Saturday, October 18, 2008


Not having to go to work has left me with plenty of time to dedicate to busywork. I have to admit, I am a glutton for it! Some people find the idea of being at home sheer torture, others, myself included, absolutely relish it! My home has never been cleaner, home and craft projects are completed, Todd comes returns from work to a home cooked meal, and my scrapbook pages are coming to fruition. Suffice to say I am in heaven!!!!!!!!!!!! Another benefit I love is spending one day a week helping out in Maddie's kindergarten class. Every time I walk in she cheerfully yells, "Mommy!" The overjoyed look on her face when I enter the room makes my heart melt. Plus her teacher rocks; we adore her. Even the girls (aka the dogs) are getting more exercise. Honestly, I think we all are a little happier now that Mom is at home.
Here are some of the projects that have been completed these past few weeks:
The last of the living room curtains:

Before-Vertical Blinds (Ewww)

In our laundry room I have vintage maple buckets to hold rags, laundry lint (for compost) and garbage. (The buckets are one of our wedding decoration relics.) Some time ago I painted them pink, but always meant to decoupage labels on them; dress them up a bit. Now I finally have the time to do it! I labeled the buckets in French because, lets face it, "rags" sounds a lot prettier in French! When Todd asked why and this was my answer he just rolled his eyes and chuckled to himself. Thank the good Lord above I was blessed with an understanding (and tolerant!) husband!

Before Decoupage After Adding Pretties

I have started on our wedding scrapbook (YAY! Finally! It's only been over a year!) It will probably be at least two volumes. Some may say it's excessive. But I put so much love, sweat, and research into our wedding the album would not be complete if I didn't include the research and inspiration. Plus I have hidden the receipts in the book so we can look at how the cost of weddings has gone up over the years. As I go through the photos, magazine pictures (my inspiration) and other memorabilia I am reminded of how much FUN I had at our wedding. Honestly I would change nothing about my wedding day. It was sooooo very, very worth it. The best part about that is Todd feels the same exact way I do. I love that our wedding day brought us both joy! I hope to make several more layouts this week. Here is what has been completed so far (sorry, they are not scanned, don't have a 12x12 scanner and have not figured out the stitch option in Photoshop yet.) Note there is no journaling yet, I will start on that later.

The Cover:
The book is by K&Company. It had our wedding colors on the cover and looked rustic. As we all know, I am not a traditional-white-wedding-album kinda girl (I did wear fuscia porn-star stilettos under my wedding dress.)

The Venue:

Sugar Bowl in the Truckee-Tahoe area. Sigh...loved it!!!!!!!!!!! Surrounded by mountains, pine trees and wild flowers. We had the entire place to ourselves and our wedding guests from the Thursday before our wedding to the Sunday after. Four days to spend with close family and friends, as well plan and prep for our wedding . This was key in being able to do a lot of our own wedding projects (including flowers).

The Invites: The Sugar Bowl postcard we had made. We found some great vintage replica prints, had the artist change the title from Squaw Valley to Sugar Bowl and printed save-the-date postcards from it. I found quite a few invites that I liked, but did not love. Nothing screamed mountain top wedding without looking cheap and tacky, or being crazy expensive. I was just about to settle for an invite we liked when I stumbled upon Oliostyle ( I discovered Olio on a blog from The Knot and instantly fell in love. Finally! Invites I loved that weren't a bloody fortune! And the best part was, they could be customized to our colors. Heaven!!!!

Our map (also designed by Oliostyle. They design, you print - much cheaper!!!) and some of our favorite RSVPs.
The Flowers:

The flowers were a big deal for me. I wanted a lot of them. Todd could have cared less as long as it didn't break the bank. The bouquets and boutonnieres were done by a florist in the Truckee-Tahoe area. But everything else was done by my mom, myself, and a few helpers (including Todd who dedicate a few hours to clipping the 700 plus stems on all the flowers when they arrived). Doing them ourselves gave us so much more bang for our buck. Here are the flowers after they were shipped. We clipped all of the stems and let them "drink" for 24 hours.

I ordered them wholesale over the Internet from 2G Roses ( and the Flower Exchange ( 2G was amazing. They are here in Cali and answered every question I had (there were a lot.) Flower Exchange was good, but I had liked working with 2G better. I wanted the flowers to look as if we had gone into the mountain side and picked fresh flowers. Yes, I know, stargazer lilies do not grow in Tahoe. But I wanted to arrangements to look loose and natural. The buckets were an EBay steal (55 maple buckets for $150, including shipping.) Going with the nature/country theme I used Mason jars and small tin watering cans with ribbons tied on them for additional floral containers.

