Thursday, January 26, 2012

Leo's Story - Part 1

When our children were 4 and 7 my husband and I decided it was time for a family dog. We had survived babyhood, the kids had grown somewhat independent and that longing for a four legged 3rd child gnawed on both of us. Well, maybe just me but when I remember it I like to think it was him too. We began researching breeds and looking at listings for puppies on Craigslist. My husband was set on a boxer but considering that we travel 4 months out of the year and drive as well as fly across the country, there was no chance I was making that trip with a boxer on my lap much less carting one on an airplane. Looking for an alternative, much smaller dog, he fell in love with miniature schnauzers and schnoodles (schnauzer, poodle mix). We couldn't find either near us but that put me on the track of other poodle mixes. I discovered Yorkiepoos and was sold at first sight. We found our Phoebe girl, an all black Yokiepoo, right before Christmas that year. She stole all of our hearts right away, along with that of anyone else she came in contact with. She was gentle, sweet and tolerant of the kids' "affections". Over the next couple of years we became full fledged dog lovers. Phoebe went to obedience school and, though she was very smart and could do anything asked of her, she stayed true to being a Nina and was stubborn enough not to do what she didn't want to. We took her everywhere with us. She traveled all over the western US and while she loved the car she was intolerant of flying. She chewed through 3 travel carriers on a 2 leg flight from Montana to Sacramento. We learned quickly that Phoebe had tons of energy and was always up for playing. If we didn't oblige immediately she would sit on our laps, nose to nose and make it almost impossible not to engage with her. If further denied she would "talk" to us in her best Chewbaca voice until we couldn't ignore her any longer. We came to the realization that just as we had survived babyhood, we had survived puppy-hood as well and it might be time for a playmate for Phoebe. Someone to share her days with while we were at school and work and who could be her constant companion when we couldn't be with her.

Now at that time the idea of a second dog was merely a suggestion. A thought we had over dinner. It was nothing we were seriously considering in the immediate future. My husband came home one night and said he had seen an all white miniature schnauzer and I could tell instantly that he was smitten. We daydreamed about a tiny white puppy and talked about names. I mentioned Leonidas and his eyes lit up like kid on Christmas. So it was all set. We had a breed, knew we wanted a boy, to keep the peace with Phoebe, and a name. The puppy would come later.

A few weeks later as I was on drop off duty at school one of our long time families came through the line with a beautiful white schnauzer hanging out of the window. As they drove away I mentioned that I was going to take their dog home with me and found out that they had bred him and the puppies would be ready to be adopted in a week. It was like God opened a door and said "I am just waiting for you to walk through it". I immediately sent a text to my husband and had already adopted a puppy in my mind. I spoke to the owner several times over the next week and arranged for Elvin and the kids to go see the puppies. Elvin took a video of the puppies, 4 boys and 4 girls, all pure white, and we could tell right away which would be ours. The little boy with the red collar. All the puppies swarmed the kids but when the rest wandered off, "the red one" as he was dubbed, sat on Max's lap and didn't leave. A few days later I went to pick him up and take him home. Somehow in the space of just a few weeks our "daydream" of a second dog had turned into a reality and this puppy had just fallen into our laps. We were thrilled.

Leonidas fit into our family right away. He loved to snuggle which is important when the princess of the family thinks everything smaller than her exists for her to baby. He worshiped Phoebe and, though she was gentle, she made sure he knew she was the Alpha dog and he was okay with that. He made himself at home in our bed, just as Phoebe does. We were one big happy family. For a while.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I'm No Professional

When my friend Megan got married we somehow decided I would bake her wedding cake. It was years ago and I think there was a bottle of wine involved so I dont even remember how it came up or how either of us thought it would be good idea much less possible. Nevertheless, I made the cake and she was thrilled with how it turned out. It was a small wedding and a charming little cake with giant lillies that hid any flaws quite well.

