Sunday, December 30, 2007

so many great books

I got so many great books for Christmas, but the one that I've been diving head-first into is Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. I heard so much about it when it first came out. I thought, hmm...the concept sounds good. But I never bothered to look it up online or visit it in the bookstore. If I had, I definitely would have asked for this book for Christmas. Fortunately, mom knew that the combination of content and eye-catching cover (Yes, I judge books by their covers and this book is cute all the way around) would be the perfect gift for me. And I've been LOVING the concept. I'll be heading off to the farmer's market grocer tomorrow to stock up on veggies. By New Year's day our freezer will be stocked with veggie purees to sneak into everything from pancakes to mac-n-cheese. I'm so delighted with this concept. As I've been feeding the 11-month old his pureed meals I've often thought, "Now why couldn't I just slip this stuff into my 4-year old's dinner?" Answer is, according to Jessica Seinfeld, you can. We'll just see about that.

Like I said, so many great books waiting for me to digest. I'm anxious to post about them soon. In the meantime, another New Year's Resolution.

Read AT LEAST one book a month

I know this probably sounds hideous. Non-parents read several books a month. Believe me - I used to read a lot too. The New Year's Resolution is to MAKE the time to read more. It's simply pathetic that I can't think of a single book I finished last year. Pathetic. So, to start... while watching an on-demand movie about Truman Capote the other night, I was reminded that I've never actually read Breakfast at Tiffany's. So, with one of his Barnes and Noble gift cards, the hubby picked up a copy for me. First book of the year, Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

thought, precision and intention

Today's Chore: take down Christmas.

It's always so fun putting Christmas up. Unwrapping each ornament to find treasures that I'd almost forgotten about in a year's time. When I was little I imagined that each tree ornament was singing because it was so happy to be out of its box. When the entire tree was decorated I could hear the chorus of my imagination in my head. And now that the once-living tree has lost several shades of green, it is obvious that it is time to carefully wrap up each ornament, one-by-time-consuming-one, and get the house back to it's regular old self. It's slightly sad, but at the same time I'm itching to get some of the Christmas clutter under control.

Pictured here is the quickly growing list of projects I'll attempt to tackle in '08. My notebook is coincidently sitting atop the four matching Christmas stockings I somehow managed to finish on Christmas Eve - just in time for Santa treats. Getting these done was a HUGE accomplishment for me because ever since our oldest son was born (FOUR years ago!) I intended to make a family set of stockings. In fact, for the past four years, the two matching stockings I made for the husband and I after we got married have hung from a door knob year-round. Each Christmas they would be the only items not packed away because I thought I'd make a new set sometime that year. Then, before I'd know it, another Christmas would be upon me and yet another unaccomplished project. Ah, these projects, they'll be the death of me. So maybe it's the adrenalin from finishing these stockings that has me pouring the project-yearning contents of my brain down on paper. Perhaps the only thing I love more than making lists like these is crossing things off such lists. Oh boy, it's gonna be a busy 2008!

New Year's Resolutions? Anyone?
Of course there are the usuals...

Eat healthy
Exercise more
Less booz
Less television

But while I was being pampered during a spa treatment (a Mother's Day gift - yep, that's how long it takes me to get around to making the time for such luxuries) I decided to use that moment, while my mind was free and clear of all stress and tension, to figure out what it was I REALLY wanted to accomplish in '08. After a lot of thought, it occurred to me that I would like to implement the Japanese philosophy of living to my everyday life. There is such beauty in the ceremony in Japanese culture. There is a calming presence in the simple structure and organization of Japanese art and architecture. I want to be surrounded by more beauty. Beauty in all things - the way the table looks when we sit down for dinner, the plants in the garden, the spice rack, the linen closet. Maybe I'll even take up Bonzai. Beauty derived from patience can be extremely meditative. I recognize that there simply can't be beauty in every corner. But, if I can control some of the clutter in the house, maybe I can clear out the cobwebs in my head as well. I received so many beautifully illustrated and photographed sewing and crafting books for Christmas - I want to make beautiful things all year long, and the honest truth is that messy spaces keep me from finding focus. SO! Long story short, I want to take the time to approach everything I do with careful thought, precision and intention. No more shoving empty sippy cups into the cabinet in just such a way so that it doesn't make all the other hoards of empty sippy cups fall upon my head. Take the time, line them up, toss the ones that leak and have a shelf with beautiful rows of sippy cups. "Wax on, Wax off." (I don't need to explain this quote, do I? For anyone who didn't grow up in the '80s, go rent Karate Kid)

Friday, December 21, 2007

from the kitchen

All prepped and ready to cook...

Caramel is bubbling...

Popcorn is popped and roasted almonds are ready for the caramel...

Fill them up!

Mission complete! Caramel popcorn buckets for the husband to take to work.

Monday, December 10, 2007

new beginnings

Oh my goodness. Can you believe it? My laptop has died. Or maybe it's just suffering from, hopefully, a 24-hour flu. It is currently in the hands of the beloved Geek Squad. Hopefully they'll be able to recover some of my precious files. If not, it's start from scratch time for me. It hadn't occured to me until now how much I'd done in a year. (Yes, I'm one of those who hadn't backed up file for a full complete year.) So, while I wait to see what may or may not be salveged, I'm thinking a lot about new beginnings.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

when the stars all align like that for you

I was browsing through photos from the year 2007 for our first annual photo collage holiday card insert (No, we don't write those addressed-to-the-masses holiday greetings. You just get photos from us.) when I stumbled upon this photograph that I snapped while stopped at a light in Oak Park, Illinois:

I forgot all about that. We were just sitting there - my camera poised because we'd been driving past all the Frank Lloyd Wright houses - and in between the baby crying, the little bugaboo complaining and my pouting because I wasn't able to enjoy all the Frank Lloyd Wright houses like I always imagined I would (I think we took this trip too late - Oak Park is meant to be seen immediately after graduating from architecture school and DEFINITELY before you have kids) I looked up and saw it. I said, "Hey," to the husband. And, somehow, magically, I got the shot. We didn't have to pull the car over, we didn't have to hold up traffic. The one thing that went right on that trip was that single instant where I was able to turn the camera on, point and click before the light changed and we had to be on our merry way. I love it when that happens. When the stars all align like that for you... I mean, what are the chances? Not only did I have the camera accessible, it was in my hands, for heaven's sake. So silly. Honestly, it's just plain silly!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

huge, audible sigh

In between all the boring stuff - you know all the stuff I'm always complaining about - I whipped up this little guy. I can't remember where I was - sitting in traffic somewhere probably - but I was picturing a little felt tree with little felt ornaments. I quickly jotted the idea down so I wouldn't forget it. By doing so, I didn't forget. Not because it was written down for me to see, but because the act of writing it down made me remember. I haven't constructed the tree yet, but this little guy found a place on the real tree. (yes, a REAL Christmas tree - seems to be something of a novelty these days - I don't think I know one other person who isn't using a fake tree this year)

I think I may try to create a tutorial and pattern for anyone else who wants to make one. That is, if I can find the time in between everything else on the to-do list in my increasingly cramped head. I've started to make myself focus more about all I HAVE accomplished in the day or week instead of focussing entirely upon the long list of things I WANT to do and can't find the time to do. It's funny having a kid who is starting to pick up on habits I wasn't aware I had. Little Mr. Man has stared sighing a lot - and I realize that in those moments of thinking about the long to-do list I often let out a huge sigh. There's no reason to feel so overwhelmed, right? So every time I catch myself in the middle of a long inhale, I focus on the accomplishments before letting out a huge, audible sigh. There's always tomorrow, after all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

holiday colors

New holiday colors for this set of baby booties. They'll be added to the Etsy shop by the end of the day. I love this combination of blue, green and red. My next little project to do in between everything else today - a little felt flying giraffe ornament. Started it last night while watching The Amazing Race. Cute little guy!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

mr. robot

Yesterday, little boy said to me about robot, "Oh mommy! She's SO beautiful!" (I guess all dolls are female to him) I hope he's just as excited when he opens the box on Christmas day to see Mr. Robot and discover that he (or she) was intended for him. The painted designs ended up looking a little '80s Mondrian. (I know Piet Mondrian wasn't from the '80s, but the color blocking seems '80s to me) I don't think the kid will mind that. Need to work out better designs for the next line of robots though.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Work in progress... little Mr. Robot. A few bootie orders have kept me from finishing my robot - and, no, I'm not complaining! Santa's workshop will be back up and running tomorrow. I also find it extremely hard to get anything done when I know I have a mountain of laundry waiting for me in the garage. So, that's done now too and I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders. On top of all that... diet is back on. So far so good, but I know for a fact that Wednesday is always the end of dieting attempts for Ms. Dawn. Day three. Never make it past day three. I might pick up again on Day four, but by Day six (usually a Saturday) I convince myself that since I failed on Day three I should just call it a day and start brand new on Monday. But Not This Time! (we'll see about that)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

our bird is taking a bath

Have you tried this before - a brined turkey? The idea sounded good enough to try. I really hope it takes away some of that turkey taste. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really have no business being carnivorous. Just hate the taste of meat. Meat I eat must be marinated, slathered in sauce or breaded and fried. So maybe a slice of this turkey, after it's been soaking up all those spices and salt, will be more up my alley. The husband and I are actually considering trying a more vegetarian lifestyle. Honestly, for me, the only reason I haven't done so early is purely out of convenience. How easy is it to throw some chicken on the barbecue? But after we eat till we're bursting at the seams tomorrow, this household might start trying out some more vegetarian options. Why not?

Next up, make mac-n-cheese for the kids, prepare gorgonzola flatbread appetizers, cook potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes and bake up almond tart. Busy day in the kitchen!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hello Dolly!

From here on out, this little house is going to be a busy little workshop. The Wooden Dolls by Alexander Girard reminded me of how I've always wanted to make dolls out of wood. When I saw them gracing the cover of the Design Within Reach holiday catalog, I was instantly inspired. No, mine aren't going to be nearly as cool and graphic - nah, these are made for the kids. But they'll still be special. I've got a lot of doll making ahead of me, yes I do. Oh the ideas!

I often get e-mails asking if I make my booties in other sizes. Well, now I guess I can add teeny tiny to my sizes offered...

I struggled on the shoes for a bit. Spent several hours lying in bed in the middle of the night trying to figure it out. Initially, I thought the shoes would be made out of wood. But after a lot of shaping and cutting I decided it just wasn't looking like I wanted them to. Only after all that did it occur to me to try to use my bootie pattern at a much smaller scale. And that was it. I knew the second I started to pull the felt around her little ankle that I had finally found my answer. I love those moments of genius.

