Friday, June 22, 2012

buying a red sportscar

So, we get to think about purchasing a house in 5 months. [pause for awe-inspiring, celebratory dance involving moon walking, fist pumps, and quite possibly some booty drops!!!!!] I'll give you 3 guesses as to what has been on my mind lately, but the first two don't count. OkayIcan'twaitI'lljusttellyou- DECORATING SAID HOUSE!!! I'm talking, I got it bad and that ain't good kind of thinking about a house of my own. Thank you, creators of Pinterest, for giving me a more tangible way to dream.

And along with Pinteresting during every moment I can afford to spend on future dreams, I have been on an HGTV fix more than usual. There for a while it was Food Network all the way...and I still haven't lost that. Actually, Roman has an infatuation with Paula Deen and he loooooves her. I'm chalking that up to his love for his Mimi, and Paula just happens to be a ridiculously adorable grandmother with a southern accent. Of course every little boy who lives far from his grandmas would think she's awesome! And todaWAIT. Um., how the heck did I switch to Food Network? Geez, Lauren. Aaaaand, getting back on track......

HGTV. Secrets of a Stylist. That's where I thought I was going. I love the show Secrets of a Stylist. And one of her biggest tips is to think of three (at least two) different styles that you are drawn to. She said you can look around your house to find them, or you can think about styles you see in other people's houses if you feel like your house doesn't reflect you and the style you'd like to be. The advice is to pick three different ones, because decorating in only one style can look one-dimensional/magazine-like/generic/impersonal and if you can layer in several different styles they are more personal to you, specifically, as well as being more interesting to look at.

But I'm having an identity crisis of sorts. Not the buy a fancy red sports car and get plastic surgery kind of identity crisis, but the inability to figure out just WHAT styles I am. I know very clearly what I like and don't like, but I've been having big trouble finding names for them. What do you call the person who likes handmade pottery AND clear, plastic, Lucite chairs?? "Weird." Haha, yes. Very funny.

So let me work through it with you and then all you crazy interior-decorators-with-mad-skillz can analyze me and solve all my decorating problems. Lucky you.
  • Lucite (clear plastic from the 50's/60's)
  • handmade pottery
  • fur/sticks/leaves/birds/antlers/ANYTHING nature
  • mismatched anythings
  • distressed furniture in different colors
  • reclaimed lumber
  • glass/stainless steel/concrete finishes
  • mercury glass
  • Chesterfield sofas in white linen (but I compromise and say "in distressed leather" because the reality is that I live with a slobbery American Bulldog and have at least 2 sons...white linen will NEVER be an option for me)
  • bold, graphic wallpapers
  • the super smooth, white, plastic-y, laminate-y finish on really simple furniture...I'm blanking on the name of it?
  • wool/cotten/linen
  • grommets
I think that should cover it. I'm a complex individual, right?? But I've been thinking: What about cottage+mid-century modern+industrial? The cottage would take care of the love I have for all things nature (ie. sticks, birds, fur, antlers, etc), white cabinets, hardwood floors, handmade pottery and distressed furniture. The mid-century modern would explain my love for Lucite and the white, shiny plastic in really simple, understated lines [I call this my "Ikea" look], and also the graphic wallpaper. And what I used to think was a rustic style I now think is industrial. The concrete/stainless steel/glass/reclaimed lumber love I have IS kind of rustic, which is what I called it for a while, but to fully commit to rustic is a little more dirty and undone than I prefer.

So I think that might explain it. Would you agree?...all but the Chesterfield. That guy throws me! He's just classic. Uber traditional. A no-style style. Here is the gentleman that I am currently daydreaming of for my future living room:

Isn't he dreamy?? Mmmm.....I think we could have a very wonderful relationship. He wouldn't even have to give me a ring. But I'm wondering if the fact that he's in distressed leather harkens to my cottage [or even maybe industrial??] side? Except his lines are more mid-century than traditional Chesterfields. Bleepity bleep!

Anyway, that's me. Now, who the heck am I?!?!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

let's journey back, shall we?

