Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Celebrating 34 in the City By the Bay

Todd tried to surprise me with a night in San Francisco for my birthday.  I say "tried" because I begged him to tell me what we were doing so I would know what to wear.  I have this thing about needing to know what to wear and it drives him nuts.  I am a challenge to surprise because of this :).  But he did a great job planning our little getaway and I had a wonderful birthday.  I think it was just great to get away from the kids, dress up and visit a restaurant that didn't have paper tablecloths and crayons! 
We spent the night at the Westin St. Francis in Union Square.  Our room was on the 28th floor with a view to die for.  And seriously, the Westin has the most amazing beds.  A little slice of heaven wrapped in sheets.  The view from our room:

Union Square

We then had dinner at Chaya in the Embarcadero. 

De-li-cious!!!  The salmon ceviche appetizer just about melted in my mouth.  I still fantasize about it!  Chaya's customer service was excellent by the way.  As much as I love SF, there can sometimes be an obnoxious level of snootiness.  For dessert they brought me this tasty number:

Molten Chocolate Cake
 Because the restaurant is located on the waterfront the view leaves little to be desired, even on a rainy night:

Sorry the photo is not super-crisp.  Couldn't exactly fit a tri-pod in my purse and had to hand-hold my camera at a slow shutter speed.  For those of you not familiar with SF, this is the Bay Bridge.  Looks great at night doesn't it?!
After dinner we had a night cap at the hotel bar.  That whole snootiness attitude I mentioned earlier?  Our bartender embodied it.  But I did try Oprah's favorite new drink, Moscow Mule.  Quite refreshing; great for a hot summer day. 
The following morning we had breakfast at Sears Fine Food.  It has been in SF for over 70 years and consistently has a line out the door.  Breakfast did not disappoint and since we ate at the counter we didn't have to wait in line.  Score!  Loooved the Eggs Benedict.  After all of the food I consumed during this birthday celebration poor Todd had to roll me home.

Outside Sears Fine Food. Todd's still smiling because he doesn't know he will have to roll my ass the home :)!
Look up and you will see the Sir Francis Drake

Monday, February 14, 2011

Little Man Turns Two & It's a Circus!

The past few weeks have been crazy busy.  That kind of busy where you just fall into bed at the end of the day because you are so wiped out.  It all began with Lucas' second birthday.  2!!!!  I can't believe two years have flown by so quickly!  Really, how does it happen so fast?  At two he is ca-ray-zy busy.  Fascinated by outlets and anything with buttons, a climber of shelves, stools, tables, and chairs, a lover of being "ow-side" (outside), obsessed with Barney and coloring, and lightning-fast (especially when he A.  has something he shouldn't or B.  was just caught doing something naughty.)  Despite all of his shenanigans he is quite the little charmer.  Everywhere we go people make a fuss, especially the women.  Lucas just turns on the dimples and eats it up.  Since he was a year old he has had a thing for blondes (traitor!).  Already discriminating hair color at such a tender age!  Although he has his dad's dimples and flirtatiousness, he has his mom's attitude.  During a phone conversation I was lamenting to mom how Lucas can be whiny when he wants something or things are not going his way, and how it is a down right temper tantrum (with kicking and screaming) when he can't have his way.  To which my mom replied, "You were the same way."  Now I am sure she was smiling on the other end of the phone thinking, "Payback's a bitch isn't it?!" 
We celebrated this wonderful occasion with a circus themed party.  The decorating possibilities were endless!  Between the running, playing with friends, cake eating, and gift opening Lucas was exhausted.  But the most important thing was that  he had a blast.  The candy buffet was a hit with the kids.  Shocking I know!  I had a lot of fun with the candy buffet and tried really hard not to go overboard.  The last thing I wanted was to be stuck with enough candy to feed an army.  I also created a photo booth and provided a bunch of props.  It was quite entertaining to see what people came up with for the photos!

Here is the invitation I created in Illustrator.  Wanted to use all of the skills I have learned in my classes!  I put the invites in vintage popcorn bags.
Centerpieces:  Mason jars (from our wedding!), filled with flowers and placed in popcorn boxes with raffle tickets.  The tablecloths are also a wedding relic :).

