Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jacob’s Reward Farm

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Lucky for me, I have friends who are like minded in our food goals. Wholesome nutrition from as many local sources as possible. Well, that is the goal. Even though we’ve tightened the belt on many things, compromising our diet isn’t one of them. Our food costs have increased, but thanks to things like Bountiful Baskets (and now Jacob’s Reward Farm), we are better able to attain our goals. I happened upon this place when my gal mentioned it to me on my Facebook page. I knew I had to check it out immediately! Free range, local, organic eggs without harsh chemicals where we can build a long lasting relationship with the farmer and chicken.

The farm itself is only a few miles from where I live. It actually takes us about 15 minutes to get there. It always amazes me that I can drive a short distance and feel a world away, a great sense of tranquility, even. I like that. When you first pull up, you notice the sign above. It isn’t a large farm at all, but seeing all of the animals around, I felt very excited. Sure enough, those chickens were free range, totally roaming all around however they felt. They looked happy, if chickens could be happy. Happy chickens, beautiful and tasty eggs!

As you pull up, you will immediately notice this beautiful smiling face. He was so darling and absolutely pleasant. Since I didn’t bring my pen memory, I won’t be able to state any of their names. However, if you do make a visit out there, I’m sure Cindy would me more than happy to tell them to you. What a pretty, pretty baby!!

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Look at this sexy hen. Let me just say that I think these chickens watch fashion tv. They knew how to walk, pose, and work their angles. They were happy and fierce!
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Just hanging around with the others. They were funny. See the little openings in that fence? I saw them fitting in and out of the gate like nothing. It was so interesting!  

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I told you, sexy! We are going to sponsor one for sure! I want to name her Beyonce in honor of the Blogess, although, all of the animals on the farm have biblical names and last I checked, Beyonce wasn’t in the Good Book. Eat your heart out, Tyra! I can smize with the best of them!

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We went there for the eggs. We wanted to do a trial run to check out the farm and see if we would like the chickens and eggs. Quite frankly, I don’t know why it even mattered. I’ve never had a relationship with a chicken before, and only one other time in my life have I actually known the owner of the chickens whose eggs we were eating. I couldn’t help but feel like we were investing in something greater than ourselves.
march2012-1Originally, the Sugarbean was a bit hesitant to pet the chickens. I explained to her that it was safe. I reached out my hand and pet the chicken and I guess she was ok, so she requested to pet the wing. You can still see she is still a bit reserved. (and look, the chicken is still posing!!!)
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And the eggs? Well, they are gorgeous. Look at this one. They are beautifully and richly colored. Light browns, greens, and pale yellows. Not dyed, naturally colored shells. Interesting.Fantastic


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We took them home, cooked them up and they were the yellowest, most flavorful eggs I'd ever eaten!!! This photo is to show you the size of the eggs (extra large!) and the coloring of them. By the way, that wine cork is from Crush, Dreaming Tree wines, my favorite! I'd scrambled up two eggs with cream cheese and they were so light and fluffy. I divided them onto the girls' plates and they gobbled them up. Mari even asked for another with egg juice (over easy) and she happily ate it up. This is why we go through nearly two dozen eggs a week. At brinner (breakfast for dinner), which we have at least once a week, I never cook up less than 7.


Anyway, while there, we roamed the rest of the space and met some new friends. Here’s some freshly sheared sheep. I hear their fleece was pretty spectacular. They told us “Baaaaaaa” as we walked away. I was impressed with how well they know how to say bye! march2012-3 There are also alpacas on the farm. They are sheared and Cindy spins their fibers into gorgeous yarns. There are shareholders for their fiber harvest, so if that is something that interests you, then be on the look out. Oh, and she offers crochet and knitting classes in the little red barn that you see in the first picture. By the way, I totally want a small creative space like that to call my own. Wait, what were we talking about? Oh, right, Alpacas! You need to check out the personalities of these guys. They were a hoot!! march2012-8
This guy was my favorite! Look at that smile! march2012-7 He even came right up to me to say hello.march2012-6
This one kept changing angles of his face. He was working my camera! march2012-5
Anyway, if you live in the area and are interested in the eggs ($4/dozen, $35 for a 10 dozen punch card, $50 to sponsor one with a 10 dozen punch card), yarn, a farm tour, knitting/crochet classes, or summer camp, then you need to check out Jacob’s Reward Farm. Tell Cindy we sent you!

