Saturday, December 24, 2011

i know it's been a while

I know it's been a while since my last post, so I thought I'd explain what's going on here since some dear friends are asking about my absence: I'm super pregnant. And that's pretty much the topic of my thoughts. I don't want every post to talk about the latest thing we did to get one step closer to being ready for Liam's arrival, how my clothes don't fit right any more, or how uncomfortable life is these days because...well...those things are really only interesting to me. And I know this! Ha. :) So I'm keeping facebook statuses and blog posts to a minimum.

We're all doing well here! And don't worry, you're still caught up- you've seen our house decorated for Christmas, you got our cards with Roman's awesome mug on the front, and you've seen a fairly up-to-date picture of the belly and I. There isn't much more to say!

So Merry Christmas to you all and to all a good night. :)

...I'll be around, just bouncing on my exercise ball and trying to get a baby out of this ol' belly.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

it's not my fault

...that I have eaten two doughnuts in the past 12 hours. (It's time for a little "girl talk," is it not?)

I know, there are worse things I could do. But this is just a glimpse of the overall picture right now which is finding me inhaling foods that are a far cry from my norm. It doesn't include the stuffed shells I had for dinner the other night- with garlic bread. Or the 3/4 of a sour cherry pie I made and ate.

By myself.

In 3 days.

A quarter of which I ate in one sitting one night right before bed.

And then there was the night I came home from choir practice and ate an Oreo McFlurry followed by half a can of sour cream and onion Pringles. That was a dark moment in my life.

Oh, Liam, what are you doing to me?

I think he's making up for the fact that I have had zero cravings with this pregnancy. But this isn't who I am!

I am the girl who would honestly rather eat an orange for dessert than some kind of cake. Ice cream doesn't appeal to me, and salad was my favorite food even as a 4-year old girl. I just naturally LOVE fruits and vegetables.

But now- a doughnut?? Well, two.

Do not feel guilty, Lauren, do not feel guilty....

Now, before you get the wrong opinion of me, let me say this: I am not a psycho about food, nor do I have an unhealthy obsession with food/weight. I am simply aware of what goes into my body. And I find it to be hugely important to take care of our bodies and be healthy. That means staying in shape and eating well so that it functions the way it was designedto work. We only get one body in life. I have no qualms about eating any food because I believe everything in moderation is the way we were designed to live. But after getting to a point in college where I was much bigger than I'd like to be and working to lose it, going from size 10 to 2, I am still aware (meaning not fixated) of my daily exercise-to-caloric-intake balance.

But....1)I'm still under the 25 pounds that "I'm supposed to gain" during pregnancy and have only 4 weeks left so I think it's just my body packing on that durn-blasted fat to burn during labor. 2)And it's also time to be plumping Liam up so that he's ready for the world and cuddly to snuggle with.

Because of those reasons I'm allowing these foods to be consumed. And I know when girls are pregnant the phrase "eating for two" gets thrown around, but the truth is that during the first two trimesters you only need an extra 300 calories. That means eat one extra healthy snack in the afternoon and you're good. The last trimester needs more- about 500 more- but none of those mean we're supposed to eat like crazy people. Fat is fat and labor only burns so much. All the extra fat that's left still needs to be worked off slowly and purposefully afterward.

All of that being said, you should know something: THOSE DOUGHNUTS WERE AMAZING. ;)

Is it bad that my Christmas Cookie "to make" list grows daily?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

healthy doesn't have to mean bland

For dinner tonight we had grilled tilapia seasoned with olive oil, black pepper, and salt served with a potato, orange, and arugula salad. Holy moley. We'll be eating it again. So, while those of you in the middle of the cold winter weather may not feel the urge to grill, those of us in tropical climates cook on! And this was incredible. The salad was so light with the orange slices and simple dressing and it complimented the fish, but the potatoes added some weight to the meal while the Gorgonzola and walnuts added creamy crunchiness that made us smile. I forgot, of course, to take a picture- I get so excited when it's time to try something new! But I can pass along the recipe anyway!

