Monday, April 29, 2013

patio mood board - woot woot

As promised, I'm here today to showcase my humble beginner beginnings of a mood board. I'm a total novice at this, however I do have a clear idea of what I want for my sweetass summer hangout of a patio. It's just a matter of collecting style- and price-appropriate pieces. I've gotten a headstart on that too though, and have scoped out some prime cheapies.

Here's what got my wheels turning:

1. Absolutely love the colors in this post from Green Wedding Shoes. (The wedding itself was Dr. Suess inspired, which I deem a rather bold choice for such an occasion...nonetheless, the colors. I die.) Currently everything on our patio is destined for the dumpster or Craigslist or Goodwill with the exception of our bbq, steel-belted cooler and patio table. Our patio chairs are useless; I wouldn't even give those away. And in order to make the table livable, I'm sandblasting, power washing, painting, and weather-proofing the frame. The color I have in mind is close to the tablecloths in the bottom right photo.

2. This photo is from a Better Homes & Garden mag (that link is just to their site, not to this article, as I just snapped a photo right from the pages of their April issue.) I'm mildly-to-moderately-to-extra-spicy obsessed with BH&G, which I realize makes me a 90 year old woman clinging to her print editions, but I can't relinquish it. One of my fave past times - which I enjoy in the interim between getting off work and waiting for Sean and Jordan to arrive home (after I've dutifully seen to it that a 3 course dinner masterpiece is simmering away of course) - is to sit in the recliner with a tall glass of ice water and thumb through a new edition of BH&G. (Other fave past times: crocheting doilies and watching a good Bette Davis. Ok...I was trying to be sarcastic but come to think of it I actually do enjoy the latter.)

3. Oh look! This is kind of the shade I'm looking for for the table. It's called Ionic Sky by Behr, but I think I'm seeking a tad more robin's egg blue. I'll have to hunt around.

4. Oh, I already own these. I've always been attracted to galvanized items, and have something of a collection of buckets in various sizes. My first thought for new patio chairs was a set of these beauties

and then I caught the price tag of $139 and thought, huh, seems a bit steep for a set of chairs. no Jess. Just the one chair. One chair = $139, let's be clear. Alright then, moving on. So I found/am going to purchase these from Ikea:

because, $10 each. Done. I'll need to weather-proof them but, easy-peasy.

Right, but anyway, galvanized things. You see that genius use of lattice in #2? Doing it. And I think I'm going to hang an herb garden, potted in galvanized buckets, from S hooks off the lattice.

5. There's an offchance that I'll finally dip my toes into a novice sewing project for this patio revamp. I was thinking this gorgeous fabric from Etsy would look super cute as patio chair cushions, and would tie in beautifully with the blue I have in mind for the table. Plus it would give that little red kick that I'm seeking, as inspired by the palette in #1. So how hard could cushions be?.... probably really hard and your eyes are all stuck in the rolled position on account of my stupidity BUT, I might give it a go.

And so! Summer 2013, hit me with your best shot. Not quite yet though, because I've got a bit to do. However, when it comes time to be summer, then you can hit me with your best shot, Summer 2013. Just please don't be a scorcher because I'll be pregnant right up til the bitter end of you. Thanks.

Friday, April 26, 2013

odds & ends

So I'm not planning on giving you one of those "day in the life" posts because, honestly, you won't care. It's not riveting. But I'm not fully committed to penning one of my "favorites" updates on Jordan either because I haven't appropriately composed her newsworthy quirks or recent escapades in my scarecrow brain. Let's call this a glimpse, then, into a few of the things that have been occupying Jordo and I lately. Be sure to keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times. Danger.

can't even focus in on all this exciting

My Jo-friend and I have fallen victim to what I think they call "routine," in the vernacular. With the exception of the occasional days when she wants to read and chatter and caterwaul amiably in her crib until 9 o'clock in the morning and let her vapid mother blog until her heart's content, Jordan and I start our day around 8 with a gnarly diaper, a power struggle to leave the binky in the crib because "You're a big girl now! You don't need it when you're not sleeping! You're so big. I'm so proud of you...." and a baba (milk for her, chocolate milk for me) to alleviate the stress of going binkiless.

Yesterday morning found us jamming to some fun. and The Naked and the Famous right after breakfast. We were enjoying our tunes so much, they accompanied us to the shower via our Cube. I haven't been waking up early enough/have lazed about too long making blog rounds/have sat around gorging half cantaloupes at a time in the morning of late, and that has cost me my solo showers. I don't really mind having her with me, but Jordan has always inquisitive eyes and occasionally inquisitive hands and I'm just learning to cope with the awkward.