She is just hilarious!

I found these great cake toppers on Etsy and created my own.  Here is the link to the Etsy version

It's amazing what a little frosting in the hair will do!
Soooo tired!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Project 365, Week 2

I am getting into the habit of this photo-a-day project.  I will admit some days are better than others.  But it continues to be more fun than work (thus far!)
Running a few errands after I picked Maddie up from school.  While stopped at a traffic light I was able to snap this photo.  Here we are, rushing to get everything done.
Furniture shopping.  Ugh!  Trying to converge our two styles plus our needs.  Might just be impossible!  We each gravitate to different styles.  Didn't know this task would be so much WORK!
Relaxing with a well-deserved glass of wine after two days of working on my photo-blog for Pixel Pages (& furniture shopping).  I think my butt is permanently flat after sitting in front of the computer all that time. 
Lying in wait...  Tilly biding her time until  food drops from Lucas' breakfast.  It reminds me of lions stalking their prey in Africa...only this is my living room and we have no zebras or gazelles(pretty sure there is some sort of city code against that).
Lukey all snuggled up to Tilly.  She quietly waits for opportunity & then sneaks in one giant "slurp!"

The weather this week has been glorious!  This is why I love living in Cali.  We had a month of miserable freezing weather.  This week's temps (high 60s) was a welcome respite.  This evening was still a little warm and everything had a lovely orange & purple glow.  Spring is coming & I can't wait!

This is what 8 hours of school looks like, and it ain't pretty!  I look so bad I was tempted to touch up the bags under my eyes, but I am keeping it real folks.  Jan. 18th, my first day back at school.  8 hours in front of a computer is going to be a struggle.
Variety has been my biggest challenge so far.  Because I spend so much time with my kiddos most of my photos are of them.  So I am attempting to branch out when the opportunity presents itself.  After all, this is Project 365, not 365 Days  of My Kids.  But when you are a SAHM most of your days are filled with kids and the photos reflect that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon & Thyme

I found this yummy recipe in our local newspaper.  Even the hubs liked this healthy meal!  Can't wait to make it again!

Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon & Thyme
1 onion minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and dried on a towel
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbs. minced fresh parsley, basil, cilantro, or scallions

Combine the onion and oil in a large saucepan.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 8-10 minutes.
Stir in the quinoa, increase heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the quinoa is lightly toasted and aromatic, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the broth, lemon zest and thyme and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is transparent and tender, 16-18 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat, lay a clean folded kitchen towel across the top of the pot and replace the lid.  Let sit for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.  Stir in lemon juice and fresh herbs.  If you like season with salt and pepper to taste.

Side note:
I omitted the salt from the recipe and did not miss it all.  There were so many rich flavors from the broth, lemon, and herbs.  I almost feel that salt might ruin the medley of flavors.  For the fresh herbs I used cilantro.  It's zesty, fresh flavor makes it one of my favorites.  This side dish was a great companion to the salmon my husband grilled on our BBQ using a wood plank.
I did not rinse the quinoa and it was fine.  But after researching I found out why all recipes call for this additional step.  The outer coating of the quinoa leaves a bitter taste and rinsing it helps remove it.  Who woulda thunk it?  Although I will try it next, I did not notice a bitter taste with this specific dish.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Project 365, Week 1

After reading the Shutter Sisters Blog I became inspired to do my own Project 365.  I figure it would help me actually stick to my New Year's resolutions.  The goal of Project 365 is to take a photo everyday, which is one of my resolutions.  I have decided to post the photos each week.  This will help keep me on track for my "post to my blog at least once a week" resolution.  Shutter Sisters has some amazing photos on their blog.  Because it is a glimpse into my day-to-day life I anticipate some mundane photos, but their blog definitely gives me something to aspire to.  This project will force me to not be so complacent in my everyday surroundings while achieving personal goals.  Wish me luck!
Here are the links to some of my favorite Shutter Sisters Project 365:

These little self-portraits are outside of Maddie's classroom.  Every month her teacher has them write a new speech bubble.  This month the speech bubbles are their New Year's resolutions.  I love to snap a photo of Maddie's each month.

