Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Look of Lilac

Hydrangeas and roses. My favorite flowers. They have been for years. The combo - lavender and cream - made my wedding boquet. These flowers just mean romance to me.

But I have a new favorite sneaking in. Lilacs. They're just so delicate and fragrant and I adore the color.

There is a huge lilac bush growing directly outside my back door. I can lean over the deck railing and snip some blooms right off, arrange them in a mason jar and bring some of the beauty in. It is completely delightful to wake up to the smell of lilacs sitting on your nightstand...try it.

So, for the duration of this Spring at least, my blog will sport the loveliness of Lilacs. Inhale the heady fragrance...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Gramma Honey



Evie and Beck w/ peanut butter & honey sandwiches at Gram's.


So, you've read about my Grandma Sunshine but have you heard about Gramma Honey? She's fairly new. Gramma Sunshine has been in existence for about 25 years but Gramma Honey has only 2 1/2 years under her belt - although she's showing very nice progress for such a short Gramma-hood.

Beck christened my mom Gramma Honey a few months ago. We figured out that its because she calls Beck and Evie "honey" much of the time. Is that sweet or what? My mom says she'll keep the name and is pretty glad she wasn't called "Gramma Stinky" or "Gramma Frizzy Hair" (none of which fit her anyway! ;)

Anyway, with my parents recent move to MY neck of the woods, the kids and I have had some fun day-trips to Gram's house. A joy we couldn't have when they lived 4 hours north.

We visited Gramma Honey yesterday. A trip to the library to rock in the double-wide rocker and read picture books, eating peanut butter & honey sandwiches and naps with fans blowing on you are all activities best done with a Grandma.

The "honies" sitting in Gram's new kitchen. "The better to make you peanut butter cookies with, my dear..."

What a blessing it is to have one of the kids Grandparents living so close! Something I've never experienced before - I love it! I only wish Mr. B.'s parents were a little closer...eight hours is much much too far. But some fun things about having long-distance Grandparents are the big, brown UPS packages full of toys, the road-trips and spending days on end enjoying the novelty of their company. See you soon, Grandma & Grandpa B.!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beautiful Mess

Little Miss Beautiful and her mess.

What is it about a cabinet full of CD's and DVD's that makes a little girl so mischievous?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Meme About Me...Me.

I found this little meme at a blog I like to read regularly. I liked it so here it is on mine!

I give you money and send you into the grocery store to pick up 5 items. You can only pick one thing from the following departments...what is it?
1. Produce: pears
2. Bakery: croissants
3. Meat: chicken breasts
4. Frozen: pizza rolls - totino's
5. Dairy: baby Swiss cheese


If I was to listen in on your conversations throughout the day, what 5 phrases or words would I be most likely to hear?
1. I love you.
2. No no!
3. Come here now!
4. You're so cute...
5. I need a nap.

Let's say we're heading out for a weekend getaway. You're only allowed to bring 3 articles of clothing with you. So, what's in your bag?
1. Sassy Bra & Undies - and because this is my blog, I'm counting them all as 1 of my 3 items.
2. A sweet sun dress with big flowers on it.
3. A bathing suit.

So, what 3 things do you find yourself doing every single day, and if you didn't get to do, you probably wouldn't be in the best mood?
1. Having morning coffee.
2. Reading my Bible and having prayer time.
3. Reading a good novel.

We are going to the zoo. But, it looks like it could start storming, so it'll have to be a quick visit. What 3 exhibits do we have to get to?
1. The Apes
2. The giraffes

3. Feeding time for the bears

You just scored tickets to the taping of any show that comes on t.v. of your choice. You can pick between 4, so what are you deciding between?
1. Grey's Anatomy
2. American Idol
3. Everyday Italian
4. So You Think You Can Dance

You're hungry for ice cream. I'll give you a triple dipper ice cream cone. What 3 flavors can I pile on for ya?
1. chocolate peanut butter
2. cookies n' cream
3. chocolate chip

We're talking a 3 hour block with nobody around. What 5 activities might we find you doing?
1. Taking a bath
2. Napping
3. Reading
4. Eating chocolate
5. Smiling...


