Monday, February 28, 2011

Jesse's 2nd birthday- Mickey Mouse & Balloons theme

Jesse 2nd birthday was Mickey Mouse & balloons themed because he loved both of them so much, of course.  I tried to get mickey shaped balloons but the colors and prices were a bit too obscene at the time.
I made shirts for Jesse and I by hand painting that familiar mouse silhouette and stamping his name on the shirt.  On mine, I was pregnant but didn't know what it was yet, so mine said "Future Mouseketeer". 

A better shot of Jesse's with his daddy.

We had yellow cupcakes with yellow frosting and fun little toppers I did with stickers, cardstock, toothpicks, & hot glue.  The opposite side had a punched out Mickey silhouette and another punch of printed paper stating "Happy Birthday, Jesse!".

LOVE that cupcake holder.  Bought for a steal at Walmart in 2009.  Still use it today!
We made "balloon" balls out of rice krispy treats then dipped them in chocolate and put a stick in it.

Sadly, I was an airhead basket case that day being almost 1/2 there in the pregnancy marathon, so not as many table shots were taken. 
But we also made little chocolate pops using a silicone Mickey ice cube mold bought at WDW and sucker sticks for the goodie bags.  Candy and little Mickey & Friends favors I scored at the Dollar Tree rounded out the rest of the goodie bags.
For food, we had sub-like sandwiches on croissants, mickey shaped pasta I bought in Ohio for pasta salad, PB & J's, veggies, & chips.  Nothing fancy because it was at an outdoor playground.

I downloaded a font that looked similar to the Mickey writing for the invites.  While in Ohio over the summer, I was able to use a die cutting machine to punch out these Mickey balloons which worked perfectly with the theme!  This pic was took about a month before his birthday.  I also had a border punch and silhouette punch that were also utilized.  Not Stampin' Up [sorry] and I think it came from Michael's.

Our sweet friend works at Disney and grabbed the real Mickey balloon to the top right and brought it to the birthday for us!  

What a great day celebrating a sweet little boy with amazing friends and family!
My mom, Jesse & Gigi.  November 14, 2009


Italian Party ideas

We hosted a gathering of our Connect Group leadership from church.  It was a little planning, a little crafting, and a lot of eating and getting-to-know-you-more.  
It was Italian themed and each person brought something to the meal.  
Here are some of the details I tried to do to make it special without buying a lot of extra stuff.  I was also going for a more subtle look rather than the bright red & green flag colors everywhere.
First, I scoured the web for a few classic Italian photos..landmarks, art, etc. Printed them and then  scattered them in a large picture frame.

This was now serving base.  You could put the plates, napkins & utensils on it or the cups and ice bowl.  We put the salad one of the couples brought.

It worked well and I will keep the photos in a folder since i bet we will host a yummy theme like this again.  If I had thought of this earlier, I would have went to thrift stores, vintage resale, or online sites to get some real vintage postcards & pictures but this worked in a pinch.
We are having a Game Night in a few weeks and you can bet I will be scouring to find an old game board to put in this frame for that night!

I put this little "pop" at the ned of our counter since a centerpiece didn't lend itself to this set up. I was happy to use these retro glasses I got for a wedding gift from dear family friends who understand my love of all things retro.  One is obviously holding dry linguini and the other is hiding but holding a bunch of parsley.  fresh tomatoes on the vine, garlic & onions add reality.  I meant to put the olive oil and red wine vinegar bottles here too but ran out of time.  The grapes were my moms because, frankly, she might have every decoration possible.  This was made clear when I mentioned this theme and she handed me a bag full of these plastic grapes. ;)

I make these chalkboards so I added "Welcome" and "Let's Eat!" in Italian.  Google Translate made it super easy to translate into any language you needed.

Since it was Italian, a food shot is required, I believe.  