Potato, Orange and Arugula Salad



  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 medium oranges
  • 2 packed cups (2 ounces) arugula
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola
  • 1/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts, see Cook's Note



Potatoes: Put an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a heavy baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Put the potatoes and the olive oil in a medium bowl and toss until coated. Arrange the potatoes, cut side down, in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast until golden, about 35 to 40 minutes Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Salad: Peel and trim the ends from each orange. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a salad bowl. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into a small bowl and reserve 1 tablespoon of juice for the dressing. Add the arugula, Gorgonzola, walnuts and the cooled potatoes to the salad bowl.

Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, reserved orange juice, vinegar, and orange zest until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the dressing to the potato mixture and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

36 weeks

Four more weeks of baking to go and we're complete! Roman came 3 days after his due date, so here's hoping Liam comes a few days early or only a few days late. I know there is no way to know when he's coming but he's welcome whenever he arrives.

i'm baaaack

So last week Jerr was gone to the East Coast to take a class for work, which means he took the computer with him- college classes continue even when traveling is required! And that explains my silence. Sure it was possible to write blogs via amazing iphone but I was not willing to chicken-peck my way to blog entries.

So to get caught up....

We had lots of cuddle time.

I got together with a girlfriend and we painted some orange on those plain white walls in Roman's room, plus I added a rug to his floor to add more color. It was a MAJOR score at Ross- I bought my 6x9' rug for $40. Yes, please! Finally, Roman has moved in.

I wrapped Christmas gifts- they are all ready and waiting for Christmas. I told you I was going to work on my wrapping and I don't feel like most of them are anything spectacular in spite of the time I spent. I don't know if you knew, but making pretty gifts takes a lot of time. It used most of my "alone time" during Roman's naps, but at least they're done and I tried and they are better than usual! Here is an example.

And Jerr came home Saturday night, which means Sunday and Monday (he took off to spend some make-up "family time" with us) were filled with lots of boy bonding. They missed each other.

It's funny how things feel unfinished when the husband is missing from the equation. I had a great week and the days passed quickly, but I felt like my goal was to make the days pass quickly instead of enjoying the days the way I do when he's home. Just another thing that made us say "THIS is why we're getting out." We're done with time apart. Goodness knows we've put in our time.

And now we're back to the regularly scheduled programming :) It's nice to enjoy the days once again.

Monday, December 5, 2011

things are not always as they seem

Side note: this picture is saved to my desktop to motivate me to wrap beautiful gifts this Christmas instead of just the normal quick tape-bow-and-done jobby. I want to make them look as special as hopefully the contents end up being!

Anyway, on to the real blog topic: the kind of parent I want to be. There isn't a reason for this post, it's just been on my mind lately and I find myself having to purposely make decisions to parent one way or another...and these are some of the things I've been basing my decisions on.

I want to parent in a way that first gives my children the opportunity to obey before I jump in and correct them. Disclaimer: this, of course, does not apply in a situation that could put them in danger. ie: They ran into the street. But sometimes I feel as though my desire to give my child[ren] space to make decisions and learn to obey can make it seem like I'm being a lazy mother.

Example of what I am talking about: I remember a moment during our visit to Cali where I was having dinner with several girlfriends of mine and Roman was walking over to a piece of siding that was laying by the side of the house. I stood there watching Roman, knowing I was not going to allow him to touch it because it was sharp and could hurt him, waiting to see what he'd do with it. I don't want to rush in to scold him before he's done something wrong, nor do I want to remove him from the situation- I want him to be obedient when I tell him "no." And so I watched. But my girlfriends, with their big hearts and a desire to protect my son because they loved him (which is awesome, in my book!) swooped in and one moved the siding while another picked Roman up and took him to another section of the yard. And I chuckled and of course thanked them for being concerned for his safety because they acted with good intentions. But I silently wondered if they were thinking, "Good grief! His own mother is standing right there doing nothing and I had to go move her kid. Come on, lady- how about be a parent!" I have decided they weren't thinking that because they are my friends and I like to think they know my heart. But how easy would that be to think of someone?