**I was not compensated in any way to write about Jacob’s Reward Farm. I wanted to share the goodness with you because I feel like I found an amazing resource and I want local business to thrive! Go support your local farmer!**

Monday, March 26, 2012

My Baby and my BOBA

There are times where my second child, who looks nothing like me, has so much of my personality when I was a child, it’s remarkable. In a public setting, she’s quiet, reserved, and very chill. Case in point…Saturday morning, I had a family photo session out at the Arboretum. She had to accompany me to the shoot. I wasn’t concerned about her running around or being crazy during the shoot because well, I knew as long as she was attached to me, she’d be fine.

Sure enough, as we traipsed around the abundant flowers (and people), we would slink through gardens where I would bend over, kneel, crouch, tip-toe, and even dance. We were out there for a bit over an hour and at the end of it, I handed her a bottle of water and her snack trap filled with crackers and Cheerios. 10 minutes into our commute home and she was passed out.

BOBA Carrier for the win! See how happy she was. My clients even remarked about how quiet she was. She likes the view and seemed to enjoy checking it out. That carrier has already paid for itself.


Felt like making a video blog while walking around so you can see it in action. I'm such a dork!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Battleshots–Something to get ready for St. Patrick’s Day

This post will first come with a warning! As with anything be responsible and drink responsibly. Always have a designated driver!

Ok, now that’s been said, battleshots, that’s right. Many of you may have grown up playing the popular game Battleship. If you were fancy, then maybe you had an electronic version of the game. My friend and I were talking about the after party to the birthday party and well, thanks to Pinterest, she said she would come up with our very own set of Battleshots! This is what she used

  • 2 unused pizza boxes
  • Grid Paper (7 columns by 7 rows) – several sheets
  • Markers for the ones that have been chosen (so you can re-use your battleshot set, we used plastic coins)
  • Shot glasses
  • 2 pens – to mark the grids of where you’ve chosen
  • Libation of choice*

She procured everything! Printed off several grid sheets and then she made festive shot glasses using stickers featuring characters from Pirates of the Caribbean. And because she never does things halfway, she also cut out dowel rods with flags and the ol’ Jolly Roger for further enjoyment. Look how pretty our game is!

Our ships were:

  • 4 shots
  • 3 shots
  • 2 shots
  • and the maelstrom (which started out as a brownie for us and later turned into everyone on that side of the table had to take a shot)

*tips…

  1. I would strongly encourage you to not use American Honey or Tequila as your drink of choice. Stick with beer, champagne, or sparking water. Your liver will thank you later.
  2. If you plan on using your game many times, then try to waterproof your base using clear Contact paper or thin clear sheeting.
  3. Definitely have more than 1 player per team. You can play one-on-one, but it is so much more fun to play larger teams.
  4. Beware of the maelstrom. This guy got us all! Luckily, we started off with forcing everyone to eat a brownie.
  5. If you win, then the other team has to drink what remains. Be sure they are drinking something you like, otherwise, you will be forced to finish what was started.
  6. Diagonal placement was allowed during our game. Be sure you discuss this with the other team in advance lest they get upset at you and accuse you of cheating…even though that’s how you’ve always played and had never heard that you weren’t allowed to. Whatever, this is a drinking game. Everyone is a winner drunk.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Princess Pirate Themed Party

Many, many years ago when I was a young one, I told myself that if I ever had children, we would celebrate their birthdays around a theme. Not just matching plates and napkins, but a full on theme with props, piñatas, and dressing up. When I was pregnant with the Sugarbean, I began planning her first birthday. It was everything and more for what I wanted for her. Thus began the birthday adventures. (and if you know me well enough, well, you know birthdays are the cat's me-wow around here!)

