Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Weekly Photo - 24

**Psst- It's day 3 of the contest and Declan went from 18th to 7th place yesterday because of ALL YOUR VOTES! 
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

It's not over yet though. We need to get him to 1st! So please will you vote again? 

Maybe email it to some baby lovers? 

Vote on multiple browsers? 

Vote on each device?

Just throwing those ideas out there...
As warned in the beginning, I will be annoying this week (sorry), but he is SO close and there are just a few days left. So please just take a few seconds and click. 


Now on to the weekly photo! Aren't you just a bit proud of us for getting it done and posted in the same week? Don't worry, we've already patted ourselves on the back. No big deal.

This week we decided to use this one of him holding his little toesies because that is a brand new skill he's developed. He's always loved diaper changes, with laughs and giggles all around, but now he's added swinging his feet up for inspection to the game. So this is to commemorate our baby's first gymnast move at 24 weeks old. 

(To see past photos, click here)

and of course...
Happy Halloween everyone! 

What are you and yours going as? Any fun day of events that the littles (or bigs) can't wait for? Trick or treating with friends? Dressing the baby up for the first time?

We'll be back tomorrow with our family costume. We think it's pretty awesome so hope you do too. 
Be safe!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dream, Baby, Dream

**Psst: It's day two of the competition. Declan is 18th out of nearly 1000 babies. Have you voted today?!?**

Click the photo to vote or you can use the link:

 Remember that you can use multiple devices and browsers if you feel so inclined...
Thanks for all the love yesterday as well!

Peyton talked me into it. He talked me in to posting one more project that, while not done for the Pinterest Challenge, was totally inspired by Pinterest. This leads to more flattering photos of the nursery. The prior post didn't quite give the warm and fuzzies. It made the room look more like a basement of a rundown hostel with a piece of art slapped on the wall. With the amount of work Peyton put into this fixture, he deserves to have an entry.

So officially, we are making this a Pinterest Challenge post. dun, dun, dun, duuunnnn.

As explained in the previous post, the Pinterest Challenge is where you stop pinning and start doing. This edition is hosted by the creative chicas Katie, Sherry, Carmel, and Sarah, all of which have projects worth taking a gander! You do a project, blog a post, then link up and blog-hop all day long.  They need to offer babysitters, or even better, make it a holiday. There's just no way kids get as much attention on P.C. days. 

We really needed a big, inexpensive piece of artwork to go above the crib. The opposite wall (shown earlier) is going to be a gallery collection, so we didn't want to shove a ton of frames in both spaces. But finding a long slice of pretty for peanuts? Not going to happen. Until we saw this beaut:

And then that was topped like chocolate on peanut butter with this:

Our nail hitting hearts were sold. Even though we thought about doing a combination of both, we really loved the way the second one fills the letters in, so we followed that tutorial. 

Instead of cork we used some heavy pressed particle board that we had around, some white paint, and about 500-600 nails. There was a lot of nailing. As in, somewhere in the range of seven hours worth. Luckily this was all the mister's doing, as he is much more careful than I am. I can assure you, each and every nail is the same height and distance apart. Hence the seven hours...

First he printed out the lettering found on Honey & Fitz. In an OCD moment, he proceeded to spend another hour or so perfecting the sizes of each letter. (Honestly, I couldn't see a difference at the beginning, sooo I'd say that you're fine with theirs.) Next was taping it onto the painted wood backing.

Then came the nailing. The hours and hours of nailing. But that led to this. 

We were tempted to keep it here, since the simplicity itself is so retro and lovely, but decided it blended in with the grey walls too much. So I swooped in to take over for the stringing. You see, Peyton had a plan to go every fifth nail to the diagonal by the 19th power times pi, over and over again, and I just could not see this getting finished before our son's first birthday. He stepped away because my haphazard manner was close to heart-attack inducing. Fifteen minutes later I ushered him in, he hung it up, and we smiled. 

Ta-da! We love, love, LOVE it. And so does sweet Dex, who stares at it from his crib when we fail to come rescue him quickly. 

