Saturday, September 28, 2013

It's That Time of Year

iPhone 4 photo - edited with Rhonna Designs Ap

I went for a nice long walk around my neighborhood two mornings ago and I realized: it's that time of year. The weather from October-May is precisely why those of us to call the "Valley of the Sun" our home live here. Beginning right about now the weather in Phoenix and the surrounding areas is glorious. Sure, we still have a few freak 100+ days mixed in but the majority is a lovely mix of highs in the 80's & 90's and lows into the 60's. While most of the U.S. is preparing to break out their winter coats and dust off their boots we continue to wear flip flops and shorts and bask in the sunny days. Sure, the Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks would probably make more sense ordered over ice given the temps but if you pick one up early enough in the morning you can almost pretend its chilly outside - cranking your AC helps with this fantasy.

As I walked I counted no less than 4 houses in my neighborhood already decorated for Halloween. Rather than be appalled like I know some of you are, I simply returned home and told my husband that I was showing serious restraint by waiting until 10/1 to break out the giant black spider and black wreath festooned with the words "Trick or Treat". Needless to say he rolled his eyes and we put those items + the giant zombie hands up this morning. Now that we have 3 children under the age of 5 I am seriously thinking I need to up my Halloween decoration collection this year - they went crazy over the spider.

Even though we are still not yet on the eve of the 10th month we have been cultivating a Pumpkin obsession in our house since early September. I discovered this Pumpkin Bread (see photo above) via Hoosier Homemade on Pinterest that is amazing. I adjusted the recipe slightly to suit our tastes and it is now the #1, and some days only, breakfast request from the 2 verbal children. The baby shows her appreciation by devouring every last crumb of this bread we set down on her tray.

Our adjustments:
Replace 1 cup of oil with a 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce & a 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Replace 3 cups of sugar with 1 1/2 cups brown sugar & 1 1/2 cups white sugar
For spices I used 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice & 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Added 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract to the oil, applesauce, sugar mixture
Omitted walnuts

Have I mentioned how much I love this time of year!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lillian's Sunshine Themed 1st Birthday

I love parties. Big, small, epic, quiet - it doesn't really matter what the occasion is or how big the celebration is. Since having children I love parties even more. From conception: Searching the Internet for inspiration, creating Pinterest boards, selecting a theme and color scheme, making lists, buying scrapbook paper & ribbon for the Happy Birthday Banners, Cake toppers, etc. and buying the perfect ingredients. I love the planning, the design, the hands on excuse to stay up until 1am cutting out sunshine shapes from recycled file folders discarded at work and baking the perfect cupcakes. Maybe one day I will have the privilege to turn this passion into a career and not just a wonderful and meaningful escape but for now I look forward to my three children's birthdays and all holidays. I like to think that some day when my children are older they will cherish and appreciate the care I take to celebrate their special days and the keepsakes I retain in their individual containers.

For my youngest daughter's first birthday we had a Sunshine Themed Birthday party - I found it very ironic that in Phoenix in July on the day I held a Sunshine Birthday Party - it poured rain all day. At least my plants appreciated the much needed moisture! We had a plenty sunshiny atmosphere indoors during our celebration and I know my little guest of honor couldn't have cared what the weather was doing outside.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Do This: Family Photographs

It has been a long, long time since I have even looked at my blog let alone thought about writing something for it. With that said, 6 months later I have a wonderful reason to write an entry: Family Portraits. We were able to coordinate schedules and outfits and location to meet up with our wonderful photographer (and family member) for a photo shoot. It is so important to capture these moments right now and our sweet little babes. I can't wait to frame this and hang it on my wall.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Read This: Family & Parenting

Keeping with my desire to take a more active parenting role and looking for suggestions in handling sibling rivalry, toddler tantrums and balancing it all with the demands of life I am currently reading The Happy Family by Linda & Richard Eyre and man do I love this book. Huge thank you to blog author Shawni of 71 Toes for speaking so highly of her parent's books. This book references A, B & C families- A families take a proactive approach to their parenting and are committed to keeping their families strong. B families care deeply about their children but tend to take a more reactive approach and C families are most likely to rely on outside sources, i.e. teachers, counselors, etc. to handle problem behavior. I see us as a B family currently- we care, we are looking to improve and strengthen our family but we are not in the habit of being proactive in all areas and we do place a large amount of focus on external forces such as career. I was reminded that in order to have peace at home we need to actively work on maintaining it.