Last fall as our friend Felecia planned her wedding I received a text message asking if I would make her wedding cake. I think I was out shopping having and great time and in an amicable mood so of course I said "Sure, I would LOVE to!". Come to find out her wedding would NOT be small. A charming little cake for 40 wouldnt work for the 250 guests she was planning. Uh oh. Too late to back out and crush her I steeled myself for the task. I took the day off from school (but sent the kids - of course), got up early and set all the supplies out. I paced in front of the many boxes of cake, cartons of frosting and cans of filling. No way would this cake be from scratch. I developed a plan of action and put it work. 6 boxes of cake in I sent my husband to the store for more cake mix and eggs. I am pretty sure he thought I was crazy and was laughing on the inside waiting either for my meltdown or the kitchen to explode. I got all the layers baked by mid afternoon. I carefully cut their puffed up tops and flipped them over doing my best, as my husband critiqued from the couch, to keep them level. As they cooled I frosted them one by one with the crumb coat. I spent 30 minutes rearranging my fridge shelves and contents to find room for 5 layers of cake - not yet assembled of course. By then the kids were home from school and we had to get moving to the rehearsal and dinner. Did I forget to mention that on top of cheif cake baker I was also the mother of the flower girl? 5 hours later I arrived back home and added the second coat of frosting - back in the fridge went the segregated layers. I fell into bed and had nightmares about frosting melting and the cake falling over. First thing in the morning I was back at it. 3rd and final layer of frosting and carefully into the back of my SUV and off to the reception hall. I carried each layer in one by one praying I wouldnt trip. Or sneeze. I inserted the supports and added the spacers and assemble the cake. The last step was to decorate. On went the topper - a sparkly snowflake and bejeweled monogram of the happy couple. Silver ribbon around each layer. Oh crap - forgot the pins for securing the ribbon. Had to improvise. The snowflake decorations would have to hold the ends of the ribbon in place. That worked out to be a happy mistake because it looked perfect (and I wasnt really sure what I was going to do with those snowflakes anyway). Finishing touch - sugar crystals. Phew! I had pulled it off. I got lots of compliments and heard that it was delicious - though I never even got to taste it. I had an exhausted flower girl who had reached her limit hours before the cake was cut and had to be taken home to bed. The moral of the story is that though I am no professional I learned to have more faith in myself. I think that when I set my mind to something I can pull it off. Within reason...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Crochetin' around the house...

Many, many years ago my dear friend April taught me how to crochet. It was quite a humorous lesson in that she is right handed and I am left. This resulted and much turning around and trying to figure out the front from the back and the left from the right. Eventually, however, I figured it out and promptly went out and bought my weight in wool to make my husband, who was then my boyfriend, a large blanket. I intended for it to be a rectangle. It ended up as some sort of quadrilateral which was much skinner at the end than at the beginning. Thus began the trial and error of my crocheting career. Learning how to keep a consistant tension through the piece, experimenting with different stitches (though I really only know one official stitch and have made up a few of my own for good measure) and working with several types, colors, weights and textures of yarn. Throughout the years my passion for crocheting has had its ebs and flows. Recently I got the bug again and was inspired to try some new things. I have been coveting eternity scarves which have no beginning or end but merely slip over the head to snuggle the neck in cozy wooliness. I never even thought about trying one because I have no idea how to crochet a circle and have never even attempted to read a pattern. After the success of my faux legwarmers I had a sudden realization that I could do the same thing (stitch up the ends) with an eternity scarf. My excitement could'nt be contained and an hour later it was complete. After such a success I am now on my third one. I am sure my enthusiasm will wear out eventually but for now I will revel in my wooly love for all things crocheted


Can there really ever be too much glitter?

If you've been reading (not really sure anyone is actually reading) you know that I've found my Valentine's spirit this year for, really, the first time. I find my eye caught on all things red, pink or heart shaped. So when my fabulous friend Jessica showed me her new gel nail glitter hearts, I have to say, my heart skipped a beat. Ok - super cheesy, but I really did find a bit of joy in just how p

retty the reflective hearts and transluscent octogons were. I have always loved jewelry and make up as long as I can remember - the truely "girly" things. They make me feel feminine and bring a little bit of extra happiness to my days. Fun nails seem like an extra bit of jewelry that allows you to express your creative side but are nothing too permanent. You can change with the seasons, go over the top glizty or keep it simple. So here is my ode to Valentine's Day 2012 as expressed by my nails ;-)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Who You Callin' Faux?!