The Cake:

The cakes on the left page were my inspiration, and the cake on the bottom right was ours. The photo above that was from the baker's website ( The moment Todd and I saw it, we knew that was the cake. In the world of cakes, Tahoe House has great prices. I just about had a heart attack when I discovered how much cakes can cost. All I could think of was Steve Martin in Father of the Bride, "$1,200 for some flour and water?!" We served our wee guests (the kids) clown cones from Baskin Robbins. They were a hit.
Wedding Favors:

We chose Cd's. Something people will actually use, is economical, and took some thought and effort on our part. The envelopes were made from printed cardstock (in our colors of course) using a template I found on the Internet. The pictures were taken by our close friend Noel above Donner Lake and then printed onto stickers from the Kodak website (they are part of the Martha Stewart collection). The little tags say "love rocks" (I thought it was fitting for a music CD). The love rocks stamp was an Internet purchase and the tags were made with a tag punch. I also included a song list in the CD envelope. I read through all of the song lyrics to make sure they were reflective of the relationship Todd and I have. I spent a lot of time researching songs. Plus, I did not want songs that are commonly used on wedding Cd's, and I wanted all generations to enjoy it. I was happy the CD got rave reviews.

Our ceremony site (at Sugar Bowl):

We loved getting married surrounded by pine trees. What a beautiful setting. It just made for a great backdrop. And it was quiet. We had the whole resort to ourselves. So there were no strange people gawking, no traffic sounds in the background. Todd and the wedding party walked down the aisle to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo Ole, and I walked down the aisle to "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. We were each escorted by both of our parents. Maddie was escorted by my close pal, Tim. Our recessional song was "Swing to the Mood" by Glenn Miller Orchestra.
The Dress:

These were the layouts for the dress shopping process. After looking through lots and lots of magazines I knew what styles I liked. Anyone who knows me well, knows I am SUPER-PICKY. Fortunately I only had to go to one store to find my dress J'aime in Pleasanton . I can't stand all of the pomp and circumstance associated with dress shopping. Help me get the thing on and then leave me alone. Don't bug me, don't pressure me, and don't try to rob me blind (I refuse to spend the equivalent of a down payment on a car for a dress I will wear one day, even if it is my wedding day.) I had my mom, Gail (MIL) and Maddie with me. I narrowed it down to two and returned with two close and honest friends, Tim and Sarah. And I can honestly say, I made the right dress choice and have no regrets about my dress.

I chose the Maggie Sottero "Brittania Lynette". I don't know how such a pretty dress can have such an ugly name, but whatever. I loooooove my dress. The total dress cost was just under $1,000. Still a lot of money for something I wore for one day, but a fraction of what many dresses cost. Tim and Sarah were right, the dress is me. It has a vintage look and is not too fussy. I did feel like a princess wearing it. I have to admit, a key selling feature was the corset. I am not a fan of white, it does not flatter the figure unless you are built like a supermodel (and Lord knows I am not, especially after gaining 60 pounds while pregnant with Maddie and having a C-section!) So when I tried on the corssetted top and knew I could eat a full meal while still looking thin, I was sold on the corset. Who wants to starve at their wedding? I had a full meal, two slices of cake, and lots of drinks, without a big bloated belly. All hail the corset!

That is the scrapbook thus far. Still have oodles of work to do. But it is nice to get a crack at it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Heaven in a Pan

I have a few recipes to share that are to die for. Last night I made Barefoot Contessa's, "Outrageous Brownies" for my husband, Skip, and father-in-law. They are nothing short of amazing! When you see the ingredients you will know why.

1 lb. unsalted butter
1 lb plus 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tbs instant coffee powder
2 tbs real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup flour divided (1c for batter and 1/4c in the chips)
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt

preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2 inch sheet pan. (I used a 13x9" pan. If you do this the brownies will take around 20 longer to cook)
Melt together the butter, 1 lb. chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler (I rested one of my stainless mixing bowls in a pot of boiling water.) Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temp.
Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

The other recipe is what I call "Becky's Lasagna" (it came from our pal Becky). I made a few changes to the original recipe. This is the best lasagna both of us have ever had.
1 package of lasagna noodles
1 lb of ground turkey
1/2 lb Italian sausage (I used Adel's garlic sausage)
1 white onion
large can stewed tomatoes
small can tomato paste
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
3 eggs
1 tsp. each: oregano, basil, rosemary
8 oz ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese
1/2 block Feta cheese
1 1/2 bags of 2% shredded Italian cheese mixture
3 cloves garlic, minced

Brown meat and onion together. Set aside. DO NOT COOK NOODLES! In a bowl mix stewed tomatoes, paste, and sauce. Add garlic, basil, rosemary, and oregano. In a separate bowl mix 3 eggs and ricotta cheese.
Layer in this order:
Sauce, noodles, meat mixture, ricotta mixture, remaining cheeses. Repeat until done. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake covered for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes.
Bon apetite!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Smothered With Love

We are so fortunate to have very patient dogs when it comes to children. They may be rambunctious, but they are saints with Maddie. Whether they want the cuddles or not, they deal with them. Granted a child-friendly disposition was essential when we adopted our dogs, but they go above and beyond the call of duty. As she learns what a responsible pet owner is, they allow her a learning curve.

