Thursday, March 31, 2011

30 Things To-Do Before I'm 30.

I was reading this post on Joy the Baker
{cute, cute, cute blog, by the way!}
and it got me thinking.

I'll be 30 in a little over a year and a half.
There's some stuff I wanna do before then.
Not that life is over once you're 30 or anything...
I've actually heard it only gets better.
But I'm a sucker for a deadline...30-years-old is a good one.

Here is my To-Do List of 30 things to do before I'm 30:

1. Run in an organized race.


2. Go on another international trip.

3. Witness the birth of a baby - live!

4. Grow a successful organic garden.


5. Surprise my Brawny Man - like really surprise him - just once.


6. Bake my own pie crust from scratch.


7. Reach my goal weight.


8. Go completely gluten and dairy-free for at least one month.


9. Read through the entire Bible. Cover to cover.


10. Make a 100% organic meal.


11. Record a song.


12. Go on a one-month media fast.


13. See another Broadway show.


14. Spend a weekend in Chicago.


15. Teach my big piggies how to read.


16. Have a really fabulous tulip and spring bulb garden.


17. Get my eyebrows professionally waxed and stay committed to maintenance.


18. Take my babies to the ocean again.


19. Find the perfect waffle recipe.


20. Buy someone the perfect, unexpected gift.


21. Take myself on a weekend-long, solo spiritual retreat.


22. Get beautiful family photographs done.


23. Take Miss Evie to the American Girl store in Chicago.


24. Rent a bike and ride the Katy Trail.



25. Get an A in math. :)

 

26. Pay for someones coffee behind me at the Starbucks drive-thru.


27. Go to a concert.


28. Get my charm bracelet up to date.

Deadline: November 30, 2012
(also my golden birthday)


...For the life of me I cannot come up with 29 and 30 at the moment.
But I will.

And I'll add them to the master list HERE.
{the link will be in my tabs at the top of the blog.}
I'll keep the list updated and hopefully blog about my experiences knocking out my
To-Do Before I'm 30 list.
 
Do you have a to-do list?
What's on it?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Teaser

My recipe of the month for April is a good one.
So, so good.


Patience, my dearies.

Music Monday :: The Civil Wars

I have a new favorite musical love.
Thanks to my little sister.
That sister of mine...what would I be without her?
Not nearly as cool, that's for sure.
I wouldn't know about the best place to get pizza in St. Louis (it's Pi, if you're wondering), or know how to pronounce Nutella (noo-tella) correctly or know about Toms shoes or clothes made from hemp.

But...back to the music.
If it weren't for Alli I wouldn't know about The Civil Wars.



They're folksy and perfect.
The harmonies are so tight and fluid it's likely to make you shiver.
The music is minimalist and just what they need to make the lyrics and vocals shine.
And...look at them.
She's all Anthropologie and he's deliciously Johnny Depp.

Can't get enough of them.

If you're a Grey's Anatomy watcher you may have heard their most well-known song, Poison & Wine.
It's a song that digs down deep and pulls.
Just enough to break your heart. Just a little.
In the nicest way possible.
If you're married and you've been through some hard times
(anyone who has been married over 5 years knows what I'm talkin' about...)
this song will speak.
You might have tears...
I did.

Here's what they said about Poison & Wine:

"That song probably does sum us up—The Civil Wars, the name of the band—as well as any song that we've written," White says. It's the one song on the album written with an outside collaborator, their friend Chris Lindsey. "We're all married, and we were all talking about the good, the bad and the ugly, and just felt like: What would you say to someone if you were actually brutally honest—the things that you could never say because it would turn them away or let the cat out of the bag or reveal yourself to be weaker? What would you actually say if you had this invisible curtain around you and could just scream it in somebody's face and they'd actually never hear it? We were all being very painfully honest, because we're all very comfortable around each other and know that things like that never leave the room, except in a song. I'm pretty proud of that song, to be honest."
-Taken from official website


You need to know what I'm talking about.
Here's the video:



And no, they're not married.
But I like to pretend they are.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Motivation from Shakespeare


Our bodies are our gardens,
to which our wills are gardeners.