Someone stole your purse...in order to get it back, you have to name 5 things you know are inside to claim it. What's in there?
1. Diapers: size 4 and 5
2. My blue wallet with pictures of my kids and (sadly) no cash
3. Crumbs...
4. My pink cell phone.
5. Chocolate


You are at a job fair, and asked what areas you are interested in pursuing a career in. Let's pretend you have every talent and ability to be whatever you wanted, so what 4 careers would be fun for you?
1. Author

2. Concert Pianist
3. Ballet Dancer or Broadway Showstopper!
4. Photographer
5. Party Planner


If you could go back and talk to the old you, when you were in high school, and inform yourself of 4 things, what would you say?
1. You are so cute and so thin. Stop complaining!
2. You are doing a wonderful job of not conforming to what everyone thinks you should be. Keep it up!
3. Once you graduate life is going to move really fast. Enjoy your girlhood now.
4. Quit dating that idiot...

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Party for the Girls

Today is my friend, Mrs. M.'s, 26th birthday. A ripe old age...sorry to give it away, Mrs. M! ;)


I had the bright idea to invite her over for a tete a tete birthday celebration. Well...Miss Evie and our doggies ended up joining us for the party which made for quite the entertaining crowd. I made Chicken Salad Contessa (one of Ina Garten's recipes) on big, buttery croissants, served it with crunchy chips, a pickle and sweet tomatoes.

It was one of those golden days that you are convinced is the very temperature heaven will be with a perfect breeze. I couldn't resist dining alfresco.

Since my attempt at chocolate Bavarian cream in little individual goblets flopped - it tasted okay but the consistency was dreadful, I hurried to a bakery and bought scones and called it a day. A minor setback, to be sure. Paired with fresh strawberries, we fared just fine.

And here is a picture of half the party:

Two of my favorite blondies. Loca, Mrs. M.'s sweet doggie, is waiting for her share of droppings from the table. If you look closely you can spot Teddy relaxing in the shade...

Happy Birthday Mrs. M! I hope you are putting your birthday gift to good use soon!

Chicken Salad Contessa
from the Barefoot Contessa

2 split (1 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (1 1/2 lbs)
Good olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup walnut halves
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves, divided
1 cup grapes, cut in 1/2
Lettuce leaves, for serving

Preheat oven to 350.

Place chicken breasts, skin side up, on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into a 3/4 inch dice.

Meanwhile, place the pecans and walnuts on a separate sheet pan and toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.

For the dressing, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Fold in half the chopped tarragon leaves.

Place the diced chicken in a bowl, add the pecans, walnuts and grapes. Pour the dressing over the chicken and toss well. Sprinkle the remaining chopped tarragon leaves on top, and serve on a bed of lettuce leaves.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Anne with an "E"


This year is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. There is a summer-long celebration going on at Prince Edwards Island - where the novels took place - and I am wishing I could make it. I can't, but I still like to visit the website and imagine I could go...
"You know something, Diana? We are rich. We have sixteen years to our credit, and we both have wonderful imaginations. We should be as happy as queens." -Anne Shirley

Mama Had Fun

I sit here munching on grape tomatoes and hummus (Trader Joe's Chipotle Pepper variety...sooo good) and gulping water in an effort at detox from my 24 hours of sleepless, sugary indulgence. When you get a group of women together there is bound to be laughs, tears and S U G A R. After all, next to spice, its what little girls of all ages are made of!


I was invited by my girlfriends, Mrs. V. and Mrs. F., to their church women's retreat. See how sweet the sign is? I was delighted by the color scheme of Tiffany's blue and red. So so cute and fresh. I think my favorite part of the weekend would have to be the cute decor...second only to fellowship with three lovely ladies, of course.


Let's just take a moment to appreciate this centerpiece. The hat boxes, the ruby slipper, the fringed cake stand. Too cute.

The girls chatting after a morning seminar.
Mrs. S., Mrs. V., Mrs. F., and another Mrs. B.

After dinner and a message from this delightfully southern, Paula Deen-ish speaker, we sat around and talked about high school reunions (which I have yet to participate in), our first CD's, how we met our husbands and what books we loved as children.