I made my quickie version of lasagna and another couple brought baked ziti.
We also had the salad, breadsticks, spinach dip & bread ring, mozz sticks, fresh roasted tomato salsa for dipping, an antipasto tray, and Italian wedding cake & cream horns for dessert.  
Since it was a "potluck", I didn't have special plating options.  But I did set out a few footed flat platters to alter the heights to add interest to the serving area.
We did serve-yourself buffet style, which works great in this kind of informal gathering.  I did use real plates since I had enough for this number of people.  And since my kitchen stuff is all retro red, white & black, it worked great with this theme.  ;)

It was a lovely time together and I look forward to many more gatherings like this.

Day 23 - A picture of your favorite book [or 2]

Are you looking for a book on Parenting? 
Real Love?

You get the picture..

Skeptical? Don't knock it till you try it!

This version [and the Daily Bible] is unique in that it arranges the Bible so the stories/entries are chronological.  It makes the history of things easier to comprehend sometimes when there is a timeline.  This is great for daily reading but not so much study.

Admittedly, I am more of a magazine grazer that a book reader..always been like that.  
Keep it short, I have other things to do. 
So when it comes to reading for "fun", you can generally count me out of that conversation. 

However, when I was around 10 or so, I read this book for an unknown reason.  

And then I read it again.  And again.  And probably again.
I wish it still existed but I remember the cover falling off since I had read it so much.
It seems to have been published about the same time the first Back to the Future came out and has a very similar plot: 2 teens dream of observing their parents meet & fall in love.  They stare at a picture of the night they met to get back in time.  Of course, things get messed up so they spend the rest of the book trying to get their parents together and their own future back on track.  
Not Shakespeare, I know, but interesting nonetheless for a 10 year old dreamer.

Hmm.. I wonder.  It actually might still be in my mom's stuff.  She is a bit of a "keeper", too. ..I digress..

Speaking of my mom, I used to stare "forever" at this picture of her in front of our house when she was in her mid-twenties. I can still see it so clearly.  She was standing in the our front drive with the "largest tree ever" behind her. She had a blond bouffant hair-do, a white mini dress, white leather knee high white boots and a smile.  I am not sure if it was imagination or truth, but I thought she was headed to party.  And I used to stare at the picture, hoping I could travel back there and tell her to change things, say yes to a certain boy, no to another, and have a happy life.  I really hoped to alter her future to something better even if it meant I would not be created.  Geesh..

Now, I am glad their theory of time travel didn't work.  
Or we all would have missed out on this.

At any rate, it appears to be out of print but I see used copies do exist.  
Should ask the Easter Bunny for a copy in my basket? 

Did you read this book?  
What was your fave book as a youth?
~ ~ ~

Just 7 entries left in this challenge...
Day 24 - A picture of something you wish you could change.
Day 25 - A picture of your favorite day.
Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you.
Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.
Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.
Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.
Day 30 - A picture of someone you miss

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 22 - A picture of something you wish you were better at

 Did you know I am on a journey?  A journey to let go...of STUFF.  It has consumed me for far too long.  I suspect, if you are crafter of any type or have a hobby, you probably have at least a little bit of an issue of STUFF, too.  I am not alone, right?
But I am determined to declutter and organize this new house.  To not continue old habits but break them.  To not continue the downward spiral of CHAOS in this new location.  Of course, I actually do need some of the stuff I have aquired and kept because of my business, which makes it difficult.  Notice I said some not all..  
However, my hope is at this new home, there will be a place for everything and everything in it's place.  That's the goal.  
I did a study on "idols in our life" last semester.  I figured I would discover I had made an idol of my husband or my kids.  However, it introduced the idea of a Pharoah, something that controlled you, not that you necessarily worshiped, but nevertheless, kept you from serving God to your full potential.  I discovered my pharoah is all this stuff.  
It's consuming. It's depressing.  It's overwhelming.  And I still don't know where to start when I go over to that old house to move things.  
Frankly, I like my new house clutter free as it currently is...but I do need to move and close that part of our past. That old house has currently become an oversized storage unit that you visit, grab a bag full of clothes or dishes, and shut the door.  However, that "storage unit" has a costly mortage to go with it so move it all, I must.
If it wasn't so ridiculously embarrassing,  I would seriously call Clean House or Hoarders...though, hopefully, I wouldn't yet qualify for the latter. It would make it much easier if someone else just took care of it.  Someone that didn't look at each item, think "what could I do with this" or "So & so got that for me..what would they think if I sold it?" or "I know someday I will want this".  
I am a classic emotional "keeper", which is a much nicer word.  Things have value far more than they deserve.  I am learning to recognize this and rebuke it more and more.
But as I continue on this journey, I am keeping accountability on myself.. as philosopher George Santayana wisely stated, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".  

