Friday, April 30, 2010

And the Winner Is....

Good evening my friends.
So sorry to leave you on baited breath today.
I thought I would have time to announce the winner earlier today, but...
The photo shoot prep had me a little, er, a lot preoccupied.
I was making yo-yo's and skirts up until 5 minutes before we had to leave for the shoot.
But I am here to say that I am on CLOUD NINE.
Such a relief to get all the samples done.
And such a sense of accomplishment.  It went swimmingly.  The girls were all professionals.
And speaking of professionals...
Melissa Brandman was amazing.  Thank you, thank you Melissa.  You made me feel legit, so thank you. 

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for.
Using a random number generator, the winner is:
Kimmie at Live Fancy!
Kimmie said: "My favorite sound is my children's laughter. Not the laughter when I do something silly to SEE them laugh. The sound that comes from a separate part of the house that shows me that their friendship is blossoming without my encouragement. That sound makes my heart sing. I hope to never forget it for the next 100 years."

Congratulations Kimmie!  Shoot me an email and we can discuss the deets for getting you your Marta Writes Mini Journal.

Thank you to everyone else that entered the giveaway.  I loved reading everyone's answers and learning what your favorite sounds are.  My favorite sound right now are the wind chimes that hang outside my kitchen door.  I have never owned wind chimes so it's a novelty for me.

For those that are new to my blog and hopped on over here from either Marta Writes or from tweets and facebook, welcome and I hope you come back and see me again.

Good night my friends.  I will sleep good tonight, that's for sure.

Playgrounds & Lollipops - A Love Obesession With A Cardigan

Wednesday April 28th, 2010

Preschool pick-up and drop-off; Art's office, errands

Cardigan: Nordstrom
T-Shirt: Forever 21
High-Waisted Pants: Forever 21
Shoes: Anthropolgie

Let me start by saying this outfit is not one I would normally wear if I was actually going to the playground.  I tend to get a bit more dressed up on Wednesdays when I go into Art's office.  I could actually wear my pj's to his office, but I feel a bit more professional and ready to work when I look half-way presentable.

With that being said, let me tell you how much I love this cardigan.  It cost me $99, and the reason I tell you that is because for me, that was a LOT to spend on a cardigan.  I agonized over buying it, and then once I actually did purchase it I said immediately afterward to Jill, "I'm taking it back."  But am I glad I kept it.  I have had it for a year now and I have easily worn it 30 times, and that is no exaggeration.  That's about $3 per wear, so in my mind worth every penny.  I do believe every single one of my friends and relatives have seen me wear it.  I have worn it with jeans (denim and white), khakis, linen pants, and even shorts.  I think the gold lace detail and over-sized gold buttons make this piece a stand-out and I think it actually looks a lot more expensive than $99.

And ever since seeing Inglorious Basterds, I had been pining over a pretty pair of extra-wide leg pants.  I found these little gems at Forever 21 for $26 and they were amazingly very long.  Granted I can't wear these everyday like I can wear a pair of jeans, but for the cost, not a big investment.  They're perfect for occasions that call for getting just a bit more dressed up, like church or a friend's baby shower.

And you may recognize the shoes from a previous Playgrounds & Lollipops.  Still wearing them and still loving 'em.

Lastly, did you notice these photos?  That they're just a tad more special than the usual ones I display here?  Well, I asked my friend Miranda to shoot me this week at her house because a) I love her house.  She and her husband have such a great sense of style.  Bold, colorful, a dose of modern and the eclectic.  They live in a Cliff May Rancho home in Long Beach, with stunning light throughout.  And b) Because I love her photography.  Miranda has such a great eye and her photos are always so bright and capture so much life.  At least that's what I see when I look at her photos.  She may have a different way to describe herself :).  Please check out her photography website to view her portfolio.  Take a peek at the Product section.  Or don't if you're really hungry.  Thanks Miranda for capturing some great photos this week.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it was a little embarrassing posing for someone other than Art.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2 Reasons Why I Am Excited!

You know that dress that I got in a fight with?  Well, with the help of my amazing mother in law, I fought back and I WON!!!  Take that Sucka!
Check it out.  Newest style to be offered on the Baby Taylored line.  Shop to be opening up soon, so stay tuned.  And both of these pictures are from my phone so forgive me.