This past summer, when she and I were talking, I asked her what she wanted her theme to be. She usually picks her birthdays around whatever movie she is watching. I was fully anticipating a Despicable Me mixed with Megamind birthday, but no, she surprised me. She wanted to dress as a princess and requested Daddy to dress as a pirate. Princess Pirate Party it was! (hooray for alliteration!) He makes for a menacing looking pirate, huh?

I must mention that even though we’d long since had the theme, the time just got away from me and I didn’t get to put as much effort into the details as I had wanted to. Fortunately for me, our friends and family come to celebrate our Sugarbean instead of hoping to be wowed or blown away. I’m so grateful for their presence above everything else. Oh, and I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I had hoped, but I snagged a few and thanks to our dear friend Hayley for sharing hers. (hi Hayley!) Here I am in action and you can barely see my outfit. Thrown together as guests began to arrive. Look at my little one work her pose. Hysterical! Oh, and those boots are from Livie and Luca. Super great, check ‘em out!

On to the party!
First of all, it was RIDICULOUSLY cold. Shocker, right? Cold in February, who knew? ha ha. Well, it was a shock for us. We’d been experiencing weather in the mid-70s and on her party day, it had gotten down to the high 40s, low 50s. That didn’t seem to affect the kiddos one bit. They had a whole lot of fun bouncing on the bounce house and whacking away at the piñata. Guests left with a pirate hat and/or a tutu.

This year, we requested guests bring a homemade card. She received many, many delightful cards, as well as gifts. She was really excited by the $4 in birthday money she received from many. I think she was more excited about being able to count out the $4, then handing off the money to me to tear open her next gift. ha! (We requested that if people wanted to bring cash, to please limit it to $4 that way she would be able to appreciate the age, learn to count money, and learn how to properly spend/save the money. So far, she’s more on the “I want to save my money” kick than spending it.)

As guests walked in, they were greeted by my balloon sculpture of the number 4. Use your imagination and you will be able to see it. The kiddos were given the opportunity to pop 1 balloon. If a piece of paper floated down with the word WINNER! on it, then they were able to choose a prize from the fun pile. If there was nothing, then they were gifted with a pack of Juicy Fruit gum. Everyone is a winner!

Then, there was the dining room. I regret not getting photos of the food display. We had brownies, juice boxes, 10 pizzas (hooray Sam’s club!!!), macaroni salad, borracho beans, and fruit. For the adults, there was Mexican Coke, Grey Goose, La Marca prosecco, 3 kinds of beer, and Maker’s. I found these cupcake picks at Jo-Anns and used them to decorate the brownies.

Out back, we had the castle bounce house. Our Sugarbean couldn’t seem to bounce enough! Her poor cheeks were so red from the cold, but she didn’t care. (I purposefully covered the face of the kiddo, this wasn’t an accident.)

Next up, piñata time. The story of the piñata goes like this…the birthday piñatas travel to us from Tijuana Mexico by way of San Diego. Mari’s Nina Dani travels each year from SD with the custom made piñata based on the theme of the party. Yes, folks, she uses it as her checked luggage all for the sake of her Goddaughter. So very, very special, right? See the excitement on her face?

A couple of weeks before the party, she verifies the request and she goes to meet with her guy, who makes it. This is the second year and they are awesome. After having made one for her 2nd birthday, I have a greater appreciation for the work that goes into making these things. This year we had a princess with a fancy crown and dark hair.
She was filled with all sorts of yummy and delicious goodness. We ended up using a broom handle to bust it open (hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?), because our purple plastic bat was not working.

Then it was time to sing and eat cake! Don did an amazing job at creating the perfect backdrop for her. She sat on her “throne” with the Jolly Roger behind her and a princess arch. She had two cakes because, well, I like chocolate cake, but she really wanted a tiara on her cake. We split the difference.

When we finished up the song, this moment froze in my mind. How did 4 years pass by so quickly. When did my little Sugarbean grow into a little kid? *choking up*

Happy 4th Birthday, Sugarbean!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cuppow & the Green Machine

Remember when I posted yesterday about the healthy eating and all that? Well, this isn’t going to turn into a foodie blog (even though 65% of my posts are food related). I did want to share a little something with you.

