Daily life

April 3, 2012: A few things arriving from my scattered mind

Life has been pretty crazy around here. I was sick for three days last week with a stomach bug something-or-other, and then had my sister-in-law’s baby shower on Saturday in addition to hosting a dinner party for Johnny’s birthday that night as well. Here a few things I want to share:

1. As you may have guessed, there is no menu plan posted for this coming week. I just thought I would enjoy the weather and make whatever comes to mind. There’s freedom in that. Yesterday we had homemade pizza, and it was delicious.

2. I made some lovely Earl Grey scones for the baby shower, and I’ll post the recipe in the next few days, hopefully. I thought they were quite good, if I do say so myself :)

3. We’re having work done on our house, which primarily includes painting the main living area…so things are a mess (photos below). It’s a happy mess, though. This is getting us one step closer to putting our house on the market and moving in closer to the city!

4. When I was sick I took the opportunity to read Kinfolk Magazine. If you haven’t ever checked it out, you should. It’s a calming read full of articles, essays, photo essays, interviews and documentation of social gatherings. If you pick it up, check out my friend Carissa’s beautiful words Becoming a Home, near the back of the magazine. It’s well worth your time!

Here are a few scattered photos from our recent life:

March 27, 2012: Leisurely morning

Today is a quiet, leisurely day. I awoke this morning after having one of the worst dreams a mother could have, so I am savoring every little moment with this guy. I didn’t even want to put him down for his morning nap, though he assured me he was very ready for it. Not sure what we’ll do today, but it’ll be a good day, I think.

March 8, 2012: Spring things

I’ve been thinking spring lately…who hasn’t? Here are some things I’ve come across online that make me happy (and that I would love to own).

1. Minty belt love.

2. The happiest of plates.

3. Papaya pants? Please do.

4. Every little boy needs a romper like this.

5. A butter dish worth drooling over.

6. Who doesn’t love coral nail polish?

7. Saw this jar on Etsy today. Love it!

8. Umbrellas can be happy.

9. I have several friends who have these, but I still want them!

What springy things have you come across lately?

March 6, 2012: My first REI attic sale

This past Sunday I experienced my very first REI attic sale. I have various friends who have been going to these sales for years. Basically, an attic sale is REI’s scratch and dent sale. They sell used, returned or damaged goods at ridiculously low prices. I went there for two reasons:

1. I wanted a BOB Revolution stroller. I am a jogger/runner, and I have convinced myself that having a BOB would enable me to run with my son more often (I have a cheaper jogging stroller, but it has developed a pull to the right, so I can’t run with it for more than 3 miles before my knees start hurting due to my efforts in compensating for the pull). These strollers usually cost $420 new, and sometimes they are on craigslist for $250-$300…and have been used for 5+ years. At an attic sale, I have known people who paid $150 or less for these strollers in great condition.

2. I had heard often there are tons of shoes. I decided if I was unable to get my hands on a stroller, I would take a consolation prize of new running shoes.

At the REI store in Fairfax, Virginia, they let people into the sale in waves. They give out tickets at 8 a.m., and whatever number you get is the wave you get in to the sale. The sale starts at 10 a.m. From what I heard from my research online and conversations with my friends, you need to arrive there a few hours to stand in line before they hand out tickets. I got there at 5:30 a.m., and there were about 20-25 people already in front of me. There were tents, cots, sleeping bags, chairs…these people don’t mess around.

I checked out the people in line in front of me. Mostly they were young guys. Not the kind that would automatically scream “I’m here for a stroller.” So, I start feeling pretty optimistic. Right at 7 a.m. a cute pregnant girl walks up looking well-rested and chipper…her husband was directly in front of me in line.  We started small talk, and she volunteered the news I was afraid to hear: “We’re here for a BOB stroller!” I shared that I, in fact, was also hoping to get a stroller. “Let’s hope they have more than one!” I said optimistically.

8 a.m. rolled around and the tickets were handed out. The couple in front of me made wave 1. I was the first in wave 2. Once I got into the sale I found out there had only been one stroller. They got it, so I am happy for them, and they probably don’t have a stroller at all for their baby who is due next month. I actually have 2 strollers (one jogging [that has a pull so it can’t really be used] and one regular), so I can to wait. There’s always next time!

I checked, and there were no running shoes in my size, only hiking shoes. I dejectedly looked through the jackets when my hand touched a down Northface ski jacket. I needed a practical, super warm winter coat. I checked the size. My size! I checked the price…$31! I bought it. I thought I would have to wait until next year for it be cold enough to wear. But then yesterday, against all DC weather odds, it snowed a bit. So I got to wear my new jacket!

My first REI attic sale wasn’t a total loss. But Johnny might be the one to stay in line dark and early next time. He said he would. Now it’s in writing.

What a steal.

The back.

A spot for my iPhone and earbuds.

Goggle pocket.

I like the zippered cuffs to make it easy for gloves.

