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11.30.2014

November - Crush List

I'm here with a special Sunday post. It's the end of the month, so time for my Crush List!!

1 - Day Tripper earrings from Kate Spade
2 - How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Ann Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret, and Sophie Mas
3 - iPhone 5 case from Ban.do
4 - Desert Wedge booties from Tom's
5 - Brass Jewelry Tree from Crate and Barrel

Can you believe tomorrow is December already? Time to bring on Christmas!!

Update: Bill got me the Day Tripper earrings for Christmas!!

11.28.2014

Turkey Trot

I hope everybody enjoyed their Thanksgiving yesterday. Since it was just the four of us, we decided to start the day with a Turkey Trot! It was a 5K run/walk through downtown Phoenix.
We were going to all do it together, but unfortunately, I sprained my ankle on Wednesday while hiking. I was definitely out of commission. Bill and Seamus did the race though, while Madeleine elected to keep me company. She got her face painted!
After the 5K was done they had a special race just for kids. Madeleine was really looking forward to it. Here she is stretching before her big race.
The whole kids race was a great idea, but it was kind of a cluster - too many kids and too many parents crowding the finish line trying to get video and pictures. There definitely needed to be some officials to keep it clear. Most of the kids, including Madeleine, didn't get to experience sprinting across the finish line because the parents just swarmed it. It was like they were running into a brick wall made of parents. I was really disappointed in their behavior and because of it, didn't even get to see Madeleine run.
She was proud of herself and really happy though, so that's all that really matters.
After the race, we spent the rest of the day at home. We watched the parade and football, and made ourselves a nice turkey breast dinner with all the fixins. It was really good, and I ate way too much.

How about you? How did you spend Thanksgiving? Were you with family or friends? Do you do anything non-traditional?

11.26.2014

Pumpkin Pie Alternative

We're planning a pretty quiet Thanksgiving this year. Just Bill, me, and the kids. We're making a turkey breast, stuffing, asparagus, mashed potatoes, gravy, and for dessert...a pumpkin roll!!

I saw this recipe in People magazine years ago, but lost the magazine. The only thing I remembered was that it was Kristin Chenoweth's recipe. A quick internet search found it again here. This is the second time I've made this, and I think it turned out much better this time around.
I love pumpkin, but I'm not pie fan; so this is such a great alternative. I can't wait to have some tomorrow. Oh who are we kidding, I totally had some already.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

11.24.2014

Book Report - Not That Kind Of Girl

I picked up Lena Dunham's new book, Not That Kind of Girl. Have you read it?
Honestly, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this book or not. I watch Girls on HBO not so much because I'm a fan, but because I can't look away - much like one watches a car wreck along the highway. 

After every episode I am usually saying to myself...

These "girls" are idiots who pick just the most horrible and unattractive guys to date, and if this is what is like to be young and female in New York then my daughter is never going to live there...ever.

Yet, I watch each week hoping one of them will redeem themselves. It has yet to happen.

Then I watched these advice videos she made in promotion of the book, and I really liked them. I got it, and I finally understood all the hype around her. In real life, she comes across as funny, articulate, and intelligent. So, I picked up the book.

I think, for the most part, it was an enjoyable book. She's honest and funny. There were sections I totally related to, and sections I would encourage young women out there to read. I had a few, "Oh, I wasn't alone in feeling/experiencing that" moments throughout.

The reason I didn't love it though, was there were a whole lot more moments where I was like...um, this girl is seriously weird. She told a lot of stories from her early childhood, like under 10, that just seemed way to adult. I had a hard time believing they even actually happened. I don't doubt they did, but I just couldn't relate at all to those experiences. But, they kept me engaged because, you know, car wreck.  

So, I'd rate the book as good, but slightly weird. I definitely liked her as a writer, and hope she writes more. I'll be tuning into Season 4 of Girls


11.21.2014

Just In Cases

The other day I spent 5 hours with Seamus at the ER over nothing...well, not nothing exactly. It was something, but just not ER worthy. Here's what happened.
I came home from work to find Bill trying to soothe a Seamus that wasn't having any of it. He was not happy. After a little bit, we realized that he was not using his left arm at all, and would actually cry every time we touched it. We knew something was wrong, but what? Sprained wrist? Or maybe even broken arm?!? We called the closest urgent care, and they said they could x-ray him; but if it was broken they wouldn't be able to cast him. So, we decided to feed him and then take him into the hospital instead. Since urgent care couldn't do a cast, we figured this would save time and a trip in the event it was actually broken.

Well, Seamus did not want to eat anything and was just screaming and screaming by this time. I changed him and put his pajamas on (still screaming) and headed to the car (still screaming). Bill put him in his car seat and we headed out. Then, almost immediately, he settled down.