That was my breakfast! At first glance, it looks like green salsa, right? Well, no, it is actually about 6 GINORMOUS (the smallest was at least 8 inches) leaves of chard, 2 apples, 1 pear, 1 cup of OJ. It is 24 ounces of supreme go-juice. It’s hearty and still requires me to chew. I think this mostly has to do with the skins from the apple and pear. It is quite fibrous and tastes like I’m eating an apple. I have found that I can’t look at it because I do get a bit freaked out at all that green. Crasy.
After mentioning the movie from yesterday, I also wanted to talk about my girl Sarah. She has given herself the goal to lose 75lbs lost in 1 year. Guess what, guys, she’s doing it!!!! She is 12 pounds away from her goal!!! I haven’t the adequate words, so I’ll borrow from a friend (sorry for the profanity, but…) SHITBALLS!!! Seriously, that’s hard work, dedication, and effort that needs to be celebrated. She recently did a juice cleanse and after reading first hand of her experience and account, I figured, ‘eh, why not give it a try.
Instead of jumping in full throttle with 100% juice all the time, I opted to swap 1 meal a day to drink this delicious goodness. For me, that meal will be breakfast during the week and lunch on the weekends. Why breakfast? Well, usually, I’m on the go in the mornings. I have about a 45 minute commute, followed by a workday where I need to get up and go. I normally wait to eat at the office, where I will whip up some scrambled eggs (with cream cheese…guilty face) and a piece of whole wheat toast with strawberry jam. I will also have a poor mans mocha, which is 1 part hot chocolate, 1/4 part milk, 1/2 part coffee. Talk about a bunch of empty calories! YIKES!
I also happened upon a nifty product called Cuppow, which essentially converts your mason jars into drinkable cups (adult-like sippy cups for us clumsyfolks on the go). Since I have introduced that to my water-drinking routine, I have discovered that I drink twice as much water that I normally would in a day. That’s unheard of! Needless to say, I love it! Thank you Cuppow for making a nifty-nifty product. It is $7.99 plus shipping. I totally planned on doing a giveaway for one, but I love mine so much, I’m actually using them both. ha ha! IF I placed another order, then I might consider it. Would any of you even use this? Interestingly enough, as I was sipping my water in our morning meeting at the office, one of my co-workers commented on how wonderful a Cuppow would be if you drank pickle juice to battle a hangoverdehydration. Instead of attempting to pour out the juice from the jar and keep the pickles inside of it, you could just pop this on top of your homemade jarred pickles and drink away.

That’s my routine now. Make my green smoothie at night as part of my routine. Grab it on my way out the door, along with my Cuppow. I drink the juice straight from the jar because, well, it is quite thick. After I finish, I rinse out the jar, fill it with water, attach my Cuppow, and inhale my water. Significantly healthier than before. Small changes yield BIG and long-lasting results.

**Oh, and I must add that when I'm out and about with my Cuppow, and Baby T gets thirsty, she has no problem drinking water. This comes in especially handy when I forget to pack a sippy cup for her. We are a family staying hydrated!**

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Healthy Living: Bountiful Baskets