AND, the Mini Journals ARE HERE!
Winner will be announced tomorrow!  You have till midnight tonight to enter here.

I'm So Dense Sometimes

My mom always says to me, "You like to do things the hard way."
Yes, I know mom. I really can't help it, it's just part of my nature.
So this morning at 5:45 as I was getting all worked up and anxious thinking about how I was going to make a surfboard and sun applique for a shower gift that a friend requested. I guess I could have asked my blogging friend Heather because she does some super suh-weet appliques, but that would have been too easy.

My last few rounds at applique work haven't gone so well you see. I can sew dresses with my eyes closed, but applique work, well it just intimidates me. For those veteran sewers out there, stop your eye rolls okay. Lest you forget, I have only been sewing for 6 months.
Anyhow. All of a sudden a light bulb went PING in my head! Or BUZZ! Or whatever it is that light bulbs do.

It finally dawned on me what the purpose of this stuff is:
See right there, it says "Perfect for Applique"
Who would have known (well me I guess if I had bothered to read the package
when my mother in law gave me the stuff several months ago)?
So I got to work on my little baby shower gift bundle.
And went on to create a birthday gift for one of Taylor's preschool class mates
("L" for Lance and he is 5! and yes, the L is supposed to be wonky)
Now that that's over, I can go forth and concentrate on making some sweet little dresses with this stuff. Don't you love the way fabric looks stacked like this? All pretty and inviting. It's saying, "Come to me. Cut me up. Create something beautiful out of me." My favorite is the bright pink and orange floral on the white background. I bought 10 yards of that print.
Me and this guy have become new best friends. This is one mean looking iron. It means business. Stand back or you'll get burned by the heat. Thanks mother in law for my birthday gift :) A serious iron is worth its weight in gold when you're ironing yards and yards of fabric. Did I tell you Baby Taylored is having a photo shoot this Friday? This photographer approached me a while back and offered to take some pretty pictures of my little dresses, and how could I refuse? I am so excited to work with her. My goal is to open my shop before Blog Sugar.

Now to decide on Etsy or Big Cartel. Anyone have thoughts on this? Which venue to use? I'd love some feedback.

So for now I am going to be a busy bee sewing away. All my dresses from my last batch sold out, so that means all new dresses to whip up. Thank you to all those that purchased from me at the last craft fair.

Sew long for now my friends! (haha get it, "sew" long for now? I crack myself up!)

p.s. thank you to all those that have entered the drawing for the Marta Writes mini journals. What a huge success (in my eyes) it has been so far. You have until tomorrow to enter and then I'm shutting it down and announcing the winner on Friday after Playgrounds & Lollipops.

Focusing On the Pretty

Good morning my friends.  Much too tired.  I got in a fight with a new sewing pattern last night and the pattern came out victorious.  I could go on and on about how defeated I feel, but instead, I will focus less on the negative and accentuate the positive.  Here goes.

Isn't this salad pretty? 
I made it last week all by myself and I think it's just about the prettiest thing I've ever made.
Just wanted to share.
What's that?
Oh, you want the recipe?
Well okay, here it is:

My Cabbage Crunch Salad I Made Because I Had a Ginormous Head of Cabbage From My CSA Box:
1/2 head of cabbage cut up length wise into thin pieces
1 red pepper cut into very thin strips
1 carrot peeled with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2/3 cup peanut oil (I only recommend this type of oil, it will completely change the salad, and your life BTW)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
Juice of one lemon squeezed
Combine all ingredients and toss.  Sprinkle with Sesame Seeds and some Salt & Pepper to taste.  Top with chicken slices if so inclined.

I'm linking this recipe up to Linda's Recipe Swap over at Crafaholics Anonymous!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Art of Giving - And Another Giveaway

I want to be one of those people that has thoughtful, appropriate gifts on hand  at any moment, so that if on a whim I am invited over to a friend's last minute birthday celebration, I show up with a sweet little something that's unique and interesting.

Instead, I always seem to be scrambling at the last minute, making a run into Target en route to said last minute celebration, and tormenting myself on whether to get a candle (boring), or a scarf.  I get all sweaty and panicky, imagining the look of horror and/or disappoint on my friend's face when she opens up another candle, and thinks, "Gee, couldn't you have given it more thought?"
Yes, I know, it's the thought that counts, and I do love my candles, especially if they are really different and special, but let's face it, anybody at anytime can run into Target and buy a candle.  You're not really getting them something they've always wanted, but never thought to get themselves.
Friends, be honest, I know I am not the only one that's in this boat.