And, what kind of mom would I be if I didn't have dolls for boys in the works? Though, my son seems to be in love with this little missy just about as much as I am, I think he might like a robot or cowboy too. Busy busy busy! Now, time to make the stock for the Riesling Gravy I aim to make for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Can we talk about how tired I am of the Why? game? "Mommy, why did you just say, 'oh no,' why? Mommy, why did you just scratch your head, why? Mommy, why did that man just say, 'damn it,' why?" And you can't say, "I don't know," because, to an almost-4-year old that means, ask me again in 5 minutes. And then 5 minutes later, again, and again, and again, until you think you've gone completely mad. Hours later, the same question as if somewhere I've magically found the answer to the question, "Mommy, why did that man crash the tractor into our house, why? Mommy, why do you say, 'I don't know,' why?" (Yes - so, you see, a few other things on my mind today) The husband urges me to take a long, hot shower. Cleanse myself of the Why? game. I know, I know - I'll miss this someday when he's too cool to talk to mom. Right now, though, I think I'll pull my hair out if I hear the word Why? one more time!!!

my mind is aflutter

When I hear myself saying to myself - "Another year already gone by! Thanksgiving next week and the holiday season is here again!" - I immediately break out in song, Carpenter's style... Greeting cards have all been sent, the Christmas rush is through. But I still have one wish to make, a special wish for you... I just can't think about christmastime without hearing the Carpenter's Christmas Album in my head. It just can't be Christmas without the Carpenters, in my book. (yeah yeah yeah, I know Jesus is the reason for the season) So, come next Friday - once Thanksgiving is all said and done with - I'll be playing my very favorite christmas album again and again till the cows come home. Or, rather, until the husband comes home from work and I quickly hit the mute button the second I hear that garage door open. You know, after all these years of marriage I still get embarrassed and apologize profusely for the music I listen to.

This week I'm finishing up these little party birds pictured above. Using a Good Thing and taking it one step further to make them birthday birds for my Thanksgiving boy. Speaking of Ms. Good Thing Martha, I got my holiday Martha Stewart Living the other day and my mind is aflutter with all the decorating, baking and homemade gift ideas. I am definitely going to make a gingerbread village this year. And it's about that time for me to start making the gifts I'm going to make so I don't run out of time. Yep, this house is going to start feeling the magic of the holiday season real soon!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

filling up with ideas

It's taken me way too long to finish this - a bib quilted from several bright fabric swatches, some of my own printed fabric and a silk-screened piece. (which reminds me of all the silk-screening supplies I bought a while back and have yet to use) So, hoping to make more of these for the empty Etsy shop. It's sew time! (Yes, I'm excited for Project Runway)

I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week! Little boy's birthday falls on the day of turkey, so I'm trying to come up with clever ways to make it a special day for the birthday boy as well. More on that later.

I've been slow to work on new things. My notebooks are filling up with ideas - but finding time to do them is another story. I need to make more of an effort to find the time. My head is always a little less stressed after a bit of crafting, sewing or gardening. Instead of spending time picking up toys that will wind up back on the floor later in the day anyway, I need to focus on my projects. That's easier said than done though. A couple weeks ago I even created a schedule for myself...

6am - wake up + start breakfast
7am - dress + make beds
8am - kids eat
9am - laundry
10am - craft
...and so on and so forth

I love the idea of that - a real schedule to follow so I'm not blundering through my day, losing my day. But I've yet to make it through an entire day of my so-called perfect schedule. Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough. Or, maybe, let's face it, kids just don't want to follow a schedule. Come to think of it, that was my biggest roadblock - fussy baby during what was supposed to be my hour. Come on, mom's don't get me time! What am I thinking? I know it'll only get easier from here. Baby will probably be walking in another few weeks and he'll start to enjoy entertaining himself more often. When that happens, watch out! This crafty mama will be back in business!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

See Rock City!

Sorry I've been so quiet lately. Maybe I'm still trying to catch up, literally and mentally, now that we're back home. I'm just so gosh darn tired all the time! Baby boy #2 is almost 10-months old. When baby boy #1 was about this age, I was beginning to get things started with all my crafting and selling and blogging and such. I guess I was thinking that things would start to pick up again once the little one hit this age. But so far, the energy level on my part just hasn't caught up with all the stuff to do here around the house.

But that's boring. The last thing I want to do after not posting anything new all week is write something boring. So, today I'll share some of the things I picked up on our trip. "See Rock City" - It's the ad campaign for Rock City. All along our drive from Nashville to Chattanooga we saw big signs and barn roofs with the words, "See Rock City." This miniature birdhouse was just about all I could commit to buying since I knew we still had 2 weeks left to our trip. A big birdhouse just wasn't going to fit in the suitcase regardless of how creative I could get with packing! But I'm itching to buy a full size birdhouse online to hang in one of our trees.

And, a few other things I picked up on our trip. First, a taste for sweet tea. Used to have great pride in the fact that I didn't add anything to my tea. No more. At the Frank Lloyd Wright house and studio (God bless gift shops!) in Oak Park, I picked up this cross stitch kit of one of his graphics. It was a great project for the road trips we took, but now that we're home I've hardly picked it up. Another one of those things that will take me forever to complete. As if that weren't enough things to keep my hands busy, I found a pattern book for crocheting socks. And my gauge is all off because, 1) I don't know what I'm doing and 2) I didn't follow directions and use the yarn they suggested. So, this first sock may end up being converted into something else. I've been thinking about making new Christmas stockings now that we're a family. I made stockings for the husband and I pre-children - a lifetime ago. Now I think I need to make 4 somewhat matching stockings for all of us. One thought was to quilt them from solid fabric and then add a new embellishment each year. Maybe a band of crocheted stocking? In 15 years they'll be works of art! Each year a piece of whatever I'm into that year can be stitched on. Who knows what craft I'll take up next.

Friday, October 26, 2007

melt, squeeze and freeze!

Still one more day of keeping the kids inside. The smoke is definitely better - but to be safe, we're playing inside. We swung by Michaels to use our 40% off coupon on a Thomas and Friends train. So, while we were there, we also picked up this Halloween candy kit. What kid wouldn't be excited about making candy? I clearly remember making these as a kid. I could taste that familiar colored chocolate taste before we even started microwaving those candy melts. And the kid was just as amazed to be creating these things as I was the very first time. Like, wow! It looks so perfect and all I had to do was melt, squeeze and freeze!