It's funny- because of moving around so much (home: St. Thomas, college: Millersville, first job: Mathews, second job/marriage: Lemoore, third job/kids: Honolulu) I have friends who know me from certain parts of that journey but very few who know me from every part. That's one of the sweet things about marrying a guy who went to my high school- I live with the person who knew me in every part of the story thus far. I treasure that. :)

But I thought it would be fun to dig through my photo box and post some pictures from high school and all through the college years (you can follow the time by the length of my hair! ha!!). I think there are enough pictures on fb to pick up where these leave off. :)

Let's start at the beginning, shall we? I think you'll agree that Roman and I may be related:
minus the earrings ;)

High school, senior year. This is me with our friend Jared-

And Jerry with our friend Jalonna at prom. We had a group of 6 who did everything together and Jared, Jalonna, Jerry, and I were four of those six!
ah, youth!


Then came college, the early years:
 
oh it hurts...it hurts.....what was I doing!?

Then college the middle years:

My "Jenny from the Block Years"-
 haha okay, I should explain that I didn't go crazy, this was for a solfege class group project. My name: Shanaynay. Seriously.

Then finally college, the late years....these were much better on the fashion front. LOL
 Just dating ;)

The engaged couple:

The wedding rehearsal dinner:
And the newly-married Mr. and Mrs. Becker


Between the hair cuts, the weight gain, and some terrible style, I've had enough "What was I thinking??" moments to last me a lifetime! Now that you've had a good laugh, just pick up your jaw and carry on...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

making the ordinary extraordinary

One of the things I try to do is make the necessary a little more stylish.

It's a fun game I play with myself that makes me feel like normal daily tasks are a little more fun. For example, I used to wear a pair of pajama pants to bed with one of my every day t-shirts but I recently swapped them all out for cute matching sets of pajamas. It makes me feel classier, more grown up, and more pampered. I'm worth matching pjs! (It doesn't hurt that they're on sale for the Victoria's Secret semi-annual sale right now, so if you like the idea, go! The time is now!)

It was along the same lines that I wrote the blog post (posted here) where I proposed wearing sandals and not flip flops when going out. It's not that flip flops are evil! Heck, I can't think of anything better to wear with a pair of yoga pants or cute sweats when it's summertime and footwear is needed. But why not wear real sandals with jeans and a tee? It just elevates the look- makes it a lot more stylish with such little effort. And that is even more true when we make the effort to get dressed up.

But my closet isn't the only place in life where I look for ways to elevate the everyday. It's when cooking with olive oil, salt, and black pepper that I grind myself [ps-grinding my own black pepper with my coffee grinder was a small change that ROCKED my kitchen. If you've never cooked with freshly ground pepper, try it. Like freshly grated nutmeg, it is nothing like its prepackaged namesake]:



It's when getting my coffee in the morning, as I pour my creamer out of a ceramic milk jug and scoop my sugar from a ceramic carton instead of the disposable containers they come in:

It's not because I'm a snob or because I'm trying too hard. It's because I find something so special about it. 

I was watching a cooking show yesterday, French Food At home, and as the host listed her fancy menu for the episode, she explained that she was having friends over for dinner and was making it a fancy affair. The reason she gave resonated with me: it used to be the case, decades ago, that everything was a bit more fancier; more dressed up. You didn't wear jeans out of the house, pearls were the daily choice, dinner took more effort and more time...and now casual is the norm. And she wanted to make that dinner special. So she put on a dress and served quail and savoy cabbage in a butter sauce with pumpkin mousse for dessert. And I felt like I understood her. Because, like her, I would rather use a fresh pumpkin to make my pumpkin puree that I would use in a pumpkin mousse. And if it meant that I spent hours doing it instead of 20 minutes, that's just fine. [Now, the reality of this happening with two boys under 2 years of age is slim to none. But give me a few years.... ;)]

But I guess what I'm saying is that there is something in me- maybe I'm an old soul- that longs for the simple, the homemade, the fine jewelry to actually be worn, and the creamer to be kept in a ceramic milk jar. Because life seems a little more of an experience that way. So much more special. I'm saying I want to be that old woman in the nursing home who still wears her huge earrings, a dress, and lipstick. You know what I'm talking about- there's one in each home. And every time I see her, I mentally applaud. Because she's still making her days special and doing it in style and with pizazz.


So when you see me, say hi- I'll be sitting next to Bertie playing Bridge while we wait for our nail appointment. I'm thinking I'll go cherry red. ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

the beach is that way

I have never really had muscles in my life. Okay, I did during marching band season but that's only because I carried a snare drum...and really, that was more a rehearsal for being pregnant than an example of being physically fit.