So imagine my excitement when I came across these thoughtful, sweet little mini journals from Marta Writes the other day.
They are nice and petite so they fit perfectly in that big ol' mom bag we all seem to carry around.
And inside, there's pages and pages of fill-in-the-blank little questions where you can write in some random favorite thoughts for the day.  An exercise in focusing on the positive.  You know I love that!
  And she makes them in all these great covers.  During checkout you can tell her if you have a preference.

The thing I love most about these journals is that it's an easy exercise in reflection that takes little time commitment.  You can perform the exercise on a park bench while you're watching the kids play nice, or right before you go to bed at night.  There's just a few questions that help prompt a tired brain into remembering just how blessed our lives really are.  For me it's a perfect foray into journal writing, a task I always think about doing, but never really find the time or energy to do. 

And if I'm being honest here, how much would you standout in the gift-giving department if you gave one of these to a friend, or even your sister, cousin or mother?

And today my friends, I am giving 1 of these little journals away.  I'll pick a winner on Friday April 30th.  Just leave a comment below saying what your favorite sound is.  Oh, and if you do those little extras like tweet about it or facebook it or become a "follower" by subscribing to my posts, you will get an extra entry...just leave it in the comments section!

Happy Day My Friends!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blog Sugar Editorial

Blog*Sugar is a unique opportunity for women who blog, or are interested in blogging, to come together for a night of food, fun, laughter and camaraderie in the Southern California area. If you have a blog, want to start a blog, or have a business that you want to promote via the blogoshphere, then this is the place to be on May 28th. Meet and network with other bloggers in a casual atmosphere, show off your blog or cyber stalk other blogs via the computer station, and eat copious amounts of sugar. Fabulous gift bundles will be raffled off and there may even be some SWAG. We make one promise and one promise only, you will leave Blog*Sugar with a smile on your face.

While the prime agenda for the night is to have fun, there will be a chance to sit down and reflect on the purpose of your blog, and how you can take it to the next level. There will also be the opportunity to sign up for future mini-Blog*Sugars, which will offer a more structured agenda and focus on specific topics designed to help improve upon your blog.

If you are ready to be inspired, then please contact me or Mrs. 17 for further details and to RSVP.
We hope to see you there.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Playgrounds & Lollipops - One Last Chance

Wednesday April 21st, 2010
Art's office, preschool pick up and drop off, running errands with Syd, work at Chartreuse
Jacket: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale super find!
Jeans: Hudson
Top: Nordstrom Brass Plum Dept.
Headpiece: From favorite beauty supply store
Shoes: Sam Edelman (3 seasons old)
I had a little gig at our local fab furniture store, Chartreuse, and I wanted to look both presentable and hip (or as hip as a mid 30's mom can look).  So I added my favorite head wrap to my outfit to funk it up a bit.  And since the store is housed in a warehouse space and is usually cold (on top of the fact that it was storming and in the high 50's outside), I grabbed my favorite leather jacket to keep me warm.  I knew it would probably be the last time I would be able to wear it this season.  The gig turned out great and will now be a permanent one!  Yippee for wonderful part time work that can be done from home and/or 5 minutes from the house!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Republicans Love the Earth Too

Honest, we do.
We're not all into hacking down forests, spilling oil in oceans and anything else we get a bad rap for.
I love my earth!
Some might even consider me a tree-hugger?

So in honor of Earth day, here is my obligatory Earth Day post on a product that I love and fully endorse.  Of course I don't get paid for that endorsement, but whatever.
Ever heard of Shaklee?
It was one of Oprah's favorite things, if that means anything to anyone.  Any Oprah lovers out there?
Anyhow, about 3 years ago a woman in my mom's group became a representative for the company, so I hosted one of those parties to find out more about it.