It's moments like this that teach me that it's important to trust someone's heart, especially a mother's heart for her child[ren], and consider that there might be a pretty good reason for an action that doesn't make sense or seems wrong to you based on the limited information you have.

I also want to be a parent who teaches her children to live appropriately in the world around them instead of changing the world to make it easier and avoid lessons. It would be easier to put Sophie's bowl somewhere Roman couldn't reach, or to only put water in it during Sophie's meal times, but then he wouldn't learn the lesson: dog water bowls are not to be played in.

And there are certain times that allow for lessons to be learned the hard way. Don't judge me for this- I promise I'm not a horrible mother! But for a while Roman kept trying to reach my hot coffee cup in the morning and I would move it quickly and say, "No, Roman, it's hot! Ouch!" but it wasn't doing much to keep him from trying and we were doing this little dance every morning. So one day I didn't move it. When he reached toward it I said, "Roman, no touch. It's hot. Ouch." but he touched it anyway. He quickly pulled his hand away and rubbed his hands together. I said, "Yeah, ouch. Hot." And the struggle was over. It also turned out to be a really great way to teach him what "hot" is (and in a world with ovens, stove tops, and fire it's a good lesson to know!) and now if he is reaching toward something he shouldn't, like a Scentsy burner, I just say "Roman, be careful- it's hot." and he will rub his hands together like he did when he touched my coffee cup and walk away. Sometimes teaching an effective lesson isn't completely pain free. But that was a safe way to show him that "hot" means "don't touch" for a reason.

I'm not saying all of this because I have it figured out and want to teach anyone anything! I write it because it's on my mind and I love hearing other mom's write me back with advice or "I'm there too!" comments. And because it's easiest to write about what life is right now- and this is my life right now! :)

I'm just really enjoying being a mama. It's fun to do something that requires so much thought.

And the hugs and kisses aren't so bad, either. ;)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Jerry wrote a post!

I married an amazing man who is both an incredible father AND husband. The proof of this is in the fresh flowers that are sitting on my counter that he brought home for me when he came for lunch yesterday "just because." The proof that he is an incredible father is something you can see when you read his post as a guest blogger today here at Common Sense Mama and he did a great job!

What a guy... <3

it's getting to be that time

Yep, that's Liam in there!

Today I am 6 weeks away from my due date and for the first time, I feel ready. Until now it has been a pretty even combination of "I don't think I can do this!!!" and "I am so excited to expand our family!" But finally the fear and worry is subsiding and I find myself just being ready.

I looked at Roman's newborn pictures a few nights ago and realized that a NEW BABY was a scary concept, but Liam was my son and would be no more intimidating than his brother. For some awesome reason, when they hand you your own baby, that you grew and carried for 40 weeks, they aren't even a tiny bit scary! And the love you have for them is the emotion that outweighs everything.

Then on Tuesday I met with the group of mommas, who I've been doing a book study with, and was comforted to hear that all of them experienced these same questions and concerns I've had lately when they were having their second child. With Roman, the worries I had were things like "How will I know what he needs? What if I don't know how to _____? How do I nurse? What the heck am I doing!?" and with Liam it's been questions like "How will adding this person change our family dynamic? How will I let go of the guilt that is sure to come as I watch Roman getting less attention than he used to? How will I juggle the needs of two young boys who both need me a pretty large amount?" And it was nice to hear that those questions are normal. It was nice to be told that Liam is sure to be different than Roman, because God just doesn't make two people exactly alike- good thing!- but different doesn't mean opposite.

I have had so many people say things like, "Well you know Roman is too easy- you're going to have a horrible second child to make up for it." and I think that's a really, really mean thing to say to someone. And I get protective inside because Liam isn't even born yet and already these horrible things are being spoken over his life that don't have to be true. So it was nice to hear that just because my first baby was a good sleeper doesn't mean my second one won't be, etc. Yes, I recognize that he MAY not be a good sleeper, because he is his own person, but there is nothing that guarantees I will be tortured with a dificult second child BECAUSE my first child is so "easy." I am finally able to rest in the knowledge that God is giving us the most perfect person to add to our family, he is free to be whatever he was created to be with whatever personality he was created to have, and we will love him just as much.