Even though it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, I was able to get something useful at an unbelievable price. Success!

February 24, 2012: Rafe’s first day at the National Zoo

Yesterday we went to the National Zoo. It was such a blast and I kept having flashbacks of when my mom took us when we were kids. Even though I have been back to the zoo twice since I was a child with my mom, I still couldn’t believe that I was the mama packing the lunches and getting the group together to go on this outing. I kept feeling like a kid. Maybe that’s why I love the zoo so much. In fact, Johnny took me to the zoo when I was pregnant with Baby last year. It was fun walking around in the weak November sun, sipping tea and looking at the leopards.

At just past one year, Rafe is the oldest of the babies, so of course they weren’t fully able to appreciate all the animals (well, even appreciate the animals at all for that matter), but it was a gorgeous day to walk around, chat with my friends and look at the exhibits. We saw the elephants from two angles, on a lower level and then from a bridge over top. Rafe was actually able to see the elephants on the bridge, so that was a success in my mind. We also saw some monkeys, a panda, a giant anteater and prairie dogs, and could hear the lions growl and roar.

It was a fun day, and maybe next time we can take Johnny with us (and see the beavers and seals exhibits, which were closed due to construction yesterday).

So, here are some photos from our day. The last three were taken by my good friend Kristin. You should check out her photography website sometime if you get the chance!

First stop: the elephants

Second angle of the elephants, on top of the bridge

All the babies in a row (Rafe checking out the lovely ladies)

Photo credit: Kristin Solomon

Baby blue eyes. Photo credit: Kristin Solomon

Photo credit: Kristin Solomon

February 22, 2012: Armed for battle

Because I declared war on my house this morning (in addition to also declaring it  National Household Pajama Day), I thought I would show off my armor, gear, and second in command. I had a feeling today was going to be one of those days. I wish my mood would be sunny skies and cloudless days every morning, but sometimes it just takes a while for my body to get with the productive program.

Thankfully, I was able to accomplish almost everything on my to-do list (and did a few additional things that weren’t, so it probably evened out to accomplishing everything on my list…right?), so I am pleased with my day.

Tomorrow Baby and I are going to the zoo with three of his girlfriends. They are super cute, and I’ll make sure to take lots of photos and post them in a timely manner :)

Cheers.

February 8, 2012: The birthday cake fiasco

On Monday I mentioned I would share a story about the smash cake. Well, here is the promised story:

I decided to make my son a banana cake in order to make it slightly more healthy than a chocolate or vanilla cake might be. Because I was making a small cake, I decided to half the recipe. The recipe called for 3/4 cup of buttermilk or sour milk. As I had neither, I made a cup of milk and added a tablespoon of vinegar. As I made it I thought to myself, remember, you only need half of 3/4 cup. I’m sure you can see where this is going. I had been multitasking on a few other things while the milk sat for 5 minutes. Before I knew it, my hand took the cup of milk and dumped it all in the mixing bowl on top of all the dry ingredients. Because the non-halved recipe only called for 3/4 cup of buttermilk, I really had no choice but to scrap it and start over.

Unfortunately, this story is just beginning.

Fast forward. I successfully made the cake and it was cooling on the rack on my counter top (see photo below). It smelled yummy, and it looked pretty darn good too. It was 12:30, and the party started at 2. I made the icing and let it sit for a moment. I then decided I needed to make room on top of a small armoire to make a little coffee bar. In order to do this, the wine rack needed to  be removed from the armoire to a shelf on top of my upper cabinets. Also on top of my cabinets was a platter with a beautiful glass dome. I moved the glass dome to the right to make room for the said wine rack, and being a short petite woman standing on a chair next to my counters, I could not see the top of the cabinets and therefore was unable to see the gaping hole that is in the corner in between cabinets.  I pushed the dome to the right, into the gaping hole, and it came crashing down on top of…you guessed it…my second cake. It was ruined, glass shards were everywhere and naturally, all over the cake. I repeat, it was 12:30. I have an old oven and had no time to mix, bake, cool and ice another cake before the party started. I called a local grocery store and my husband was kind enough to go and pick up another cake while I cleaned the glass shards from my counter top and floor. The store-bought cake was larger than I had anticipated and we had to re-ice it (it had to be red), but other than that it filled the need. My son ate it, loved it, and was super cute. All in all, it was a successful party and I was pleased with how it turned out. At least I now have a story I can tell you all and my son when he is older.

To give you a visual of the set-up:

The cooling rack is where the cake was.

The hole in the cabinet.

P.S. I had also planned to make little caterpillar legs to go with the cake and cupcake display, but unfortunately ran out of time due to the smashed glass fiasco.

February 7, 2012: Morning light

I love how the morning light comes in my living room/dining area windows. All is bright and happy, clean and as it should be. At least, for this morning it is.

