Playing Catch Up

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting my groove back after my sister passed away last month has not been easy. I don't want to sound like a broken record but I continue to feel like I've lost my step and I can't quite get my footing right, or something. 

Anyway, blogging makes me happy so here are some snippets of what's been going on around here.

Jonathan finally got his permit. Yay! When Maddie and Katie were learning to drive I was freaked all I can think about is how great it will be not to have to drive J to seminary at 6:20 in the morning.
I painted this little mirror blue with Chalk paint and finished it with varathayne. I did it on a day when it had been raining a ton for a few days and the air was so humid that the paint behaved very weirdly. It took forever to dry and was kind of streaky. Note to self: paint on dry days.

Over Presidents Day weekend I took Ellie and her cute friend paddle boating in Golden Gate Park. They would not let me take a photo. Here's one I snuck. Snooked?
The lake was more amicable.
As were the turtles.

However, teen girls, they are fickle, and on the same day they wouldn't let me photograph them paddling they made a video and uploaded it to youtube. Then asked me to post it here. Because surely my blog is the road to fame and fortune, heh heh. Oh, just go click on it so they get some extra views; you will make their day! I'm not saying you should watch it, just click it.

And finally, I got my first commission to paint furniture for someone who is not me. Or my mom. Exciting stuff. 

Two Updos You Can Do

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I love The Small Things Blog. Kate posts, among other beauty related information, detailed instructional videos that even a hair dork like moi can follow. I've never liked the feel of product in my hair but after watching her fluff and puff her locks that she insists are straight and flat without sprays and whatnot I've been converted. In one video she even says something like, "if you don't like using product, get over it."

Well this week has been particularly rainy and it is almost comical how quickly any volume or curls I put in my hair dissipate. And because I don't love looking like a wet dog (and I'm not even as cute as this):
 I decided that the answer to pretty hair in spite of the deluge was to try my hand at a couple of updos that went beyond my usual ponytail or sock bun standbys. 

Last Sunday I followed Kate's tutorial for the Pretty & Simple Updo. I was impressed with the word "simple" because I am generally really lame at doing anything new to my hair. Here is how it's supposed to look:
And here is how mine looked after three hours of church where I chased toddlers for two of the hours:

So obviously not as good as hers, but still, pretty amazing for a first try, right?! I mean, I got home from church and was so impressed with myself that I went in the bathroom and took a photo to prove I had actually done it before taking it out for Sunday afternoon napping.

High on last weeks success, today I tried The Double Bun . Here is Kate's (I bandish around her name like we're best friends, but actually, she doesn't know me from Adam):
And here is mine:
We can learn several things from this photo, not the least of which is that I really need to clean my kitchen; and that's just one day of mess so maybe the real takeaway is that my family (present company included) are slobs. Also, yes my skin is that red. No, I don't have a sunburn. But back to hair! So I had a little more trouble making the soft swoopy sides that she talks about-my attempts made me look more like a dog with big ears-again I'm not this cute-I just can't pull it off.
So I kind of braided and twisted my bangs back until it looked good to me. I've been so happy with my new skillz that I wanted to share. I hope you like The Small Things Blog as much as I do.

What We're Eating

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It has been hard to blog since my sister passed away last month. It's been hard to do very much at all. Actually, I am really good at crying. I'd like to send big smoochy hugs to everyone who took the time to read about her here and send me such kind messages. It meant more than you can know.

So yesterday I decided that we were going to go bankrupt if I didn't make the herculean effort to plan a weeks worth of meals, write a grocery list and, yes, drive to the store and purchase food. We've been living on a steady diet of pizza and Chinese take-out supplemented with a lot of toast. After I put everything away and wrote the menu up on my chalkboard kitchen door so I won't forget what the heck I'm supposed to do with all those groceries, I noticed that I'd planned a menu of almost all comfort foods. Go figure. 

Some of the recipes I've made before and know are yummy, and some are new but just sounded good, you know? Anyway, here are some of the meals we're having with links to the recipes in case you need a little comfort too.

Monday is fish day. We had this oven roasted sea bass with ginger and lime sauce. Except sea bass was $24 a pound so I selected the $6 cod instead. The sauce is super good. I plan to use it again to marinate chicken and I even think it would be tasty as a salad dressing.

Tonight were are trying this slow cooker honey garlic chicken. I know, it's not a very far step from Chinese take-out but whatever. Doesn't it just look like it will make me feel better? I think so.

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken |
Also I am making broccolini to go with it because I saw it in the produce section and I thought, "hey! the little chefs on 'Master Chef Junior' use this all the time to look fancy, I want to look fancy too." Broccoli is so last year.
I snapped this right before Marc dug in.
Wednesday night we are having boiled dinner. There is no recipe for this; my little German mom has been making it for as long as I can remember. In your largest pot boil carrots, potatoes, a quartered onion, a quartered cabbage head, and sweet Italian sausage (my mom uses polish sausage). Let it all boil together until the potatoes and carrots are tender and the sausage isn't pink in the middle. In our family, this is comfort food.