This reminds me of all the time and money I spent at a Hobby Lobby during our midwest trip. The husband and I even got in a little fight over it.

"No! I did NOT spend 2-1/2 hours in there!"

"Um, yes you did - not that it matters. You deserved the time away - I'm happy you had fun!"

"But I know for a fact that the tornado warning alarm was going off and they are tested at noon on Saturdays!"

"Yeah, and you got back at 2:30."

"Oh. Okay." [Damn! He's right again!]

How in the world did I spend 2-1/2 hours in ONE store? I don't know. All I can say is that I'm glad there isn't a Hobby Lobby here in San Diego county - or Southern California, for that matter. Our bank account is better off for it. I'm just relieved our luggage made it through the weight check at the airport!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

bittersweet homecoming

I love these Chicago towers.

Finally back from a very ambitious trip for a family with two young children. Among our stops were Chattanooga, Tennessee and Chicago, Illinois. While on our adventure, I was looking forward to getting home and getting ready for the holidays. Wanted to put out the Halloween decorations, go to the pumpkin patch, carve lots of pumpkins (so there would be lots and lots of pumpkin seeds to roast - yum!) and maybe even plant some bulbs, rake some leaves - you know, pretend I live somewhere where Fall yard chores are going on about now. But, instead we're stuck inside, hiding from the smoke and ash of the San Diego county fires than surround us. Flying into San Diego on Monday was just plain spooky. We were aware of the fires before we boarded our plane, but I don't think anyone was expecting to see what we saw. Not one fire, not two, but a handful of fires scattered across the county. Once on the ground, it felt like it was the end of the world. An eerie orange glow and absolutely no traffic on the freeway during what should have been the 5-o'clock rush hour. Had to turn the headlights on it was so dark in some spots.

We are so incredibly happy to be at home. The little munchkin is going absolutely stir crazy being cooped up inside, though. What saves us is that he's been away from his toys for two weeks. Everything is new all over again. After being in sterile hotel rooms and uninviting, kid-UN-friendly spaces for the past two weeks, I'm overjoyed to be back in my colorful home sweet home. I missed the pictures on our walls. Missed the clutter on the kitchen counter. I even missed the mutt. That stupid dog even got scraps from dinner last night. Missed my houseplants and our wall of books. Certainly missed our big big bed. And maybe all this stuff is so precious to me because I've had to start thinking about what I'd take if we were forced to evacuate. I remember doing this almost exactly four years ago when this area was consumed by fire. I started the list - computers, Grandma's pearls, the silverware box dad made, baby books. I can't imagine what it must feel like to start off new after losing everything. I just can't believe this is something so many people in our area are being forced to face.

So, it feels like our trip happened weeks ago when in fact we've only been home a couple days. So much has happened. I've turned the TV off today. Seems like imminent threat to us is gone, so off goes the newscast I've been glued to for nearly 36-hours. Maybe I can find the energy to write about the adventures tomorrow. For now, a few pictures.

A stay at the Chattanooga Choo Choo where your room is on an actual vintage train car.
(Highly recommended for anyone with little boy train enthusiasts)

How fantastic is this?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

fresh new look

I think it's been about a year that I've been thinking about decorating this old lamp. It was my grandma's lamp and probably one of the first memories of have of her house. I always loved it. It sat right next to the dinner table where she kept her sewing machine. I can clearly picture her sitting next to it, stitching a hem or sewing a button, while my sister and I were all snug-as-a-bug on the sofa bed watching Dallas and Fantasy Island. When she sold her house, I couldn't stand the thought of this disappearing from my life. It's goofy, but I still love it.

Then about a year ago, maybe even longer, Heather Wells of Bright Lights Little City was on Martha demonstrating her umbrella lamp construction. I LOVE her lamps! I knew immediately that it would give my grandma's lamp a fresh new look. Don't know why it took me so long to do. But now it's done! It wasn't as easy as I thought to find cocktail umbrellas. Of course - you know how it goes - seems I used to seen them ALL THE TIME and then when I actually want them... no where to be found. But I finally popped into the party store and grabbed a couple boxes. I over-estimated my umbrella needs, though, and have about 150 left over. I'm stocked for a lifetime of tiki bar parties.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

SEE-ment PAT-yo

I talked about a certain "Project Backyard" way back toward the start of summer. No, it didn't die. I just pulled another Dawn and made it way more complicated than it needed to be. Now, some 10 drawings later (with a landscape plan in the works), I'm finally sending this bad boy out to bid. This is the part about architecture and planning that I love and hate at the same time. Right now, I love it. The handing off - the part where it's no longer in my control. Because, frankly, I just can't even think about this anymore, but I still want it done. When I was working full time (and didn't have baby boys tugging at my pant legs) I hated letting go. I wished, desperately, that I could be the one to see the project through. Now, I'm elated to get this project to the next phase. Tired of planning and thinking and drawing. Ready for someone to take my plans and run run run.

So now we just have to deal with the financial end of things - which could be painful, especially since the plan is a little more than what I'd originally envisioned. For all I know, this thing could never even happen. We may just end up backing a cement truck up to the back fence and pour. A SEE-ment PAT-yo! But, hopefully we'll be able to do what I've schemed. If so, a trip to the local tropical nursery will be in order to pick out some nice palms and bamboo. Oh boy do I hope that bid comes back low!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

woman possessed with her hand-vac

Final round of pictures from the birthday party last week. Here is the sign little boy and I collaborated on. He felt so special having his own very important project to do. Beats anything we could have picked up at the party store for sure!