And how about a real throwback pic, taken one week before the boy's arrival?

{sorry for the immediate boob shot there... I want this as a reminder, but I definitely get ya good!}
And with that, I will go sit, rub my belly, and miss his little kicks from within. Pretty good job though, right? This is one of those things that constantly remind me of the greatness that is Peyton. Thank you, sir, for getting on board with the honey-do wish list and making this happen ten times better than I could. You're pretty darn awesome. 

Now off to check some more of your lovely works. Please leave a comment so I can love on your creations some!

Look At The Stars - Fall Pinterest Challenge

**Psst: It's day two of the competition. Declan is 18th out of nearly 1000 babies. Have you voted today?!?**

Click the photo to vote or you can use the link:

 Remember that you can use multiple devices and browsers if you feel so inclined...
Thanks for all the love yesterday as well!

So now, back to pinterest business

Two of my favorite bloggers, Katie of Bower Power and Sherry of Young House Love, came up with this lovely challenge back in the day to help conquer the all too easy to fall into trap that is Pinterest. We love this place, pinning and pinning and pinning, living in a virtual world of loveliness and chalkboard paint and gorgeous weddings that look to be $100,000 but really are $250 with DIY, while some of our physical homes want some of the love. So these two said each season the blogging world should make an effort to not simply pin, but do. And so began the Pinterest Challenge.

The rules are simple. Pick something from Pinterest that has inspired you and use it to make something all your own. Blog about the experience, post it on the general wall, and enjoy all the other creations!

This time round I decided to tackle a little art work for Declan's room. I am way overdue for a nursery tour, partially because it's never fully clean and partially because this one wall is bare. Or was bare. Because now we have one little frame chilling out in the middle.

My pinspiration was as follows:


This artist, Katie Daisy of The Wheatfield, is amazing. Take a look around her shop at all the beautiful, down home quotes she has. They are so naturally done and just calm soothe the soul. I actually posted another one that I loved way back when here. Anyway, I decided to try my hand at a much simpler version of hers using a quote from "Yellow". This was one of my favorite songs to sing to Dex as an itty-bitty baby, so it seemed like the perfect one to use. 

Using some freehand pencil work, topped with sharpie pen, then redone with watercolor, I came up with this:

I then attached it to black card stock and attached that to the black glitter paper to seem like a starry-night sky. We are having problems keeping it flat, especially since it currently isn't framed under glass, but maybe a few days of heavy books weighing it down will help. Here it is in it's frame:

We have it right above his changing table so every time I see it I can momentarily get away from the task at hand.

I'd love to show you the whole look complete with better pictures, but that would mean touring, which would mean cleaning, and maybe even other picture hanging. So this is what I can give ya today. Baby steps my friends. (tee-hee. pun totally intended.)

The plan is to have a little gallery wall around it, so now I just need to get on making that happen. Next on the list: get frames, things to put in frames, and nails to attach to wall. As you can see, we are far down the road on that project.

It is no where near as complex and creative as Ms. Daisy's, but it works for us for now. Something sweet and small for our boy. 

Head on over to see what Katie, Sherry, Carmel, and Sarah did, then browse through other posts on their bottom link-ups! It's so inspiring to me to see the creativity that others shell out and share. 

Did you participate in the challenge? Make some other project but didn't know about this bloggy get-together? Do tell, do tell. I'd love to see what you made as well!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Shameless Plug For Dex

Getting in to the election spirit and looking for a vote you can get behind?

**Disclaimer: We, for a week, are going to be those annoying parents that ask you to vote for their amazingly adorable child. Yes, it's like spam to the eyes, but it must be a love so blinding that we are unable to stop, so maybe the best thing to do is just vote and make us super happy and we will thank you endlessly instead of bugging?!**

So here's the deets:

First round is reader's favorites so all you have to do is go to the following link, click on "Vote For Me", enter some code they show you (might be an ad but not spam), and bada-bing, bada-boom, YOU VOTED!


