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.

xoxo




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!!)

Pause.

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:
[front]
[back]
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.

xoxo



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 Amazon.com 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 curtain...it 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, fall...how 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!!!!!!

get a FREE style board!!


During a post last week I told you about my friend, Jeanne, author of the blog The Common Sense Mama, who was giving away a free Its Becker Style style board in honor of the weight loss goal she set for herself and conquered. In order to be eligible for it, you could do one of six (or six of six) things. Two of the ways to enter were to follow my blog or follow her blog. (You can also leave a comment on her blog, follow our twitter accounts, etc)

But when I noticed that none of "my peeps" had followed her blog or had signed up to be a follower of mine (there are several hundred of you who read my blog daily-wowza, btw!- but only 28 who "follow") I wondered why that was. It could be that most people just don't want a style board! Or it could be that people don't really know what "following" a blog means/involves. So let me explain.


What is Following?

If you have a favorite blog and want to let the author and readers know that you are a fan... you can do that by "following" their blog.

It is a nice way to say we "support" you and what you have to say!

You do not need to have a blog to follow one. So following isn't just for bloggers, it's also designed to make it easier for readers to keep tabs on their favorite blogs.

Also, you can choose to follow publicly or privately.

So select how you'd like to follow the blog, then click the "Join this site" button.

Or the "Subscribe" button,

You can also "Follow by email" and each new post will be sent to your email so that you don't have to worry about clicking in- you can just read each new entry when you check your email.


It is that simple, you are now a follower of the blog! If you elected to follow the blog publicly, your profile picture will be displayed on the blog with a link to your Blogger profile.

That's it :). Just a little fyi !

If you have a number of blogs you enjoy, go follow them...it will mean a lot to those writing them, a good way to send support their way.


So here is a link to the article that Jeanne wrote, explaining why she's giving away a style board, made by yours truly. And if you don't know what a style board is, you can either click here or go to the tab at the top of my blog that says "Samples of Work." If you're interested, we'd love to have you enter to win one. Because I'd love the opportunity to make a style board for someone who would appreciate it, and she would like to bless someone in honor of her meeting her goal. Come join us! xoxo

alright peeps, weigh in!

I swear to you, come January this picture is me...aside from the Asian heritage.

Usually on this blog, I just write my thoughts and it's a one-sided conversation. Mostly because I find that a two-sided conversation is a little awkward when you can't hear the second side, but also because it's weird for me to acknowledge that there are people reading this. But blog readers, I need help. Please- post those comments and leave me your thoughts because I have not had a good, quality, catch-up phone call with a single girlfriend in weeks.

The problem: I'm finding I have a hard time knowing when to talk on the phone!

I avoid answering calls when Roman is awake because he doesn't yet understand that he can't talk to me when I'm talking to an invisible person in my ear- and I get REALLY frustrated trying to have a conversation where he makes me re-start the same thought five different times. I'm pregnant and can't remember what I was saying WITHOUT that added distraction. But during his nap times I've been extra tired, thank you third trimester, and have been using it to nap and have alone time because I am needing that big time right now. And then once Jerry is home to watch Roman I feel guilty chatting with girlfriends "for fun" because I'm missing out on family time. I think I need to get over that, but Jerr already watches Roman almost every afternoon for me to teach some piano lessons plus weekends when I have been doing Scentsy parties almost every Saturday. I literally DON'T KNOW when to answer or call for a fun chat. Lately, the phone has been used to do whatever tasks need accomplished or question needs answered and nothing else. It sucks.

So advice on when to talk on the phone would be helpful! lol Where is my window and how can I have time to chat? My girl-talk-time is severely lacking.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

my ode to brussel sprouts


I have been trying to figure out why brussel sprouts have developed such a bad reputation and I just don't understand! Everyone thinks poorly of them and I doubt they're a regular part of the menu in most houses. Heck, the first time I ever had them was as a married adult because my parents didn't like them! (I have since converted them) But they always interested me and one day I decided to be brave. I started with one recipe which snowballed into the next recipe and now I am sold and am ready to embrace brussel sprouts as a regular, "go to" veggie of choice.

So I'm going to walk you through my first two recipes. The first recipe, which is where I suggest you start if you have a "bad taste" in your mouth from trying them before (pun intended!) or if you have never had them and don't know what you think of them. Because the sprouts are sauteed, it leaves the nutrition packed in those little balls of joy but adds bacon and cheese...and really, what ISN'T good with bacon and cheese? With this first recipe, I have seen several brusssel sprouts haters already change their mind. Go on try it- I dare ya!

The second recipe is the brussel sprout in it's most simplest form, great for those who aren't turned off by sprouts when they are served well, but don't know how to bring out their flavor. With olive oil, salt, and pepper, the sweetness of the sprout mixes with the saltiness of the outside leaves and it is heaven. Mmmm...aaaand my mouth is watering.

Recipe #1: Shredded Sprouts Salad

serves 2-3

  • 2 cups whole brussel sprouts
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 1 slice of bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1/2 oz grated asiago cheese
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions

Begin by cutting the stems off of the brussels sprouts. Add sprouts to a food processor and pulse until sprouts are tiny shreds. (**although I attach my slicer and slice each sprout- I like them better this way) Do it manually so you can control the size of the shreds. You want some larger pieces and you don’t want them to be crumbs! Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shredded sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute for about 5-7 minutes, or until sprouts are browning. Add vinegar while stirring and make sure sprouts are all coated. Saute for another 1-2 minutes. Remove and plate. Top with crumbled bacon and a small sprinkling of asiago cheese. Serve warm.


Recipe #2: Roasted Brussel Sprouts

serves 4-6

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt (salty like French fries) and serve immediately.