I have also started to feel like I've finally got the hang of this season I'm in with Roman- which surely means it's time to go back the other way! It's just a cycle that is continuous. And the more I think about it, I realize a lot of things in life are that way for me. I feel that way in marriage and I also felt that way in my teaching career. I have moments of feeling like I'm failing miserably and have no idea what I'm doing, then I move on to a point where I feel like you're I'm not amazing but I'm not the horrible wife/teacher/mom that I recently was convinced I was, then I feel like I actually rock at what I'm doing... and then there is a reality check and I head back to where I feel like a failure. And on the cycle goes. I totally had my hard moments about a month ago, then between now and then I've been figuring it out, and now I feel like I'm actually doing a good job. So it makes sense that it's time for Liam to be here and send me back to the "I have no idea what I'm doing" part of the ride. It's a nice mix of humility and comfort, all in all, right? LOL

Maybe I'm the only one who rides this cycle.

But that's where I am, sitting here at 34 weeks, and knowing time is coming to a close. Liam's arrival still doesn't feel CLOSE but it's coming into view. And sometimes I still can't believe I'm going to have a baby. I'm pretty sure my belly is just the result of holiday over-eating.....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

i don't want to be the reason

...that Roman doesn't accomplish all of which he's capable.

Two posts ago, when I wrote about decorating for Christmas with a toddler in the house, I mentioned another topic that has been popping up in life often lately- that we, as parents, often hold our children back.

The first time that concept appeared was about 2 months ago when Roman was 14 months and was still enjoying one bottle of milk after waking up. I know at a year babies can/should be weaned from the bottle, and he was only having this one, but I was dreading the tears and complaints that would come when I took it away. It's not nice to subject Mommy to that kind of tantrum before the coffee has had a chance to kick in. But I needed to stop procrastinating and do it.

So I called my girlfriend and asked her to check in with me in about 4 days and kick me in the pants if I hadn't done it yet. There's nothing like some friendly abuse accountability to help motivate you!

I decided to start the process on a Thursday, figuring it would take about 3-4 days, since that's how long it takes for babies/toddlers to establish a new habit. On morning #1 I woke up, prepared to withstand crying, tears, pleas, etc....and got nothing. He asked once, I said "No bottle, all done." and handed him a cup of milk with a straw and he was over it.

The second morning I just handed him his milk and he happily went on with his morning. Are you kidding me!??! I'd start a war if someone tried to take my coffee from me in the morning!!!!! In disbelief I called my girlfriend, the one I had called to mentally prepare me the day before, and told her that I had put off doing something for 2 months that took NONE of the effort I was expecting. To which she said, "Lauren, you have just learned one of the biggest lessons of motherhood: WE are often the ones who keep our children from doing things, or who create so much drama around an event. Learn from this. You're going to see people doing it over and over." And I have thought about that many times since our conversation that day. Roman didn't care at all that his morning treat was exchanged for another form of the same. It was me. I had kept both of us from the change, subjecting myself to more bottle washing!

This concept of parents being the ones to hold our children back from change/growth/lessons has been creeping up everywhere from the decision Jerry and I made to decorate our house for Christmas the way we wanted, to my Mom's Book Club yesterday that found several mothers sharing experiences of the same kind. It's easy to do! You just get going down the path you're on and suddenly you find yourself still cutting pizza for your 6-year old to eat because you never considered the fact that they were able to pick it up and eat it about 2 years ago!