February 6, 2012: First birthday

So it has happened. My baby boy is a one-year-old! We had so much fun planning his “Very Hungry Caterpillar” themed party! Since I spent a good part of the weekend sifting through the photos (mine, my husband’s, my parents, and my father-in-law’s), this post will mostly be photos. In the next day or so I will break down in detail how I did the various decorations. Enjoy!

The spread, pre-strawberries and pickles. Too bad there aren’t legs on the caterpillar…

I’ll explain in a day or so why. And why the head was bigger than planned.

The complete spread.

Opening the first present.

Of course, the ribbon is more entertaining than the actual gift.

The introduction of the smash cake! Nevermind my hands.

Tentative taste.

My personal favorite. Hey, check out my iced goatee.  Oh, and I mean business.

The aftermath.

A successful party that ended with everyone watching dog and Star Wars YouTube videos and Top Gear while I bathed the munchkin. It was lovely.

January 25, 2012: A quick grocery trip

Of course, shopping with an 11-month-old (well, any child at that) is never truly quick, though some trips are more quick than others. I saw a few decent deals at Harris Teeter when I was perusing through the money saving and couponing blogs I frequent, and decided a shopping trip for a few items would be worth it. I was able to get the above items for $5.27 plus tax. Here’s what I got:

  • Whole roaster chicken (this was an unplanned buy, but the price was good): $2.88
  • Carnation evaporated milk: $0.49 each (2)
  • Ortega refried beans: $0.49 each (2)
  • Frank’s Red Hot sauce: $0.14
  • Halls cough drops: $0.14 and $0.15 each
  • Always Infiniti pads: FREE

Here’s the breakdown if you are interested:

The Carnation evaporated milk was on sale for $0.99 each (which is pretty standard at most other stores), but I had a $0.50/2 coupon (doubled to $1.00/2  [A great aspect of shopping at Harris Teeter is that they double any coupon under the value of $1.00]) which made it $0.49 each. Not a fantastic deal, but evaporated milk has saved me countless times when I was in the middle of a recipe and ran out of milk sooner than I thought I would. Therefore, if I can get a can for $0.50 or less, it’s a worthy purchase in my mind.

It was the same deal with the Ortega refried beans. They were each on sale for $0.99, and I used a $0.50/2 coupon (which doubled), thus making them $0.49 each.

Now comes the fun part. Frank’s Red Hot sauce was listed as a Buy One Get One Free deal. Another one of Harris Teeter’s redeeming qualities (other than doubling coupons up to $0.99 in value) is that their B1G1s ring up at half price, meaning if you only want one, you get to pay half price rather than being forced to get two of an item when you may only want one. If you have a coupon for that item, then you get to pay even less. This was the case with the hot sauce. Frank’s Red Hot sauce was on sale as a B1G1 for $3.29, making it $1.64 for one, and I had a $0.75 coupon which was doubled (-$1.50), making the final cost $0.14!

The Halls cough drops were on sale B1G1 for $2.29 ($1.14 each). I had a $0.50/2 coupon. Yet another good thing about Harris Teeter is that they have online VIC customer store coupons that are attached to your card. The catch here is that you have to go online to your account and you have to save the items to your card, but if you do that, you can have even more savings! So, if you have a store (VIC) coupon, you are able to stack it with a manufacture (MFR) coupon. So in this case, I had a VIC coupon for $1.00/2 saved to my card. That stacked with the MFR ($0.50/2 doubled to -$1.00/2) equaled $0.29 for both!

The Always Infiniti pads were on sale for $3.99, and I had a $2.00/1 coupon and stacked it with another $2.00/1 VIC coupon, which made them FREE!

I am certainly not a pro couponer, and definitely not one of those extreme ones you find on TV, but it is a practical way for me to meal plan, stay on budget and save money. Do I love it? No. If we made a million dollars a year would I still do it? Probably not. However, it is something I can do fairly easily (once I got past learning how it all works) and I have to admit I get a little thrill spending $5.27 instead of the $24.78 it would have cost me if I hadn’t shopped the sales and used coupons (granted, at any other store all this probably would have cost me $15-$20), but I saved at the very least $10 on items that I will use within a week or two. And that, I like very much.

January 19, 2012: Love this one

I love this guy. He brings so much joy into my life. Right now he is sitting at my feet with his toothbrush in his mouth (his new favorite “toy”) deciding whether or not to fuss. He’s teething, and has a lessened appetite and is clingy. And sometimes, it drives me nuts. But he is a quickly growing up baby boy who needs the comfort of his momma…or not, as he just crawled away and is now standing on the bottom stair leading to our third floor, shaking the baby gate door, toothbrush still in fist.

In regards to the photos above: I took them earlier this week. I was trying to put on his clothes after taking his jammies off, but he grabbed his onsie and crawled away with it as quickly as he could, giggling away. So, this little photo shoot ensued. These were basically the only ones that weren’t super fuzzy. I try to document these moments, because they truly are precious.

I will take a whiny, clingy, not feeling well baby any day. It’s my job and my calling, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love you, Rafe-man.

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