-William Shakespeare


Friday, March 25, 2011

20 in 10 :: Week Four

Well...
20 in 10.
Hum.
The aim was to loose 2 lbs a week.
Last week we were travelling so I didn't weigh in.
This week I weighed in 1 lb lower than my last weigh in two weeks ago.
Got that?
Math's not my strong point but that doesn't quite add up even to me.
I'd better not keep this pace or my challenge will be more like
20 in never.

LilySlim Weight loss tickers

Let's focus on the positive, shall we?
In four weeks I've lost five pounds.

I'm still on track, I can make up my "lost" time.

A few have been asking what my tactics are for this weight loss.
No fancy little pills or injections or silly diets.

It's really revolutionary...
get this.
Exercise.
Diet control.
Health.

I know, right?
Crazy.

And yeah, things are going more slowly for me than if I had a magic serum that made me lose 40 pounds in one month (it's out there!) but I have comfort knowing I'm doing this in a healthy, sustainable way.
Though it may be slower.


Here's what I like for workouts:

It's not a pretty workout when I go at it - not a drop of Latin blood flowing through these veins.
But its a fun, effective one.
(My aunt told me I was too Swedish for Zumba. Ha!)
I do it at home in the comfort of my own living room.
I have an irrational (or not-so-irrational) fear of group exercise classes.

She kicks my buns.
And I like it.

Tried and true workouts that make me feel relaxed and lean.

Soon I'll start running - this weather is killing me - and training for a 5k that I'd like to run this summer.

I like doing my workouts at home with free weights and the tools I have.
Gyms are so dirty and grimy, I just can't feel comfortable in a gym environment.
Ironic, considering how Brawny Man makes his living.


Nutrition:

I've been trying to stay middle-of-the road with my diet changes.
Britt is still a nursing dude and I'd like to keep it that way.
If I change my diet too much I know I dry right up so I've toned it down in the junk food dept. but haven't been completely angelic.

Once I'm ready to wean the little Mr. I'll hit the guidelines given in this book.

I love this book.
I don't see it as a fad diet, if you read it you'll realize it's more of a lifestyle change and theory of the way your blood type (A, AB, B or O) effects how food works with your body.
I followed the guidelines for a short time (read: 1 week) about 6 months ago and had such good results.
I adored it.
But my milk started drying up (sorry, boys) because of the weight loss and I had to put it on the back shelf.

Basically, for my blood type (O) it is a gluten and dairy free diet with a big emphasis on red meats, seafood and veggies.

I felt light and glowy and fab while I followed it.
Excited to go back on it.

So that's it!
The run-down.

If you're following along with me and you're on your own weight-loss journey, please comment with your weight-loss (or gain...it's okay!).
I still want to feature a few of the top-losers and your weight-loss strategies to inspire all of us.

Also...
My husband is a personal trainer.
{How's that for pressure?}
Did you know this?
He has been for ten years.
He's really good.
He also is very patient when it comes to fielding weight-loss and fitness questions.
So...this is where you get to ask him whatever you want.

I'll take questions for the next couple of weeks in the comments section and in about two weeks I'll have him do a guest post - Brawny Man's first blog post! So cute! - answering the best questions.

Fun?
Yes!

Now I'm off to try my best to catch up to the two-pounds-a-week goal I set out for myself.
Let's hope for a three pound loss next Friday.

Book Reviews

I have a few new book reviews up...
books I thought you might be interested in.

Click the book image to go to my book review.












And for the little ones.




Have you read any of these?
Share your thoughts.

Book recommendations?
Do tell.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Food Crush {French Food at Home}

I know I introduced this blog feature as a compilation of my favorite local restaurants...
but...
There are few joys quite so delicious as breaking the rules.
Even if they are your own.

I have found another TV chef that I adore.
Her name is Laura Calder.
Her show is French Food at Home airing on Cooking Channel.