Side note: I think the little Mrs. V. has as intense a love for children's literature as I do. Shh...

Then, my friends, the sugar and caffeine melee began. Carmel corn, Squirt, Girl Scout cookies and Twizzlers were audibly calling our names. We answered.

Myself and sweet-heart Mrs. B.

We crashed in our uber comfy, down beds around 2 am and awoke groggy but happy this morning. St. Louis Bread Co. had our cups of caffeine ready and we somehow cleared the sleep from our eyes enough to sit in on an informational morning session on Bible study.

It really was refreshing and heartening to spend time with girls for a longer period of time than a couple of hours. Especially these girls. The three of them just have such gentle, loving spirits and while we laughed plenty they refreshed my spirit in deeper ways as well.

Thanks girls, I had such a good time! Next up: Pizza Hut!




Friday, April 18, 2008

Frivolous Friday

Tell me something...how does Heidi Klum manage this?

She looks fantastic!
(Look at the striped girl in the back...haha!)

Sleepover!

It may not be my spa trip to Bora Bora but I get a mini vacation this weekend.

Some girls from my MOPS group invited me to a women's retreat for their church tonight and tomorrow. We are staying in this sweet little hotel that looks just like a French chateau.

Four mommies in a hotel room, freed of their burden of motherhood for one night. We get to remember what it was like to be girls again. What fun!

Shake, Rattle and Roll

4:40 this morning had us jiggling out of our beds and frantically searching for the origin of the rattling windows and rocking furniture.

It was nothin'...just a little 5.2 earthquake in Illinois felt clear over here.

Wha?! An earthquake?

(We also felt the aftershock at 10:15 am, apparently around a 4 on the scale...)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

She's A Dreamer

I was just thinkin'. I want a vacation. Actually...the want is so strong its almost become a need. Lately life has been just very...real. Exhaustion, sickness, disappointment, conflict, uncertainty and unrealized dreams have taken the vivacity out of life.

I can't take a vacation. I don't have the time or means. But. A girl can dream, can't she?

Here are my top 5 Vacay's: (so fun, right?)

Austria



Who I would go with: Whoever wanted to come! Probably my children and my husband and a nanny (remember? I'm dreaming).

What we would do: Visit the Alps, sight see in Vienna, eat Viennese pastries and chocolate and drink coffee, and many other Sound of Music-ish things.

Spa in Bora Bora


Who I would go with: ALONE. UNO. BY MYSELF. SINGLETON. JUST ME. NOBODY ELSE.

Where I would stay: Here. No, you may not come with.

What I would do: Soak in a tub with flowers; read a book (or not); lay on the beach; get a massage and every other lovely thing they offer at the spa; eat light, wonderful food; get refreshed and come home with a luminescent tan.

Tour of Italy (no...not at Olive Garden)


Who I would go with: My mom and my sister.

What we would do: Take a big, fat tour of the country and stay for a terribly long time. :) I would have to see Rome, Venice, Naples, Tuscany, Cinque Terre and Florence. I would have to eat a LOT of pasta and drink some wine. I would have to buy fantastic gifts.

Westcoast Roadtrip


Who I would go with: Mr. B. (this one's for him)

What we would do: Drive the coast from Washington to San Fran., California. We would stop at the Redwood National Forest and any other fun things along the way. Camp, just to see the smile on my man's face when he's in nature. And end up in San Francisco (for me).

African Safari


Who I would go with: Mr. B. and maybe the kids (if they were like 12 and 11).

What we would do: Take a magnificent jeep safari and then go to S. Africa and stay in a luxurious hotel with gauzy window treatments and mosquito netting around the white beds. Oh yes...


So, that's it. My Top 5. Ahhh, I actually feel refreshed!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Peace, Love and Anarchy




Beck - Drawing on the walls...legally!




We finally got around to visiting one of our city's museums this weekend. It was such a fun, wacky place. The kids had a complete love affair with it and then crashed in their beds to sleep off the fun.




Isn't the mirrored mural adorable?
The art director is in the blue and my mom is in the pink.




I think my favorite part of the evening was Art City. A place to let your creativity run wild and no rules to inhibit.








Mr. B. and Beck creating.