On a related note I came across this website called The Happy Family Movement which is a wonderful resource. I just love their Manifesto below!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Read This: The Naked Mom

In all of the free time I have been forced to have while confined to my home on bed rest I have found time to dedicate to one of my favorite past-times, reading. One book I had on my library request list was The Naked Mom, by Brooke Burke. As I have said before I feel that it is very important to read the advice and thoughts of other mothers to gain fresh perspective on this crazy adventure we call motherhood as well as to confirm that we are not alone in this journey, that other mothers feel the same way. I am about half way through this book and I am loving what Brooke has to say. I am currently in chapter 4, "Not Guilty" and I have to say it is amazing how true I find her words on guilt. For example I feel guilty that I am unable to run around and play with my energetic 3 1/2 year old and my sweet 17 month old, I even feel guilty that my pregnant belly is so large they can't fit in my lap right now which they both desperately try to do multiple times per day. Honestly though, what is this guilt doing other than making me feel miserable? Absolutely nothing. Feeling guilty is not necessary, I am taking care of myself and my growing child so that our family will have a healthy new member and a sane mommy. Brooke talks about advice she received from Florence Henderson on the set of DWTS (Dancing with the Stars) about one of the most important lessons she learned about motherhood was to "put yourself first." It's funny how we are convinced as mothers that we are at the bottom of the totem pole when if we can't take care of ourselves how can we possibly take care of our families.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Create This: Keepsake Mosaics

ginger isla

When Ginger was just weeks old I brought her, her bouncy seat and Dean over to my husband's Aunt Betsy's house to learn to mosaic. We were also joined by my husband's Aunt Christine, a retired high school art teacher and insanely talented artist (see her Etsy shop here) who creates amazing mosaic works using glass, china and other items. Using a heart template that Betsy was kind enough to cut out for me, stained glass odds and ends that Christine brought, and a $2.00 plate from Marshall's I learned how to create my first mosaic, the sweet little heart above for Ginger's room. It took a little while to get the hang of wielding the tile snips and working out the placement and concept of my little piece of art but by the end of our afternoon together I was hooked. I created a star for Dean, an M for my niece McKenna, a christmas gift for my mother-in-law, flower pots, and hearts for friends with baby girls. I have just finished the design and gluing stage of Miss Lily's heart (see below) and am getting started on a teal & purple heart for my dear friend Angie's 2 week old daughter Violet. I have yet to learn how to knit or quilt (2 creative pursuits high on my list) however in the meantime I can create something with my own two hands for my children and those that I love that they can hold on to for many years to come and that is very important to me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eat This: Baking with Kids

I read rave reviews about Pamela Druckerman's book Bringing up Bebe and unfortunately my local library branch didn't yet stock it so I ordered it from I was not disappointed as this book certainly lived up to the hype. I have to say I am somewhat addicted to parenting books and blogs because I love information about raising children from other mothers. It is one thing to read about psychologist theory but quite another to hear it from a woman who has stood where I stood and is sharing the lessons she has learned/is learning. One of my top takeaways from this book is the tradition of baking with your children on Sundays. Dean and I made the above Zucchini bread recipe I found via Pinterest a few weeks ago and it was a major hit with the whole family, not to mention the benefit of Dean absolutely loving the process. We made double the recipe and baked half the batter as muffins and the other half as a loaf. Within the week both were devoured. Our favorite way to eat this amazing bread was slightly warm and slathered with cream cheese.