I adopted a healthier living lifestyle the day after Christmas. At that time, I cut out eating all red meat, chicken, fish, and pork. I continued to consume dairy, a few cheeses, and butter. Because I was well on my way, I quickly realized that our food budget was going to increase because of all of the fresh produce I would need on hand. I also became adept at creating delicious meals using only the aforementioned ingredients.
Thankfully, I had discovered Bountiful Baskets a few months prior. We have feasted like kings/queens on delicious produce full of bright and inviting colors. This past weekend, I conducted a test of an organic basket versus a conventional basket. First, I guess I should back up.
What is Bountiful Baskets? Well, it is a food co-op, delivering local-ish (regional and parts of Mexico) produce weekly for a price far less than what you would spend in the store.
You do not get to pick and choose which food items you get. They do offer add-ons like AMAZING bread, grains, additional fruit/veggie packs, cookies, etc.
How much does it cost? It is $16.50 for a conventional basket, $26.50 for an organic basket. We also add on 5 loaves of organic whole grain bread once a month, which is $12. This is seriously the best sandwich bread I’ve ever had.
The website confuses me and it seems really complicated. What if I don’t like what I get? Well, you have to have an open mind with the fruits and veggies you get. If you are picky about eating only a few items, then this probably isn’t for you. The website shouldn’t confuse you. You need to create a login (free). They open up ordering on Mondays at noon. You click Participate Now, choose your Location, choose your items, pay, then print off your receipt. (They mail you one. If you don’t have a printer, you can show them your receipt on your mobile device if it connects to your email.)
What is the difference between an organic basket and a conventional basket? Aside from the cost, you get different items. The organic items are just that, organic. (I love it when they have organic potatoes.)The baskets are similar, but different. See my example of the items I received in each during my comparison below:
Conventional* Organic
  • 1 Pineapple
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 bunches of kale
  • 9 bananas
  • 9 oranges
  • 7 apples
  • 1 bunch of green onion
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce
  • 7 Anaheim peppers
  • 15+ red and yellow peppers
  • 3 large cucumbers
  • 3 boxes of blueberries
  • 1 box of strawberries
  • 5 oranges
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 hearts of celery package
  • 9 apples
  • 7 bananas
  • 1 butter lettuce
  • 2 bags of carrots
  • 1 bunch of bok choy
  • 1 bag of snap peas
*This week, the conventional basket was overflowing with more goodies than I’ve ever seen in all of the times I’ve participated. Just needed to state that. Not complaining, it was just amazing. Also, the first picture in this post was the conventional basket.
Just for grins, here is a comparison of oranges. The first one is a store bought orange. The middle one is an organic orange. The one on the right is an orange from the conventional basket.

Also, this is all of my fruit stacked up.

To accommodate all of the produce, I have re-arranged our refrigerator to allow the greens to live on a shelf. I also keep my tomatoes and peppers on a separate shelf. We have such little meat in our fridge nowadays. Our restricted meat change couldn’t have come any sooner! Here’s a sample of our leafy shelf:

I have already made apple-blueberry muffins and kale chips. Usually, when I pick up my order, I do an inventory and then menu plan accordingly. They have nifty ideas on their Facebook page. I also use my Everyday Food magazine for ideas since they usually have recipes for vegetables in season. Of course, Pinterest is a wonderful and valuable tool, too!
What are you doing to get healthy? If you don’t think you have the time, then try to make it. 1 hour a day is only 4% of your day. Also, if you need further inspiration, check out Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It’s on streaming Netflix and definitely worth watching!
As if I didn’t have enough greens, I scooped up some fresh chard from my neighbor! Look at all of that.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Union Bear Dallas, a review

About once a quarter, I am tasked with finding a new jaunt for our teambuilding dinners. I'm ever so grateful that we have these team dinners because it gives us all an opportunity to step back, take a deep breath, cut up with laughter, and revel in our accomplishments. Much of the past year, we've been all hands on deck, wheels off. I'm proud to work with the group of folks I work with. They are hands down the smartest, most ambitious, and genuine bunch of people I've had the pleasure of knowing and working with.

Knowing all of that, you can imagine that this raucous bunch like good food and good beer. We'd hit up other establishments near where we work, but this time, I wanted us to break the trend and try something new. After doing a quick search on The Google, I stumbled upon Union Bear. At first glance, it seemed to fit the criteria:

good food + good beer + cocktails other than beer (for yours truly) + good location

The website had an inviting feel. I looked over the food items and my mouth was salivating. So many wonderful choices and I was intrigued. When I sent over the beer menu for first string approval prior to sending it out to the rest of the group, it got a thumbs up.



At just over a mile from our office, it was a comfortable enough distance that our visiting New York colleague would have no difficulty walking back to his hotel if necessary. Worst case scenario, he could enjoy the Uptown trolley. Parking was a breeze. Finding the place proved only slightly difficult for some. The sign out front is unassuming. In other words, it is easy for you to miss the sign if you are easily distracted by the movie posters over at The Magnolia.