Mr. B. made clay molds of the kids hands - all his idea! My mom made magic wands for Beck and Evie with sparkles and rainbow paper. I just marveled at the lovely mess and took pictures.

Evie with her wand.


Check out that table! I loved that. It absolutely reminded me of my little sister. She loves funky, free-spirited things like this. Alli, we are so going here when you get home from college!


The skateless skate park was a blast too. The children were an absolute blur as they careened up and down the ramps. Amazingly, no one got hurt! Probably because my children are athletic, genetic wonders. ;)

Mr. B. Flying.

After roaming through tunnels shaped like animals we decided Jonah must not have had it too bad - the belly of a whale is quite spacious! We devoured some crazy delish pepperoni pizza and then the kids tried their hands at architecture.


A trip down the roller slide and a romp in the ball pit made our night complete.

Phew! We were pooped afterwards and I think I even picked up a little bug while we were there. I'm playing hooky from church as we speak with steaming tea warming me and cold meds pumping through my veins.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Niche

Mr. & Mrs. P., Mr. & Mrs. N. & Jamai, Mr. & Mrs. B. & Beck & Evie, Mr. & Mrs. B., Mr. & Mrs. M.
To find friendships with like-minded people is priceless. It has taken awhile to find our niche here, in our new home. But I think we've found it. Really, it doesn't matter where you are...country or city, outside or inside the U.S., North or South, High-rise or suburb, apartment or 5 bedroom single-family...friends are there to be found.
They are up-lifters. They care about their husbands and their children (or future children). They honor God in the dailiness of their lives. They care; about us. It really is fabulous to feel like you belong and to know you have people that will help when you desperately need it.
This week alone I've brought one of these families a meal to help with a new baby. I've had coffee and a good, long chat with the fabulous Mrs. M. (who always has the best shoes). I've gathered some of them into my home to show them a little love. The best part of that night being when we all joined hands around the table to give thanks to our God.
I felt alone for much too long. And now I can only stand in awe of God that he brought these wonderful friends into our lives.

The girls and their babies.
Mrs. P. (pregnant w/ baby McKenna), Mrs. N. (pregnant w/ baby Isaiah) and Jamai, Me & Evie, Mrs. B. (pregnant w/ baby Audrey), Mrs. M.


"I get by with a little help from my friends."
- John Lennon

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hostess With The Mostest?

I do not have people over much. I find that hosting gets pushed to the back-burner (or off the stove entirely) with two toddlers and a dear but busy husband. But it was one of my quarterly goals to entertain guests before April was over. In. My. House.

Mr. and Mrs. B. - not us, different ones - always have us in their home for our church small groups. We invade their cozy little home at least twice a month. We eat, we shout and laugh, we play games, we pray, we celebrate, we make a mess (and then try to clean it up). So I decided it was our turn to host them.

Mr. and Mrs. P. are moving to a new area within the month and I just had to have them over before they disappeared on us.

Voila! There was my guest list!

Saturday morning. The big "Morning Of" my kitchen sink regurgitated food and...stuff...I hadn't seen in months. My plans were dashed. How do you cook dinner for 6 + and entertain in a house with major pluming issues? You don't.

Thankfully, Mr. B. is a whiz of a handy-man and he patched it up as soon as he got home from work. But the damage was done. I was behind on my schedule so I just decided, "on with the show!" and we ordered a delish variety of Chinese food for delivery, I made my devilishly decadent dessert and we had guests!



Mr. & Mrs. B. with the sweet Baby Audrey.

It was nice to host and extend hospitality to others for a change. And not making the meal really allowed me to sit and be a "Mary not a Martha" as Mr. B. put it so eloquently.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Throwback

I'm feeling awfully grown up today.
I'm checking the weather, coffee cup in-hand. There's a quiche in the oven and children still asleep in their beds. I'm about to get a chest freezer and put it in my basement to fill with extra meat, casseroles and...ice cream, maybe? For some reason the freezer has been a talisman to catapult me into adulthood. If you have a chest freezer, you're a grown up. That's just the truth.

So...I want to remember. The days when I wasn't a grown up and chest freezers were things that large, home school families used to feed their ever-growing brood.