If he makes it through, he wins a prize. The photo is then judged for attractiveness, personality, and quality. And as the photo says clearly enough, our beautiful boy is chock full of personality and expressions. Shoe-in, I say.

We are asking with lots of "prettys" and "pleases" for a week of daily voting. Possibly on each of your browsers. Possibly on each of your devices. Possibly with some sharing on the side if you find him so extremely photogenic that you just can't BARE to not spread the joy and smiles and giggles to others. Just pass on this link!

Thank you SO much for reading, voting, loving us, loving him, and just being awesome. 

You all rock!


Friday, October 26, 2012

The Unity in Our Divisity

Days like today are gems in Austin- cold breezes blowing, bundling up against fifty degree weather, grey skies threatening a storm. They are autumnal and real and deserve American tributes like drinking hot Starbucks chais while standing in line at a voting poll. Not ones to fight fall's beckon, the mister, baby, and I all made our way down to the local Texas early voting station.

The grocery store location does not hold quite the same ambiance as Baltimore, where a stroll through my neighborhood was the prelude to casting a ballot in the old stone 1920s basketball court. There weren't the beautiful maple leaves blowing around us nor the sweet golden glow that the fall sun brings, but we will take what we can get. Today that was the opportunity to wear a scarf and rub a baby's naked head to keep it warm. Done and done.

Once there, the experience was pretty typical. Stood in line, casted our votes, didn't really know much about 95% of the candidates. There was a little run-in with a man who was overly angry at Peyton for wearing his "Democrat" pin. There were calls being made and pictures being taken for who the Sam Hill knows what. Apparently any sort of political statement is banned in line (as is any picture taking, just sayin'). So to you sir I say- sorry, we didn't know, now please go grab a nice hot tea, take some deep breaths, and chill the freakdizzle out. In the end the pin came off after a much kinder poll worker gave us the info. And so resumed the typical experience.

But this time was slightly special for me. Today I read over the list of names and pushed buttons with a baby snuggled close. A totally unaware, drooling little man who could care less who becomes president as long as he has some fingers to chew on. It was important to me to have him there, to bring him to this first voting experience, to raise him knowing the importance of making his little voice heard.

America has problems, sure, and I have been known to complain about them a time or two. But really, we have a lot of wonderful things going for us as well. We have hope, optimism, and a right to be heard. We go with our ideals and sometimes make the seemingly impossible possible. We are the land of dreams, where a black boy raised by a single mom can become president and rights can be fought for and earned.

Each year I am overcome by our oneness at the polls. I look around, seeing multiple skin colors, men and women, democrats and republicans, old and young, and I get all teary-eyed. I love these people. I love what we stand for. I love that we all came out to vote for what we think is right. And while I don't actually respect some of the positions people believe in, I do respect them as people. We are all human beings trying to navigate life the best we can. We are all Americans fulfilling our civic duty. I'm a woman, honoring those before me who fought tooth and nail for my right to vote. You're a man, honoring those from centuries ago who braved a vast ocean for freedom. We are doing our part, and I really, really love that.

So in the end, I want Declan to see what makes us unique. I want him to feel the unity beneath the political lines and hopefully step away from all the b.s. that is thrown around. I will show him the picture from today, where I hold his tiny body upright as he proudly stands on his strong chunkster legs, donning an "I voted early" sticker tucked away beneath a winter vest. He's my little American, and today there's no place we'd rather be.


Monday, October 22, 2012

A Modern Mixed Tape

I'm one of those people who play songs over and over until you just want to bash your head against the dashboard the next time you hear it on the radio. It's like kids and food. They love, love, LOVE cereal and are always running out, but it's a guarantee that as soon as you buy four boxes, it's the most disgusting thing they've ever seen. Seriously, who hasn't this happened to?

That being said, I'm trying to be adult here and grow out of this stage of musical listening, but it's hard. What's amazing is that no matter how many times I've listened to a certain playlist, I will not remember it a few months down the line. That's why mix cd's were so important to my individual history. Yet, being a technologically developed gal and all, I don't really do those anymore.