Maddie loves her dogs. Although it is a lot of work raising a child and two canine-crazies, it is worth the effort. Maddie is learning so much from Tilly and Mischa. Maddie is learning responsibility, kindness and compassion towards animals, caring for others, and patience.

Our home is now decorated for Halloween. Last year was the first year I actually began to collect Halloween decorations. So our supply is sparse, but if I add a little every year... My most recent addition is this wreath I made:

I bought the black wreath from Michael's for $3.99. I then bought two different sizes of wood balls with pre-drilled holes. I glittered the medium balls with orange glitter (Martha Stewart glitter) and the small ones with black vintage glass glitter. Here is a tip I did not figure out until I was 3/4 of the way done with the glittering (gotta love the inept preggo brain!): paint the balls the color of the glitter you are using FIRST. Then if the glitter misses a spot you can't see it. The glitter looks much cohesive with paint underneath. Next I found a font I liked and printed out the word BOO on white cardstock. After I cut out the letters I glittered them with the black glitter (can never have too much sparkle!). I cut out the letters with scalloped scissors to add a decorative edge. Then I cut out a slightly larger circle in a dark orange cardstock and mounted the letter piece onto it. I wanted to add a pop of color in the middle of all that black. Next I cut out circles from black and white patterned cardstock. The B and the second O are the same printed cardstock (black with white polka dots). After all of the pieces were done, I strung the balls to individual pieces of wire. I used five orange and two black per cluster. Once I got the clusters arranged I wrapped wire around the clusters to hold them together. I then attached them to the wreath by wrapping the wire around the base of the wreath. Lastly I strung the letters with black ribbon and added a little orange ribbon for extra color. Hang and enjoy! FYI: Be prepared for a glittery mess when you are done! It travels everywhere!

Here is our mantle with the rest of our decorations:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Lemos Farm, Year 6

Oh what a day we had in Half Moon Bay! I loved every moment of it! When we left I had a huge, satisfied smile on my face. To me, few things top Half Moon Bay Family Day, especially during pumpkin patch season. Maddie was just as ecstatic as Mommy was. We let her pick two activities at the farm. This year she was all about the jumpy-house and feeding the goats (goats are always a hit.) We gave her a generous thirty minutes of bouncing around the jumpy-house. Todd and I figured if we let her get the "wiggles" out first thing, the rest of the time would be smooth sailing. Hypothesis proved correct! As always, Maddie loved feeding and petting the goats. Consequently the dogs were infatuated with the smell of our shoes when we got home. I have to admit, I love the goats as well. The babies are, of course, my favorite. Aside from finding the perfect pumpkin, we also took a photo that has great Christmas card potential. I am always on the lookout for these ever since I discovered how difficult they can be to come by (I have strict criteria: everyone looks "cute", we are all looking at the camera and smiling, clothes look good, pretty background.)
I wish I could pinpoint why I love this pumpkin patch and Half Moon Bay so much. Fall is my favorite season. The pumpkin patch is so incredibly festive it can put anyone in the mood to celebrate the wonder of Halloween. Plus there is the overcast sky and crisp coastal weather. The ground is coated with hay bails and a plethora of pumpkins. Children are running around with ear-to-ear smiles on their faces. The highway is lined with pumpkin patches, nurseries, and fruit/vegetable stands. Seriously, what is not to love?!?

After lunch at the Half Moon Bay Brewery we stopped by a couple of nurseries in search of new climbing rose bush. Aside from finding a pretty climber (Jacob's Coat), I discovered an orchid lover's dream! Next to Pastorino's nursery is a little nondescript orchid greenhouse. Oh! So many pretties inside! I know the moment we walked in and my glazed over Todd secretly cringed and thought, "Lord help me! We are going to be here all friggin' day!" Their prices were amazing! The last orchid dealer I visited (many, many years ago)averaged $40 and up. I bought an orchid on sale for $10, and most were under $25! I did happen to snap a few photos to share:
Yesterday Skip and Mary took us for a spin on the Delta in their Cabin Cruiser. What a beautiful boat they have. I can see why they spend so many weekends on it! We spent some time cruising around and then boated to a tasty dockside restaurant. It had just rained the night before so everything looked fresh and new again. The sky was a mix of bright blue and puffy white and grey clouds. Plus it was just so nice to spend the day with Skip and Mary, our second parents.

What a busy weekend thus far, and it is only Sunday! Before I forget, I have a yummy and easy-squeezy recipe. It makes a great light dinner. This recipe came from the show, "View From the Bay"

Lemony Chicken With Vegetables and Parmesan

1lb. chicken

2-3 tbs. minced garlic

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

2 tbs. Parmesan cheese

4 leaves fresh, chopped basil

pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put chicken, garlic, and veggies in baking dish. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Mix in salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan and herbs. Bake 15-20 minutes.

It is great with a long grain rice or fresh bread.

Such an easy meal after a late night at work, or when you just doing feel like applying a lot of effort into dinner, yet you want a tasty meal.