Archive for May 2009

Chinatown

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's impossible to be married for almost nineteen years and not have the occasional, ah, altercation with your beloved spouse. Yesterday Marc and I had a doozy, and because I was entirely in the right (!) I would share the details with you, but that's not good spousing and I would very much like to be a good spouse.

Anyway, we made up. Because we always make up. Marc and I are totally co-dependant; we can't stay mad for long or we both forget how to breathe. So, today I decided to surprise him by going into the city for lunch...which brings me to what this post is actually about.
I love Chinatown in San Francisco! It is so entirely awesome. It's like a perfect little trip out of the country. Ever since I was a little girl growing up in the bay area I've been fascinated with the otherness of Chinatown. I read Fifth Chinese Daughter when I was maybe ten years old, then when we would drive through Chinatown I would stare out my car window and wonder if life inside those apartments was really so different from my own (of course I didn't realize that the book was written in the 1940's so it wasn't that different).

Later, in college, I read The Joy Luck Club and fell even more in love.
What is going on in there, I wonder as we walked from our parking garage to the restaurant and I peer into each shop and market. I love to see laundry hanging out of the windows because it means someone really does live there.

So to quick wrap up all my thoughts and put a bow around it... I am always seduced by novels with an Asian element, (any Amy Tan, The Samurai's Garden, Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Memoirs of a Geisha, Dreaming Water, The Legend of Fire horse Woman and so many more) PLUS I lurv good Chinese food like we had today at House of Nanking, and finally, as Marc and I try to plan for our 20th anniversary trip next year, should we go to China?

Oh, I have to add this, Marc ordered blooming tea for me. Isn't it beautiful?

It starts out in your cup as a tight pod, and then "blooms" into this. Mine actually had a little trouble completely blooming. I stealthily poked it with my chop stick when the server wasn't looking, but I had to settle for admiring my neighbors full blossom. I think it's because I eat too fast.

Summer Daze

Monday, May 25, 2009

School will be out in just two weeks; it is seriously time to make my plans. Last year I wrote about Points as a way of managing the crazies, but for some reason I'm just not feeling it this year.

I'm more focused on goals for this summer. Goal number one is getting Ellie caught up in reading. This one scares me to death, honestly I am a good mother in most ways but I am horrible at tutoring my kids. It always ends in sorrow; sometimes with me locked in the bathroom. I'm not exaggerating.

But read she must so I will sally forth to the Teacher's store near our house and try to buy some hand holding guidance type book program thingamagigger. Yep.

Goal number two is moving Jonathan along in Scouts. Okay, I'll just admit it, I stink at Scouts, too. But I'm hoping that by writing it down (here) I'll do better. I'm visualizing myself remembering to look at the darned Scout book and helping Jonathan get through it before school starts.

Speaking of school, I am SO over homework. Can't we just forget it for the last weeks of school?

And finally, a goal for the girls. I'll have to pray and ponder about that one and get back to you. Maybe I will make them my personal trainers and give them the job of making me loose 15 lbs. Can I do that?

The Hand

I get all worked up because my baby boy is growing up so fast, but then I found this on my camera and I feel better.

video

It's So My Party

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So I'm just going to own right up to my dorkiness and tell you that I love my birthday. Even though I am way past the point where getting older gets you anything good like dates or voting or being able to sit in bars.

I love it when my friends take me to lunch (Jan and Leslie), or drop off gifts (Heytar), or meet me at Chick-fil-a (Paige). I think I am so fancy special that my family pretty much has to treat me like the birthday princess for the whole week. Is this unattractive in someone my age? Don't answer that; I'm not changing.

This is super extra dorky silly...I was a little worried that since I haven't been in California very long, my birthday might be a little lean. I mean, I haven't been here long enough for everyone to really grasp the very specialness of my birthday. And I obviously can't tell people (except Marc, I tell him all kinds of stuff). They have to just know.

But it has not been lean; it has been GREAT! I have been LOVED. I am so lucky!

On Wednesday my sweet friend Katie had me over for a beautiful lunch on her resort like patio and served black bean soup, tomato and mozzarella salad, sandwiches, and (whisper) chocolate. She inspired me with her excitement to home school her daughter with Aspergers and her dedication to figuring out this fun, creative, girl's "puzzle". She reminded me what a blessing it is to be a mother.

Then yesterday I spent the day with my very own "mom-lette." Sweet! We had lunch in Berkley with my Dad, and we completely explored Tuesday Morning and came away with new area rugs for our family rooms...and yes, mine was a present. I know; I am shameless.