I want to be the mom that pushes my kids. That encourages them to eat their cereal without my help, even though it's going to be messy for a while, because they can totally handle that task on their own. I want to let my children help with chores even though it makes them take longer because I understand that the lesson is more important than the completion of the task at hand. I want to have patience and understand that teaching as we live life side-by-side is the most effective way of instruction. And I don't want to put all the glass ornaments high on the tree so they don't get broken before I've given Roman a chance to see what he's capable of handling.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

good color, bad color

So I was in desperate need of shirts that covered my belly. We've talked about this. And I finally caved and bought four shirts at Target- two tees and two long-sleeved tees. The problem is this: I found a brown long-sleeved shirt in a color that I adored but looked really horrible against my skin color. And even though it's not usually a color that conjures pleasant thoughts, but instead looks something akin to the result of eating Mexican food, I thought to myself, "I just love it too much, I'm getting it anyway."

But I wondered: have you had ever been in a similar position?

Have you ever had a shirt in a color that made you look like you were dying from the plague instead of making your eyes pop and putting color in your cheeks?

Okay, look, if that's going on in your closet right now there is an easy fix. Just put another color closer to your face.

Like this:
Shirt: Target, Necklace: Anthropologie

Just get a necklace, scarf, or cardigan to wear next to your face that keeps the "bad color" from having it's less-than-flattering effects on your complexion and enjoy wearing it!

Yes, there are colors out there to flatter your specific skin tone and hair/eye color. If that's a new concept to you I'd encourage you to check it out. Google has a ton of websites you can go to that talk about it. For me, the "good guys" are jewel tones and pastels plus pure white (versus off-white) and black. And I try to be vigilant about that when buying clothes if it's a shirt I couldn't easily pair with a big pop of color next to my face. If it's just not the most flattering color next to my face, I put it down- and have therefore surrendered some really great pieces. Especially sale tops/dresses, since most of the more popular colors sell quickly and leave the yellowy-lime greens for those of us who shouldn't be wearing them! But if you run across a color that you love so much that you can't put it down, and it's able to let another color be the go-between (like my simple, scoop neck tee), then color rules be damned and carry on, my friend! Carry on.


Oh, and for those wishing for a little belly action, this little piece of eye candy right here is for you: ;)

34 weeks on Friday, baby!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas [decor] has arrived :)

The Friday after Christmas is known to some as Black Friday, the day for shopping and taking advantage of all good deals. To me, it is the winter equivalent to Fall Day. (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, see here) It is the day I hunker down in my house, let everyone else run about like madmen/women, watch Elf, change the Scentsy burner from Pumpkin Roll to Festival of Trees, and decorate for Christmas. And so we did!

Wanna come in for a tour?

(hooray for my stockings and homemade Joy sign!!)


Are those glass ornaments hanging at the bottom of the tree?? And aren't those ornament balls in the sleigh at perfect grabbing height?!

Why, yes they are! :) Funny how that happened.

I remember a phone conversation with my girlfriend a few weeks ago- she has a son three weeks younger than Roman and we were trying to figure out whether to fight the "don't touch the Christmas tree decorations" battle or not. Normally I feel strongly about decorating my house and teaching my child[ren] how to behave among those things but Christmas seemed so temporary. It's a month out of Roman's young life. Did I really feel like investing the energy to stay on him and make sure he didn't break things? Was it worth fighting that battle? Was it fair to give him the opportunity to be scolded so often? And I decided that no, it in fact was not. I was prepared to tailor my decorating for a 16-month old's curiosity. I was going to make the bottom half of my tree ornament-free and keep everything else high up on shelves.

But then curiosity got the best of me.

And Jerry and I found some courage on that Friday and said to each other, "Let's try it." We figured if it was a really huge battle to fight we would alter what we did, but if Roman didn't care, there was no reason why we couldn't decorate. And don't we, as parents, often limit our children based off our own fears? (now THAT is a conversation for another day, but is a theme coming up in my life often right now!) What if we were making something out of nothing?

So when Roman went down for his nap we ran around like crazies, setting up the tree and decorating it so that he wasn't awake to try and help us do it. We actually got most of the decorating done during this time. (I am constantly amazed at the productivity that can be achieved during a 2-hour nap time) And when he woke up we walked him out to the kitchen, "ooh"ed and "aah"ed over the things, showing him everything, and holding our breath to see what he'd do.