We inevitably take too long doing nothing more often than something and are in a mad rush by 9:30. It's important that Goldilocks sample everyone's toothbrush, you see.

Papa Bear's tastes unused. We'll have to lecture him about oral hygiene.

You like Jordan's accessories, do you? Ever since I neglected to put away my outfit from Saturday immediately, Jordan discovered and is unable to function properly without at least one strand of "beezsh." She needs them upon waking, while breakfeasting, for rollin' in the Yaris, in the meantimes and in betweentimes. Beezsh all day erryday.

We have to be going by 5 to 10, because our new routine involves taking 5+ minutes to get to the car parked one minute's walk away in the carport. Before we can even think about commencing on this journey, you have to ask yourself one critical question: do we have the 4 b's?

baby in the right, blanky in the left, binky in the mouth, beads about the neck

Woo, ok. We're gonna be fine then. This is Jordan's shtick - I just tell her to get her things to go bye bye while I finish up disguising myself as an awake and alert functioning person, and she stands by the door with her essentials in tow. Every piece is crucial too. We're working on the dispensability of the binky but we're down to sleep and car rides.

Jordan waits dutifully at the top step while I lock up, then casually hands me her cargo and grabs my semi-free hand that she might descend the stairs "independently." We count the fifteen steps Jordan chimes in on my "dooo," "free" and "eigh" count. Working on it.

At the bottom, we have to pause so Jordan can select her walking rock. She discards when we get to the car (there's a little pebble pile in our carport) but it's needed for our ambling expedition. Seriously. This kid.

wait, this rock is better.

daily detour to the complex's gazebo to stand in the center and look around aimlessly

Eventually we get here

 and always here

and sometimes here

That kinda was like a day in the life huh? Well all that happens after that is I drop Jordan at her sitter's and she waves me off nonchalantly as she joins her posse of buddies (all of whom chant "Jorda! Jorda! Jorda's here!!" so I guess I can see why she doesn't need me...), I get in the car with pangs of working mom guilt stabbing my heart over and over, and then I go punch in from 11-5.


Ok if you made it this far I have to tell you something else. I really should just wait to make it it's own post - and I'm going to do that too - but I'm all hopped up on my ideas, and then I did title this one "odds and ends" so there's my disclaimer. I'm nesting something fierce. I'm nesting like a psychotic mother bird. Wait, you know that bird in the first Shrek that tries to hit the high note while singing with Fiona, and eventually just explodes?

hey look, I'm pregnant and feeling pretty good I'm nesting nesting NESTING

where I am now

Anyway, I've more or less reconciled myself to the horrid couch (although a bad day's impulse consolation buy is about as imminent as my belly button popping all the way out) so I'm turning my nesttentions to the horrid patio. Summer is coming, and I want to be out there. But it is a war zone right now friends. I took my "before" pictures yesterday (I'm not showing you that embarrassment until it's fully revamped) and I'm composing an expenses proposal list for Sean. For you, I'm working on a mood board so that you can be apart of this exciting vagabondage. (<----- I thesaurus'ed "journey" cuz I've used it in a cliche fashion already in this post, and this one was the coolest substitute. FYI)

I'll be sharing that sometime soon. I realize this is likely the perfect opportunity to really acquaint myself with Pinterest, because this is exactly what Pinterest is useful for. Thus far, I log in like once a month, "like" a whole bunch of crap, nearly never repin, and never pin anything original. Least. Pinteresting. Person......Ever.

So be on the look out for a Better Homes & Gardens worthy before/after segment coming to your neighborhood mom blog. 

You are officially up to date on my whole life.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

the big cheese

There are two, maybe three of you who may remember that I don't cook. I put up a brave front, I try new things, I have the AllRecipes app, I make a mean PB & J, but the reality is that I have zero instincts when it comes to cooking. Why did this happen to me? I love the Food Network. I mean I really love that place.

A friend and I got into a discussion the other day about cooking vs. baking. I divulged to him that I am rather adept at making wholly delicious yet wholly unhealthy confections. Cookies, cakes, brownies, Chex Muddy Buddies - right in my wheelhouse. He proposed that the reason I can rub elbows with Cake Boss, but flounder at the prospect of boiling noodles al dente, is that cooking is largely intuitive. Like, "throw a handful of thyme on that roast, if you're feelin' it. What's that broth need...a little garlic yeah? You know what would be great in that stir fry? BACON." Conversely, baking is a science. (Another reason to confound me as to why I can bake: I never achieved better than a C in any science class from chemistry to physics to botany. Oh, and I had to google "types of science" just now to come up with that third science example for you.) Anyway, if you use 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda rather that 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, it's a different cookie. Not necessarily a bad cookie, but a different one. And like the good little homeschooler I was brought up to be, I follow directions to the letter of the law. Hence, I bake. I bake it good.

