Thursday, August 30, 2012

Anatomy of a Birthday.....

It all started out with a lovely dinner with friends.  Catching up.  Good conversation and some laughs.  The kind of ease achieved with only old time pals.  Those that know you and love you anyway.  That's Kendall Jackson Chardonnay by the way.  It all seemed innocent and sophisticated.
This is a present from my sis.  Big-faced watch fabulousness.
This is my cousin Robb.  See, in this photo my shit is still so together.  But this is Bar #1! More cousins were present and one little teeny tiny measly 'ole shot was consumed.
This is after the second bar in which my sister had just ordered a fresh drink.  She looked at the bartender and said, "Can I take this with me?"  He replied, "I didn't see anything."  Remember folks, this is Small Town U.S.A.  Ya gotta love it!  So she promptly hid that drink in her large handbag as we got in the cab.  Perhaps now I'm three shots in.  I follow her lead and walk out to the cab like it's Vegas.  No, I'm not hiding my cup or trying to act like I don't have a drink in hand.  She yelled at me to "hide that shit."  
This is an old school gal pal.  We made her sit in the front seat of the cab.  You know how you always make somebody sit in the front of the cab like it's a big deal?  Like the cab driver is gonna bite you or something?!  These photos are blurry because, well, you know....I'm three or more SHOTS of alcohol into the night.  What the hell people?  I don't do shots.  I'm smarter than that.  I'm better than that.  I'm years removed from college drinking days!  But for some reason my celebratory status got the best of me and my good intentions.
Yet another old school good pal.  Is that a drink I see in her hand or is she holding my drink?  Heck if I know!  She is perhaps blowing me a kiss.  A kiss to build a dream on.  A dream of not having serious issues after thinking I can just rock shots like I'm from the mutha f'ing Jersey Shore yo.  Snooki I am not!
This photo says it all.  Fun time Charlie I AM!
Sure, Sure.....let's rock a "hold the camera up and do a self-portrait shot in the middle of a dark bar."  This would be bar #3.  The bar with the band.  And cabbing around your hometown is fun and cheap.  No meter was running and the cab driver put up with a lot of shenanigans!
Classic Sister.  Pick up the c.b. and do a little "breaker breaker 1-9."
Oh, but somebody else wants in on the action!  Sure, it's understandable.  It's fun.
Just a little dark and shadowy cab ride.....still keeping up with my mood shots.
Yes, she was touching the cab driver.
And this is where my birthday photo journal ends my friends. Some live music, a shout out from the band and they may have sang Happy Birthday to me or perhaps I just made that up.  I do know that by midnight the whole night was over.  My sister was none too happy about that.  But in the morning she said it was probably for the best!  After a few drinks sister likes to get her fight on.  Not really, but she likes to act like she wants to fight.  And then all her peeps gather round and suggest that they "have her back."  We got out alive!  

I won't go into detail about the "let's step outside" suggestion from my cousin's wife.  (All she did was ask me if I was okay!)  I won't explain why we had to abruptly pull over on the cab drive home.  But one can still learn big life lessons at the age of 41.  Hell to the no on shots.  I thought I had it down but apparently I needed a little reminder.

Hey, in the end it's a good story!  I'm 41 and I've never been better.  Here's to many more (shot-free!) years!  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

All Fired Up....

Getting instructions on how to proceed!
While visiting my sister in early August we took the kids to a super cute pottery painting place called All Fired Up!  How cute is that name?  Evan picked a Tow Mater bank which, much to my delight, was on sale.  These things aren't cheap!
Liam and Declan selected Angry Birds.....they are obsessed.  Those suckers were NOT on my sister's price range but I insisted.  Look, if they are gonna get crafty they might as well paint something they really like.
Lauren selected a cupcake....the girl could have painted that thing all day....taking her time, meticulously working on the details.  (She's my child after all!)
Those angry birds needed A LOT of red paint and I was happy to help.  The more paint, the better the outcome.
Has this child never NOT smiled for a photo or took a second to strike a pose?  I love her.
I love this.  Perfectly said.
This was hanging in the shop.

Perhaps I could have stayed here all day painting and getting crafty.  There is not enough time in my life for crafting.  I get lost in the project and lose all sense of time.  I love that feeling.  The boys were getting antsy though and my sister was getting hungry.
It was hard, but I just let Evan go.  No micro-managing of "do this, use this color" etc.  I let the kid have free reign.  He loved it.  Because isn't that what crafting is all about after all?!  I can't wait to see how this puppy looks after being fired!  (yikes!)
A cupcake beauty.....the top comes off to hide treasures in.
Such Angry Birds!

And just like that my sister and I have four precious beings that fill up our hearts with overwhelming love.  I love my sister's boys so much.  She loves my kids just the same.  It's a really good feeling.  We love being together.  Laughing, helping each other out.  She's all over the discipline while you can find me cooking in the kitchen.  She comforts my child when I can't bear to deal with another melt down.  I comfort her child when he's freaking out about where he put something important and can't find it.  We are a good balance.  It was a really great trip.
Check out this cuteness!  What a great idea!  Straight off the pages of Pinterest!  
Now let's have lunch!  We are starving!
 We had a great lunch at The Pop Shop....
 Who doesn't love an "Order Breakfast Anytime of the Day" menu?
Bobby Flay had a Throwdown at The Pop Shop.
I ordered the sandwich called The Calvert which beat Bobby Flay in the throwdown.  It was fantastic.  I love Bobby Flay.  
So my love for Bobby continued when later in the week we ate at Bobby's Burger Palace.  Again, super delish.  Really fresh and quality ingredients but kinda pricey.  (I mean it's BF, yo!)  My sister and I split a Napa Valley Burger.  (Fresh goat cheese, watercress and Meyer lemon honey mustard)  
Although Liam looks mighty unhappy here, those milkshakes were divine!
(He hasn't gotten his picture face yet!)