I recently found out that there is a whole world of boot decor out there that I never knew about. You can deck out your boots with faux buttons, flowers and bling. They are interchangeable and available in multitude of styles and colors. At the same time I was introduced to faux leg warmers. They sit atop the boot and look like leg warmers but provide a bunch-free style alternative to the real deal. My girly Kim explained this whole thing to me so I gave them a shot. I crocheted her a pair for her birthday and, though I havent seen her actually wear them, they were quite a hit among our group when they were unvieled. For your viewing pleasure, I will model the next pair myself - once I get going on them.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Heart You!

Now that my kids are getting older I find myself getting a little more excited about Valentine's Day than I used to. I realize its a day for lovers, however, whom do you love more than your children? There is still something celebratory and exciting about heart day for small kids and that alone draws me in as well. The more I thought about it, the more I realized,
V-day is almost the biggest "holiday" of the year for crafts. Long ago my small daughter, Graciela, needed a Halloween costume that required a tutu, which I made. I hung onto all of the extra tulle for ages, or so it seemed. Then as V-day approached this year I thought I might as well put it to good use. With the help of my dextrous husband, I fashioned a heart shaped tulle wreath, that now graces the inside of our front door. I would put it outside to bring a bit of Valentine's love and joy to the neighborhood but its so light and fluffy, I am afraid it will float away!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Creating a beautiful spot in your home is no easy task. I feel myself caught between a longing for the perfect, glorious things that make a space not only beautiful but also speak of my style and personality and at the same time a desire to use what I love, though it may not be cohesive. I re-received a wonderful buffet that once was in my home. It travelled from Arizona to northern California, then

as my parents moved here near us, it came back into my home. I found a comfortable spot for it and, inspired by House Beautiful, created a tablescape that not only brings me a bit of home decor joy but I hope also is a joyful vignette to those passing by on our street. Aritchokes are, after all, quintesentially Californian and at the same time ever so stylish.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Avocado, Tomato, Mozzarella...oh my!

Just as I was putting together dinner the other night I realized, much to my dismay, we were out of veggies. I looked around the kitchen and found the only things that might work were an orange heirloom tomato and an avocado. My mind went right to a Caprase salad, though those are not quite the right ingredients. The tomato, avocado, fresh mozzarella, evoo, balsamic vinegar and sea salt ended up be

ing not only a happy sort of accident but AMAZING! So rich, creamy and melt in your mouth good we could'nt believe it. Not only was it tasty - it was quite beautiful as well.

Photo Gallery

When we moved into our house 6 years ago I was so excited about the upstairs hallway which is open to the first floor (home decor is highly exciting to me ;-). I thought it would make a fabulous family photo gallery and would keep all the photos in one place rather than all over the house which, to me, feels like a lot of clutter. I unpacked all the framed photos and threw them up on the walls. Over the next 6 years as our babies grew and we unearthed our own childhood pictures I added to the gallery and it stretched out across the hallway like an unorganized, uncoordinated parasite. On my ever expanding house "to do" list was redoing the wall but, as is usually the case with home improvement, other more pressing tasks took precedence and the photo wall dropped to the bottom of the list. Fast forward to new year 2012. I sat on the couch in the living room still surrounded by the aftermath of Christmas and looked up at the photo wall. Something in my neurotic subconscious clicked and moved to the forefront of my mental "to do" list. I HAD to fix that wall! I called my mom for an urgent consultation on the proper way to group, space and hang the photos. She rushed over and 4 hours later we had a cohesive, organized and even wood tone categorized, beautiful gallery. Almost. As OCD as I can tend to be I stayed true to my nature and spent the next couple of days tweeking the wall. Spacing here, switching there. And THEN I was done. The final step was to order a fab vinyl sticker quote to top it off. It hasn't arrived but is on order from Two Pink Shoes. While I anxiously await its arrival I decided to share the almost finished gallery. So here it is!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


I have been saving buttons for almost 15 years. Not really sure why. You buy a blouse or sweater or pants and they come with a little bag of thread and a button. I am sure there are people out there who save the buttons with the intent of using them if the original button falls off. I am not one of those people. But, I saved them all the same because it seems wasteful to throw away a perfectly good button. Then I had kids. Add to all the extra buttons from my clothes all the cute little pastel buttons that come with baby, toddler and then big kids clothes. What to do? Save them in a little cermaic pot for years and years. Then what? Well, let's do something with those buttons. Here's my start...