Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snowstorm Anticipation....

Last week's crazy flash mob of a snowstorm brought Evan great joy.  The flakes were amazing.  I love this photo.  I especially love that he has a short sleeved t-shirt on in the snow.
I've talked about Picnik, the photo editing website that is closing on April 19.  Until then, all the premium edits are available to use.  I used my favorite "wrinkle edit" and smoothed out all the edges and then used a highlight spotlight in the middle.  I love how it looks.
This is Cloudy.  We've been dog sitting since last Monday.  (Cloudy is my father in law's dog) She's a good dog, low maintenance and easy going.  However, those of you who know me well will chuckle when you hear that today I announced, "Okay, I'm done now.  It's time for you to go home."  The kids have been obsessed with her and have been playing outside every evening until it's dark.  (with no prompting from me!)  They fight over who can feed her and open and close the door to let her in and out.  They use a leash to walk her around the house.  It's been pretty cool.  My carpets full of dog hair, not so much.  Her paw prints across my freshly cleaned floors, ditto.  

This dog was my mother in law's love.  Nothing brought her more joy than this dog.  I think hubs feels a little bit of his mom is with us.  I do too.  I called hubs last week and said, "We really need to get a dog.  The transformation with the children is amazing."  He knows me well.  He said, "What are you smokin'?!!!"  It's only been a week.  I'm smart enough to know that in another week all tasks regarding the dog would fall to me.  And I don't clean up vomit or dog poo.  So there's that.  It's been fun.  But alas, all good things must come to an end!

Mom arrived today to avoid the massive (supposed) Wisconsin winter storm that is approaching.  No sense in being stressed to get to my house before we depart for Stowe, VT on Saturday.  Chicago weather calls for freezing rain on Saturday so hopefully we will get out.  I hate missing even a day of vacation due to travel delays!  But whatever will be, will be.  I'm glad to have mom here a few days ahead of time.  I went to Costco by myself tonight and got gas, all in 45 minutes!  Kid free is so delightful in regard to errands!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Night Leftovers.....

Last week's snowstorm was an unexpected reminder of Mother Nature and all her glory.  The snowflakes were so huge and falling down so fast it was delightful.  Evan looked out the window and couldn't believe it was snowing.
These instagrams remind me of the barn behind my parents house.  It was taken from my back door yet instagram transforms me to another place.
This one is my favorite.  This is Evan checking out the snowstorm.  I took it from the reflection in the stove!  I mean really?  Love!
I got a real deal holy field horse shoe at Saver's for .99 cents!  I have always wanted a real horse shoe!  Apparently the "rule" of Saver's is that if something doesn't have a price tag on it, they can't sell it.  Fortunately the night I was shopping the store was dead and being manned by teens.  Evan picked the tag off and when I got to the check out I nonchalantly said, "Oh, he picked the tag off but it was .99 cents."  Tween beat said, "Well, we aren't supposed to sell anything without a tag, but since it is such a low priced item, I'll just do it."  And, I thank you!
Ms. Thang got a new leopard print skirt and shrug in the mail from Grandma.  She rocked the all black biker look for school on Friday.  Rock on my little "mind of your own when it comes to what you want to wear."  
 The wine dressed appropriately for the Oscar Party!
A mink stole and broach!  (I die!)
 I went to an Oscar party last night.  It's a tradition.  I love getting together for some appetizers and deserts, some wine and dishing on the hair, jewels and dresses.  I rocked a ton of makeup, a gold and black Michael Kors blouse and some vintage peacock feather earrings with gold beads that I won from a blog giveaway on Sammy Davis Vintage.  The prize package was a $50 gift certificate for The Paraders.  I have this thing for peacock feathers.
I loved the Oscars this year.  Nobody should be allowed to host except Billy Crystal.  I thought most of the ladies looked good.  I know everybody was freaking out about Angelina's skinny factor.  I secretly think everybody would like to experience what it feels like to be in that body.  I know I wouldn't mind to try on "that skinny" for a day!  I also feel like she's always been very thin and just the right camera angle can make it look extreme.  I think she's gorgeous anyway you slice it.  

I am in complete "nesting" mode which always happens before a vacation.  For some insane reason I need my house cleaned and perfect so upon my return I am on easy street.  I am not sure where all my energy came from today but I did not stop.  We leave for Stowe, VT on Saturday to spend a week in the HGTV dream house that the hubs first cousin won last year.  I KNOW RIGHT?!!!!!  GIDDY.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tales from a Tea Party.....

Doily garland
(idea from Pinterest)