Basically, they make all organic, non-toxic, biodegradable household cleaning products of every kind you can imagine.  I originally bought their starter kit, and really enjoyed all of the products, as much as you can "enjoy" cleaning products I guess.
Hands down, my favorite product, without a doubt is their Basic H2 Super Cleaning Concentrate.
The bottle sold individually is $12.35.  And guess how long it has lasted me?  3 flippin' years and I'm not even half way done with the bottle! 
The concentrate can be used to make three types of cleaning products: glass cleaner, degreaser and a basic all-purpose cleaner. 
You can purchase 3 accessory bottles for a few bucks to hold each type of cleaner, and all you do is add in the correct amount of drops for each type of cleaner.  They all work great and this stuff lasts forever.
I know you can make your own at-home concoctions with vinegar and baking soda and different things like that, but if you want a no-brainer easy peasy type of all-natural cleaner, I highly recommend this one.  It's a heck of a lot cheaper than brands like 7th Generation and like I said, it works great. 

Now go forth and hug a tree my friends.
Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Sincere Thank You

Hey there.  I wanted to say Thank You.
Thank you for those that read and have left encouraging comments on my posts.
That have given me feedback on my layout.
That have sent me emails and/or Facebook messages telling me you enjoy what I've got going on here.

It truly means a lot.  I can't tell you.
To be honest, the whole blogging thing can sort of get me down at times.
I obsess over what I'm going to post, whether people will be interested in it, whether the pictures are good enough, the layout, etc.

I'm still not sure where I'm going with this thing, but I'll tell you one thing,
I appreciate you for taking the journey with me.

A few of you have asked questions about the layout, especially pertaining to my header and the size of my pictures, that is, how I get them so big.
So I thought I would share a few things that I've learned with you all.  And by all means if you have learned any snazzy tips, please share those as well in the Comments section.

Regarding my headers that I change each month.  I create them in Picasa, using a tutorial I found on Clover Lane.  She has a few useful tips on her sidebar, as well as some pretty steadfast views on mothering/parenting and running a household in general.  I appreciate her no-nonsense way of writing.  Her tutorial on creating a Picasa header is wonderful and perfectly accurate, so I'll just link up to hers because I couldn't do it much better than her!

Regarding the size of my pictures.  I used to do it the old-fashioned, changing-HTML-code way.  But then just last week I noticed that Blogger has updated their post editing software!  Here's what you do to change your post editing setting if you have a blog that you created at least several months ago:
     - Go To Settings Tab and scroll all the way down to Global Settings
     - Click Updated Post Editor button
     - Click on Save Settings
Now you will be able to easily drop in pictures in your post wherever you want to and easily change the size of your pictures to Large and Extra Large.  
If you are hesitant to change your Post Editor, then you can still enlarge your pictures the old edit HTML way.  Here is another Clover Lane tutorial on how to do that.

Regarding the Link Index Buttons I created on my sidebar.  This is where I got some help from another blogger and my geeky husband.  Rachel at Heart of Light was so nice to email me with the easy way she created hers.  Thank you thank you Rachel and Art!  Basically:
     - Art first created little pictures in Photoshop for me with the index title. 
     - I then added a picture widget on my sidebar and uploaded each index title picture.
     - When adding a picture widget, there is an option to have the picture link up somewhere.
     - I have each picture link up to a back-dated post that I created that would house all of my individual links
     - In that back-dated post I simply create a link for each separate post pertaining to that topic (i.e., all my
Does that make sense?  I hope it does.  It is time consuming to set up, but then once you do it's fairly easy to maintain.

I found another blog that I subscribe to called Sneaky Momma Blog Designs that has a ton of great tips.  Check out her site and you can find just about any topic you're interested in!

Alrighty then, I think that's enough out of me!  I sincerely wish everyone a happy hump day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Breakfast of Champions - Green Smoothies & Nutella

I've decided to get back to running.
And the reason isn't because of the standard "bathing suit season is coming up."
It's because when I'm folding my laundry my arms actually get tired and sore from the extra work.
Pathetic, I know.  I will say though that in my defense, I have freakishly weak upper body strength.
Also, because I ran 2 miles the other day at a snail's pace and I have been sore for 3 days now.
Yes, I've already said it, pathetic.

About 6 months ago I sprained my ankle during crazy 6 am bootcamp, and I just haven't been back.  I think I was just feeling completely burned out, after training hard for the last year and a half.

So back to running I go.
I've been a runner since high school, competing in track and cross-country.
My claim to fame is I once ran a relay race against Marion Jones' team.
And I still maintain that even back in high school the girl was on steroids.
Last April I did run the Seal Beach 5k in just under 25 minutes, which I was pretty proud of.