And I'm not a Kelly Ripa- her arms are RI-DIC-U-LOUS. However, while my jealousy drool collects in a corner of my mouth and rolls down my chin, I can't help but be a little frightened at the same time. Her guns are major.


But I'm proud.
(it's hard to get the right angle to see my baby bicep bulge, but it's there)
Note to self: next time, show picture of your muscles BEFORE Kelly Ripa's, or yours will appear less spectacular.

Why helloooo, flexing shoulder muscles. So nice to see you actually exist.

Blame it on Jillian- hollaaaaaaa! I haven't been working out every day of this second 30-day commitment the way I initially planned, because life has been super busy lately and I reeeeeeally hate working out at 2:30pm "just to get a workout in"....but I have been exercising this bod several times a week and I'm actually enjoying it. And the point of me starting this whole exercise journey was to make it a lifestyle change. So if a few times a week is more of a possibility to continue for the rest of my days, than that's what I shall do. Because a few is more than nothing, so baby, we're doing just fine. ;)

Friday, June 15, 2012

the recipe to world peace

You know that scene in Miss Congeniality, right at the end, where after making fun of the pageant girls earlier in the film, Sandra Bullock's character finally admits, "And I really do want world peace!" Well, stop wanting and start making it, Sandra, because I have figured it out: it's called turkey meatloaf. Seriously.

Think about it, if we offered the leaders of the Middle East and the U.N. a good back massage and some turkey meatloaf with fluffy homemade mashed potatoes, do you really think they'd be concerned about who did what? Nope. All I care about at that point is where a cup of hot tea is coming from, and how can I make it happen without moving off the couch and pausing Million Dollar Rooms. [side note:you know you're loaded when you install a human-sized aquarium in your basement bar!]

Anyway, I found a recipe for meatloaf that is healthy (it's turkey) and tasty, and I will never make another. And of course, it's Ina. So if you need a cheap dinner with leftovers for warm panini sandwiches at lunch, here it is. Bon appetit!

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 1 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • ketchup to top

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

marilyn knows

I saw this on my sister-in-law's facebook page yesterday and I thought it was perfect:


Enough said. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

life in pictures

Hello, new blog design!! My friend, Miranda, and I decided a few months ago that we would exchange services so that we could each benefit from each other, and after a little waiting and a lot of excitement, here we go! Welcome to the new and improved website, Its Becker Style 2.0! Woot, woot. If you're interested in having your blog redesigned, connect with Miranda here, at her blog "Our Nesting Place." She's a sweet gal who is very talented at giving you everything you ask for and more. Thanks, Miranda, for cleaning up around these parts. :)

It's time to do a little catch up on the Becker household, and since a picture can speak a thousand words, I'll post a few of the recent ones and let them do the talking:

1)little piggies are infinitely cuter than big pigs.



2)homemade whipped cream just tastes better when eaten off the spatula



3)my hunka hunka burnin love works hard and I'm proud of him. [he received a special award in his office and got to meet the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta.]



4)cool luggage makes traveling way more fun
So do bright shoes, I might add. They're like lipstick for the feet!

On another note, it's halfway through June. When did that happen!??!

Monday, June 4, 2012

thanks for being brave

It takes bravery to befriend someone in the military. 

I realize that no one's life is guaranteed and saying goodbyes are often unwanted, military or not, but for those with friends or family in the military that happens regularly. And I've decided it takes bravery. Bravery to put yourself out there and share a piece of your heart and life with someone you will inevitably have to say farewell to. Bravery to know that you won't always be able to keep in touch as closely as you'd like- because after a while you have made so many good friends that there is no possible way to keep in touch like you were able to when you shared a life in a mutual location. There are literally not enough hours in my week to connect with the many close friends I have, who are spread all over the world, as often as I'd like. And losing touch is unavoidable. So watching friends leave (or leaving yourself) means that you not only know full well the reality that life will be sad whenever you drive past the house they no longer occupy, you also know it won't be the same because you can't connect like you once did. From now on, you'll have to first play catch-up before you can get around to heart stuff. Which means it takes longer to have a conversation. And because long chunks of time are hard to find, that means you just won't get to talk often. And at first you won't talk for a week or two, but weeks turn to months and soon you realize it's been over a year since you've had a good phone call with a person you once knew so well. That's why a good-bye isn't just a "see you soon" it's the end of a chapter. Life changes, though friendship continues. And it's sad.