I'm a sucker for a good slow cooker recipe, as you can tell, and on Thursday I'm making Coconut Ginger Chicken and Vegetables. I've made this before and it is really yummy, mild enough for the whole family, but with a lot of nice flavors.
Having said that, I recommend a few changes. One, canned baby corn grosses me out so I just don't use that weird stuff. I about double all the spices plus add a couple tablespoons of curry. My final tip, when you choose your frozen veggies, get ones without carrots. Believe me, frozen carrots just don't taste that good. I use a stir fry mix and then add some asparagus.

The last meal I planned for Friday or Saturday depending on the leftover situation is another slow cooker favorite, Vegetable Beef Soup.
I've made this before too and I like to make a few changes. Instead of frozen mixed veggies I use chopped whatever I have in the fridge, usually broccoli (because I also am so last year), green beans, bell peppers, onions, carrots or whatever. I never use canned corn, always fresh or at least petite white frozen. And this time instead of buying ground beef I purchased a roast that was on sale and asked the butcher to chop it up for me; I plan to season it with salt, pepper and garlic powder then brown it in a little bit of oil before putting it in the crock pot.

And that is how I am eating my feelings this week.

My Sister is Dying, Please Get to Know Her First

Monday, January 12, 2015

I've been wanting to write about my sister for a long time now but I keep getting stuck. The thoughts come too fast and my feelings are too intense. I swing wildly between sadness and joy in any given instant. My sister is LeeAnn. Here she is.

Everyone has different portals that they access to touch the Divine and right now, you are looking at my family's brush with Heaven. She sits at the very center of everything and we revolve around her. She's our heart.

And maybe the sweetest thing is how my mom and dad are her heart. I'm writing now with tears in my eyes because while I really really want to tell the whole world about her and about the life of service my parents have devoted to her it is incredibly hard. Because we are starting to say goodbye and it is just too much. 

She has colon cancer.

I hate cancer. And when my sister hurts I can't stand it.

But even in the most awful situation Lani is our messenger from God. She is our metaphor for His plan, His timing, His comfort and peace.

Also, she is just so darn cute!

I wrote those words over a month ago and then gave up because it made me cry the terrible headache inducing crys.

It's time to try again because Lani's time with us is drawing to a close, her doctor says two weeks at the most, and I am determined that my little corner of the internet know how fabulous she is!

On any given day, okay on ALL given days, you will find her in her posterpedic bead in the middle of my parents' family room surrounded by her court of five, my mom, my dad, one of her amazing caregivers, Iris or Jill, and the two dogs who are nearly always at the end of her bed, Bodey and Sophie. This is her realm. She is fed through a tube, she can't walk or talk, she tosses her toys and we bring them back to her, and her diaper has to be changed all the time, because she thinks that's funny.
Fierce doggy guards. Not.
It's kind of amazing the way her personality can shine through the tremendous cage her body has become. She loves music and so she always has her iPhone (yes, she has an iPhone...go figure) in one hand playing her favorite country tunes, or Mindy Gledhill, or The Lower Lights. She gets her love of country from my parents. When I arrived at middle school in the Bay Area knowing all the words to  The Oak Ridge Boys' Greatest Hits my appalled friends took me in hand and introduced me to Foreigner and the Go-Go's. Lani never had that chance :-) I don't think she minds. Here is a picture of my sweet parents, Gary and Kendra. And actually, I just googled "top songs of 1982" and The Oakridge Boys' "Elvira" is in the top forty. So dad was cool.

My parents are like Lani whisperers. Her language is very subtle, well, except when she's crying at decibel ten all through the night. But mostly they interpret her little signals, a clenched hand or a flinch when she's turned. They are always sensitive to anything that might indicate discomfort or illness. She is, of course, super prone to infections. My mom can smell Lani's ear and know if it's infected. How's that for a superpower? She hardly sleeps at night, and one of them is always up if she's up. My mom jokes that all of Lani's shirts should be from Guess because "guessing" is what they are always doing as they try to figure out what she needs. 

Somehow I have digressed into the more sad parts of Lani language. My mom and dad are also masters at making her laugh and smile and coo and talk. Her talking is like how a four month old talks. I absolutely love her smile. The corners of her mouth practically curl up like an elf. It's delightful! Unless she is in pain, happy is pretty much her favorite mood. She will smile and giggle to herself for hours and we have no idea what is making her so happy. Angel jokes, I imagine. I cannot figure out how to turn this video around, but you get the idea.

