Monday, December 3, 2012

something beautiful: advent calendar of service

I know, I know.

this is supposed to be where I make excuses for not blogging for a bazillion years.

but instead, I'm going to bypass that blogging norm and just get on with something that caught my eye and my heart.

this year my little family is doing its very first homemade advent calendar countdown as we try to begin our own Christmas traditions.

that being said, I know its already three days into December and I'm just finishing up today, but isn't that just so typical of me right now?  I'm severely sleep deprived with a two year old at this very moment asking me overandoverandoverandoverandover again to watch a movie on the computer.

the miracle is its actually going to happen, and last night I found this most perfect advent calendar of service, which I combined with this actual advent calendar (antlers and all!), with these numbers (ten points for whoever can tell me the language used) and this chain of scriptures for each day.  the good news is playing catch up today won't be so tough, because trash day is tomorrow and we're going to hold the door open for someone at the mall across the street right now.

 maybe I'm still a little emotional from the birth and lack of sleep for the past three months, but realizing that whoever also chooses to use this calendar will be doing the same acts of kindness on the same day, all around the world was pretty magical.  like a little army out to do good and be kind.  

and that made me tear up a little.

let me know if you decide to do it (you know, if you procrastinate as I do), so I can think of each of you as we brighten humanity's day.

also, head on over to my sister's design blog for a giveaway today!

Friday, March 30, 2012

something beautiful: me

oh you guys.  this woman.  she is amazing and gorgeous and talented and strong and brilliant and the woman whose prayers and talks and advice and wisdom saved me on my darkest days (read: years).

she is my mom.  and she has not had an easy life, an easy marriage, or an easy bunch of kids to raise (SIX, might I add).  she has earned every wrinkle, every gray hair, and every twinkle in her eye, so I promised her I would not touch them so you could see her as her truest self.  and I may be showing a bit of favor to this woman, but isn't she the most beautiful creature you've ever beheld? 

Today, I'm not sure I find much to love about myself. I feel weak and sad and empty. But that is just today and I trust I won't feel as bad tomorrow. Usually I can love that I have been making progress in this life. Especially recently life has handed me some unexpected blows, but I can honestly say that the pain has helped me learn and grow. So, I love that I'm able to do that, that I can face the day and move forward. I love that I have compassion. It is a gift that some don't have and I feel blessed to feel it and to share it with others around me. I love how much I love my children, how amazing is a mother's love. Another gift. 

What makes me real? That I have as many heartaches as the next woman, that I long for love, that I find comfort in hiking, that I feel like a mountain top is about as close as I can get to God. I am real because  I have been an imperfect person. I am full of mistakes and faults and good and bad and love and joy and sorrow. I am a human and I live a complex life but I am grateful for all the good and even some of the bad that has been my experience. 

What advice do I have? Love God, love yourself, love others. In that order. Take care of yourself, don't ever dismiss your sense of right and wrong. Listen to your gut. Believe it. Be kind to others. Love your children fiercely. Stay connected with friends - when you least feel like connecting with a friend make the effort to do it anyway. Talk about your struggles, your hurts, your challenges, don't try to get through life on your own. 

How did I overcome my insecurities? I don't know that I have. But I'm better. I realized that I am worth buying a dress at full price.  I realized that I can risk being rejected. I can talk to strangers, I can be alone, I can feel pain and not die. I can be happy. What matters is what I do right now, not what happened in the past or will happen in the future. 

 thank you for being so incredible mom.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

something beautiful: good news (and a quote you'll die over!)


yes, yes it is.  you see we've been, well.......not busy.  not busy at all.  unless of course you're talking about me and the mister, because in that case, we've been Bizz-AY.

.........that's what you get for that smart-allick comment up there at the top.

lets just say that the first 20 weeks for me aren't my favorite thing in the whole world.  although I feel so incredibly lucky and so incredibly humbled and so incredibly blessed, laying at home all day (half running to the toilet and half moaning on the couch) is not my cup-o-tea.  not that I ever actually throw up.  see, that's the thing.  my body likes to play this fun game where one out of every 15 or 2 or 37 puke-inducing events, I actually WILL throw up.  so its kinda like this fun little guessing game.  I stopped running to the bathroom.  but sometimes that leaves me heaving all the way to the nearest wastebasket.

okay, enough of that.  how's about something beautiful?

I found this quote on pinterest.  it's here if you want it.  I think I'll write it out on canvas and frame it in my room.

Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love.
Zooey Deschanel

Thursday, January 19, 2012

something delicious: ginger cumin grilled salmon with mango chutney

ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh this is the best.  the best-best.  my sister shared it with the whole family after my other sister made it for her for her birthday.  her email called it "favorite salmon with mango chutney", but I thought I'd get a little more specific for you so you have some idea of what you're eating, and since I didn't take a picture of it.  I think this is adapted from a Cooks Illustrated recipe.  but don't quote me on that.