This is a really cute little serving platter my mom found at a thrift store on Maui. I meant to check out some thrift stores myself while on the islands - but didn't think of it until she gave me this and explained where she found it. Ho hum. We always love it when we can find things made in Japan, like this piece. Seems like people on the Hawaiian Islands come from all over the place, so the thrift stores are great places for finding far-away treasures.

Table all set, complete with cookies wrapped in these cute pineapple bags. Picked up the bamboo place mats (which I used for a partial table runner) last week. I love these. There were a few sprays of orchids in the center and, of course, my favorite Wedgwood china.

There have been a few e-mails wondering when I'm going to start printing fabric again and when I might start to re-stock the Etsy shop. It's next on my list! Hopefully some of you who sent inquiries are reading this. I'll have to start catching up on my e-mail responses soon too. Now that it definitely feels like summer is over, I'm ready to start working on things again. You know Fall is almost here when you make muffins in the morning as an excuse to turn on the stove and knock the chill out of the kitchen. It's hard for me to believe it though. Late September/early October in the past has been known to shove one last heat wave in our direction. But believe me, I sure do hope Fall is here to stay! I love bundling up the little guys. They've been barefoot for so long that little socks and long pants make them look so grown up. Oh they're growing up so fast! Can you believe the 8-month old is already crawling? He's skittering about and I'm running around like a woman possessed with her hand-vac. I'd forgotten how they like to pick the teeny tiniest little bits of whatever off the floor and how they always go straight into their mouths. So mornings around here now start with a good vacuum. God bless the hand vacuum. There's always a pile of play dough crumbs or shredded pieces of paper in big brother's wake. I think I'd go insane if I had to pull out the big vacuum more than once a day. Good lord, once a day is almost more than I can handle! So, that's the excuse for little creative work getting done. Long gone are the days of baby sitting by my side, amused, while I sew. Sad!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

made for list-makers

I've always loved used the search templates field in Microsoft Excel for finding great organizational spreadsheets. Before our trip, I found "Trip Planner" and it really did make the whole process of packing, making house arrangements and last minute trip details a cinch. By the morning of our departure, I was actually in control - a new thing for me. Usually I'll have been up all night frantically trying to remember what I've forgotten.

For the big birthday party last week, I downloaded "Party Planer" (which was really geared more towards a holiday party but was easily converted to fit my needs). At this point I'm practically coming up with excuses to look for a template. This thing was made for list-makers like myself. My only problem is that I often spend more time making my lists than actually tackling them. Ah, well, the intentions are always there, at least.

Friday, September 21, 2007

the day after

Glad it's Friday, but at the same time I can't believe the day is almost over and I haven't even made it half way through my list of things to do. So I think pictures from the party will have to trickle in. First up is what I think everyone enjoyed most, my mud pie. "Did you put crack in this?" You know it must be good when you get a question like that. It was a nice little party. When I woke up this morning, it felt like the day after Thanksgiving. All these days of prep and then it's suddenly over. It wasn't so much that it was time-consuming, more mind-consuming. Seems I never have much time for projects these days, so prep for the party had to be done in short 10-15-20-minute bites here and there and wherever I could squeeze them in. When I wasn't doing something party-related, I was thinking about what party-related task I'd be doing next. The great think about a mud pie is that you can make it ahead of time and pop it in the freezer. Problem with making cakes ahead of time and leaving them in the fridge is that you get all sorts of 3-year old size finger swipes in the frosting. Our little house was busting at the seams with both sets of parents, a sister, two rug rats and a baby. We often talk about how happy we are in our house. We're convinced that we wouldn't want anything bigger. We like that when the kids get older, they'll be forced to share their lives with us because there's no upstairs or far away bedroom to go running off to. But, I suppose I'll have to accept the limitations of a small house. No more formal dinners if we're planning on more than, say, six. But, it sure was cozy!

Dawn's Mud Pie

For the crust, mix together and press into a springform pan:
melted butter
crushed chocolate graham crackers

Add, in this order:
toasted cocconut
coffee ice cream
chocolate fudge
chopped macadamia nuts
whipped topping (I piped mine on)

Cover with seran wrap and freeze.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

hula pie

Another week gone by.


Where did the summer go?

This week's project? Hubby's 34th birthday party which is tomorrow. I guess I'm still thinking of Hawaii, cause this party's got a lot of island flavor. (I'm toasting coconut as we speak) I've been thinking a lot about the old Coco Palms Resort. Every year that we've gone to Kauai, since our honeymoon in 2000, I gaze longingly at that old Coco Palms resort. Since it's destructive fate during the hurrincane in the '90s, it's always just sat there tattered and windows blown out with original drapes and light fixtures just hanging there exposed to the Pacific ocean air. I should have known something was in the works (I mean, of course - Elvis was there, afterall), but every year we drive by I think that we should buy the place and return it to it's full retro glory. I should know, afterall, how hard it is to get projects going - developers have been chomping at the bit to get work started on this place. But, finally, this year, I see a sign announcing the renovated Coco Palms Resort ~ luxurious condominiums. Of course condos start at $1 million. Of course. Ah, well, I can look forward to the day that I can at least wander along the grounds where Elvis once sang the Hawaiian wedding song. (Grandma used to call me every single time Blue Hawaii was playing on TV - "Hello Dawn??? Blue Hawaii is on channel 8!" Didn't matter if I lived in Vista or L.A. or San Diego, she'd call with the good news every time) All these years I've been tempted to take the "Movie Tour" just to gain access to the Palms grounds. I'll still dream I'm the inn keeper's wife, a la Hotel Honolulu.