We had decided we were okay if he wanted to touch the ornaments and agreed that we'd tell him to be gentle when touching it. That's a phrase he's familiar with since we have a cat who can't quite take the beating a large American Bulldog can.

The result? Success! The first day he was really interested and we just watched him constantly to catch him BEFORE he did things he wasn't supposed to so we could praise his gentle touching instead of scolding his removal of ornaments. We did have ONE incident where he threw a white ball, which of course immediately shattered on the floor! He turned and ran faster than I thought he could move! But in his defense, it looks exactly like one of his white balls he plays with and we weren't watching him (obviously) at that moment to have stopped it. But that's it! I think he realized quickly that the things hanging on the tree weren't the same as the things in his toy chest. The second day found him to be a little curious but not very interested, and he has ignored everything since then. I even have a sleigh full of ornament balls on a stand beside the couch that sits at perfect height for him to have fun with and he has left it alone completely, other than the first day.

So now I know. Yes, we can still decorate for the holidays; even with little fingers and toes in the house. And that makes for a happy mama, indeed! :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Cards

So I did it! I found the one. You know- the perfect Christmas card to send to friends and family so they can see a family snap shot and feel like we don't really live 6,000 miles away. Before Roman was born I felt like sending a standard card with writing on the front was sufficient, but now I feel like we have to send one with a picture so that loved ones can look at his grinning mug from their fridge as they grab the creamer from their coffee in the morning.

And after spending hours online I decided that, in my professional (haha) opinion, Tiny Prints has the cutest cards out of any I scoped out during my hours-long search. So I thought I'd share in case you are spending hours looking for your own cards. :)

**spoiler alert-if you receive Christmas cards from us, you're going to see your card early by scrolling down!**

This is the card I'm ordering:
Cute, right?? I have never seen Christmas cards in the shape of a circle. And you know me and my affinity for anything unique. You can see the link to the card I chose here.

And if it isn't enough to have found a really awesome card to send to folks, Tiny Prints is offering bloggers a 50 free cards if you contact them and are willing to talk about it on your blog. Sweet deal, right?

And they not only have circle cards, they have the standard rectangle in some pretty cool designs. If you're interested in checking out the other cards they offer for the holidays, click on their link here. And happy Christmas card shopping to you all!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May the day be special for you and yours.


Oh! And here is how the table turned out:

(my place setting, hence the "L" on the leaf. Everyone has their initial on their leaf.)

Who says Goodwill (mixed with Great Grandma Becker's good crystal) can't be classy? :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

i miss clothes. i miss shoes. i miss SHOPPING.

on a completely unrelated note, this rug is a ridiculously good price at crate & barrel online and it is taking every OUNCE of self-control I have not to buy it and have it shipped to my parents (because shipping to HI would be disgusting, I'm sure) to wait for us to move back in a year.

Anyway-moving on.

I haven't had a new piece of clothing/shoes/accessory to wear since September. It was my choice- I have used my personal monthly budget to buy my Michael Kors watch to commemorate Liam's pregnancy (as talked about here) and then the rest to put toward my Christmas bed set (as talked about here). So it has been worth it. And when I'm pregnant I never spend money on clothes to wear because 1)it's not going to fit in a week and 2)it doesn't look great. But that means by now- the final 7 week stretch- I am tired of wearing the pathetic remnants in my closet that still fit the belly.

I have one pair of jeans, one pair of jean shorts, 2 above-the-knee skirts, 2 long skirts, black leggings, 2 cardigans, 1 sweatshirt, 2 flannel button-ups, and 5 different colors of maternity tank tops. That is it. I knew my daily closet selection seemed pathetic but seeing it in writing makes me sigh. (Yes, this is why you haven't seen many "outfit pictures" lately.)

In December, Jerry and I donate our monthly personal spending money to the general budget since there are gifts to buy, gifts we'll receive, and extra holiday expenses. So, finally, in January I can buy things again. And the baby bump will be gone. Oh, won't that will be lovely.

Until then, if you see me walking around in the same clothes that you saw me in last week, don't say a word. "Poking" a preggo is hazardous to your health.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

6 reasons I need to win the lottery....