Last Monday I watched one of my closest friends leave. She was a sister- in a time when family is 5,000 miles away, it was HER who helped plan my firstborn's first birthday, HER who came to the hospital as soon as Liam was born and helped me through the tears when my baby was wheeled to the NICU, HER who had balloons and dinner waiting when we finally got to come home, HER who shared our holidays, HER who I'd call when I wanted to run to the mall and wanted someone to share the drive with...

Today I said goodbye to another precious friend. We saw each other every Wednesday afternoon when I taught her daughter piano, and drove to choir together every Tuesday night. Our kids played together, our families shared dinners together, we mothered similarly, we laughed at life together, we understood the other well....

And in about 2 weeks I watch one of my first Hawaii friends leave the island. She knew me before I was ever pregnant, she was the neighbor I'd see on her way to check the mailbox that sat right in front of my backyard, she brought us food when my firstborn came home, she celebrated birthdays and holidays with us, and our husbands shared a good friendship as well.....

And then in 5 months (which sounds long but is SO much shorter than it seems) my other sister leaves. Though, for the survival of my heart, I'm living in denial right now and pretending that's not happening. And after that, it's our turn. 

And all of this just makes me very, very sad. Because it hurts, watching life change when it has been so sweet. And while change is good, because God is good and life is full every place we find ourselves, it is always sad to see the empty houses, and to see the days that used to be filled with a weekly memory pass by, or see a fb post that reminds you they aren't just a quick trip down the road.

So for those of you who have befriended a military family, whether in the military or not, THANKS. Because it takes courage to understand that hello will too-quickly accompany a good-bye and be willing to do it anyway. It takes bravery to be willing to share your heart without reservation as if you had a lifetime together, only to understand that friendship will change in quality and location before you're ready for it. You don't have to. You have the option to see us and smile, leaving it at that because we come but will surely go.

You just need to know that we need you. We need friends, even if just for a year or two or three, to make it feel like home and to have a full life. We need someone who will share holidays with us and be our family when family can't be found. And hopefully you need us a little bit too, to share our stories and adventures and families and hearts.

We're desperately grateful for your bravery.

I'M desperately grateful for your bravery. Thanks for being my friends. I understand the cost full well.

Our Hawaii Ohana:







Sunday, June 3, 2012

girl talk

Grab a glass of wine and come sit next to me on the couch. It's time for some girl talk. Let's say we just finished looking through Elle Magazine together and took turns picking out which outfits we liked and why that dress from page 147 sooooooooo did not work. And you said something to me that made me think about email, which is why the topic of our conversation goes here:

So I got an email from J.Crew a.k.a. "the love of my life," And this was the body of it:


Now, let's take a poll- those of you who love the outfit on the left, raise your hand. Now the outfit on the right? I see....So, no hands for either then?? Yeah. Me, too.

Let's deconstruct, shall we?
I really DO love the pants on the left and, in the newest catalog, they paired them with the lighter chambray shirt that I own and it looked much better! The shoes I'm slowly warming up to, as well, after seeing them successfully used in the catalog. Buuuuut the sweater? J.Crew, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

And I want the jeans on the outfit from the right! I think I love the contrast of the distressed denim put against the refined Chanel-tweed-inspired blazer on the top. That makes me happy. The denim vest underneath the blazer? Not so much. And I know many will like the shoes but I just don't...though I will, confusingly even to me, admit that something in me likes the stripes under the tweed? Not quite sure how to explain that one....

One thing is for sure: my Monday morning routine is going to be dedicated to perfecting the art of the messy top bun akin to the fair lass on the right. The fly-aways on the left model may look perfectly imperfect on her, but seeing as how my hair naturally does this as I race a toddler to the nearest tree, I doubt the neighbor would think "My, Lauren's hair looks nice."

And "My, Lauren must have thought breakfast was burning and bailed on THAT make-up routine" isn't quite the look I'm going for....

Hey, hand me that InStyle Magazine, would you. Mmmm. My favorite. :)