So, in that spirit, we've got a menu worthy of the Coco Palms restaurant planned. To start, coconut shrimp. Next up, filet mignon and teriyaki chicken with grilled pineapple. For dessert? Nothing less than hula pie - a layered concoction with chocolate crust, toasted coconut, coffee ice cream, macadamia nuts and whipped cream. Yum. Yeah, so I've been watching a little too much Top Chef (+ re-runs). I'm all into the prep now. Totally excited to plan a menu, do my shopping and have a day of prep before cooking for the big meal. I'm giddy this is so much fun.

Pics tomorrow.

Since most will see this tomorrow (=today) -- including birthday boy himself -- the best birthday wishes and all the aloha in the world to my Tommy Lee. Straight from the old lady herself (yes, folks, I'm older by almost 3 months), best birthday wishes. Tonight, we celebrate Coco Palms style!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

sandy feet

sandy_feet, originally uploaded by buettington.

Now back at home, this is what I miss - sandy feet. But, like I've said before, It's always good to come home. Like I've complained before, I do hate the unpacking part. Almost done though, so it's nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now if only I could get the kids adjusted to time here at home. 9:00am and they're both still asleep! I know I should wake them, but I'll admit it's nice to have some quiet time to myself in the kitchen. Oh selfish selfish! But, it'd also be nice to have some quiet time with the husband tonight - which we did NOT get last night because little Mr. Man was up until 10:30pm (an early 7:30pm in Hawaii).

This trip was filled with several highs and lows. On the upside was the time the boys and I got to spend with my parents while they were on the island of Kauai. On the downside was the couple days we were on our own until Tom joined us after his business trip. It showed me something though - doesn't matter where you are, there you are! Sure I was in paradise, but there were still diapers to change, temper tantrums to deflate and all the normal mommy duties to tend to. And, even being in my very favorite place in the whole wide world just doesn't feel all together right without that person I call my other half. When he finally got there, it suddenly felt right. Oh the joy when I saw him round the corner at the airport - tears shed as little boy ran up to great him with a plumeria lei. Nothing greater than that.

It really was a wonderful time, so I hesitate to even mention some of the negative experiences of the trip. Yeah, you know what? I'm not gonna go there. I'll just remark on one that probably wouldn't even have been nearly as traumatic for me if I hadn't just had 2 mai tais (rum makes me emotional). A mere few minutes after taking a final picture of the sunset (a mere half hour after my previous post) the battery from our camera disappeared as it sat tucked in my shoe during one last dip in the pool. I tried, I really tried, to convince myself that it probably just fell out. But I'm too methodical for that - the battery door would have had to open all by itself, the little notch that holds the battery would have had to get pushed aside by itself, etc., etc. Then, I could have listened when Tom tried to convince me that even if someone had stolen the battery, it meant they needed the money more than we do and only wanted to take our money and not our memories (leaving behind the camera and memory card). Yes, yes, true. But still, I got all tears and dramatic and was convinced that I had done something to deserve this and the mosquito bites and the other unmentioned incident. I'm well over it now, but was reminded of it as I went to download the remaining photos from our memory card. Oh how I wished that one final photo had been snapped before my presumed battery-snatcher drained our camera of its power source. As I downloaded, I imagined some bruddah with a big grin giving me a "hang ten" shakka. No such luck. That would have made it all worth it! Damn!

[note to self: stay away from the rum!]

Sunday, September 09, 2007

my nightmare

Shot taken right now in my moment of realization.

My nightmare - the one I have nearly once a month... I'm in Hawaii for only one day and it's sunset and I've suddenly remembered all these things I've yet to do. I'm living it. We're a mere 2 hours from sunset and we leave by sunrise tomorrow morning. How can this be?!? Ah!!! Well, the husband and the bugaboo are out enjoying the sunshine and I suppose little Mr. BabyBoo and I should too. Mother trucker, are we really headin' home tomorrow!?!?!??! Do you suppose there's a reason I feel homesick da second da plane lands on this island or wha? This moment, right now - this is my nightmare. Only a coupla hours left a daylight and what do you do wit it?

This is my home.

What my grandma called home till the day she died... Kauai. Do I just sit here and cry or do I watch the sun set?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

out of touch

Ah, beautiful Hawaii.

Everything is green and lush. It rains every morning and is sunny by breakfast. Birds - so many birds! I love hearing them after a rain shower passes by. They all come out singing and dancing from ginger stalk to ginger stalk. It's easy to waste away handfuls of time looking at the mountains, studying a flower and watching the fish dart in and out of the rocks on the shore. I also love those clouds. Big fluffy things hanging low and just leisurely drifting by on their trans-Pacific journey. Blue sky, crystal clear water, bright flowers and every shade of green you could possibly imagine.

Doing my best to keep everyone from burning to a crisp. The sun is so intense here. I've had my fair share of sunburns and don't need to go through that again. I'm always so pleased with myself when we return from a trip to the beach with no red noses or burnt shoulders. Especially when baby's fair white skin continues to be just that. Both boys are having a wonderful time in the water. Here on the North Shore of Kauai the surf is calm this time of year, so we're enjoying gentle waves rippling onto the shore.

I feel so out of touch, though. I mean, yes, I have an internet connection, but I haven't been turning the computer on much. I guess that's how you know you're having a pretty good time. Maybe I should read a newspaper or something though. When you're on this island it's really easy to forget that there's anything else out there in the world. With stars as bright as they are here at night, one would think this little island is a star itself, floating out amongst the other stars in the galaxy!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

nacho guy

I love to get hotel rooms with kitchenettes. I hate relying on restaurants when we travel. But I don't like to buy huge jars of small necessities - so I travel with my tube of spices! I've been so busy packing up, cleaning the house, organizing things for the pets - I haven't posted this week because I figured everything I'm doing is completely boring. But then I read Posie's blog this morning and I realized that I forgot to chat about the concert we went to Monday night.

spices, originally uploaded by buettington.