We arrived at the hospital, and as we were walking into the ER I realized he was holding me with his left arm, and quite tightly. Hmm? We checked in, and had a seat. I fed Seamus a fruit snack, and we started to wait...a long, long time. Eventually, while we were waiting, Seamus wanted to get down. He started playing around...then climbing around!! He was back to his normal happy self and his arm didn't seem to be bothering him. I moved it around like we had done back home and he didn't cry at all. WTF, right!?! I called Bill and explained, but wasn't sure if I should stay or go. My "Mommy Sense" was telling me that my boy was okay, but I was also thinking we're here, so maybe we should still get it checked out...just in case.

Finally, it was our turn, or at least our turn to see the nurse. I explained what happened, and also that he seemed fine now. For some reason I kept apologizing for what I was sure was a waste of their time. They asked me if he stopped crying after we put him in his car seat - to which I was like, well, yes actually he did. They said it sounds exactly like a dislocated radius, more commonly known as Nursemaid's Elbow. They explained that the way you bend a child's arm to buckle them in their car seat often pops the radius back into place. So, basically, we self corrected his arm without even knowing it. They recommended I still get him checked out though...just in case.

After more waiting we finally made it into a room - yay!! When the Physician Assistant came in I explained everything again, and she said the same thing as the nurses - including the whole thing with the car seat. She asked if I wanted to x-ray his arm though...just in case.

I didn't know what to do. He seemed totally fine by this time, but when it's your child...your little baby boy...you can't ignore all the just in cases, because what if it isn't nothing? What if it's something?

I decided to get his arm x-ray'd, which meant more waiting. We were over an hour past Seamus' bedtime, and he was cranky and tired. He eventually fell asleep on me (which I secretly relished because he doesn't do that anymore). Another hour past, and we were finally wheeled over to x-ray. Seamus immediately woke up when I put him on the x-ray table and started screaming. He hated it, and I hated myself for putting him through it. I hate to admit this, but I almost wanted there to be something wrong to justify my decision of putting my baby through this. I felt so bad for him.

Afterwards we went back to the room and waited some more. Seamus fell back asleep, and when the Physician Assistant finally came back with the results she confirmed everything was as it should be. Well, actually, it looked like his radius was just a little, tiny, tiny bit not back in the right place.  She bent his arm at the elbow, wiggled it a bit, and declared he was all good. I wanted to cling to that "little, tiny, tiny bit not back in the right place" as validation, but the reality was it would have probably just worked itself out on its own.

So, what's the point of this story? I don't know, and maybe that's the point. After four year of being a mom I know both exactly what I'm doing and nothing at all. Trust your gut, but don't be afraid to trust others when you're not sure. And especially don't feel guilty or stupid or apologize for seeking medical attention if there is even the slightest chance your child could need it. It's always better to have an issue checked out and have it be nothing, than to not treat a potential injury.

Although, if in the future your little one has the same symptoms that Seamus did, you might want to just try bending their arm as if you're buckling them into a car seat first and see what happens. You might just save yourself a trip to the hospital.

I should state though, that I'm not a medical professional in any way, shape, or form; so if you think your child has Nursemaid's Elbow you should get it checked out by a medical professional. You know...just in case.

(but first try the car seat thing)

11.19.2014

Window Shopping - IKEA

I ran to IKEA over my lunch break recently to pick up a present for Bill, and on the way there I realized I was going to IKEA alone!! I'm never alone anymore, and here I was alone and at one of my favorite stores. So, since I had the luxury of browsing to my little heart's content, I thought I'd share what was catching my fancy. Ready to do some window shopping!?!?
First off, this awesome wing back chair (Strandmon $279). This is a great price for a chair of this size and presence, and the fabric was nice too. There are a few places I'd love to put this in my house, but wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger yet.
Next up, cool mid-century styled coffee tables (Lövbacken $79.99). I thought the shape and grain pattern was cool and I loved the touch of gold on the legs. (The coffee table in the background is Stockholm $229).
They had a really cool pink corner cabinet that could either stand or be mounted on the wall (IKEA PS 2014 $99). My phone did not capture the retro pink color accurately at all. So many possibilities for this one.
I also liked these corner shelves for a great pop of color (RYSSBY 2014 Corner Shelf Unit $55.99 / Wall Shelf $7.99)
 
This green curio cabinet catches my eye every time I'm there, but just won't work anywhere in my house (Fabrikör $199). Please someone snatch this cool piece up!
Same goes for these two media cabinets - they won't work for me, but would look great in a playroom or teenager's bedroom, right? (Top Nittorp $59.99 / Bottom IKEA PS $99) Seriously, the prices on this stuff cannot be beat.