When you walk in, the place looks relatively cozy and hip. The whole thing had a familiarity that I couldn't quite put my thumb on. I would later learn that the owners of Oddfellows and Eno's also owned this establishment. After learning of that happy coincidence, I knew I was in for a great time. Simultaneously, the bar was raised significantly higher as a result. I'd called a few days early to make our reservation. Upon arriving, our host escorted us downstairs all the way back to the artist's corner. We each remarked at the surprising expanse of the space. We were seated in the artist's corner, which highlighted works of art by local artists.

Our server, Trevor was such a delight! All night, he was answering questions, giving opinions, making small talk, and having genuinely smart responses to our requests. Loved it!

drinks
The beer concept, was awesome. Each draft beer was $5. Depending on the beer, dictated the size of the pour. That's smart! The wines and bubbles were similarly priced. They also had signature drinks. I ventured out of my comfort zone and enjoyed The Victory Dance. It was a jolt! Slightly bitter and tangy with quite a crowd of flavors in my mouth. Trevor noticed my face and suggested we top it off with a bit of simple syrup. That definitely appealed to the sugar bug in me. He later took it a step further and created an amazing libation that took me back to the warm waters of the Caribbean. I had the honor of naming it, too. We came up with the Pink Bianca, but it could also be a Fruit Loop. But seriously, how many servers do you know who would not only make a custom drink for you (and do it well), but get excited about it!
food
Then, there was the food. I liked it all. Well, all of it that I tried, anyway. We started off with the Belgium Frites, Homebread, Popcorn Chicken (didn't try) and Chrispy Queso. The Chrispy Queso made my belly smile. We had to order another, it was so good. It was made even better when we dipped the frites in the sauce. that was yumminess right there!

For dinner, I had the capellini (not on the menu) with red pepper pesto. Ultimately, I chose this dish because it wasn't regularly on the menu and my original choice (People's Pie) is a fixture on the menu. I could always go back and give the other a try, right? I was told that they make their pasta in house, so this was exciting. I also, sampled the Black Truffle Salami and Mushroom pizza. I didn't have the salami, but I did have everything else. Why are Spicer mushrooms just that much better? I'm salivating as I type this. No really, I probably need a new keyboard. My pasta with the sauce, divine. I would later pay for it because of the red peppers (allergic since they trigger migraines, but I didn't care because I really wanted to try it!!). You can tell how much I liked it because I almost didn't get a shot of it before it was all gobbled up!



negatives 
(go ahead and roll your eyes, because as I type it, I'm rolling mine. I can't believe I'm complaining about what I'm complaining about)

They did not have coffee when we were there. Talk about heartbreaking. I love me some Cuvee coffee. Someone had posted a pic on their Instagram of them enjoying a French Press at Union Bear. Not having it was a disappointment (and I very nearly trekked over to Oddfellows the next day just for a cup of that coffee, addict, much?) But seriously, they don't have coffee on their menu. They are there to sell beer, not coffee. This is Union Bear, not Oddfellows, so get over it, Bianca.

They had Orange Push Pop listed on the menu, but didn't have any. Aaack! All of my first world problems eeeking out over here. No orange push pop to propel me back to my childhood summer days. Oh man! *whine*

The shortbread had bacon in it. While this would be a positive for 98% of the people I know, the other 2% of us, it isn't. Even though I'm mostly not eating animals, I just don't like bacon. The shortbread was p.e.r.f.e.c.t. and then I tasted the bacon. Give some folks some warning, is all.

All in all, it was an enjoyable night out and the location was the exact thing we wanted. I highly recommend you check them out! I had so much fun, I didn't want to leave. I was fully prepared to order more food and drinks, when the reality of my commute home set in and I realized that I wasn't going to be stumbling home. Drink responsibly, my friends! Drink responsibly! Those of you who live farther North, it would definitely be worth the trek down to enjoy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fulfillment and Content.