She's smart and a little bit saucy.
Best of all she puts a french flair on everything she does in the kitchen.
The show is just an overall delight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Kitchen Garden :: Under Construction

Do you remember this?

My funny little hand-drawn garden plan.

You want to know what has given me quite the natural high in the past few weeks?
Seeing it come to fruition - slowly but very surely...
my plans are being realized.


That Brawny Man.
He's totally my hero.
Look at him. Taking my rough, amateur drawing and turning it into a structure!

So cool.

Excuse the leafy debris and ugly brown-ness of these pictures...
Spring hasn't quite made its coveted appearance in this part of the yard yet.


Here is the view of my cute little Kitchen Garden-to-be from the side of the deck:


And here is what I see when I look out the kitchen window while doing the dishes:


The square is 7ft by 7ft with a chunk cut out of the middle to make a horse-shoe shape.
There's got to be somewhere for the barefoot gardener to prance.

I also have a little 6x2 foot strip to the left of the last photo and another 6-footer is in progress.
The "walls" of the containers are 2 ft high.

It's built on the brick patio because (1) I love brick between garden walkways and (2) there will be minimum weeds with this design.
I might like to pretend I have a green thumb but, my dears, I do not like to weed.
No way.

My seedlings are growing their cute little green leaves as we speak (more on them later) and I'm patiently awaiting my loads (upon loads) of dirt to fill my containers.
Hopefully that will come in the next week or so.
My compost is a mystery.
I'm not sure what I'm doing in that area...
but it's there and it's not stinky so I think that's a good sign.

Here's to Spring!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reminded

This weekend took us on an eight (that's a conservative number) hour road trip north.
I was reminded of a few things...

Eating out loses its fun-ness when its forced.

Britt is totally evil on car rides exceeding one hour.

Kids love staying in hotels.

I have a hotel-phobia.
{something even Clorox wipes and mandatory sock-wearing cannot cure.}

You can only eat so much trail mix to keep yourself awake while driving.

Illinois freeways are so, so painfully flat.

...and boring.

Doing your makeup in a dark hotel room while baby sleeps isn't the best,
I think I scared a few folks when I walked into daylight.
"Smoky-eye" was taken to a whole new level.

Baby wipes are good for so many things.

Kids are extra snuggle-able when they smell like pool chlorine.
It's like cuddling summertime.

I hate Subway.

I love my family.

...even babies who scream for hours straight.
{Seriously, you guys, hours.}

How funny the Wisconsin Dells is...
it's like a different world up there.

How this sounds: "Yah...You Betcha!"
: )

Gas station restrooms.
*shudder*

...Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.



Sidenote: I need a serious detox right about now.
My insides feel like brown sludge.
No, worse.
Brown sludge that's been deep fried. Fast food is so not good for you.
Even the "healthy" ones.
This does not bode well for my 20 in 10 challenge. You've been warned.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

That's the Way Life Is...

We've taken the weekend to visit my father-in-law.
He's in an assisted living home in Wisconsin and he's not doing well.
Parkinsons Disease-like symptoms, multiple falls and injuries, dementia and, most recently, pneumonia.
His body is wracked with pain. 
This man, my husband's daddy.
I hear stories of life and love - working on the old car engine together, taking afternoon naps together in the BestReclinerEver, the talk they had on our wedding day - She's yours to take care of now, son. No excuses. She's yours now.

I didn't know the man he was...I saw tiny glimpses, but he was drifting away by the time I met my Brawny Man.
But I know he was good.
I know he was strong, and capable and loving.
I know this because Mr. B. learned to be a man from him...
And he's a good, good man.


We love you so, Jack.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Inadequacy

This is a hard one.
Heartbreaking, almost; when I think of the potential that roams around inside my house every day.
The three amazing little creatures that God has seen fit - how?! why?! - to put under my care.

I feel...well...I feel inadequate to nurture them.
I feel under-qualified to give them the time, the guidance, the wisdom, the example, the everything that they need.
From me. 
Because I'm their mom.
I'm the only one.
And I don't think I'm doing as well as I should...
They warrant more than what I'm giving.