So what happens when I upgrade computers and save the playlists?! Who knows! I sure as one never find them, and too many memories of dances, kisses, tears, and simply times have been lost to the great technological abyss. I may be technologically developed in some ways, but computers and memory and the internet are simply magic. Magic, I say!

In an attempt to keep these treasured goods in the family to be passed down for generations to come, I am going to document them on this here blog. There's nothing sweeter than finding a forgotten song, cranking it loud, and being transported to a time (such as this) that helped shape you. So this is my mixed tape for me.

{need help deciphering? just ask!}

Remember, sharing is caring. The best part of posting my tunes on here is getting some back from you! So please, do tell- What songs can you not get enough of? Do any of these jingles get your toes tapping too? Do you love dancing around blasting old mixes? Do you still make cd's so that you can always have a hard copy to love on? 

I love hearing new music and returning to some throwbacks, so spread the love!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Weekly Photos- 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

A little behind doesn't begin to cover where we stand on these. And the title is kiiinda fibbing a bit, (okay, 2/5 of the way) because weeks 20 and 21 don't exist. #hangsheadinshame

Oh well. If missing two weeks of weekly photos are the biggest problems I'm facing today, then I'm off to go win me some $$$!

{"Everybody was kung-fu fighting!" Little Bruce Lee in the making.}
{it looks very much like a careful first step to me. Plus pouty lips = <3 meltage}
And with that, I'd like to welcome the weekend with open arms. You know, because as a SAHM it's night and day from the normal grind.

Let's take a little of Dex's kung-fu energy and go CONQUER this Saturday. Whaddya say?


Thursday, October 18, 2012

To My Mister, On His Birthday

{It's hard to write this in a cheese-less, vegan-friendly way because my heart just wants to wax on and on about what a spectacular human being he is. But, it being his birthday and all, I decided that he kind of deserves to read a nice thing or two about himself. So in the spirit of keepin' things real and celebrating P, I'm taking heart to paper screen. I'll just try to keep it more of a feta and less of an in-your-face bleu.}


Thank you for being born. I know you had quite the hand in it, so hats off to you. Thank you as well for moving to Austin, buying a house, and opening up a room to strangers. Without all those steps, I'd be a rich, happy lady missing the best piece of my soul. I'm pretty sure fate led the way for us and our intersecting paths. That fate is a sneaky one. It had me all fooled that you were nothing but a friend, that I'd live in Austin for a year, that I was going to have some amazing single girl times, then BOOM! Love. Thank goodness I caught on to it and dropped subtle hints that let you know what a triumphant couple we'd be. (You're welcome, you're welcome. You wake up and sing hallelujah EVERY SINGLE DAY for this fact, I know.)

Anyway, I'm beyond glad our story unfolded as it did. You're my rock, my best friend, and on more occasions than you should probably let happen but of which I'm so thankful for, my enabler to being lazy. You balance out my soul, desires, fears, and passions in a way I could never have expected.

You helped create, according to unbiased four-year-old Thomas, "the cutest baby in the whhhhole world!" Gotta give you some props for that one. Plus, you are following through and actually taking care of him, pretty darn well in fact. So please, I will now let the world know that you are an excellent hands-on dad, and I wouldn't trade you for anyone, not even Mr. Ryan Gosling himself.

But the most important act currently in our day-to-day existence is that you are our provider. You allow me to stay home and raise our child, to experience his first laughs, toe touches, and pterodactyl squawks as they come. This gift is more precious than any monetary good I could find and somehow I take it for granted far too often. (Now mind you, I haven't gone to the luxury stores yet...So thank you, from both Dex and I (well, I at least HOPE that boy agrees), for giving us this opportunity that we will carry through our lives.

While there are about a gazillion more wonderful aspects to you, some of which I know and many of which I have yet to learn, I will leave it at that. Today I celebrate your spirit, accomplishments, and life while looking forward to the decades of experience ahead. 

