it (He didn’t see the emergency in this situation), but I did and the car wouldn’t start!  I decided it wasn’t meant to be.  Then I found my keys, hanging on the key hook of all places!  Who would have thought?!  Let me just clarify that this hook is fairly new, so I forget that it’s there, and I am pretty sure that I have never hung my keys on the hook, but I have found them there in the past because someone else puts them there for me. 😉  And what do you know my keys work.  Now, instead of being upset, Brian is thanking me (not really) for figuring out that our spare key doesn’t work.

Getting fed yogurt by her big sister while playing in the water

Emily and Piper

We spent the day with Emily, her little sister, and her mama.  Liz and I worked together and our girls were born less than 3 weeks from each other!  And we have had fun getting them together ever since. 🙂