Where is this coming from?

Here it is:
Nursing school is sapping the very life out of me.
My house is a disaster (think BIG, here) 99.9% of the time.
I'm impatient. I'm distracted. I'm...
less than.

I'm afraid that I'll wake up when they're 15 and 14 and think,
 "My God...where has this behavior come from? Did I fail to teach them when they were five? Was I too focused on other things? Did something else mean more to me in a crucial teaching moment?"
I wrote earlier about having no regrets throughout Britt's first year.
It's one of my biggest fears that I'll have regrets about how I've handled the kids' formative years.

I think I'm probably all over the place with this post.
Not putting coherent sentences together...
Doing a mental dump on a public medium might not be my brightest idea yet;
but something in me says I'm not the only one who feels this way.
{Please, God, don't let me be the only one who feels this way...}

Let me clarify and say:
I don't think school is the culprit here.
I feel very confident in my decision to go back to nursing school - it's "a God thing" for lack of a better term.
The guilty party is me.
I need to figure out time-management and what's really important.
How to balance these facets of my life that pull at me, competing for my precious attention.

There is so much I want to do for and with the Three Little Piggies.
Take more walks, read unforgettable stories, teach them godly principles, laugh with them, show them how to make a bed and crack eggs into the bowl just-so, grow a garden, spend hours at the museum, watch the birds and then study them, worm-hunt, play freeze-tag.

Do you ever feel not present enough?
I feel that.

My mom sent me a quote via email this morning (I love my Marmee...) that said this:

How do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily, domestic, workday vortex and invert it into the dome of an everyday cathedral?
-Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

That's what I want.
A sense of sacredness in my everyday.
It can happen. I know it can.
I've felt it before.
I'm working to restore that sense of quiet, of harmony, of balance, of something-more.

I know I'm inadequate.
The grace here is that God is more than enough to take my short-comings and make my efforts whole.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Baby Elephant Birthday Party

Britt's first birthday party didn't really sneak up on me...
I'd been dreading anticipating it for a few weeks before.
But when I looked up from my laundry folding/algebra homeworking/child raising haze and realized I was having company. For my baby's birthday. Tomorrow.
I decided I'd better get my overwhelmed hiney in gear and figure out how we were going to celebrate this boy's momentous occasion.

Granted, said company was only my gracious family who really doesn't care whether I put a homemade feast on the table or order in BBQ from the take-out joint down the street.
(Guess which one I did.)
They don't care if there are elephants to ride in the backyard or stuffed elephants perched on table-tops.
(One chance to guess...)
They don't even care if I create a marvelous cake-of-wonders or if I call and ask them to pick up the cake for me at the bakery.
(Ahem...Don't judge.)

I've decided that the domestic diva is going to have to take a backseat to the frazzled mom-on-the-go for a few years while I pound out the rest of this nursing school.
A full course load and three children does not a recipe for domestic bliss make.

But...we still had a lovely, simple birthday party to celebrate our favorite baby.

{this is the first time I've bought Burt's Bees Baby Bee products for any of my kids. just couldn't bring myself to drop the cash for it. but I did, as a gift, this time. we've used it once.
Britt smells like a bonafide honey-pot. totally contributing to his edibility.
get this stuff for your baby. just once.}

{as i said, lunch was BBQ take-out. but it was so so yummy. pulled turkey, beef and pork on buns. coleslaw, sweet potato fries, potato salad (for the extra-starchy) and baked beans.
glorious. and i didn't lift a finger.}

 {baby loves to munch.}


{baby also loves his tattooed, dreadlocked, bandana-ed auntie.}

{the cake was a confection from The Sugaree Baking Company in the city. strawberry dream cake.
i added the yellow and blue m&m's to make it look boy-ish.
the "tablecloth" is a shower curtain i found on sale at Target. multipurpose.
: )
i love that little wooden elephant pull toy.
we've had it since Beck was a tot.
twizzlers in a cup. told ya i wasn't fancy.}