Reason #1:
With a comfy pair of worn-in skinny jeans, tank, button-up flannel shirt, and a great necklace. The "day after the big holiday" outfit.

Reason #2:
For wearing around town in cute fedora, jean shorts, boyfriend cardigan with the sleeves rolled up, and asymmetrical-hem shirt, accessorized with massive bracelets everywhere.

Reason #3:
For the Christmas party as the perfect addition to a black sequined tunic and simple diamond earrings.

Reason #4:
With a just-above-the-knee floral dress, patterned tights, infinity scarf, and chunky knitted cardigan.

Reason #5
With...everything imaginable. Seriously.

Reason #6
With a pair of 70s-inspired wide leg jeans, barely grazing the floor, loose flowy blouse, and the perfect massive earrings. And bright red nails.

Oh Aldo....

Monday, November 21, 2011

the early [christmas gifter] catches the... vanilla??

When I made my Christmas list a few weeks ago, I needed to plan out what I would put in the baskets to give our friends and their families here. I don't want to list all the contents in the basket because some of the people who will be receiving them also read the blog. I have to keep some secrets! But I couldn't help but share one of the items I'm most excited to give.

Homemade vanilla extract.

Sounds amazing, yes? The idea took root in July while I was watching- big surprise- a Barefoot Contessa show. I should really consider therapy. I think I'm obsessed. But when I found out the ingredients were vodka, vanilla beans, and time I was in! It sounded original, easy, and cheap. Yep, count me in.

So I am making four small bottles to give for gifts. And I decided that Ina's recipe online wasn't very clear so I went here to get a more definitive list of ingredients. If you are considering making this yourself, I recommend reading the comments of people who have reviewed the recipe. It was really helpful.

So I ordered the vanilla beans from and bought a massive bottle of vodka from Costco. Yep, I looked awesome- huge preggo belly in the front and a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka on the hip as I walked to the cart with my toddler sitting in it. Oooooh yeah. Mom of the year award! ;) And as soon as the vanilla beans arrived, I assembled. I measured 1 liter of vodka and put it into the tupperware bowl, along with the scraped out vanilla beans- some cut and 4 whole to look pretty when individually bottled.

The beginning:
Two weeks into it:
If only I could capture the smell. :)

I have been shaking it every day and it will be ready to use by mid-February. Hey, some things are worth waiting for, right??

Friday, November 18, 2011

surprise: i can be crafty??

I do not consider myself a crafty person. My ADD ensures I don't spend hours on something patiently, working slowly and being a perfectionist. It's why my relationship with a sewing machine lasted all of one turns out removing stitches one-by-one when I went off course can break the fantasy bubble rather quickly.

But I have been enjoying the holiday season and found myself needing to stick to my budget while wishing I could expand my decorating arsenal. And I have been reading a few blogs that had great ideas that seemed simple enough I thought maybe I could try. Like the cardigan post I just blogged about.

So here is my first creation that hangs in the hall entryway:

I know we only have a week left before the Christmas decorations go down up on Black Friday but it was cheap enough that I could justify the cost, easy enough that I could justify the time spent, and cute enough that I could justify my desire to have it in my house! It's made of paper doilies, brown coffee filters, and black paint that I used to stencil my letters. I plan on making one for Christmas, too...not sure what it will say yet. Stay tuned.

Here is my second creation:

This actually isn't something I saw someone do. "Necessity is the mother of invention." I thought up in my head because I wanted something substantial in size to hang with my 4 stockings behind the couch- we don't have a mantle. The idea of a wreath was my original thought but I'm not going to be spending $50 on a Target wreath this yuletide season, so a $15 painted canvas it was! I wanted it to look handmade because my stockings are burlap (see previous posts) and I like the rustic look. 10 minutes the first evening to paint two coats of green on the background, and 20 minutes the second night to paint on the letters and add some glitter and it was done.

You know, I'm feeling pretty stinking accomplished. I might go pick up my crocheting needles and try making that washcloth again.