Row 10, full moon (well, it looked full anyway - I guess Tuesday night was technically full moon) and Wilco. I was so happy to hear so many old favorites as well as tracks from the new album, Sky Blue Sky. As Ms. Posie suggests herself, when you go to see a band play, you always want to be the crowd and the city the band remembers. In between songs, Jeff Tweedy struck up conversations, remarking on the moon and how the mellow crowd must be an indication of it being the first day back at school (the concert was at SDSU's Open Air Theater). And, as I was beginning to notice, puffs of smoke made Tweedy say, "You guys smell funny." Ah yes, that wonderful concert haze. But then he said, "But the guys in Portland, Oregon smelled REAL funny." Okay, so we won't be remembered as the city that smokes a lot of pot. Then he asked, "Hey! Where's nacho guy?" Apparently there was a guy front and center with a big bowl of nachos. Tweedy imitated nacho guy putting a big gooey chip in his mouth, head bopping to the music and shouting, "Yeah!" in between shots of cheesiness. So, yes folks, San Diego will be remembered for nacho guy.

I couldn't help but think about John Lennon when they played Hate it Here. The lyrics sound a lot like Lennon post Yoko separation and reunion. Think Jealous Guy. But the Wilco twist has this sound that I bet Lennon would have loved - these pauses from the melody to just rock out. Love it. Most Wilco songs are like that. You'll be swaying and enjoying it and then these incredible sounds hit you and make you get out of your trance and really hear the song. The lights were fantastic. Dancing to those drums. I envy the ability to not only compose music, but then to put words to it. It's something that seems so incredibly impossible to me. It's beyond my understanding. Some people are just born with that - doing it before they hit puberty. Amazing. I loved that Jeff Tweedy pointed out how his 7-year old son was fast asleep a few rows up. How can a kid sleep through this??? Wow, to be the kid of a rock-n-roll daddy - how cool must that be?

So, yeah - it was a great night.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

just like dirt

When I was little, I thought I could make it rain. I'd think long and hard about how much I wanted it to rain and within a few days it would. Silly. I was probably thinking I wanted it to rain because I'd heard that it was supposed to rain. But, for the record - yesterday I was watching Dirty Dancing while sewing, and, in the movie there are several key rainstorms (makes for steamy love scenes, right?) and I thought to myself, I'd LOVE it if it would rain sometime this summer.

So, what did I wake to this morning? Thunder. (we never get thunder) When I heard that, I shut my eyes in an attempt to get another few minutes of sleep in and repeated again and again in my head, "I hope it starts raining I hope it starts raining." (we never get rain) Then, it did! No, I'm not claiming responsibility for it - but it sure is cool. I jumped out of bed (didn't need coffee this morning) and went into the kitchen so I could sit and just listen to it come down. Nothing more rejuvenating to me than rain. Maybe mother nature is just giving me a taste of Hawaii in preps for my trip. Started sewing the swimsuit wrap I've been putting off for weeks - even turned off the filter on the fish aquarium so I could hear the rain drops and thunder. Oh, and the smells! This dry earth was just soaking it up and made everything smell so fresh and natural - just like dirt. Love it. I continued to repeat in my head, "Please don't stop raining please don't stop raining." It continued to come down until about 10am - then the sun came out and it all dried up and all the puddles started to quickly get slurped up by the thirsty ground. But, oh, what a wonderful treat for a Sunday morning. Thinking of that great Sarah Harmer song - The Hideout. Look at that green, out through the screen after a quick rain came - So fast that, there wasn't time to roll up the windows and pull the clothes down off the line. But I don't care, it was so dry and the grass is happy and I think, so am I.

So, Jennifer Grey was the lawyer's wife in John From Cincinnati? I watched her intro on the DVD and couldn't believe it was her. She shouldn't have gotten a nose job. It made her her! I swear I was a girl of the '60s in a previous life. What with my infatuation for Peggy Sue Got Married and Dirty Dancing, and now my love of Mad Men - playing Sirus Gold - I just can't get enough of it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

things I love

It's been quite a long time since I've done
Things I Love

Love: There's nothing like growing something you can eat. I planted this grapevine 3 years ago and have patiently waiting for my first bunch. Here it is! Although, it looks so pretty and it makes me so happy to see it hanging there every time I go outside to water that I'm hesitant to pick it and eat it up. But, maybe today's the day. Little boy and I may have ourselves a very special afternoon snack.

Love: Ever since I was a little girl with my newly found pen pal I've loved sending out mail. E-mail has made me lazy - so I don't send things out as often as I'd like. But when I do, I love the feeling of sending something off into the world.

Love: I absolutely love the color of these roses. This photo doesn't quite capture the brown tones, though. Just beautiful. I love it when flowers are colors you wouldn't expect them to be. No, not purple carnations - but, greens and browns and even various shades of white. I love it when the magnolia tree is blooming - look inside a blossom and the white petals become a pretty shade of brown as you reach the center. And the stem inside is gorgeous purple. I hate that magnolia blossoms really only last a day in a bowl of water in the house. But, the brown color that their petals turn after a day indoors is probably one of my favorite colors.

Love: How much do I love that within minutes of my turning on the Today show this morning they showcased their #4 most beautiful place in America, which was Hawaii - where I'll be in a week? In my humble opinion, it is #1. Gave me chicken skin to see the church in Hanalei, to hear some Iz ukulele and see footage of the majestic Na Pali coast. How is that for timing?