{thankfully, one-year-olds don't require fancy. they just require cake.
and love.
he's got both.}

{evidence of a good party:
paper plates with globs of frosting.
toys on the table.
empty Izze bottles.
laughing ladies/sleeping men.
cranky, sticky one-year-old.}


Monday, March 14, 2011

Bachelor Brad 2.0 - The Engagement & After the Final Rose

First let me talk about the dates.
(I know, I'm backtracking a bit here.)
That shark date with Chantal was ridiculous.
The entire date I just kept chanting, "no, no, no, no."
I would not put myself into a cage with hungry sharks snapping at raw meat inches away.
Not romantic.
{But, my heavens, her proposal dress was gorgeous. She made up for all of her other terrible fashion choices throughout the show.}

Just the caliber of the dates he gave Emily - quiet, contemplative dates - verses the freak-show dates he gave Chantal made it a bit obvious that Emily was going to be the final pick.




And there it is!
Emily.
: )
Totally perfect.

His profession of love for her during the engagement was actually really sweet and I believed what he was saying.


All's happy...

or is it?

The After the Final Rose show was...
tense.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they're honest and not putting on a happy face just for the cameras.
But, my goodness, if that wasn't kind of hard to watch.
What's funny is that Mr. B. called the temper issue with the psychotherapy-bachelor-man a few weeks ago.

Was anyone else a little surprised (and pleased) with the sauciness of Emily?
It's that Southern girl in her.
Love it.

{Although it was a bit unattractive to watch her insecurities about the Chantal dates. "I can be fun too." Oh my...}

I really hope they make it.
If Em can put the show behind her and see their relationship as separate, they'll be okay.
I like what she said about separating her reality from the reality show.

What do we think of Chantal having moved on already?
Wow. That was quick!

And who will be the next Bachelorette?
Is there even a question?
 I'm pretty sure we're looking at an Ashley season.
Which I'd love.

That's it, ladies and gents.
The end of Bachelor Brad.
Phew.
Wishing them the very best.

**Update: It's official. Ashley is the next Bachelorette.**

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Yellow Balloon


Last year there was this.
That little pudding-face has turned into this big hunk of baby.
How can one little person change so, so much in the span of one year?

Britt's first birthday makes me feel a lot of things.
I feel happy. I feel overwhelmed. I feel a little confused. I feel blessed. I feel sad. I feel grateful.

But mostly I feel fulfilled.
Here's the thing:
I can look back at my baby's first year and say that I soaked him in.
I lived it up.
I lived him up.

I snuggled him. I buried my nose into his warm neck, I kissed him and munched on his cheeks.
Yes, I snuggled him good.

I prayed for him. I thanked God for him and prayed earnestly for his future.

I laughed with him. His hilarious expressions, new voices and baby-giggles.

I dressed him the way I wanted.
All of those silly cotton pilot hats that make people laugh and say things like,
"He looks like a tennis ball!"
or
"That hat cracks me up." (A nice way of saying, "What an ugly hat," I am quite aware.)
I put those on him because I adore them. I think they're the standard of cute.

I rocked that baby until he was begging to be put in his own bed to sleep.

I nursed him, reveling in the closeness that relationship created.

I took approximately 9,000,000 pictures of him and filled my hard drive with digital images of rosy cheeks and sparkle-eyes.

I paced the floors while he screamed in colic pain.
(or whatever the heck colic is...)

I kissed his ouchies and heartbreaks away.

I watched him charm his big brother and sister. Making them melt with a whimper, break into munchkin-land giggles with a smile, try new, crazy antics just to get him to utter a chortle, run to his aid if there be an injustice in his little baby-world, beam with pride at his accomplishments.
Seeing their sibling relationship evolve has been one of the biggest gifts of my life.

I worried over him in feverish nights and pressed my lips to his too-hot forehead.

I danced cheek-to-cheek with him in our dim-lit kitchen night after night.
Just about the only thing that would calm him before bed for a month straight.