As I wandered into the kitchen section, these lucite chairs caught my attention (Tobias $79). I would love these in our kitchen once Seamus is out of his booster seat. They take up almost no visual space and would be so easy to keep clean.
I would put those pretty chairs around this pretty round table (Docksta $199). I've been eyeballing this table for a while now. Since I will probably never be able to get an actual Saarinen table (*sigh* a girl can dream) this table could still get me close to the same look.
This kitchen island in this display kitchen gets me every time. I love the wrap-around counter.
These utility carts are awesome (Råskog $49.99). How do I know? Because I have this already. It is currently holding toys in Madeleine's closet.
I've really liked this rug for awhile now (Stockholm $299). I keep thinking I want it for my living room, but it doesn't work with our current couch. So, for now I just visit it, and I absolutely do not pet it while whispering "someday".
I've been wanting a shoe cabinet (Ställ $89.99) near our garage entrance, but there's not a lot of space. I'm picturing something like this, but not even sure if I have this much room.
After all this I finally made it to the first level - time for accessories!

This simple yellow storage clock (IKEA PS 1995 $39.99) would make a bright and fun addition to a kitchen.
I really loved these stacking candlestick holders (Välkänd $9.99) too. Were they really only $10? Why didn't I pick them up again?
This simple candelabra was pretty cool too (IKEA PS 2012 $19.99).
I pause at this emerald green vase (Stockholm $29.99) every time. I'm just not sure what to do with it. The color is gorgeous though.
Finally, this hanging planter was super cute (Riskorn $7.99). It thought about it for my kitchen, except I can't keep a plant alive to save my life.
So, that's what I was digging this trip to IKEA. There are a couple of things on the list I may go back for some day. I didn't leave empty handed though. I think it's probably impossible to leave IKEA empty handed.
I picked up this trio of vases (IKEA PS 2014 / $19.99) and a sheepskin (Rens $29.99) which I did not take a picture of for some reason. And of course, I got the Bill's super secret birthday present from the kiddos there too.

11.17.2014

Book Report - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

In an attempt to read more I decided to utilize my commute to work (30 minutes each way) and listen to an audio book. I've always liked audio books. I find being read to a very pleasant experience.

So, I picked up The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.
Image from here
The story is about a 15-year old autistic boy named Christopher. One morning, he discovers the body of Wellington, the neighbor's dog, stabbed by a pitch fork, and decides to find out who killed it.  The novel is told from his perspective as he writes down his entire experience investigating the murder. So, the "book" you're reading is supposed to be actual book he wrote - make sense?

Christopher is very literal and logical. He loves math; especially prime numbers. He hates anything yellow or brown. He does not understand social norms or emotions very well. As a reader, you're immediately drawn into his altered way of viewing the world and the struggles that presents for not only him, but those who care and/or know him as well as any strangers he occasionally comes into contact with.

I enjoyed the story. It was full of twists and turns that I truly did not see coming. I loved how ordinary tasks, like navigating a subway station, became gripping and heroic tales when told through the point of view of someone who views the world so differently. Ultimately though, it's a story about love and all its complexities...but also literally about "Who killed Wellington?"

11.14.2014

Touring Phoenix - Musical Instrument Museum

While my parents were in town for Madeleine's birthday, we decided to check out the Musical Instrument Museum here in Phoenix.
This museum is exactly what you would expect - tons of musical instruments from all over the world and from all periods of time. It's pretty expansive, and yet you could easily tour it all in a day. 
I enjoyed the museum a lot, and would love to go back sans kids to explore it a little further.

Speaking of kids...this is probably not the greatest museum for little ones. Not that the kids didn't enjoy it, but what fun is being around a bunch of instruments if you don't get to play them? Heck, even I was itching to touch a lot of things.

That being said, they did have one interactive area where kids can play and touch as much as they want called the Experience Gallery. It was mostly percussion instruments, because, you know...kids love to bang on things!!
I really enjoyed the Artist Gallery. There were tons of instruments and costumes from all sorts famous musicians that had been donated to the museum. There were items from Elvis, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, and even Taylor Swift! 
So, that's the Musical Instrument Museum. I'm thinking it will be a great place to go again next summer to beat the heat.

11.12.2014

Mmmh, Pizza #2

I mentioned here that we like to make our own pizzas, so I thought I'd share another one of our favorites.

BACON AND GOAT CHEESE!!!!!
Again, we don't make these completely from scratch - more like we put it all together ourselves. We buy the dough fresh from a pizza place near us and just use whatever pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese from the store. For this one, we just add bacon (6-8 slices) and goat cheese (4oz) on top for the finishing touch and cook about 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

11.10.2014

Book Report - In Cold Blood

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I buy books and then never read them. Sometimes I buy them just because they're pretty. I do always plan to read them, but for whatever reason I just don't get around to it.

Such was the case with my Folio Society edition of Truman Capote's, In Cold Blood. It has been sitting on my book shelf for probably a couple of years now, so I finally picked it up.