That preamble was largely unnecessary because what I'm really here to tell you is I am giving you the keys to the Kingdom. The Cheesecake Kingdom. The Cheesecake Factory, even. The cheesecake from last week was another creamy delightful success, so it's safe to say I've got this recipe down. Lock it in.

The ONLY part that requires a little extra effort is that you have to triple wrap your springform pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. This is because the cheesecake is going to take a water bath in a roasting pan while it's baking, and you don't want water leaking in the sides. (That happened to me once when I took the lazy route of only one layer of foil, and it was a soggy, saddening mess.) If you don't use a springform pan, I imagine you don't have to do this. I've never not used one, so proceed at your own risk if you choose not to. The rest of this recipe is a piece of [cheese]cake.

a casual, not-staged photo of cheesecake

And so:

For the crust
2 cups finely ground graham crackers*
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Make crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 and triple-wrap your springform pan in heavy duty aluminum foil (foil should come up the sides and just barely over the lip of the pan.) Stir graham crackers and butter in a bowl, then press into springform pan. The crumbs will not appear very moist, but once you press them down into the pan (I use an offset spatula) they form a nice crust. Bake 10 minutes, cool at least 15 minutes (no joke, you'll be done with everything else within that time span.)

*I buy whole graham crackers, because my Bug likes to sit on the counter and munch on them while observing the intriguing method of food processing crackers into crumbs. This time around she threw some well-gnawed cracker stubs into the processor, because she's a helper. Ih, it was just a cake for my family. I doubt they noticed the extra flavoring, compliments of Jordan. Anyway, I think you can buy already pulverized graham cracker crumbs, so you can skip this [not-all-that-time-consuming] step.

For the filling:
4 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
5 large eggs

Make filling:
Beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt in your Kitchenaid or what have you until very smooth. Beat in the flour and blend well, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Only when the texture has achieved the dreamy creamy quality of Alec Baldwin's '80s hairdo can you beat in the eggs, one at a time until just incorporated.

 like so

Pour batter on to the crust. Pour hot water into a roasting pan or similarly large baking agent, until it is almost halfway up the sides. Lower your cheesecake into it's steamy bath. This ensures even baking in the middle. Bake for 55 minutes.

For the topping:
2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make topping (I do this when the cake has come out and is cooling - it takes 2 seconds):
Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl to blend. When the cake comes out and has cooled for ten minutes, spread topping to cover and bake another 10 minutes. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 eight hours.

The damage after a mere 15 minutes. Sean had three pieces. And yet I'm the one gaining weight. Real fair.

Now having written that all out, it looks like a lengthy process, but I really can't stress how easy it is. You know what else is cool? You can do flavor variations! Yayyy! Add 2 tablespoons of instant coffee if you want a java jolt, or 2 tablespoons of amaretto if you want a buzz. (Like amaretto is gonna get you there...but whatever, it's a yummy flavor.) For my mom's birthday, I finely chopped fresh strawberries and let them macerate in the fridge with a dash of sugar while we ate dinner, and it made an incredibly delicious syrup to go over the top.

I make this at least once a year, for Sean's birthday. For this reason, I'm his favorite wife. Not for the reason that I'm his only wife, because technically that would also make me his least favorite wife. Sean and cheesecake are like Patrick Star and chocolate bars

Go forth and be favorite wives. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

per your request

Ok, I knew something strange was afoot when I received 4 blog comments inside of 7 minutes. The Early Bird just don't know that type of fame. Then Grace divulged she had put the election up on CP's facebook page, which I wouldn't know because I have facebookphobia (it's a thing - though I don't feel remotely as strongly as that guy condition is more a fear of commitment to that level of social networking.)

So hey Grace, thanks! Early Bird followers, thank you guys too, for the input! And those stalkers of Grace's facebook *sharp inhale indicating I'm about to lay a glorious pun on you* Gracebook stalkers (high fives. am I the first to coin that?) welcome AND thanks for the votes of confidence. As I unsolicitous-ly overshared with Grace yesterday afternoon, pregnancy this time around has left me a sopping heap of hormones of late. I can't tell you how it lifted my spirits to see so many blog comments - and so many nice blog comments at that. My delicate psyche appreciates your attentions.