Some great summer memories!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cooking Craze...

Wearing my  vintage apron in the kitchen tonight...
 loving my necklaces....
to order your own bird nest necklace visit Melody at her shop:
big bow on my apron...

I've been cooking a lot lately.  I haven't photographed or shared a recipe in a long time.  I'm settling back into a school routine with Lauren and Evan will begin next week.  I love sharing recipes and will continue doing so this fall.  Nothing beats a cool Fall day with a house smelling delicious and an afternoon coffee while cozy on the couch with a quilt.  Bring on Fall.  I've got colored tights and long skirts matched with sweaters to rock!
Here are the recipes I have made in the past few days:
Ice Cream Freezer Pops": (Lauren has taken a great interest in watching The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network and she wanted to make this treat for her cousins)
Kid Friendly Pasta Salad :(also from PW, Lauren loved this and ate bowfuls!)  I always say the key to good eating is to get your kids involved and/or grow it in the garden and watch them eat it!
Peach Crisp with Maple Creme Sauce: I made this for my sister who loves peach pie.  The maple creme sauce is more than you will need and it keeps well in the fridge and is to die for!
Cinnamon Baked French Toast: I made this the night before my sister and the kids had to head to the airport.  So easy, so good.  I used the leftover maple creme sauce AND maple syrup AND whipped creme and blueberries!  Hello!  I love a baked dish for breakfast that you prepare the night before.  Couldn't be easier!
Cold Asian Noodle Salad:  I made this for dinner tonight.  So good I couldn't stop eating it!  (and for those of you who know me, I typically don't enjoy eating the food I prepare!) The soba noodles were a must!  I added chicken, grilled mushrooms, chopped garlic and ginger in the dressing and used red cabbage instead of napa cabbage.  I also added chopped jicima.
Dry Rubbed Beef Brisket:  Hubs cooked this on the grill and I used a sweet mesquite rub from Costco.  I rubbed A LOT of it on the brisket 24 hours in advance of cooking.

I also purchased the ingredients for Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks by Pioneer Woman.  I'm on a PW kick after watching her show on the Food Network.

What have YOU been cooking lately? : )

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to School....

We have a plate on the kitchen island that you can change the message on by writing with a dry erase marker.  Lauren got down to business the day before school started and wrote herself a message!  It indeed is time for back to school.  It's nice to get back into the routine of proper bedtimes and baths, schedules and the general good feeling that comes from the changing season.  I adore Fall.
My sister is in town this week with her boys and I dropped them off at my Mom's house last weekend.  She graciously kept Evan (who doesn't start pre-school until after Labor Day) so he could bond with her and his cousins.  She has called his week with her "Auntie Boot Camp" and she has apparently whipped him into shape.  Lauren and I took advantage of our alone time with a lovely lunch and some shopping on the drive home.  This sign says it all.  I have not even raised my voice in three days!  So, as if we didn't already know this, Evan is why I yell!

It has been good for my mental health to have this time alone with her.  Yesterday was a day for me to just DO whatever I wanted during the day without being interrupted a thousand times.  I took a shower and got ready alone.  It was glorious.  I went for a long walk/run and listened to music.  I did errands.  I vegged on the couch for 45 minutes.  I was almost in a panic to use up all the precious minutes alone.  It's not easy to fully relax after a summer with two kids attached to my hip.  But I have a feeling I'll get accustomed mighty quick!  

Miss Goldstein!
 Whale-come Back!
I still want to be a teacher just so I can rock some really cool bulletin boards!
Open house had a completely different vibe this year.  No tears, just anticipation and excitement.  I've decided that being a mother means conquering one big milestone, processing all the emotions and preparing for the next climb to the top of the roller coaster.
 She makes it easy.  She's ready to move on.  
 I'm ready for her to really start reading the chapter books.  "I'm going to have homework tonight Mom" she said on the walk to the bus stop this morning.  
She still wants to hold my hand.  I'm happy about that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Little Big Things....

First grade begins tomorrow morning.  The backpack and lunch pack is out on the kitchen table.  We have discussed lunch and snack options.   Her outfit is laid out on her bed.  She is showered and tucked into bed for the night. She went to bed too late, but how can I  change her bedtime so drastically tonight after a summer of willy nilly bedtimes?
Last night at open house we felt like old pros.  Pure happiness and laughter.  She pointed to the school bus parked outside the school for kids to check out.  We joked that she indeed didn't need to do that this time. Because in just a short time everything has changed.  She is laying the groundwork for her brother. 

Last year I just held back tears the whole time, kinda feeling like I was sleepwalking in a dream.  The time had come.  Bittersweet excitement.  She rocked Kindergarten.  
She can tie her shoes now.
She knows how to pump her legs on the swing after I give her a big push to get started.
Someday, if she chooses, she is gonna be an incredible mother.  She's an amazing sister.
I love her so much that I feel my heart swell when I look at her toothless grin and shiny red hair.
This Mom job does not come without crazy challenges and frustrations.
But I wouldn't trade it for anything.
No doubt she will grow taller and wiser this school year.
I'm pretty sure life is never about the big things.
Just the little things that feel really big.