I bragged about him. I unabashedly thought he was the best baby that could have graced earth. I fell into a deep, unrestrained love for that baby of mine.

I'm sad that the first, precious year is over...
I knew it would go quickly, but not this quickly.
The one thing that keeps me from melting into a puddle of sad-mommy-goo is the fact that {as cliche as it sounds} I have no regrets.
Not even one.

This is the beauty of it...
If I had it to do all over again I would do the exact same thing.
Every minute. The same.
There is such peace in knowing it couldn't have been done better.
Yes. I lived him up.

So now I will sit back, while the one-year-old burrows into his blankies for the night after a day of birthday partying, and have a glass of champagne.
 Toasting to Britt, to myself, to love, and to one of the most magical years I have ever had.

Friday, March 11, 2011

20 in 10 :: Week Two and More Important Matters

This morning I had my second weigh in for my 20 lbs in 10 weeks challenge and I'm right on track.
Two more lbs down.
Which puts me at a four pound weight loss in the past two weeks.
Beautiful, I tell you.

LilySlim Weight loss tickers

I wanted to share a few of my {not so secret} secrets...or strategies, more accurately for losing this weight once and for all.
But...in the light of the day's global news and the heaviness it puts on my heart, I'm going to have to save that info for another post.
I just can't bring myself to drone on and on about weight loss when there has been a real tragedy of such great magnitude.

Japan was hit with a massive earthquake and tsunami and I just can't get the situation out of my head.

Lord, have mercy.

And you, YOU go hug your spouses and children very tightly and kiss their heads and inhale their scent and touch their sweet cheeks and love them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Just Sayin'...

When your jeans are so baggy they're just as comfy as your sweats...
it's probably time to go out and buy a smaller size.

: )
{from ear to ear.}

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bachelor Brad 2.0 - Women Tell All


We're so close to the end!
This has been a good season, girls (and boys?).
Just so good.

What a juicy, drama-filled Women Tell All we witnessed tonight.
It was uncomfortable and revealing - Chris Harrison had the easiest job tonight in "facilitating" conversation.
All he had to do was say the word, "Michelle" and the ladies cats were up and running hissing.

The 30-Year-Old-Baby showed up in her full glory.
She bawled the whole time.
I think I would have too...some of the accusations made by these women were vicious.
Easy for the 24-year-old with no children to her name to say, "Here's how I'll act when I'm a mother."
Never, ever, EVER say that. Never.
You have no idea how you'll be as a mother until you get there.
She'll eat those words.
I promise.
The judgement was disgusting.
Notice, I can't put a name to that person because I have no idea who she was.
Was she even ON the show?
She was gross.

Another gross one: Jackie.
She came out with her b-word guns blazin'.
Sweet little, Pretty Woman date Jackie.
Not so sweet. Not so pretty.
Totally unappealing.

There was a point, about 4 shows in when I realized Michelle was really a big joke.
The way she was edited in the show was to make her look like a total loony, when really she was just having fun with the camera.
Who in the world would say those things and be serious?
She was going to kick someones booty?
She wanted someone attacked by monkeys?
She's going to pummel someone in their sleep?
No.
She was being funny, not serious.
I got that; and sometimes it made me laugh out loud at my TV screen.
The thing that was uncomfortable was watching her tactics with Brad.
Too pushy, too forward, too assuming.
Girl, give him something to chase.
She just layed it all out there on the table.

But I have to say, 30-Year-Old-Baby won a bit of my respect back tonight.
Mr. B. and I (yep, he was watching, that's my man!) were thinking maybe she took the crying angle to get sympathy and maybe put herself on the producer's radar for Bachelorette material.
The only thing that makes me think that wouldn't be the case is her regret for leaving her daughter.
I don't think she'd do that again to do an entire show.

Okay, enough of that.
What about Ashley H.?
It took me a few minutes to adjust to her new look but...
I love it!
She looks classier, older (in a good way) and more herself.
Does that make sense?
I could take her much more seriously as a brunette; and those bangs!
Bravo.
(Although, Ashley, lemme tell ya, blondes DO have more fun. Don't you forget it.)
: )

I want Ash as the next Bachelorette.
Second only to Emily if she doesn't end up The One next week.