Well, for awhile it looked as if The Black Stallion had it by a landslide. Then the Green Goblin seemed as if it was something of a dark horse - as much of a misnomer as that may be compared to its competition - and started creeping up the charts. In the end, Basic Black Anthro goodness has it though, only 2 votes ahead, by my count. However I did heed the advice of a few sage commenters by adding a punch of color to the neckline. Quite a while ago I inherited several strands of beads in all different hues from my grandma. She was always one for bold jewelry choices and oftentimes loud baubles. Aside from her unmistakable snark, the thing I remember most about her was how heavily adorned her fingers always were. Anyway, I selected a few of these to accessorize my previously boring neckline. Because I was making such a brassy statement with the beads, I decided to keep my earrings to my small and lovely diamonds Sean got me for our first married Christmas.

I say again, those heels are not long for this girl. Come reception, I'm switching out to my gold flips. This is good news for everyone, considering: I shall be partaking in my second-trimester-sanctioned glass of wine; I love dancing at weddings; I dance like Elaine from Seinfeld

So that's where I'll be. How's your Saturday shaping up?

Friday, April 19, 2013

put it to a vote

I'm going to a wedding tomorrow. I need YOU, and I'll tell you why: I'm challenged in the arena of trendy. I would really like to look cutepregnant, not hugepregnant (too late) or frumppregnant. I've composed two outfits. Be a dear and tell me which you think is more appropriate/less fashionably offensive? I apologize in advance for the self-timer portraits. Sean's already left for the day and Jordan still can't figure out the camera. (Isn't that kind of an important milestone?)

#1: Homemade Color Blocking

The seagreen dress is Old Navy and the aqua-ish shirt is aerie from ages ago. It's just an oversized tunic that I tied up under the bust, '90s style. The shoes are from Zara, purchased for a wedding I was in last year. (I would never be so bold as to buy these sky-highs for myself, but they are good to have on hand for fancywear. Please believe every word I tell you when I say I will change but immediately into flip flops for the reception. Tackiness be damned.)

#2: Paint it Black

This is one of my very favorite Anthropologie pieces that I own (total count = 4, so this dress is sooooo special right?) It's pretty old, but I like it as maternity (even though it's not, technically) because it cinches under the bust and just flows all free-style from there. Perfect for big huge bellies. I pulled out one of my sashes from I have no clue where, to give it something extra.

A quick word: there are NO picturesque photo spots in our apartment. Zero. And I wasn't about to hoof it outside for the 24 self-timer photos it took to get these two (not exaggerating), not even for you guys. I have neighbors you know. So you guys get to see a corner of our super cute comforter and a panel of our super cute wall.

Another word: cross my heart, I will be doing my hair AND makeup for the wedding! I promise! What you see here is 7:30 in the morning bedhead turned sidebun, and moisturizer swiped under the eyes to remove yesterday's eyeliner.

Tell me your thoughts. Spring Seagreen? Basic Black? Back to the drawing board?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

fave five

While gallivanting through tropical paradise last week, I pretty much neglected all bloggerly duties and therefore have not yet congratulated Hallie on her delicious baby Charlie. CHEEKS!! So here I am now, the prodigal daughter, ready to round up five of my favorites for this week.

Who's that lady? (who's that-a-layday?)
That fine, fine lady.. (who's that-a-layday?)

I'm glad you asked. That's my mama. Look at her in all her '80s glory. Farrah Fawcett feathers et al. 

It's my mama's birthday tomorrow. Inspired by the occasion, I'll write into internet eternity something I don't say nearly enough to her: my mom is bomb. She bore and raised eight children with more grace than I've been able to do with one. She has always been the "fun mom" and all of our friends always wanted to hang at our house growing up. She does the most ridiculous dance to any tune but don't get her started on Tears for Fears (Sean does the most spot-on impression of it; it's kind of like her whole body moves in backward momentum while her arms swim forward). She's my favorite person with which to sit on the patio or the couch or in my parents' spa with a glass of wine and gossip importantly or unimportantly. She is the best mom I've ever seen - really. And a little bit better of a grandmother than I'm comfortable with. I can't say I'm joking about Jordan preferring her to me and I'm more than a little resentful.

Merm, thanks for all the years of mothering and schooling and patience and fun. I aspire to be to Jordan and my babies the mother you were to us. Eight kids and not a gray hair to show for it. (L'Oreal Honey Blond will be our dirty little secret.)

 That tub in the tub on the left is me.
Am I crazy, or does my older brother Luke as a devious 2 year old look like my Jo-friend?

 2 under 2 and the foxiest ever.

If you can't tell, I'm less than pleased about my new sister.
As far as I know I actually loved all babies, I think I'm just mad here because we interrupted 
a reading of "Are you my Mother?" to stare at a blob of cute.