What's been getting me going lately?
Green smoothies, and I owe all the credit to my friend Laura.
The key ingredient to a green smoothie is dark leafy greens of some sort.
We prefer swiss chard in our house.  I've tried carrot tops, romaine lettuce and spinach, and they are just too earthy for me.  As Art said "tastes like dirt."  So swiss chard is what we use.
And I will swear that these are delicious.  I would never recommend something that isn't good, even for health's sake.  I promise promise.   

Green Smoothies:
Handful of dark leafy greens (about 1-2 stems of swiss chard is what I recommend)
1 Cup of any type of frozen fruit
Any sort of fresh fruit you have (we often use 1 apple cut up, no need to peel, and 1 banana, cut up)
1/2 - 1 Cup Orange Juice to help with the consistency and blending process
 *If you want you can add in what Laura calls "healthy extras" such as flax seed or probiotics.  I added 2-3 probiotic tablets to my smoothie while I was fighting off strep throat for the 3rd time and I swear it helped me kick it.

I like my green smoothie with a side of toast smeared with Nutella

By the way, Maddie, our doggy dog, is so happy about me getting my butt back into shape, as seen here with her crazy tail wagging.  She always gets a nice cool down jog with me after my run.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Taylor

Today my sweet girl, you turned 5.
To say you're growing so fast is too easy a cliche to use.
You're not just growing, but becoming.
Becoming a girl we are so proud of.
You are brave, courageous, strong, sweet, sly and mischievous.
Sometimes I don't know if I should give you a sweet pinch on the cheek or a soft smack on the bum.
You are though, doing what every 5 year old should be doing.
Testing your limits and your boundaries.
When you've gone too far, you simply reply with the tenderest of voices, "I'm so sorry."
This weekend you threw my phone in the pool and gave your brother a fat lip.
I then watched you help your daddy pump gas on the side of the road in the middle of the desert.
I saw you smile off in the distance at no one and nothing in particular, so proud of yourself.
So happy to perform what we grown-ups often think of as such a simple and mundane task.

Last night you made spider web parfaits in the tub using cobwebs, batter, snow, ice cream and yogurt.
It was delicious.
You are imaginative beyond words.  This alone makes me so proud.
I hope it carries you far in life my sweet girl.
Taylor, my first born child, I never knew I could feel a love so deep.
When I look in those gorgeous green eyes, I never thought I could feel so close to God.
His creation.
Made just for Him.
Honored to be given the assignment as your Mom and Dad.
We thank God for you everyday.

Today was such a special day.  Daddy and Mommy were with you at school.

We made a special snack
You wore a cape and crown (always so serious my Taylor)
And your friends each brought you a flower from home
They sprinkled you with birthday dust and sang a sweet song:
Flowers in love we bring to you, 
birthday child, dear birthday child...
We ate ice cream with a good friend
And you blew out your candles.  All 5 of them, all by yourself.
Happy Birthday Taylor.  We love you more than words can say.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Playgrounds & Lollipops - Guest Appearance

Meet Shelly.  She is my new next door neighbor and she graciously agreed to make a guest appearance on today's Playgrounds & Lollipops.  See, it pays to have good neighbors, and be nice to them in return.
Right Sarah?

April 9th, 2010

Gym class with her daughter, errands, working at the home office (she's an interior designer)

Jacket: Forever 21
Tank: Gap
Jeans: Ann Taylor Loft
Necklace: Anthropologie
Bracelet: Forever 21
Shoes: Cole Haan via Rue La La

When I saw Shelly in gym class Friday morning I just thought she looked so put together, yet so comfortable.  Her outfit had such a casual and understated sophistication to it.  The jacket is a comfy cotton-linen blend so while it is a 'blazer', it still has a very relaxed feel to it.  The jeans are just a simple no-brainer add on.  I think the cute and whimsical accessories top off the outfit.  I love the chunkiness of the bracelet, and the necklace, which her 2 year old daughter picked out for her that day, added a sweet touch.  Shelly says the shoes are beyond comfortable and wears them all the time.

Thanks so much Shelly!  It worked out perfect having you appear as a guest this week while I am basking in the glow of the Arizona sun!  I can't wait to feature more stylish mamas on Playgrounds & Lollipops.

Don't forget to enter here for your chance to win a Bobbi Brown Bronze Shimmer Brick!  Sunday is the last day!


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