I don't love meat (like you don't know that by now),  but I love seafood.  so much so that  if I could afford seafood as often as I dreamt about seafood they would probably draw mercury from my veins to use in thermometers.  

because I don't buy seafood as often as I dream of it, and because my husband's family doesn't share my affinity for maritime meats, we've also tried this rub slathered on chicken and I like it almost as much.  

and, to top it off, its one of the easiest (and fastest!) dinner preps ever.  I think its probably because each ingredient for the rub is stuff I already have in my kitchen (and when I say MY kitchen, of course, I mean my mother-in-laws....).  if you've got cilantro, fresh ginger, and some ripe mangos, you've got yourself an easy meal that will knock everyone's socks off.  speaking of which, this would be such a great Valentine's dinner!  seafood is a special occasion around here, and its guaranteed to impress.  in fact, I think I'll make it again for the occasion, and then I'll update this post with salmon pictures too. 

mango chutney

2 mangos
1/2 small lemon squeezed
chopped cilantro


2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs fresh grated ginger
11/2 ts cumin
1 1/2 ts coriander
1 1/2 ts salt
1/4 ts cayenne pepper
mix together

           lay salmon fillet head to tail horizontally     tail-----------------------------------head
         cut into vertical strips 2.5 inches wide         tail-----I------I------I------I----- head

slice those strips down the center horizontally, almost to the skin and fold back so the meat of the fish is now the top and bottom of fillet and skins are touching.

rub small fillets with spice/ginger blend and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes only

heat grill on high for 15 minutes or until you can only hold your hand 2 inches away for 5 sec
(ha!  I love this one.  I can just imagine all of you scorching your hands over the bbq trying to count to five!  good luck!)

grill both sides 3-4 minutes

serve mango chutney on top or side

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

something beautiful: consignment.

I never buy anything at Jo-Ann for full price.  or michaels.  or bookstores.  there will always be a coupon that will save you money.  what's even better than a coupon is when you can go somewhere where beautiful clothes/toys/cribs/carseats/strollers/bikes/shoes/playpens/furniture/pottys/highchairs/maternity clothes/diaper bags/baby bedding are exponentially cheaper than the originals and in nearly PERFECT condition.  

I got these sweet kicks from a consignment chain in Scottsdale called KID TO KID (just in case you couldn't read the tags I left in on purpose to make you jealous).  everything the beav wears comes from this place.  baby gap, nike, britax, bugaboo, sperry, kenneth cole, osh kosh, bumbo, graco, UPPAbaby, maclaren, l.a.m.b., juicy couture, quinny, baby bjorn, moby, radio flyer, and I saw these baby toms when I was there this weekend.  I just about died.

Scottsdale's location is most definitely the best, but I've been able to find some great stuff at other locations as well.  namely, my co-sleeper.  oh how I adored my co-sleeper.

these shoes are too big for beav now, but he's growing like a weed these days and shoes are the toughest things to keep up with, so I'll have these around and prepare for a growth spurt.  aren't those nike's the coolest?!

this is most definitely scottsdale's hidden gem.  i might be completely obsessed.

have you any secret stores out there that I can go check out?!  I'm also a big fan of buffalo exchange on Mill Ave, where most of my clothes are purchased.  just bought some alice and olivia pantalones (please excuse my inaccurate spanish) for $15.  best. ever.

*side note: if you can afford to go big, go Nordstrom.  my family has had many-a great experience returning items, even years later, that we weren't satisfied with.  don't go in between if you can.  places like Macy's have a return policy (in our case, for a suit) that could rival that of Last Chance.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

something delicious: chicken curry soup

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  what better way is there to start out a brand spankin' new year but with delicious food?!

I've never loved meat.  In fact, I only tolerate it in almost every case.  sometimes my dad will cook an excellent skirt steak and I'll find the piece that is nearly charred and unrecognizable and I'll enjoy that.  mostly because its unrecognizable.  the odd thing is that the smell of it makes me weak in the knees.  I love it.  bacon cooking warms my heart and barbecues-a-cookin make me happy.  but almost always if I have to prepare it, I won't even touch the meal at all.  It completely and totally grosses me out in every single way possible.

so about a year ago I went to a lecture that I've mentioned before and discovered super grains that contain just as much (or more) protein as meats and also contain high amounts of calcium and fiber.  My favorites are the quinoas and amaranth.  so I started to add them to everything.  also, about once a month I'll go load up on one of every vegetable I can get my hands on and food process them together to add to every meal I make that month.  I freeze what I don't use immediately, and that way by adding the grains and veggies to every meal, I'm getting ridiculous amounts of vitamins and minerals in every meal.  it was a game changer.  my body feels so great and healthy and full of energy.