2. Cheeeeeesecake.

In honor of #1, I whipped up a cheesecake for a family celebration tonight. The recipe will be forthcoming. It warrants a full post because not only is it the creamiest and the easiest cheesecake in all the land, but I think I can produce better than this afterthought of a photo. I'll try to capture its full glory at my mom's little party tonight.

PS that baby cheesecake on the left was made for my sister, who left this morning to scout out colleges (shout out to Meg for letting Auds crash with you in San Fran! And you two have fun at Sigur Ros - JEALOUS!) and will be missing our party tonight. I made her a to-go version. In case you were curious which you probably weren't...

3. Old Navy Maternity!!

I asked my good friend and coworker confidante Kimmy if anyone would notice if I wore this skirt EVERYDAY until I gave birth, and just switched out the tops. She said I could probably get away with it. Joking aside, I wore this skirt four days in a row. Not at work though. In Hawaii, over the weekend, and then at work. Still gross? Yes. If you are pregnant - and heck, even if you're not, because the material just conforms to your body - get yo'self one of these. I will live in it to infinity and beyond.

Oh, here's how I styled it, because I am knowledgeable about fashion stuff and things.

I kind of lost track in Hawaii (WORST MOTHER EVER) but I think I'm 21 weeks.
Bigger than I should be, is all I know.

Crimson maternity shirt - GapMaternity
Pale gray maternity cami - GapMaternity
Charcoal maternity skirt - Old Faithful Navy

maternitymaternitymaternity. This is happening.

4. Melaleuca Body Wash
I wish I could say this is my front porch

I'm a Melaleuca member, and it's great and everything but I probably can't really keep it up. It's kind of a financial commitment. However, before I leave the folds, I'll have to stock up on their Body Satin body wash. I lerve it. I got the original scent and it smells glorious, and it makes my skin feel kind of satiny. It does what it says it'll do - WHAT? They also have a really good lotion for Jordan's sandpaper skin. I'm sorry for not linking any of this stuff but you have to be a member to enter the this is my sales pitch? This is pretty much a very not helpful favorite. Sorry.

She looks so upset in those photos but believe it or not she's singing. Really enthusiastically and slightly melodramatically. 

Ok, now that I'm used to it, I love Jordan's haircut. I totally love it. I'm making sure to dress her extra special feminine lately because the whole cut has really masculated her already slightly boyish features, but she just looks so dang cute. I think. Sean thinks too. Parents don't really know things about their own kids though, I'll own that.

and Jordan hasn't been too eager to show off her freshly shorn look, so I could be wrong on all counts

Get thee to Hallie's for more! Bye now!

Monday, April 15, 2013

i guess that makes me helena bonham-carter

Yesterday was a simultaneously tragic and jubilant day. Sean and I finally freed our daughter of her '80s hair affiliation, which I'm sure is something of a relief to her, as it must get exhausting to constantly channel a young Bret Michaels. From the other side of things, however, Jordan worked so hard for that hair her whole life. Let's consider:

 zero years old and balding. what an ominous prospect.

 sixish months old and pates to show for it.

she wanted hair for her birthday and all she got was this sprinkle doughnut.

I finally put my foot down yesterday though. Jordan's hair is such that she still has basically nothing on top, but it's flowing like a stallion's mane behind her, and I can't let my daughter be subject to ridicule (via mostly my family, but occasionally my own self) any longer. This is why Sean and I got our Sweeney Todd on; but to be clear, we weren't out to butcher anything. Well, not intentionally but we may have murdered fashion and a little bit of Jordan's self esteem with our botch job.

 compliant in her own demise

 the grave offender

 take a good look

Sampson and Delilah

"why didn't the brush get stuck on a huge crib-woven rat's nest?"

I feel that maybe I was on the brink of hysteria over this decision. I was laughing and laughing for the duration of the haircut, and as soon as I held that defeated little pigtail in my hand, I nearly had a tearfest of epic proportions. I think I'll chalk this one up to pregnancy too because I refuse to believe I've become this sentimental. I saved the pigtail as only super-creeps and moms will do, and I take comfort in the fact that I can still admire Jordan's 20 months of hard work.

Sean snatched the scissors and "evened out her bangs." """"""""""""" 

But you know, now that my eyes have had time to adjust and to mentally erase all the flaws and oversights, I think Jordan rather channels a chic, young Shirley Maclaine a la The Apartment.

But then...I look at it from a different angle and she also slightly echoes King Curtis

Chicken nuggets is like my family. see it too.