Remember brand new Crayola crayons. 64 count. The smell, the shiny, flat tips, the creative names. The promise of a perfect new batch.

Remember Silly putty. In the little egg. Its tacky surface still unmarred by the inevitable lint and dog hair. Stretching it til it snapped. Copying newsprint to its surface.


Remember Puffalumps. Sweet, pastel elephants, chicks, dogs, cows and whatever that thing was that looked like a cross between a bear and a dog...

Remember crazy Fraggle Rock. I'm talkin' the tv show with the puppets, not the weird cartoon. The theme song, their hair that had a life of its own. While remembering FR I can't forget My Little Pony Tales, Muppet Babies and the ultimate...Boy Meets World (I still want to be Topanga).

Remember playing with My Little Pony, Barbie and Paper Dolls.



Remember Pop Rocks. Tart and sweet but hurt your tongue when I got a "good one."

Remember Summers at the public pool. The sweaty heat, the boys that were just learning to be pervy, the melting Popsicles.
Remember The BabySitter's Club books. They were older than me and oh-so-independent and cool. I wanted to take care of the unruly triplets and be a counselor or CIT at summer camp...


Remember the Nancy Drew series (please, not the movie!).

Oh...the quiche is done. Beck and Evie (not the unruly triplets) are calling for "mommy"...that's me! I have a MOPS meeting this morning and a spot to clear for my freezer this afternoon. I have guests coming over tomorrow - a dinner/going away party of sorts.

I am not a little girl...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Praise

Mom wrote myself and some close friends and family to keep updated on Gram's situation. Here's what she wrote last night:

Jesus answered prayer tonight the best way! Mom's test came back normal and they released her at about 8 tonight and they showed up at our door to let us know. What a surprise and relief. thanks for praying for us....

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

You Know What Makes Me Feel Kinda Ugly?

When one of my best friends looks like this:

Mrs. L. looking smokin'.

Saved by the Bun

I talked to my Mom this morning and she and Gram spent the night in the hospital last night (if you're not sure why, read the post beneath this one first). Grandma Sunshine's memory returned slowly throughout the night and she remembers everything but what happened just before and after her memory loss.

She had some brain scans and testing done to see if there was a stroke or neurological damage. Nothing of the sort. The doctors say she was having classic concussion and head trauma symptoms. They asked if she fell - she didn't remember. They checked for a bump on her head - nothing.

Mom and Gram are busy today with last minute hospital business and discharge (yes, she's going home) and they're playing sleuth like madwomen. Things like, "Well, maybe I fell down the stairs and my bun saved my head from getting a bump." Haha! Saved by the bun.

Anyway, Gram's well and we're all relieved. Thank you for prayers and thoughts. You are all precious.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Grandma Sunshine

My Grandma is beautiful.

Me & Gram in 1983.
She's one of those perfect Grandma's that would never show up to my house empty-handed. She still always has candies or gifts when she comes.
Her house is always welcoming and she'd make me my perfectly "lumpy" cream of wheat.
Gram and Me in 2007.

We would sing songs from Broadway's Annie at the top of our lungs while driving in her little red Volvo.

Without fail, I would always get Florida oranges gum when she and Grandpa were on vacation.

My best friend as a little girl started calling her "Grandma Sunshine" because her last name is uncannily close...and because she brings sunshine where she goes.

Alli and Gram in 2006.

She draws pictures of women in beautiful clothes flawlessly. I think she missed her calling as a fashion or interior designer.
She is spunky and funny.

Mom and Gram in 2006.

She adores when her granddaughter's sing for her. And so, we all do.

She wears fun shoes and silly socks.


Grandma Sunshine and Evie dancing on Christmas 2007.

Grandma Sunshine has had an accident tonight. She was with my mom and aunt, doing ordinary things and suddenly lost her memory. Can't remember where she is or why she's there. Can't remember her age. Can't remember her address or phone number.

She's in the hospital and if you pray...please pray for her.

Morning

The house is quiet. A bird chirrups its song from a branch. I stroke my sleepy puppy, he nuzzles in in response.

The babies make soft murmuring sounds to themselves as they wake in their rooms.

I take a sip of strong brew and think, "this will be a good day."