And today the darling Dayna and I will be volunteering for Civil War Day at the middle school, but she called earlier in the week to tell me that it would also be our birthday date! Yes!

And FINALLY, the smalls and Marc have promised me the Saturday of my dreams. Here's what it entails: clean patio, clean car, clean kitchen chairs, and clean family room windows. Yes, you can totally copy me when it's your birthday. In fact, I hope I can help make yours as delightful as mine!

A Room with (too much) a View

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So I am continuing to shamelessly copy the Nester. She does window "mistreatments,"...with a glue gun...and upholstery tacks. I think I'm in love.


Here is my sad, naked, bathroom window. My mom, who is usually really nice about any decorating/cleaning deficiencies I might have, called it the "weirdest bathroom ever." Yes indeed when you use "Le toilette" at my house you have a view.
I have wondered what to do about that for the eight months we've lived here. We tell ourselves things like, "no one's out there," and "if they want to see something that bad, go ahead." I considered stenciling some profound saying above the window like, "You enjoy the view, and the view enjoys you."

We haven't hung anything because the curtains I like are always so expensive, and apparently I'd rather imagine I'm invisible than hang something I don't like. But the Nester convinced me that I could make some clothes for this poor window. After reading several of her window posts I decided to see if I could mistreat my window using fabric I already have and spending less than $20 on hardware. It had to be done with no sewing too.

And here it is...nice, huh?

A lot of my fabric stash didn't make it to California, but I rummaged around and found this muslin left over from making bloomers for trek, and the blue fabric is from valances I made for our bedroom back in Laramie, 17 years ago. I actually measured and sewed back then but my standards are WAY lower now.

And I'm totally okay with that!Now I can feel all safe and private like in our bathroom, you know, until a kid walks in on me.

Laundry Mountain

The laundry has been against me all week. It is sneaky. It gets in the washer but then won't get into the dryer and I have to wash it again because it gets stinky sitting in there overnight (who knows what it does down there in the dark).

I bring it up to the couch so it can watch TV for the afternoon, then move it to my bed to make room when the kids get home...(is my blog, can talk about laundry if I want).

I think some socks get lost along the way. When I go to bed I push the whole pile back into a basket and hope the dog leaves it alone.

Today is Wednesday, if I try really hard, maybe I can finish it and be done for a week. Hope was the only thing left in Pandora's box you know.

Roast Vegetable Pasta

Monday, May 18, 2009


This ended up being such a yummy, easy, pretty dinner, I know you want to make it. I got the idea from my friend, Angela, but there's no actual recipe...so you can't mess it up! My favorite.

Okay, first roast your veggies. I chopped up asparagus, red bell pepper, yellow crew neck squash and I quartered an onion because that's what I had. I think any combo would be good as long as you do the onion. Love onions.

Spread them on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar and mix with salt and pepper. Broil for about 10 minutes stirring LOTS. Just don't leave the kitchen.

Then I dumped them on a pound of penne (Angela used orzo) and added some cut up baked chicken breasts and feta cheese. I used the "Mediterranean" flavor with sun dried tomato.

This was so good! Everyone, except Ellie, loved it. But it's still good for picky little pains because, as every mom knows, they can have the noodles plain with butter and parmesan.

Warrior Lacrosse

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Warrior Lacrosse
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It was totally worth sitting in the 103 degree sunshine for two days with Ellie in order to be able to brag that Jonathan's team, the Warriors, are the Northern California U-11 CHAMPIONS!!!!!!

"The Nester Said" Table Make-over

Friday, May 15, 2009

I've been loving this blog Nesting Place, ever since I found it a couple of weeks ago. And by "loving" I mean cruising through old posts for minutes and minutes instead of making my bed or dumb things like that.

The Nester has a motto that I am so inspired by, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." I've known this intuitively for years; my life, budget, children, not to mention my temperament and short attention span make "perfect" the same as "impossible."

Cooking and entertaining have always delighted me, but to throw those big ole' dinner parties I've definitely had to embrace the idea that my shin digs did NOT need to be perfect to be wonderful. I've preached this to lots of my friends, and I'm excited to let the same concept spill over into my (admittedly stunted) interior life.

SO...I did a table makeover inspired by The Nester (click that link so you can see what I was trying to do). Seriously, I just tried to copy her as much as I could without buying anything and only shopping my own house. When I saw the picture of the table she decorated I got so excited because I have one that looked a lot like it sitting at the top of my stairs. Our house is two stories, but you come UP to the main living areas so this is the second thing you see when you enter our home. The entry way is the first thing, and I have big plans for that little project too.
Okay, so, here's the before picture:

Kind of anemic, right?