Nope, I couldn't even joke about that one. Let's not pretend I have the focus for that business! ;)

an old sweater into a cardigan

I can't take the credit at all for the coolness discovered- and therefore being posted- but I'm telling you about it anyway. Props to Jamie from the blog Easily Dunn. I stumbled across this blog yesterday and couldn't believe that she turned an old sweater:

Into a cardigan.

And it's something even I could do- no sewing machine needed. I can't get over this idea.

You better believe I'm stealing it...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

if it were fall here....

....these are some things I'd be wearing. (All pictures are of one of my favorite bloggers, Saucy Glossie- she's a stylist for TJMaxx and I love a lot of her outfits. Or at least certain elements to most. Even though we don't share climate or budgets, she inspires me.)

I love the pops of color in her shoes and purse here:

The suede leggings (from h&m, for those of you around them!!!) are totally unexpected, and I definitely have Marc Jacobs boots in black just like these:

If this poncho weren't $195 I'd buy it now and save it for next year when we move back to cold weather. IN LOVE.

Again, with the pop of color. These pants are gorg.

I have a hat like this (but even better!) and the only thing keeping me from having thigh-high boots is the fact that I'd die of heat here in HI. But this is the way I'd wear them- with colored tights and shorts, or a short tunic. Keeps it a little less scandalous. And while I'd look for a different top, the fit would stay the same. So pretty.

Turns out I am influenced by/in love with the 70's style more than I originally thought...and I thought I was pretty in love with it before!

Ah, I miss you. I have very little difficulty feeling content in the tropics during spring and especially summer. It's actually cooler in the summer here than in PA! But during the fall and winter I get pretty majorly bummed out. This is the last winter I'll miss, and only one more fall...I can do this!

Until then, I will continue wearing the appropriate attire for 86 degree days and 73 degree nights. (Daniella, I told you I was going to use your shirt styling as inspiration. This is why preggos need stylish preggo friends!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

holy shopping success, batman!!!

This year, for the first time EVER, I am hosting Thanksgiving!!!! There will be a total of six of us, plus Roman. I feel like it's a rite of passage and I have been reading recipes and articles and watching show after show to prepare me for the day. I have chosen my menu, purchased all groceries, and will have created my minute-by-minute schedule in the next day or two. I am even making doubles of all recipes so everyone can take home a huge plate of leftovers. Because that's the best part of Thanksgiving and it's not fair for the other two couples joining us have to miss out on the yumminess because of their willingness to spend their holiday with us Beckers.

And then today I realized that part of hosting Thanksgiving was having a beautiful table for people to eat at. I had nothing.

So, I headed to Goodwill with Megan and Rachel. I think I've been into a Goodwill store maybe twice in my life before today, and even though my friend Michelle raves about her finds, and Megan is a practiced believer in its greatness, I was intimidated by the required search to find the "treasure" among the "trash."

Today, though, I had the necessary motivation- I needed greatness for cheapness. And oh, the treasure I found!!!!! Make that treasures- plural. Not to mention Wednesdays are military appreciation days and I got an additional 20% off with my military ID. Score.

So, the grand list: 8 white dinner plates with 7 matching dessert plates (that I am completely smitten with and debating using them year-round because I'm so in love), a 14-piece glass punch bowl set that was still sealed in the original packaging (aka "never been used"), 8 brown ceramic chargers, 3 crystal candlesticks, and 8 orange cloth napkins. Not to mention a bag of Matchbox cars for Roman, a bag of various-sized balls, and a ball popper toy.

Oh, and all for $53.44!!!!! Unreal. I am now a Goodwill believer. Sign me up.

The glass punch bowl with lad2 of the 12 cups:

My dinner and dessert plates with chargers and one of the three candlesticks:

A close-up.

And to complete the table I went to Target where, for another (far less impressive) $40, I got a green tablecloth, 8 gold napkin rings, and orange tapered candlesticks to go in the holders:

Meaning my Thanksgiving table (plus punch bowl and Roman toys) to under $100. I'll show you the finished product next week.

I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!