For three and a half years, I've been saving for a 5DMark II. I bought my first DSLR 5 years ago. At the time, I'd justified the cost after calculating how much I would have spent on photographs Mari's first year alone. Fortunately for me, I was also officially hired to shoot my first wedding. Since then, my little silver bullet and I have had many adventures. It even sparked me to purchase another like it (except all black) for my husband.

Since that time, I'd purchased lenses and other gear. Every now and again, my fun money reserve had to be tapped for emergencies or what not. That scene from "Up" comes to mind. You know, the one where they are saving for Paradise Falls. They are constantly breaking the savings bank for this and that. Well, that's what happened to us for these past several years. Then, I got the savings statement...I finally had enough in my account to not only make the purchase, but with a tiny (minuscule) nest egg left over. I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

and then...

Of course, there's an and then, right? Remember when I told you I was going to be photographing my friend's wedding? Well, circumstances out of my control changed that. Not good or bad, but they've been changed. I'm still in the wedding. Instead of slightly less than breaking even on the trip (payment was going to be in the form of tickets/lodging for two), it will now be coming completely out of my pocket. If you've ever been in a wedding, let alone a wedding in a far off place, it costs some money. Back to the safety net I went and well, now isn't the time for me to make the large purchase. At the time I was making the sizable withdrawal to cover the expenses related to the trip, I was talking with my mother. I was celebrating the accomplishment and also lamenting.

In her ever encouraging voice, she told me that I should be proud of making the milestone and now that I know I could get there, it would only be a matter of time before I would be there again. Being there for a friend on his big day was priceless. She was right. Then she took it a bit further...

Mom likes to watch Ellen and Oprah, when she was on. She reads O magazine. Since I have gotten older, the world has grown smaller and things that were once not quite mainstream are easily and readily mainstream. Mom has always known I've had a love affair with fashion, beauty, and art. She may not have always agreed with me, but she tried to hone that love in her own way.

Knowing all that, she said, "You know what, mi'ja. I want to buy you those red soled shoes you love so much. I don't even know what they are called. I know they are really expensive. Oprah has talked about them. I know how much you love shoes. I know you love those shoes. You've talked about them many times. I want to get them for you. I want you be able to wear them while you are still young. One day, you will grow too old to wear such shoes. You deserve them. You work hard, you should have something that makes you feel special. That's why I want to get them for you. One of the next times I'm in town, I would like us to go shopping for them."

I was speechless.

This coming from the woman who didn't like the idea of spending $30 on a pair of canvas Keds for cheerleading tryouts for me in 7th grade, but later surprised me that morning with my very own. She wanted me to appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into earning something.

When I started earning my own living, she always seemed happy to see my new handbags and shoes (I allowed myself a monthly allowance for bags and shoes). She liked to see how I would dress up for work when she would stay a few days for a visit. She said she knew it was time for me to go by the way me heels would click down our hallway. (I was such a lover of that click-clack sound as a girl!) I liked that I'd grown into a woman that she was proud of. I loved watching her dress and in a similar manner, I can see Mari admiring me when I dress in the mornings. Mari knows mommy's work shoes (she revels in putting them away for me when I kick them off after getting home), like she knows my work outfits. All of them dry cleaned and a complete opposite of my evening and weekend outfits...typically clad in sweats, old-old-much-too-old tshirts, or faded jeans. I always, like Mom, try to have some gloss or color on my lips.

Similarly, when I went to Europe nearly 10 years ago, she slipped me a hundred dollar bill and told me to enjoy myself. To not worry about the money. I used that money partly for an evening out when I was in Rome, change from that evening was launched into Trevi fountain, and the remaining amount was spent on a bottle of wine on the Isle of Capri as I watched the waves lap onto the shore of a perfect and pristine afternoon. In those moments she was there with me. In all of these moments, she surprises me with her support for my dreams.

It goes without saying that I'm eternally grateful to her and for all of you for your prayers over the past year. You see, mom is now recovering so well, she can walk a half mile unassisted, with only the use of her walking sticks. You don't begin to know how much of an accomplishment this is. If you know her, then you do know how much of an accomplishment this is and what a struggle is has been. She's tall, upright, smiling- no beaming, and walking, as if none of this had ever happened. Tenacious, gentle spirit.