The entire time I was reading it I just kept asking myself -

How have I gone my entire life without reading this amazing book?!?!?!?!?!?!
It's such an interesting concept that even now, 48 years after it was first published, still feels fresh. Essentially the first of its kind - a nonfiction novel; it's the "true crime" story of the senseless murder of four members of the Clutter family in 1959 rural Kansas, and it's fantastic!

Capote heard about the murder and before they even captured the killers he decided to go to Kansas to write about the crime. When the killers were apprehended, he continued to write about their story until it was fully concluded. He interviewed everybody - townspeople, investigators, and even the killers themselves. The result was a captivating narrative that both pays respect to the victims and ponders larger questions about crime and punishment in America that still seems relevant today.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Read it now!!

P.S. - Did you see the movie Capote starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman? After reading In Cold Blood, I fully intend to watch it again. I'm sure it will be even better now.


P.P.S. - Are you listening to the Serial podcast everyone is talking about?  True Crime is back.

11.07.2014

Rainbow Cake Tutorial

Hey - are you interested in making your very own rainbow cake?  There are a ton of tutorials out there, but I sort of winged mine and it turned out great.  Here's what I did.

What you'll need:
2 boxes of your favorite white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines - Classic White)
3 cans of your favorite white frosting (I used Pillsbury - Classic White)
Food Coloring (I used Wilton Icing Colors)

Recommended: Cake Leveler

Step 1:
Preheat the oven and prepare the first box of cake mix as directed on the package. Split the batter evenly into thirds. Repeat with the second box of cake mix.

Step 2:
You should now have six small bowls of cake batter. Add one color food coloring to each bowl until the desired colored is achieved. Note - a little goes a long way.
Step 3:
Prepare 8-9" round cake pan as directed on the cake mix package. Pour each color into a cake pan and bake for 1/2 the recommended cooking time. I had three 9" cake pans and baked each for 12 minutes.

Step 4:
After you let the cakes cool, it is time to level and layer. Figure out what order you want the colors in (I went for the classic ROY G BIV - minus indigo). Put the first layer down, level with a knife or cake leveler, and frost just the top. Repeat until all layers are stacked.
Step 5:
Now it's time to crumb coat. Put a thin layer of icing over the entire cake; filling in all the gaps between layers. Chill in the fridge until hardened.

Step 6:
Once the crumb coating has hardened, put a second coat of icing over the entire cake for a nice clean and crumb-free look.

It should look like this when complete...
And this when you slice into it!!
I was completely happy with how mine turned out. If I had to do it all over again the only thing I would change would be to level off a bit more cake on each layer just so it wasn't quite so tall.

I'm thinking of trying this same technique to make an ombre cake next!  Maybe for Valentine's Day or something.

Happy Baking!!

11.05.2014

Happy Birthday, Madeleine!

Madeleine recently turned 4 years old!! I'm not sure how that happened because the last time I checked she was my sweet little baby girl. She still is, but if you ask her she'll say that she's not a baby, she's a big kid. And my big kid wanted a My Little Pony birthday party.

The only problem with that...besides her and her brother the only other child coming was 6-month old. So, basically I had to throw a My Little Pony party for adults that Madeleine would still feel was the special party she was looking oh so forward to.
I kept it simple. I got to use my new pink striped table cloth from CB2 (remember from my Crush List here).
As much as Madeleine likes My Little Pony, she actually didn't have any of their little toys. So, as part of the decor and surprise for her I got all of them and used them to inspire the food.

I bought pre-made Rice Krispie Treats and decorated them with icing to look like books for Twilight Sparkle

We had apple slices with warm caramel (not pictured) for Applejack.

Rock candy, which I personally think is gross, but still looked cool for Rarity. 

Not a food, but we had balloons for Pinkie Pie.

A simple vegetable dish for Fluttershy (get it, because she takes care of little animals like bunnies)

Finally, a rainbow cake for Madeleine's favorite pony, Rainbow Dash.

I picked up this cute tissue paper pom-pom garland at Target and did my best to disguise our terrible chandelier.
I loved the garland I had made from Piggy Bank Parties on Etsy.
The banister across from the table got the balloon treatment. There were also a couple of balloons loose on the floor. I'm continually amazed at how much fun my kids have just hitting balloons around the house.
We served pizza and salad for dinner, and followed it up with this rainbow cake I made!
Oh, did I forget to mention that the rainbow was on the inside!?!
I'm going to write up a whole other post on the makings of the rainbow cake. It was quite the labor of love, and I was so happy it turned out just how I was hoping. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back a second.

So, that was Madeleine's party. It was pretty simple, but fun and bright just like my 4-year old. I had no complaints from her, so I guess it was a success. She was all smiles all day, especially when she got her new green bike! 
Happy Birthday to my baby girl...I mean big kid, Madeleine!!!!