Love: Fridays. Even though little boy tells me with disdain, "It's always mommy weekend," it's just not right without the husband around. And thank goodness we have nothing going on this weekend, so we can just enjoy our weekend together.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

thank you for humoring me

How cute will this be? A sushi romper for the little brother and a chopstick shirt for the big brother. I thought this fabric was adorable and bought it even though I knew it'd be pushing it for me to sew these two outfits up. But that's just the way I do things - always load myself up with things to do. Only a couple weeks till aloha-time! So I'd better get sewing. But, it's still SO HOT. I know I'm not out in the fields laboring under the sun or anything, but when it's hot like this it takes every last grain of energy to get anything done. On top of that, we all get a little cranky around here. My son's temperment and mine are very much the same, so he and I start to bicker and I have to remind myself that I should just let the 3-year old win this argument and start acting like an adult. But that's just so hard to do sometimes, you know? Why should he get the last word? Oy vey.

So what did we do over the hot hot weekend? We went out. Spent Saturday at the Go, Diego, Go LIVE Show. Yes, it's just as you would imagine. But, at least it was in an air conditioned theater. Sunday was spent at the ballpark. Yep, that was hot. But, it was the husband's company picnic - so free food and beer. It was a busy family weekend. No time for anything silly like sewing, painting or crafting. I did manage to crochet a few hexagons in the car en route to all our running about town. After reconsidering my measurements, it looks like it may take around 600 to cover the bed. When I made my original guesstimate of 750, I wasn't taking into consideration the stretchiness of the blanket. So that was a nice little discovery. I'm still working on my first row and am so incredibly eager to start the second so that I'll have hexagons connected by more than one side. I'm tempted to just throw one in the second row before I'm finished with the first (there's no harm in that - it's going to go there eventually anyway!), but I feel like that would be cheating and I want to keep at this in an organized way. No jumping ahead. Only 5 more to go until I can make the first hexagon of row two. This morning I told myself I'd just plow through and get those 5 done today. We'll see how that goes.

A super special thank you to everyone who sent me an e-mail following my last post. It was so great to hear from you! I just get so silly sometimes. If you've been reading and following my posts for awhile, you know how incredibly insecure I am. This was another one of those moments flaring up. So, thank you for humoring me and making me feel special. Confidence restored. Everyone who e-mailed will get a patch in the mail. I'll try to get those in envelopes today! But you know how slow I move in this heat. So please forgive me if they don't go out until tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Sometimes I wonder if anyone is out there - someone other than the husband and a few close friends reading this. If you look waaaaaaaay back at my first entry, you'll see that this was really set up to be my little online personal journal and I thought, at the time, that if anyone stumbled upon it, then, well, that would just be a nice little thing. So I'm not caught up in it. But, I'm curious. Is anyone out there? I do occasionally get nice comments and I really appreciate those. So, thank you to those who comment!

So let me know you're out there! If you'd like me to send you one of the patches I showed you in yesterday's post, send me an e-mail (questions [at] outoftheboxcalifornia [dot] com) with your name and mailing address. I was gonna have you leave a comment, but then I thought, how embarrassing would that be if no one left a comment? This way, only I will know that I am a complete loser, should that be the case. Ha ha. And to put some kind of control on this thing (on the offbeat chance it becomes a thing), e-mail must be received by 8pm Pacific Time tonight, Friday August 17th. And on the really really offbeat chance that I start to run out of patches, I'll have to close it early - so don't delay!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

inconvenient truth

Okay. Finally getting back to myself again. Is there anything more inconvenient than a cold during the heat of the summer? I hate sinus pressure when the temperature is in the high-90s. Miserable! But, feeling better. So now it's just a matter of surviving the heat.

I did manage to finish packaging up these iron-on patches for the Sampler. Maybe I'll try to come up with a way to share some of these with anyone who pops in here to read. So check back again tomorrow if you're interested. I'm curious to see what kind of response these get. This is a good way to test the concept out. I'd love to make all kinds of designs for iron-on patches, but only if there seems to be interest. As I've discovered over the course of the past few years, some things do better than others and there's absolutely no way for me to gauge that on my own. In fact, I'm ususally surprised to see what sells well and what doesn't. I try to focus my energy on the things that appear to be popular, but sometimes get sidetracked. This patch idea is a sidetrack. It'll either be a worthy wandering or a flop. Hard to tell right now.

Question of the day: Do I close up the house and crank on the AC (and accept the big electric bill at the end of the month)? Or do I fix a tall glass of lemonade and go dunk my feet in the kiddie pool? I suppose I should do as Al Gore would do and give my electrical outlets a break. No kidding, an inconvenient truth.

Monday, August 13, 2007

weekend in review - not so much

So I had this idea that it'd be fun to always post about my weekends come Monday morning. Tell you about the projects I worked on (because it's always my time to work on the stuff I've been putting off all week once the husband is home to entertain the little ones). But, unfortunately, I'm afraid the only thing I did this weekend was make one very unimpressive discovery: my messed up crochet circles/hexagons make great coasters!

Spent all last week caring for the 3-year old and his cold. So, naturally that means I get to spend the weekend harboring my own fever, achy head, coughing, sneezing cold. Thank goodness it happened on a weekend though. I was able to sleep for nearly 14 hours on Saturday while the little boys were under Daddy's care. (And, yes, I know there should be OJ in that glass on that "coaster" - but even when sick I love a tall glass of cherry Coke Zero) Kids! As a parent you get twice as many colds as you ever have in your entire life before - but, you can't call in sick. Honestly, though, I'd take it any day of the week if I could keep it from descending upon my little guys. The look in his little usually overly-energetic face when he's so completely out of it from a cold. Breaks my heart.

So, {sniffle sniffle} hopefully I'll have more projects to post about again soon in the next day or two. Didn't finish up my iron-on patches like I'd planned. Didn't complete all my "Project Backyard" drawings as I'd hoped. But everything's underway and I think I'll be back to 100% by tomorrow.