That is my greatest fear.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 21 - A picture of your favorite night

I have been blessed with many wonderful nights in my life.
This one will have to top them all for obvious reasons.  
It was a night of firsts for both of us...yes, it's rare but true.

We decided our first night together as man & wife should also be our first night together in our home.  The bed frame hadn't made it over to the house yet, so we just had mattresses on the floor.
But that night was as special as any 5 star hotel could ever bring.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Foodie Friday~Quickie Coq au Vin

My first Foodie Friday!
  I love to try new recipes and tweak them to what I have on hand or prefer.  So each Friday, mu hope is to bring a new recipe that I have tried with thumbs up all around!
Today I am featuring Quickie Coq au Vin. 
The original recipe takes quite awhile with a lot of ingredients.  I have made it that way a couple of times and it was great.  However, I don't always have those pricier ingredients or the time.  I stumbled across a recipe in the February issue of the Rachael Ray magazine called Chicken with Wine [which was kind of a boring title in comparison to her usual extra-perky titles..side note..back on track!]
So here is mine and how I altered it.
First, I didn't pound the breasts, I cut them into chunks.  To me, when there are random pieces running through a dish, it gives the illusion there is more meat in there.  I am always trying to stretch my meat co$t.  I also didn't flour coat the chicken.
Second, I sauteed the shallots [and I added garlic] with the mushrooms.  After they were browned, I added the chicken chunks and browned them, too.  To quote one of my faves from the Food Network, Anne Burrell, "Brown Food Taste GOOOOD!".
I decided to make this more of a pasta dish and added linguine to the ingredient list.  Save a cup or so of the starchy cooking liquid.  It makes a great sauce stretcher.  Add as needed at the end.
I didn't have fresh thyme so I used a new grinder that contains an herb blend.  I got it from Aldi's and it is a new fave right now.
To add a bit of freshness, and because I had a nice bunch waiting to be used from my last grocery bag I got from Front Porch Produce,  I added some snipped parsley.  I used my kitchen shears that can be cleaned in the dishwasher.  Super easy.
So here are the ingredients I used:
  • fresh cracked salt and pepper 
  • your favorite herb blend to add a little flavor 
  • 3-4 Chicken tenders, diced into chunks [and I used frozen because that was what was on sale]
  • a few swirls of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 package mushrooms, sliced [more if you have them!]
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped 
  • 2 or more cloves of garlic, shredded on a microblade or finely diced
  • 1 cup red wine [I used a sweet red because I am just learning to like far this is the only one I have loved..]
  • 1 cup chicken stock [broth will do okay but get stock in a box if you can..better yet, make your own..and make me some, too, while you are at it!]
  • a tablespoon of flour stirred into some of the chicken stock and added
  • snipped fresh herbs like parsley 
  • linguine, boiled to just under al dente in highly salted water
After I browned the chicken, I added in the red wine, stock & flour-stock to deglaze the pan and get all those great brown bits up.  Let it reduce for maybe 5 minutes at an almost boil to cook the flour taste out and evaporate the alcohol.  I add in the pasta and let it soak up the sauce and finish cooking in the chicken-mushroom-wine mixture. If needed, add some of the pasta water to stretch the sauce and thicken it, too. Snip the parsley when on the plate or the last minute to keep it fresh.
To really change it up and boost the healthy affect, you could add in some additional veggies like green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, slivered carrots...hmmm... We'll have to try that next time!

Let me know if you try this out and what you think!
John gave it a thumbs up and even my 3 & 1 year old liked the chicken and pasta! 

Day 20 - A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel.