Also, she likes to cluck. I don't know how that became a game with her (actually I think my mom invented it) but if you smoosh your face up against her cheek and you cluck your tongue she will smile and cluck back at you. We have whole clucking conversations about, just, everything. She only has three words. Ma and Da are reserved for moments of tremendous distress, but she says "guss" all. the. time. I am very curious who Guss is. I think that when my dad meets her in heaven she will greet him with a giant "Hi Guss!"

Her other great talent is The Cuddle. When you want to hang with Lani there is really only one way it's going down; you literally have to get in bed with her. You'll snuggle up and she will take your hand in her very strong grip. She may be in a laughing mood where you can tickle her face and tell jokes, or she may be in a very soft mood where she will smile and coo and put her hand around your head and pull you to her. She will turn up her face and she just loves it when you sing softly in her ear. With her, your either in bed with her, or you might as well be in Alaska.

You can see how losing her makes us feel like maybe we are losing the piece of heaven we've been so blessed to have. I am trying hard to focus on how wonderful it will be for her to have a body that is whole, to be with her Heavenly Father, and to imagine her in celestial glory. But really, I think she is pretty perfect how she is now. And I'm not quite ready for goodbye.

Which is probably another eternal lesson she is helping me with. Oh my gosh! My thoughts are EVERYWHERE. I feel blessed and like screaming at the same time. And I don't understand how the world can keep spinning when this is happening, it feels like everyone should be sad. I better stop writing and reign in the melodrama. Thank you friends, for letting me share this with you. I hope you can see at least a bit how wonderful my sister is.

The Easiest & Yummiest Holiday Punch Ever

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Really Truly the Best Non-Alcoholic

 Holiday Punch

We try to have a Christmas Party every year; this year we went off script a bit and invited some of Marc's friends from his work. He's an employee benefits attorney. Don't even ask me what he really does all day but apparently he does make a few friends. However, even though we didn't invite the same people we usually do, we did serve the same punch...because it is SO GOOD.

Here is Marc working the drink station like a boss man.
Our guests are all invisible. I kid. People did actually come, I just only took pictures before hand.

Okay so the punch. I got this three ingredient recipe from an amazing cook and hostess, Julie, back when we lived in Virginia. 

You need:

 3 bags of Celestial Seasonings 
apple spice herb tea
1 gallon of any brand apple juice
1 litre of diet ginger ale.

Steep the three bags of tea in the bottle of apple juice overnight or for at least 6 hours in the fridge.

When you're ready to serve just fill your pitcher with 1/2 of the juice and 1/2 of the ginger ale.

This punch is crisp and spicy with a bit of a zing to it. It's very refreshing.

I thought the party went well. Two of our guest are participating in a "step challenge" where they use their fitbits all day and are on teams competing for the most steps in a several month period. They both followed me all over the house whenever I was bringing things in from the kitchen or whatever. It was funny.
I deconstructed a bouquet from Trader Joe's and added berries from a bush in our backyard to make the centerpiece.
This was fun too, I hollowed out a cabbage head to use to hold the veggie dip, put it in a bowl and then layered the veggies for dipping around it. It was a tight fit for those bell peppers but I made it work.

Much Ado About NOTHING

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I was talking with my friend Monica last night about how confusing the blog world is. She was over at our house because she's the awesome church leader for the girls Ellie's age and they were watching Elf together. Really they were giggling snacking together, and they are just ADORABLE! See?
So she and I were discussing how we don't really know how to "brand" our blogs, and how we both think we're supposed to narrow our blogging focus but what we really like is sharing all kinds of nonsense. It got me thinking about how my blog name doesn't have anything to do with painted furniture or decorating or really anything outside my head. I've explained how I got it here, but I haven't said anything about my tagline, "all girls are mermaids, some boys are mermaids too."

You're probably just so dying to know about that right? You've been losing sleep over it I bet. It's a line from this great Kid History episode. Enjoy.

I like it so much because, duh, all girls are mermaids. Or, I guess, I'm one; you probably are too. As grown up as I'm supposed to be, there is a part of my Narnia loving heart that will always believe in magic. I also believe in Nessie.

And as long as I'm sharing things that have nothing to do with anything, have you seen this Bruno Mars video for Uptown Funk? It is total awesome sauce. Please, please watch this. It will make your day!

Crafts Gone Wrong

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What you see here are the six weird little stuffed Christmas trees that it took me two days to make. The little devils just would. not. cooperate. At all.

Even after several unpicked seams and re-sewing you can still see that virtually everything about these little guys is crooked and wonky. So instead of telling you how to make these like I normally would in a craft post, I'm going to warn you away. Don't be tricked into thinking, "it's a triangle for pete's's like sewing half a bean bag." Because you would be WRONG. 
It doesn't really make sense that I'm posting this but gosh darn it, I made the stupid trees, took the cute pictures, and by golly I will blog them! I like them now, but I cannot in good faith recommend them to you. There has to be something easier. When you find it, tell me!

Linking up


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