So, here's where you give your final pick.
Who is it?
Who will be the 2nd girl out of the limo next week?
(You know the first one is always the one to go home...has it ever been any different?)
I was thinking it was going to be Chantal but...now I'm getting unsure and thinking Emily.
Hummm.
(And, no, I haven't read any spoilers in the past month or so. So I have no idea who it is. Don't tell me!)

Is it just me or are the out-takes always the very best part of the Women Tell All episode?

Go Forth and Shop.

There is this new (maybe only to me) Internet style of shopping in which you can get an email right to your inbox with a list of online shops and boutiques running sales.
I'm talking majorly discounted stuff here.
Like, 50-70% off.

I'm totally into this.

 A lot of these sites are dedicated to children's clothing and gear but some of them are for adults as well.

It costs nothing to sign up.
You get an email in your inbox (daily) that gives you the name and description of the designer(s) or shops they're featuring that day.
As far as I can tell, they do not sell your information to other parties.
I've had no trouble with an influx of spamy or advertisement mail.
The sales are usually time-sensitive and there are limited numbers of the items available...
but it's oh-so-fun to find unspeakable deals on designer goods.

Don't sit there and pretend you don't like pretty, designer things.
I can tell you one of my deepest pleasures in life is dressing my children in seriously gorgeous clothing and then just staring at them.
: )


Here are the sites that I'm aware of...
If you want to sign up (you know you do) please use the links I've provided.
They get me referral credits - so when your first order ships out I get a little cash in my account!
Love. That.


The Mini Social
Baby and children's wear and gear.
Lots of European and international brands that are organic, natural and will make your child look totally edible...
My favorite!
 
 
Deals for moms, babies and kids.
They get some of the most unique and adorable designers.
 
 
 
Children's fashion, toys and baby gear.
Right now they have a deal on Phil and Teds baby gear!
 
High end adult brands - men and women.
7 for all mankind, Valentino, etc.
 
 
 
High end children's and adult clothing brands.
Makeup, housewares, shoes, accessories and even vacation packages.
 
 
 
Ethical fashion, organic beauty, fair trade home, independent artists and designers.
 
 
 
If you know of more of these types of sites drop a comment and let me know!
I'm getting a little addicted to the excitement of it all.
 
***
 
On another note...I think I may have a serious problem with Whole Grain Fig Newtons.
They say "great source of fiber" on the packaging which makes me think they're a health food when really, they're not.
They're still a cookie.
Let me just say, I {heart} a sit down with my lap top and a {modest} stack of Fig Newtons.
Not good.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Food Crush {taste}

I love food.
I love making it...I especially love eating it.
The different combinations.
The flavor nuances.
The science behind it.
{Food is chemistry. It's all about the reaction of one element to another.}

I adore finding a new {to me} restaurant.
I'll bet you do too.

I want to feature some of my favorite local places - so this blog feature will profit the local readers mostly.
Locals: know you're out there although you don't love to comment...ahem.
You know who you are.
{How's that for a blog call-out?}

taste is in a little space with a menu of small tasting plates - hence the name - but big flavors.
{some of the info you'll find on their website has changed - they've changed their location but its not reflected on the site.}


The brick interiors and chalkboard painted walls - specials scrawled across the surface - is set off by a frilled, bejeweled chandelier and a dim, candlelit bar.

The ambiance was fantastic.
Dinner with friends.
Romantic dinner with The One.
{which was our situation - we went for our Valentine's day date.}
Whomever you're dining with, Taste is the place for it.


One of my favorite aspects of the place was the way it was layed out.
We sat at the bar - the only place to sit, save the long, knobbly table set for groups - and watched as our dishes were prepped right before us on tiny cutting boards and dorm-room style hot plates.
It was charming.
We talked to the chef while he minced and seared;
about our food, about the wines on the menu, about our mutual love for Portland as one of the best food cities in the US.