I have never been to NYC, for real.
I went through the city on a bus to transfer from one airport to another coming back from Israel in 2001. The driver took a wrong turn and we drove through town seeing the Statue of Liberty, those spaceships from Men in Black, Chinatown, I think...
I was elated..
..Everyone else on the bus was yelling because they were going to miss their connecting flight. 
I knew I was missing mine, too, but I didn't want to miss a minute, soaking up the sites of that City I still haven't set foot in.
So sit back and enjoy the ride is not always about the destination because the journey can be pretty fantastic, even if it is based on a "wrong" turn.

Someone please talk my hubby into taking me someday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 19 - A picture of you when you were little.

So I do have to say that I don't have easy access currently to pictures from the past.  Basically, if it isn't digital, I can't get to it.
Happy enough, these were scanned [I think] for our wedding video collage.  Wish I oculd have found that file because there would have been more to choose from..anyway, for your viewing "pleasure"
The Baby Years
Preschool Years..
I am pretty sure I peed on this pumpkin.
Why is a 4 year old holding a lit candle?

Then we get to the junior high years...
 NKOTB - 4 -EVA!
with Rachael outside the trailers..8th I think.

You know you are jealous of my poof.  I was quite proud that the entire bang section was so solidified together with hair spray that you could lift it all with one hair.  
Was that enough embarrassment for one entry?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 18 - A picture of your biggest insecurity.

This is entry is part of a 30 Day Photo Challenge that's over half way over so catch up if you missed.  
Some days are harder than others to come up with a response..
...this was a hard one because it made you look a little deeper than maybe we want to sometimes..'s me.. My biggest insecurity..
And, yes, even getting this picture took many takes.  Had to look just right.  
In my defense, some came out looking like I was throwing up gang signs and I am not entirely positive what those completely are even..ha.
Do you like me?  Are you mad at me?  Do I look cool enough today?  Do they even say "cool" anymore?
Do I look too old or too young?
What do you think of my house?  If there is dust or this or that is left out, how much are you going to judge me?  Is it the right color, style, look?
Do you like my work? Am I good enough?  
Am I pretty enough?  Am I cute enough in this outfit? Does it make my ___ look big?  


These thoughts plague a lot of us, I bet.
And, deep down, I know it is not good for me at all!  I know God loves me for me.  
He created me to be just like this and loves me for exactly who I am.  
He doesn't care if I am hip, skinny, or put together "just right".  

I like this version from the New  Living Translation 
"Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! 
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it." 
Psalm 139:14 
But the one most know is "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Which is another great version from NIV.

Do you remember this old ad from the late 70's that circled the church..I do:

Something to remember on those days where you stare into the mirror, not so happy with what you see staring back...

Another wonderful verse & story to click on..
He will take great delight in you; 
   in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
   but will rejoice over you with singing
Zephaniah 3:17b 
[For more on this verse, please also read this amazing blog post from Jones Design Company Twirl..thanks J.Cook!]

Okay, I am done.  
Not perfect, not healed, but a work in progress.  And aren't we all?

~  ~  ~
For a look into what is left to come for this month..hopefully some of these will be a little easier on me [and my ego]. ;)

Day 19 - A picture of you when you were little.

Day 20 - A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel.
Day 21 - A picture of your favorite night .
Day 22 - A picture of something you wish you were better at.
Day 23 - A picture of your favorite book.
Day 24 - A picture of something you wish you could change.
Day 25 - A picture of your favorite day.
Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you.
Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.
Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.
Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.
Day 30 - A picture of someone you miss

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 17 - A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently.

Sometimes it is still hard for my brain to grasp.  Somewhere, there is this little part of my brain that forgets..that thinks, maybe she is still in Ohio.  I know she is not.  I clearly know she is gone from this world.  I know by faith she is now in Heaven... or dancing in the clouds with Jesus, petting Jack & Maxie, as Jesse believes.  

But I still cry.  I still mourn.  I still miss her.  Some days hit you more than others.  
But the loss is always there.
We saw her 4 out of 5 days when she was here in Florida and I talked to her about every day when she was in Ohio.  That daily absence is what kills you.  
Each person grieves in their own way because the person gone meant something different to each individual.  So you can never truly say..I know how you feel..because the dynamic of the lost relationship is different for everyone.