the first time I made this recipe (that I received as part of a recipe book wedding gift from my sister-in-law and her family), I decided to add my grain/veggie combo and see how it worked out with a soup and WAH-LA!  this became my new go-to cold weather meal.  Its an absolute hit no matter what time of year and no matter what people think about spinach, curry, or soup in general.  I absolutely love it and if its not gone that night, I'll be the one to finish it off the next day.  pair this with Trader Joe's foccacia rolls and you can't go wrong.
(this recipe is adapted to my forced no cow's milk diet, so feel free to adapt accordingly)

Curry Chicken Soup
1/4 c. butter 
3 medium onions 
4 T flour
1 c. sliced carrots  (or more!)
1 c. sliced celery
6 c. chicken broth  (I add 2 cups more to absorb the grains)
2 t. curry powder
1 t. poultry seasoning
1 T. dried parsley
1/2 c. regular quinoa
1/2 c. red quinoa
1.2 c. amaranth
3/4 c. 15 veggie blend
4 cups cooked chicken or turkey, cubed (sometimes I add this to appease other partakers)
3 cups goat milk (you can use half and half or cows milk)
1 (10 oz) pkg fresh spinach
1 c. fresh sliced mushrooms (optional)
salt and pepper to taste (you'll definitely want to add s&p)

cook veggies in butter until barely soft. sprinkle in flour stirring rapidly. add 6 c. broth. add seasonings and simmer for 20 minutes or until grains are fully cooked and soft (quinoa usually releases a little white half circle string when its ready). stir in meat, milk (or half and half), and spinach.  heat through until spinach is limp and dark green.

NOTE: this is not the soup.  I stole this image from the food network because I don't have one of my own.  but this looks pretty durn close.

Friday, December 30, 2011

something beautiful: most beautiful books of 2011

via google images

and when I say 2011, I mean a compilation of my favorite books I've ever read up until today.  and then, since we'll be all caught up, next year will be the list of all of my favorites from 2012 only.

anyway, without further ado, here are my all time faves.  enjoy!

the hiding place. corrie ten boom.
a short guide to a happy life. anna quindlen
jane eyre.  charlotte bronte. 
(and while I'm here, you've GOT to see the new movie (jane eyre). swoon.)
for all eternity. john lund.
cane river. lalita tademy.
the help. kathryn stockett.
hunger games trilogy.  suzanne collins. (I know, I'm sick.)
the guernsey literary and potato peel society. annie barrows.
intuitive eating. evelyn tribole and elyse resch.
pride and prejudice. jane austin.
a christmas carol. charles dickens.
to kill a mockingbird. harper lee.

all time fails of 2011:

life of pi. yann martel.
ender's game. orson scott card.

(i know, everyone goes crazy over that last one.  but it was awful.  and I never read books that I end up wishing I hadn't!)

because this blog is designed to bring to you what is real, I'd love to hear your opinions also!  did you hate any books that I loved?  why?  and what was it about ender's game that you loooooved?

Monday, December 26, 2011

reality is: I'm a terrible blogger.

December got away from me ya'all.  really.  it was ridiculous.  I don't even know how it started.  all I know is that it is ending with a bang.  and when I say bang I mean I'll be in bed by ten come December 31.  I know,  I do lame things sometimes.  and going to bed on New Years has always been one of them.

So here's to New Years Resolutions!

and here's to another one:  making them.

oh no.  but now I seem boring.  so just to prove to you how UN-boring and un-nerd like I am, take a look at this little ditty.

yep.  I know what you're thinking.  is that a huge zit on her face?  yes, yes it is.  I've become proud of my zits these days.  they represent this phase of my life and I've decided to embrace the awkward.

but as for the swim googles, earrings, and ginormous mens t-shirt, I have a perfectly good explanation.  I was drilling holes in dresser drawers for new knobs out on our balcony while our new baby and my husband slept (see, THEY're the boring ones).  and we didn't have any shop goggles.  and let me just say that many a wood shards tried to blind me, but these babies were impenetrable.  and who wouldn't wear hoops while working outside?

and let me just add, dang I'm one good looking woman.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

something beautiful: words of wisdom from samwise gamgee

"I know. It's all wrong. By rights, we shouldn't even be here... but we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."
"What are we holding onto, Sam?"
"There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.
Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee

as of late I've been feeling just like this.  like we shouldn't even be in this place.  and then I end up in a tailspin of wo is me how can I bring kids into this awful place?.  but then I remember that even with all the bad that has happened and all the bad that is out there, the end can still be happy.  but only if we see there's still some good in the world, and that its worth fighting for.