Happy birthday love. Thank you for sharing your heart and journey with me. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

One of my biggest knocks on Austin is the lack of seasons. There's a temperature change, sure- I'm actually sitting in a sweatshirt right now. But there is no beautiful display of jewel colored leaves, no snow days to pull a sled through, and no lush springs with English-style gardens. There is summer, and then there is some cold.

My recent yearning for autumn has led me to do two things:

1. Stay up to ungodly hours due to an intensive home search in Asheville, NC, where fall reigns glorious in the mountains. I even felt it necessary to poke Peyton in the ribs at three a.m. to announce our impending move. I've got some house contenders, so now it's on to finding the mister a job!

2. Make fall soup. I had this delicious soup in Baltimore from a recipe clipping that my mom has had for the past few decades, and decided to recreate it here. It's so simple to make yet has complex flavors and is good for you to boot. So what if we don't have leave piles to jump in or cool air to bundle up in? We have acorn squash soup! And until we pack the moving vans, that will just have to do. 

Here is my version of this super easy recipe, good for anyone looking to add some fall to their kitchen.

1 acorn squash
1 onion
1-2 green (or tart) apples
~1/4 cup margarine
3 cups vegetable broth
curry powder

1. Cut squash into quarters or eighths. Scoop out seeds and place face down in 2 cups of broth. Simmer, covered, until soft, roughly 20-30 minutes. (I cooked it and left it for a few hours longer, so it was super soft. Was just as yummy!)

2. Slice onion and apple and saute in margarine until browned and aromatic and delicious looking, roughly 10 minutes. 

This is at the beginning, not the final browned stage.
3. Scoop the squash from the skin into blender and blend well with the broth. Return to pot.

4. Blend the apple and onion mixture with remaining 1 cup of broth, then combine in pot with squash. 

5. Add spices, salt, and pepper to taste. (I used more cumin, salt, and pepper with just a touch of the nutmeg and curry. You can switch it up as you feel, or use other spices all together.)

And you're done! We topped our with cashews add a bit of salty crunch. I think that some sweet chutney or coconut flakes would also be interesting, or a nice cranberry sauce swirled in to make it even more fall festive. 



Monday, October 15, 2012

ACL- The Non-Ligamental Variety

This weekend, my fifth Austin City Limits festival, was magic as always. Two years ago, this party was the closest thing to a honeymoon for us as we celebrated only six days post-nuptials. Last year, excitement came as I saw two pink lines on a stick, telling me that the festivities would be sans Pimms. And with smiles all around, this ACL included little Dex.

The festival is my favorite staycation. The perfect blend of relaxation and go-go-go, it keeps you trekking from stage to stage and has you sunbathing in between. (Well, sunbathing or rain dancing, depending on the day.) The sun is hot or the rain is cool; very rarely have I experienced that beautiful temperate day. But this hardly matters as you are surrounded by friends and friends-to-be and people that are enjoying the same space, and there is a fulfilling oneness in this that takes the experience far beyond the music.

It's weekends like this that make me long to be a professional photographer. I wish I could take all my feelings, emotions, thoughts, and memories and wrap them up into a perfect little package for all to see. I wish I could capture the way the short grass feels on bare feet or the sounds of competing bands over happy voices sound or the way the hodge podge of colors and people and umbrellas and flags is beautiful. I want to show you why teaching Declan to two-step is now on my list, so he can take a pretty girl by the hand and lead her around a dirt floor on her tip toes. Or for you to feel the hidden beauty that comes when standing in line for the porta-potties at sunset while watching hundreds throw their hands up to some reggae. We take pictures, but they don't do it justice. So please- just go. It's awesome and won't be regretted. Camp Declan, under the bright orange Hup Holland flag, will be waiting for ya'.

 Until next year ACL. You never fail to disappoint. 

(This post shall be filed away for whenever Declan decides that we're lame. Excuse me son, we knew cool before you could crawl. Though, this title and those pics of him might prove otherwise...)