My never-ending battle with laundry.

A glimpse into the day of a typical SHAM:  drop off at school, grab some coffee & breakfast, & head my smorgasbord of daily errands.  Target Greatland being my favorite.

Some of the projects that are on my to-do list:  places to camp this summer, our route for my girls' trip with Maddie, how to become more bloggin savvy, and the constant pursuit of learning new photography skills.  And what is a good book without some Tootsie Rolls?!

A visit to Lowe's for a home-project.  This photo is so typical of Lucas; getting into mischief, while his right shoe & sock on the floor below him. 

Todd & I had my in-laws sister-in-law, neice, & mother-in-law over for dinner.  Lucas thoroughly enjoyed the dessert they brought over!

I volunteer in Maddie's class for writer's workshop.  It has become something I look forward to every week.  I love to hear what Maddie and her fellow classmates have to say.  Each student has their own unique voice & they are so excited to have someone to listen.  Love those stories!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Musical Menagerie

Michael's sells these great instruments.  They are not too pricey, especially when you add one of their 40% off coupons.  Santa brought Lucas several for Christmas and he loves them.  I realize the thought of a two year old and instruments is a rather frightening concept when it comes to preserving your sanity hearing, but they are not too bad.  It has become a fun family activity that we all get into.  Do we we all look like complete dorks?  Yup, but it is so worth it!  Lukey's face lights up as he bounces to the beat and sings his own little made-up ditty.  And to watch both kids make "music" together is so sweet it makes my heart ache.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Maybe Those Nudists Are On To Something....

If there is one thing we need less of in this house it's laundry.  I can't help but think that if we were nudists we would have a lot less laundry in this house.  Although, becoming a nudist is, well, I just can't do it.  Especially after two pregnancies and two c-sections.  The bod is just not the same after that kind of weight fluctuation!  But after two years I just cannot get over how much f'ing laundry our family of four generates!!!  What this photo doesn't show are the stacks behind the ones in the front, the loads in the washer and dryer, the dog bedding that never even made it to the washer, or that I ran out of detergent before I finished the laundry.  Laundry just never ceases to amaze me....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Resolve...

...I've been thinking long and hard about this year's resolutions.  What do I really want to accomplish in 2011?  After a lot of contemplation, I decided to narrow it down to a few simple, yet very important life changes.  Here are my wants, goals, and desires for 2011:

*Focus on building my photography business.  I need to create a concrete plan, increase my clientele, continue to learn new things, and set/accomplish goals for the future of this business of mine.  Right now I am working on my logo and cannot wait to reveal it later this month!

*Do some form of exercise five days a week.  I fell off the wagon in September.  I had school, my parents' illnesses, and the hubs/kiddos.  My plate was full and something had to give.  Gravity has taken a firm grasp on my butt.  It also didn't help that my gym closed my nearest location.  Now I have to hop on the freeway and commute two cities.  Not. Gonna. Happen.  It is challenging enough just to get a couple of miles down the street!  But this does not mean I can't walk or take the dogs for a hike.  Must get back in the habit, my dogs and saggy booty will thank me!

*Take a photo every day.  Just something I thought would be fun.  Record the mundane as well as the spectacular.  Becky Higgins' Project Life was my inspiration for this resolution.  I spend so much time taking photos of others I sometimes forget to shoot pics of us.  Aaak!

*Start a new photo project.  One of my past photo instructors had an interesting photo project, taco trucks.  Totally random, but quirky and fun.  I am not sure what I want to do yet.  Maybe San Francisco.  Cliched? Yes.  Overdone?  Definitely.  One of my favorite places?  Hell yeah!  Incredibly dynamic?  Fer sure!  But the jury is still out on my topic...

*Continue to try new recipes.  I have got to work my way through that ever-growing stack of recipes I insist on collecting.  By the way, have two yummy ones to share with you!

*Blog more.  My goal is to start with one entry per week and work my way up to a few per week.  I love it, but don't always make time for it.  Just need to make it into a habit.