But I know how I feel..and I miss her.  

I miss the times I thought we were going to have.  Though she was 85, she was in fairly good shape up to this summer.  I delusionally thought she would be here so much longer.  I thought for sure Willard Scott would read her name with her picture on the Smuckers label on the  Today show when she turned 100.  I thought Abigale & Jesse would get to know her even more.  She was always so excited to hear the new things Abigale was doing or the funny things Jesse would say.  I still find myself thinking, I can't wait for Gigi to see Abigale in this outfit or tell her that she's walking, climbing, babbling..and finally, she doesn't cry as much any more.. I wish she could see our new house and the things we are doing in it.  She wanted this for us and looked so hard to find us a new home... I wish she could have been there to see it actually happen.  

I know I was blessed to have had her in my life for as long as I did.  I know I am beyond blessed to have had a realtionship as close as I did with her.  Not many get to really know their grandmother like I did, and I do not take that for granted.  

But a warning..for any relationship.  The closer you are, the harder it hurts when they are not here.

But I wouldn't change it for the world.

We still miss you Gigi.

Day 16 - A picture of someone who inspires you.

There have been a lot of women that have poured themselves into inspiring me to be a better person..wife, daughter, mother, woman of God.  
Countless, really, and I know I have been richly blessed for having each of them...previous coworkers, teachers, friends, etc.  I am sure many of them do no even know the impact they have had on my life.
Today I want to honor the past, present, & future Mentor MOMS from my MOPS group.

They come each week and encourage the ladies in my group through this Mothers of Preschoolers life stage.  They not only offer advice on raising our kids, being a better wife, and learning about God..they also give us hope to know there is life on the other side
..and to cherish every minute of this lifestage.. 
because it will be over before we know it..
gone in a blink..
and I bet, as we remember, we are going to ache for these days again...

Thank you, ladies, for all the BIG and Little things you do each week!  You are a blessing to us all!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 15 - A picture of something you want to do before you die.

I want to see my children ask Jesus to come into their hearts.  
As mom, I feel like it is my calling to raise them to desire a relationship with Christ.  To have a hunger to know more about Him & the Bible.  So I look forward to the day when Jesse & Abigale..and any others..come to know Jesus as their Lord & savior.

Don't know about this stuff?  Let's chat.

I would love to see them get married and look forward to grandchildren, too.  :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 14 - A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without.

At first, I thought John.  
But I have known life without him before.
 And the same thing with these too little sweeties.  Can't imagine from now on without them..

But I have never had life without my mom and can't imagine it without her.  For a long time, it was her & I against the world.  I knew, no matter what, she was behind me.  She was "for me" not against me.  The best cheerleader ever.
And isn't she pretty?  I wish I could have been her friend back then, as an adult.  I think she would have been someone I would have liked.  Those true kind of friends that you can trust with anything, that would do anything for you, and you can really count in through thick & thin.

She was/is those things to me, and so much more.

Love you, mom!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 13 - A picture of your favorite band or artist.

Um..Duh.. if you know me.  
The answer to that question would be the one & only New Kids on the Block..4-Eva!  ;)
For your viewing pleasure, here are pics from the last concert I saw of theirs at the Blossom Center in Akron, Ohio, June 23, 2009. 
Before the concert..I ended up sitting in the 6th row..I bought what would kind of be the 12th or so row but the attendant clearly didn't know his letters.  I realized too late ..well, after I had become accustomed to this closeness, I wasn't seriously going to move!  Would you?
 To explain the shirt: Okay: Donnie Wahlberg=D-Dub [DW] and his fans=his soldiers. So That's me and Abigale on the way! ;) The over-shirt is a vintage USMC shirt. :) 
Yes, I OWN my dorkiness..always have!

 Joe McIntyre

 Jordan Knight
 Danny Wood
Jonathan Knight
 And, the one & only, Donnie Wahlberg.  hmmm..

 Can you believe I was this close..because I seriously only have a point & shoot kind of camera.  
I can't believe I was!
Until the next concert...there is always twitter!