They have changed locations, as I said before.
You can find them now at
4584 Laclede Avenue
STL , MO

I know many of the things I loved about it will be different in a new building - larger!
But I'm sure the food will still be fantastic and I've heard the feel of the restaurant is still the same.
Simplistic, a bit moody, Parisian bistro.


One of the crowning jewels of Taste is their bar.
The menu is more than half spirits - exciting cocktails like nothing I've ever heard before.
Granted, I'm not much of a drink aficionado, and I didn't try any of their mixed drink offerings (the wine was nice!) but I've heard they're awesome.

We ordered quite a few plates - it was our appetizer stop, we went somewhere else for dinner, which is what I would recommend.
My favorite was the Tuna Two Ways.
A gorgeous dish.
They don't have it on the menu at the moment, but it changes frequently, so maybe they'll bring it back.
The Ricotta Gnocci was creamy and decadent and another favorite.
Their focus seems to be on pork - even in the dessert arena:
pigwiches are little pig-shaped chocolate wafer cookies with bacon creme sandwiched in between.
Cute and a taste-bud adventure.

This mama doesn't get many nights out, but when I do it's a place like Taste that I'm looking for.
Just the right amount of cool-ness factor and a great tasting, diverse menu.

Other local Food Crushes:
Hell's Kitchen (Minneapolis edition!)

Friday, March 4, 2011

20 in 10 :: Week One and the Giveaway Winner!

It's been one week since my 20 in 10 challenge post.
How did you do?
Week one down...
did you lose one or two or...more?
(None? Don't worry, there always this week!)
Weigh in (if you haven't already) and comment to me your loss at the end of this post.
I'm thinking I'd like to get some tips on how you're losing.
Here's the deal: if you post and you have great results I'd like to do a little interview with you and share your strategies and tips here for all of the other 20 in 10-ers.

I lost two.
Exactly the number I was hoping for...yet, I was daring to hope I'd lose more.
But I'll be happy with this and push on this week doing better than I did last week.

LilySlim Weight loss tickers

Cute ticker, right?
Get one for yourself HERE.

I'm totally planning on posting more about the whole weight loss thing;
but at the moment I'm swamped with school work.
(Math...it's back, with a vengeance.)

And now...


Lacy!

Congrats - you are winner #1!
So, let me know if you'd rather have the earrings or the headband.
{How will you ever decide?!}




And winner #2 is...
Alicia Marie!

Get in contact with me, girls, so I can get addresses and figure out where Andrea needs to send your goods.

starcrossedb [at] live [dot] com

{Winners chosen by random.org}

I adore giving things away.
Especially when they're so over-the-top adorable.

Remember the coupon code?
STARCROSSED15
It's still active for a 15% off discount at checkout at Ava's Closet for all of my readers.
You can get this discount until March 12th.
So...go...get yourself something sweet.

And now...it's back to the math.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Creamy Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup - Recipe of the Month


Spring is quickly approaching.
I promise.
The calendar tells me so.

But it is still March and there are going to be blustery days where a warm cup of soup - although that is so last winter - sounds like just the thing.

So, for my March Recipe of the Month I'm going to share this gorgeous Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup.
Let's count it as one last hurrah with the winter root vegetables.



Creamy Sweet Potato and Rosemary Soup
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced (use shallots for a more delicate flavor)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (about 2 to 3) sweet potatoes, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 (6-inch long) stems fresh rosemary
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup cream, at room temperature
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

In a large stockpot, melt the butter and oil together over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, rosemary and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the rosemary stems. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth and thick. Whisk in the cream and maple syrup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep the soup warm over low heat until ready to serve.
Drizzle with a bit of left-over cream.

*You can ladle the soup into a blender or food processor to puree if you do not have an immersion blender.


Isn't she a pretty cup of soup?
Serve with crusty bread {my favorite from la brea} or a grilled ham and Gruyere sandwich on sourdough.
 
 
Previous Recipes of the Month: