Monday, September 28, 2009

Falling for Fall

Smell that? Cinnamon, mixed with a hint of clove and a bit of ginger? It's the smell of fall fighting really hard to make its entry into Southern California. I love fall and so I felt obliged to help it along today by baking till our hearts were content, lighting my favorite fall candle and completing the transformation of our home into a spooky Halloween Haunt.

I started early by baking the kid's favorite donuts. The recipe from Deceptively Delicious is fantastic and healthy, and the kids get so excited to see we're having donuts. I make the little ones for them and the grownups get the big ones.

The other day I discovered that TJ's carries sweet potato puree, which
makes the recipe even easier to make.

I planned to just make the donuts but then Miss T asked to make muffins too, so again I fell back on DD and made the banana-peanut butter muffins mixed with carrot puree. The thing I love about the DD baked goods is not so much that I'm "hiding" good stuff in them, but that by adding the puree it makes them so amazingly moist. They did not disappoint the ghouls and goblins in my house!

My absolute favorite candle of all time are the Aspen Bay Pineapple Pinecone candles. I bought mine a couple of weeks ago and it's been sitting in the box waiting for the right moment to be lit, but in the meantime it's delicious scent made its way throughout the house. You can get yours at Chartreuse in Los Alamitos

All these things made it the absolute perfect day to complete our Halloween scape. I have to admit that I have not always been the biggest fan of Halloween decor. Quite frankly I found it to be a little garish, but I have been inspired the last few years by my mother in-law. She has the ability to transform her house into a Halloween wonderland and the children absolutely love it; walking through the house and looking at all the nooks and crannies for treasures. I have been working on perfecting the right balance between spookiness, fun and even a little bit pretty. With some handmade paper bats, I feel happy I have achieved just the right mood for our home.

I did most of this last night and today at nap-time. When the kids woke up they just walked through the house transfixed with all the little decorations. Tay said "gee mommy, you have been busy!" Yes, indeed little girl, yes, indeed.

I was inspired by the table scape below by this picture

I almost went out and bought some black branches and I said "what the heck are you doing? You have perfectly good dead branches in your backyard Andrea, plus black spraypaint!" Voila, spooky Halloween branches in 5 seconds flat. LOVE IT!

For the mantel, I was inspired by this Martha Stewart craft at Michael's.
I saved a bit of money, and it gave me something to do while watching The Wrestler last night.

No white pumpkins were to be had at the grocery store yet, but I was so anxious to complete
the decorating, I bought some Funkins at Michaels. Now I can use them year after year.

Happy Haunting Everyone!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Science Experiment

The kids and I did a little science experiment using white vinegar and milk
We boiled the milk and as soon as it boiled we added a bit of the vinegar until it looked like...

After it cooled we dumped it on a paper plate and started adding some food coloring.
I think this was the kids favorite part
Then things started to get a little messy
Mister Man got a little stressed about the mess
The texture was flubbery and rubbery and felt good to smoosh around in the hands. The experiment was to show how to make a plastic.
Once it was a big mess of flubbery rubbery goo, Taylor decided to make a pie out of it. We spread it out and then started cutting it into halves and fourths. I love the teachable moments best when they aren't coming across as teachable moments :) So does Taylor.
The science experiment got us talking about chemical reactions and gases, and then eventually fractions, all while having fun.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meet Our New Horses

Aren't they cute?

These two are "injured" and Taylor has been taking extra special care of them. Notice the leg contraption that both of them have? These horses were once loved so much by a little girl that she asked her mommy to sew a special saddle to fix her horses broken legs. Now it's my little girl's (and boy's) turn to love them just as much.
My kids are in love with these horses and are happily playing with them right now as I write this. I LOVE that. I love the fact that they are finding happiness with a simple toy and are finding all sorts of ways to be imaginative with them. In the mere 18 hours since I brought these horses home they have been taken on walks throughout the house, groomed for about an hour, fed, watered, put down to sleep.

I love the fact that they have nothing to do with Disney or Princesses or Backyardigans or any other licensed character. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but quite frankly I'm tired of hearing about Cinderella fluttering around the room because her Prince has rescued her. Or seeing Tyrone Escape From Fairytale Village.

I love the fact that these horses remind me of my childhood. My cousin Holly loved horses and was actually lucky enough to have a few of her own in the Whittier Hills. I remember going to her house and seeing shelves lined with these horses and just thinking "WOW".

And I would be lying if I said that I didn't love the fact that I got 6 horses and a stable for $30 at an Estate Sale I went to yesterday! It was such a rush to find these horses after waiting in line in the blazing 95 degree sun for over 30 minutes to enter the sale. When we first walked in all I saw was a sea of antiques and initially I got discouraged, but as Syd and I walked deeper into the house we found the little girl's room. There were boxes and boxes of these horses and people were passing them up to look at Beanie Babies! Really people, Beanie Babies?!?!? That's okay, more for me! The sale goes through Sunday so I think I'm going to go back and see if they have any final price cuts and maybe get a few more.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Last Day of Summer Party In Our Backyard!

I realized yesterday that it was the official Last Day Of Summer! Really? From today's high of 101 I would have never guessed it, but we decided to make a backyard party out of it anyhow. I fired up the grill and lit the cafe lights and said kids, "Let's Party!"

We had some water fun that resulted with me having to go in and change my soaking wet white shorts (Yes, I know, no white after Labor Day but it was hot!)

We got our groove on

We ATE, and ATE and ATE! It just didn't seem right to not partake in some Smores.

Bye Bye Summer. I wish I could say I'm sad to see you go, but I'm kinda done being hot and sticky. Plus, I have a new leather jacket that is just dying to be worn. Someone please wake me when the heatwave is over and it's Harvest Time.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A New & Improved Blog!

I figured out what the problem is with my blog. I really don't like it. Rather I didn't like it, BUT I am super jazzed about my new venture into blogland, complete with some jazz hands!
I spruced some things up while at the same time simplifying my layout. I changed the background and added a header picture that I just love. It was taken on Sydney's 2nd birthday at the LA Zoo by Art. I remember getting so annoyed with him at the time because we were leaving and as I was struggling to get the heck out of there, he stops for about 10 minutes to take picture of the flamingos. Look at what a gem he got though. I think it was kismet...the 2 flamingos entwined so that their necks are in the shape of a heart and 2 flamingos in the foreground to complete our little family of four. He takes a thousand pictures per outing but I have to hand it to him, he always ends up with a shot that takes my breath away or melts my heart.

I've been looking at a lot of random blogs lately that I stumble upon or find through suggestions and my favorites are the ones that highlight moments In the Life Of...I look back at my old posts and they're just so "eh". It's like I felt the need to chronicle our entire week in events instead of just focusing on single moments that make our life special. You know those moments where nothing is planned, and happiness and smiles just blossom out of spontaneity?

That's the good stuff.

The stuff that I want to remember and I pray my kids remember.

And why did I feel the need to just write about the kids? I am a person too with interests!

Going forward I plan to write about the kids of course. Our special adventures, things we make together, views on parenting, etc. But I also plan to write about the stuff that I love and makes me happy. Books that I've read, wine that I've enjoyed, food that I've made, new beauty products that I fall in love with, and ON and ON and ON! I love so many different things and I love to share those interests, so here's the place I'm going to do it. Did I mention that I also love to write? I may not always be good at it, but I'd like to think that with the right subject matter I can weave a somewhat interesting tale.

At the end of the day I am a mom and a wife. It seems pretty uncomplicated, but I am always trying to sort something out in my head. By putting pen to paper, or rather hand to keyboard, I hope to work some of those internal struggles out here. I've always found a little venting to be good for the soul :)

By the way, the new title is an ode to my love of wine FLIGHTS, as well as to my FLIGHT-y and FANCY-ful nature. I sometimes call myself Lucy because I am always coming up with some new hair-brain idea. FOUR of course representing our little family.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Mom's Car

So people always joke about what's in a mom's purse, but I can do you better...what's in a mom's car? This heap of stuff is what has collected in my car in a mere 3 days. On Wednesday I cleaned out my car, a ritual I try to perform at least twice a week, and took it in to get a wash. By Saturday afternoon, this is what has collected in it.
Interesting things to note: 3 lunch bags (one of them belonging to our neighbor that forgot it after our little adventure yesterday). At least 4 pairs of shoes (the kids habitually take their shoes off the minute they get in the car, and because we're usually rushing to get out of the car and into the house, we leave them in there. Then, when it's time to go, we just grab a new pair).
Several magazines, 3 of them being Coastal Living. Our swim instructor thought I would enjoy them and I can never turn down a magazine.
A Starbucks cup, of course. Several changes of clothes. Sunscreen and wipes, and just a bunch of trash. YUCK! And last but not least, all of the kid's treasures including the stuffed animals, artwork, coloring pads and pencils, etc. The stuff that they beg and plead to take with them EVERY single time we leave the house. It changes on a daily basis, but we can never ever ever leave the house without each child taking at least 2 items.
I swear I am a clean freak, and despise that this happens to my poor beautiful car, but it's just inevitable.

Back To School

This was a big week for us in that Taylor started back to school at Teddy Bear 2 days a week and as usual, my worries were highly exagerrated because she did great! Through all our struggles last year with drop offs, I was convinced that I would be dragging my little girl into 8th grade everyday because she would "hate" school and would beg me to stay home with mommy, as she did almost every Tuesday and Thursday last year. I questioned my decision to enroll her and many times thought I might just pull her out. I started to feel much better after receiving her end-of-year report and "yearbook" where there were a ton of pictures of her smiling and genuinely having a ball. I have to admit I felt a little duped!

At the end of the day though I am so glad for our choices because on Tuesday and Thursday of this week she walked into her new "BIG" class (Room 4 is twice as big as her old classroom), ready to conquer the world. She really seems to understand now, and enjoy that she will go to school to learn and have fun. I couldn't have been prouder.
Because we had decided to keep her on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule this year, I was equally worried because all of the friends she had made last year would now be on a M/W/F schedule so she would have to make all new friends. The day before school started we were chatting about her new class room and the new adventures she would have and she asked, "Mommy, will I have the same friends, or will I make new friends?" I cringed and tried to casually answer, "Oh Taylor you will make all new friends!" She replied, "Oh good, I am really good at making friends now mom. Remember that time at Chik Fil A and that girl bumped into me and I said "hi" and we became friends?" Gosh, I just love her!!!

So a successful first week back indeed. I am very happy with the letter the teacher sent home that explained the emphasis will still be on learning through play, but with some emphasis on academics as well to get them ready for Kindergarten. I can't wait to see what this year will bring us and continue to see our little girl learn and grow.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Senior Citizens and Bebel Gilberto at the Hollywood Bowl

While I may complain at times about living in Southern California, I do deep down love this place so much. After living here since the day I was born I can still find things to do that I have never done before. Case in point; last night Art and I for the first time attended a concert at the Hollywood Bowl and it was spectacular.
The special guests were Seu George (the Nat King Cole of Brazil) and the beautiful and very talented Bebel Gilberto. I've long been a fan of hers ever since I discovered her album Tanto Tiempo in the downtown Santa Barbara Borders. Her music is upbeat while at the same time relaxing and sensual. It is the perfect background music and the perfect party music. The added bonus to the night is that because it was one of the last concerts of the season, we got to see the Fireworks Spectacular.
The night was made extra special when, upon finding our seats, we discovered that we were stuck smack dab in the middle of 5 rows of snappy, sassy and at times down-right grumpy senior citizens (the majority of them being ladies).
The evening was going swell until Art did his infamous two finger/tongue whistle thing at the end of a song. One lady turned around and said "Ugh, does he have to do that every time?" We couldn't help but laugh, and out of respect he stopped doing the whistle.
Then Bebel came out and said she was going to sing one of the most beautiful songs she had ever sang and one of the ladies turned and said "Give me a BREAK!", complete with an eye roll!
It gets even better! A young Brazilian girl was standing on top of a brick half wall at the intermission, talking loudly and fervently into her cell phone in Portuguese, looking for her friend. Another lady starting yelling at her to "Please get down! You're making us nervous!! You're gonna get hurt!!!"
Later on when Seu George came on he started talking in Portuguese as he introduced one of his songs. The same lady that was yelling at the young girl on the wall started yelling at Seu George to "Please speak English! Speak English!!!" over and over again. She was so agitated that she continued to yell at him even after he did start speaking in English! It was both hilarious but also uncomfortable at the same time.
The night was brilliant. Perfect weather, fantastic music, delicious wine and picnic dinner, and of course the best entertainment, courtesy of the Yenta Woman's League. Gotta love it!


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