I'm gonna get that camera.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Awkward & Awesome

In honor of my girl E's Awkward & Awesome, I elected to participate because I'm not fully prepared to publish my drafted blog (which has been in draft mode for at least a week now. eeek!).

AWKWARD

  1. Creeping Around in the Dark: Dropping my credit card in the drive-thru and being paranoid it fell out of the car, so then I was crawling around a strangers truck in search of it while scaring the bejeezus out of the drive-thru worker.
  2. Scared in the Dark: Coming home and realizing the back door was not only unlocked, but inching open. I was alone with my girls searching my house and when I came to the hall bath, and the shower curtain was closed, I was too scared to check behind it. I pretended I was yelling something to my husband, then ran off to grab a knife. Such a 'fraidy cat!
  3. Stiff Neck: Cuddling all night with a baby is awesome, but then when you wake up in the morning after several nights in the same position without proper neck support, you walk around with your head partially tilted to the side and you suddenly become an ambi-turner.
  4. Waxed Figure: While getting waxed, hearing strange men holler and yell immediately outside of where you are getting serviced is a bit unsettling. 
  5. Don't be Flaky: Having to cancel a date night because our sitter and back up sitter weren't available. 
  6. Amorous Dolls: Catching Pierre and Coco (Mari's new Barbie's) kissing quite a bit. I appreciate the love they have, but they need to simmer down. We now have a wedding scheduled for the dolls. This means I need to sew a wedding dress and some dressy board shorts for it. Tell me I'm not the first parent to experience this.
AWESOME...or as I like to think of it, #WINNING
  1. Family Visit: Booking a flight for my Grandmother to come for a visit around Easter. This will be the first time in 15 years that she's made such a big journey. To say I'm ecstatic is an understatement! We will also be celebrating Tesla's 1st birthday that weekend, too!
  2. Vacation Had to Get Away: Getting serious about the travel miles/points game so we can make our second honeymoon to Costa Rica a reality! (also booking our family trip to Michigan for our good friends' wedding in August)
  3. Double Family Date Night: When we couldn't get the sitter, we opted to go out as a family instead. We met up with friends for ice cream and had a grand ol' time!
  4. Mid to high 70 degree weather: iced coffees, runs around the neighborhood, kids playing at the park, & walking into a home that is cooler in temp than it is outside.
  5. Standing Firm: Tesla standing on her very own without assistance. Not just that, but pulling up to standing on her own.
  6. She's Like the Wind: Watching Mari run like the wind on our family jogs. She can run a full on sprint for nearly a quarter mile. For those of you who are runners, she goes at about an 8:15 minute a mile pace for that short burst. 
  7. Boba-Boba-Boba: Actually, this goes out to the Nappy Shoppe and their staff, too. I purchased a new 3G Boba Carrier and it is AWESOME so far! I more detailed review to come, but wow. I'm in love so far. Mari likes it. Tesla likes it. We all think it is mighty nifty.
I'd like to think I had more #winning, but these were the highlights and I don't want to gloat. 

Here's to hoping you all had more awesome than awkward! Cheers!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Photo Play Along

It is no secret that I like looking at pictures and taking them. Visual candy is every bit addictive as is regular candy. Because of this, I'm a fan of The Maternal Lens. While they don't actively blog, there is quite a lot of traffic on their Facebook page.

For the month of March, they are doing a photo a day challenge. In the past, I haven't participated in the 365/366 challenge because, well, it seems like a daunting commitment. I do snap a lot of images, especially with my phone, but not one every single day. However, I am going to attempt to play along. I would say I would bust out my camera and play along, but nope, I'm going to strictly use my phone. I encourage you to do it, too! Wanna join? Check it out!

If you are an Instagram or Twitter user, be sure to use the hashtag, #tmlphotoaday. I am on the Twitter, yaay! (Yes, I know it is just Twitter, but I like to call it THE Twitter, THE Google, THE Internets).

Happy March, y'all! (It's over 80 degrees here today, what-what!?!)

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