Monday, November 21, 2011

so in love

my husband is seriously a rockstar. 

not literally.

but once, when we first got married I convinced all his coworkers that he was too afraid to try out for American Idol when it came into town but it was his dream to be rockstar.  so  every single coworker stopped by his desk, cornered him in the break room, and called him to try to talk him into trying out.  when he told them they'd never even heard him sing they said, "but I've heard you whistle!  you're a GREAT whistler!"  and he called my desk and said that people kept telling him to follow his dreams and they were so sincere and he didn't know what that meant or why they kept telling him that.

it. was. awesome.

my husband is also a superhero.


one of my favorite parts of the day is when he tells me about his dreams right after we wake up and before he forgets them.  usually it involves saving the world and he shakes himself awake as he is hoisted up onto the grateful crowds' shoulders while chanting his name.  more often than not it involves aliens, but last night he was teamed up with Hulk Hogan to save mankind from an awful alien rule.

I hope I'm the fair maiden or spandex laiden sidekick at least sometimes ;)

Friday, November 11, 2011


Hello November, how nice to see you.  when did you sneak up and how long have you been standing there?!

seriously guys, how is November halfway over?!  and how is Breaking Dawn seriously out this Friday and NO ONE will go with me?!  and what is the world coming to when you can't find another thirty year old mother who will pretend to be fourteen and scream when a scraggly, hairy, pasty white vampire takes his shirt off on the big screen???

okay fine, I'll act my age in front of the other (almost) 30's out there.  but I want you to know that I'm screaming inside whilst all of you roll your eyes at the cheesiness of it all.

soooooo photo shoots have taken over my life as of late (in a good way), thus the zippered post for the last two weeks (but seriously I can't get over it.  so much so that I've been wearing that same pair of jeans every day since just to make up for lost time)

but, for all you aspiring photographers out there, this is no cake walk.  the learning curve is pretty intense and youtube and/or photography blogs and I have spent more quality time together than with actual human beings (easily) in the past month.  It gets pretty important to know what your doing pretty fast when people are paying you.  but really, I've learned so much so I'm so grateful for those who have had enough faith in me to produce at least ONE shot they could use for a Christmas card.

some other things I've *noticed* since my last post-
  • I need to spend less time trying to figure out how to make an influence in the world and focus on making an influence in my family.  particularly one (little) person in my family.
  • despite that woman's best efforts, I don't think I'm a bad mom for not putting a helmet on my toddler for a bike ride in an attached seat down the street of our neighborhood.  and it took me some tears and a reassuring husband to realize that.
  • hubs turned 29.  and no joke, I'm the luckiest girl on the planet.  no seriously.  i feel like I learn this more every single day.  how many people can say that?
  • little man has taken to heights and gymnastics.  no me gusta.  I picked the poor thing up at the bottom of the slide today with a mouth full of sand because he hit FACE first.  oi.  if he still has all his teeth by his second birthday I'll be shouting praises.
also....duh duh nah nahhhhhh! I started a new blog ya'all!  So now I can show off how gorgeous people are on a site that was actually made to do just that.  its not much.  but it will be just what it needs to be.  perfectly imperfect!  check. it. out!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

my favorite jeans

and this is why, every day, pinterest changes my life.

it really would have spared me many MANY moments of shame and awkward crotch glances to throw these beloved jeans away, but I just KNEW some genius would come and sweep me off my feet by showing me a better way than safety pinning it shut.  because lets be honest, that was just ASKING for a bowel movement disaster.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


got a tripod yesterday.  and now my existence can be documented.

Friday, October 21, 2011

bite me

okay okay.  I'm no R-Pattz lover and I know that most of the actors aren't the best  awful, but this trailer made my heart pitter-patter.

I'm the first to say that this is a ridiculous story and that sitting through it twice would be torture.

but I'm totally going opening night.

girl's movie night out anyone?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

you can take that toothbrush and flush it

I haven't felt like I've had much to say by way of the blog lately.  Things have been pretty low key over here.  except little man skids decided to dip my toothbrush in the toilet and stick it in his mouth and so I had to use hubs' electric toothbrush that night.

would it be too melodramatic to say it changed my life?
let's just say we'll be sharing until Santa shows up with a vibrating stocking stuffer.

I also discovered that I could never be a fashion blogger.  reason one: I don't love shopping.  reason two: if I put on a killer outfit, I'll wear it twice in the same month.  or week.  sometimes consecutive days.  hey, if it doesn't smell and doesn't have snot and/or food smashed into it, its clean!  and just as  perfect as it was yesterday.

I babysat my husband's sister's four kids last week while they were on a cruise and while they were gone the kids and I pulled an EXTREME BEDROOM MAKEOVER on her and it turned out AWESOME.  all I did was make a call to my designer sister and it was a done deal.  I made these pillowcases because our budget didn't allow an order to UO, and they turned out EXACTLY like these.  I need to adjust a few things, but I love them so much that I'm now taking custom orders ;)

I took some pictures yesterday and can't wait to post before and afters!