Once upon a dreamed of having a little girl to do girly stuff with.  Dresses, ribbons and bows, manicures, lip gloss, shopping, shoes (we can't forget shoes!).  Part of that fantasy was to have a tea party with her and all her little girlfriends.
When I was little my Great Aunt Ruthie treated me like an adult and included me all things adult-like.  Some of my fondest childhood memories are going to a dinner party at her house.  No kid tables!  I was sitting with all the adults being served all the same adult food and drink.  (Yep, even the drink part, which I didn't drink because I thought it was super bad tasting, but I thought I might be the coolest kid on the planet.)  I remember my mom having a conversation with me early on.  She explained to me that her and my Dad hung around with people whose children were much older than me and my sister.  So in order for my parents to stay in this crowd we needed to stay on our game.  And I think we benefited greatly from this.
I got to experience a fancy table.
I got to attend some grown up parties.
And I was always included in the planning, set-up, decorating and clean up.
Special touches that I thought of or suggested actually got implemented!
And that's what I want my children to experience.  Now, let's get real people.  This tea party was a once in a blue moon sort of activity.  I'm not pulling my fine China out for pizza on Friday night.  (but that is a good idea!)  I'm just saying that I learned from the best (my mom) to make the simple day in and day out ~living of life~ things special when you can.  It's all we've got.  HERE.  TODAY.  NOW.  Why wait for a holiday or birthday?  Those days are so overrated and this Christmas kicked me in the arse big time.  I wasn't present and I certainly didn't enjoy it.  So doing this tea party was just because I wanted to.  Something to brighten the long gray days of February.  I did it from the heart, not concerned about the time, work or effort.  And let me tell you, when you live your life from that space, miracles can happen.  
Lauren picked the napkins....
I was delighted to find treasures in my drawers and cupboards to pull out just for this day.
Like this little teapot for flowers that I got at Goodwill for 99 cents.
The plate is from my Grandmother's china.
The pear teapot you see is from a dear friend of ours who lives in  California.  We met Tia in Costa Rica before hubs and I were even married. Tia and her and her husband recently adopted a baby girl.  Their hearts are full and life feels more complete with Miss Mila.  Each time I pulled a treasure out that might work for the tea party table I was reminded of all these connections.  Things are just things but people connections are what make life worth living.  The candle sticks are a wedding gift from Sweden and the tea light holders are from Great Aunt Ruth.  Treasures that Lauren and Evan will hold dear someday.  
The round tea light holder is from our first trip to Sweden to the Kosta Boda glass factory.
The lace runner is from Belgium.  (gift from Great Aunt Ruthie to my mom, who gave it to me)
We eat with our eyes first right?!
Lauren and Evan made the fruit skewers.
I did a demo skewer and they did the rest!
Evan lost interest after making only one, which was good.  
The blackberries were very juicy!
Trader Joe's Chocolate Love cake.....(ridiculously good)
Originally $6.99 but the day after Valentine's Day it was half price!  
That's how I roll!  

I used my trifle dish as a cake dome.
My mom's friend makes these amazing utensils wrapped in glass beads. 
 I use my cake knife any chance I get!

I used my grandmother's footed dish as the favor keeper. 
Each girl got a big lip gloss when she left.
My goal was to use what I had and not buy new things.  Some ribbon and leftover flowers from Lauren's Valentine box added a little touch to the light fixture in the dining room.  It's amazing how little you really need to buy to throw together a great party.
I learned how to make those paper flowers (I added button centers) on the Nate Berkus show.  They are all over Pinterest. The ones made on Pinterest were made using brown paper lunch bags.
And here is the party girl ready for friends to arrive!
She was delighted to wear a "fancy" pink dress that I got for $4 at the Thrift Village.  She's been begging me to wear it to school.
She looked far too old.
Sampling the treats!
Taste tested!
Too much makeup!  But still super cute!
Table for the grown-ups....
The whole crew....
I decided Lauren is going to be as tall as my sister (who is 6'1"!)
Now, she does have heels on, but still!
Tall is good!  (you can, if needed, carry an extra 5+ pounds around and nobody would notice!)
Bad photo, but Evan Reed and his buddy Evanson posed for a shot! Evan kept telling me all week that he was going to have a pirate party and that pirates like tea!  My friend Ashley dressed her son Evanson up as a pirate!  And, speaking of Ashley, she showed up with her grandmother's gloves and fur hat on!  She wore a leopard print silk dress and fur wrap!  It was so awesome!  However, the hostess cannot be held accountable for photos NOT taken of parties!  
Lauren
Ellie
Ava
Haley
Isabella
Filippa
Ashlyn
Lula

When the girls walked into the dining room for the first time I heard one of them whisper, "It's so fancy."  Yep.  That's exactly what I was going for.  The adults served all the kids plate by plate, teacup by teacup (pink lemonade) and some sort of miracle occurred, wherein the kids retreated to the play room while the adults ate an entire lunch of home made roasted red pepper soup with feta crumbles and sourdough bread, IN PEACE.  Perfect peace with very few child interruptions.  I never believed for one second that this would happen!  

One of the mom's (Katie) went to the basement to check on the girls and came up to report that "they were all in some sort of Barbie acid haze."  "I've never seen anything like this before!"  Before everyone arrived I was trying to find an easy listening radio station for background music and could only find a classical music station. Katie said "the classical music is drugging them out!"  

I also made Pioneer Woman's Pots de creme a l'Orange.  A very easy recipe that needs to be put in very small containers because it is so rich.  (I did use dark chocolate vs. the semi-sweet PW uses).  The adults enjoyed a very fancy (easy!) rich desert.

And because I was interrupted a GAZILLION times while trying to write this post, screamed a GAZILLION times and because I flipped the channels for the little beasts and A Diary of a Wimpy Kid was just ending, I leave you with this quote from the movie.  (Which I happen to think kind of sums up life!!!)

Patty Ferrell:  "Here's your yearbook.  You're not in it that much!  Maybe try to get out there next year?"
Angie Steadman:  "You know what Patti? One day middle school will become high school and high school and after that it just become life.  All those things you think are important now won't be anymore."
Patty Ferrell:  "You wish."

Fancy tea parties on a Friday are really special.  But it's just life.  Some days are finger sandwiches with friends and some days are chicken nuggets and fries.  You gotta roll with it.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Diary Submissions from a Six year Old....

Facing Peace....
Scaring Mom....
Self-portrait
"Riding in a hot air balloon..." (?!)
Lauren showed this one to me last night and explained it!
Happy Heart... (mine.)
Lauren was NOT privy to the fact I found her journal and snapped some photos!
shhhhhhh!