So I got to work trying to copy the Nester. I tried taking down my painting and leaning it but since you view this table from down low as you come up the stairs, it needed something high on the wall. I decided to hang it a little higher, and then add some leaning pictures below it. I had some frames with pictures of my girls in them living in the entryway closet (what, you don't keep your old pictures there?) so I decided to pillage them.

The Nester said to use black and white prints. Don't have those so I went with this great photo of my Mom and Dad taken 30 years ago that has rested in the drawer of my coffee table for many moons. I've never actually had it up, but I think it is so cute!

I wanted to layer my pictures (like The Nester said) so I brainstormed how I could get a free print. I considered printing something off of the internet or painting my own but then had the, fabulous I think, idea of cutting some pictures out of a book I got from the discount book section at Barns and Noble, like 7 years ago called "The Pressed Plant."That came out good didn't it? It's actually two pages taped together but, wait for it, "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful!"

The Nester also suggested using a tray and a sphere for visual interest. I have a silver tray in desperate need of polishing, but no polish. I used it anyway because I figured it would just tarnish again anyway and let's face it, I won't keep it polished. I tried all kinds of things for a sphere and finally settled on this glass paper weight with a little silver plate I had from a thrift store under it.

Arranging the small stuff proved to be the hardest for me.

But here is the final (for now) incarnation. I like it. Thanks Nester x0x0

Remedial Freezer Jam

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Strawberry Freezer Jam the airhead way:

1. Want to make jam because your leftover berries are getting mushy. Look up recipe online and figure it looks easy peasy.

2. Start to squish up berries but get bored and decide to "pulse" them using silver bullet mini prep thingie. End up with berry frappe but don't care. Whose gonna see it, the Jam Police?

3. Read that you need four cups of sugar but are surprised to discover that you only have two cups (eyeball it) in the sugar container.

4. Dump it in, taste, feel that it is sweet enough.

5. Begin to boil pectin in water. Notice that pectin box says to "carefully measure sugar or jam may not set properly."

6. Scowl.

7. Imagine that powdered sugar is not so different from regular sugar so sprinkle in two more "eyeball" cups. Obviously unable to reach measuring cups because must continue stirring boiling pectin.

8. Observe that powdered sugar doesn't really want to mix into berries. Frown! Whisk!

9. Realize pectin has begun to cool but cross fingers and pour it into berries anyway.

10. Ladle jam (smells good) into containers and hope.

11. Consider printing jam labels that read, "Although freezer jam contains only four ingredients, it is still highly likely that this jam will taste weird. Love, Shelley"

Good Books

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I just wanted to slip in a link for this book by my friend Shawni and her mom. Mine hasn't arrived yet, but I can bare my testimony that I have read other books by her mom, Linda Eyre, that have been awesome. In fact, when it's time to have that talk with our kids Marc and I pretty much use conversations from her book, How to Talk to Your Child about Sex, verbatim. It has saved our scared little lives!

Sleepy

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I learned a wonderful secret last night. If no children, dogs, or (sorry honey) husband are in bed with me...I can sleep through the ENTIRE night. And here I always thought it was just me.

I'm Never Picked, but I was Picked!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Oh, Wow! I'm going to toot my own horn. I submitted a post I did awhile ago to Mormon Mommy Blogs when they asked for posts about parenting teenagers. And they picked me! Wahoo. I feel famous.

Almost as famous as when I wrote the shownotes for when Paige and Gretchen interviewed Kelly Ripa for Mommycast! Seriously! There is only one degree of separation between me and Kelly! I feel so cool.

So I Jumped Off a Cliff

So here's how I know I spend too much time whizzing around blogland; yesterday I took the coupon insert out of my parent's Sunday paper to try my hand at "coupon clipping." I've never done this before, but one of my favorite bloggers, Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, is making me feel a combination of inspired/guilty/envy so I'd decided to give it a try.

Then today I was checking in on another of my faves, Seriously, so Blessed, a fantastic satirical blog where TAMN was making fun of "super couponers." And I wondered if I was being silly?

It definitely has given me cause to pause. I am so easily influenced.

Going Green

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Yesterday we were supposed to spend the day in Sacramento for the first round of Lacrosse playoffs. The weather was wet so the games were cancelled leaving us with a totally unplanned Saturday, a true rarity around here!

Maddie and Katie were working all day on a service project for Young Women in Excellence so Marc and I decided to take Ellie and Jonathan to the Environment Fair to learn more about "going green," (Marc has been muttering about solar panels ever since we moved here).

The smalls were reluctant when we told them what we were doing, but they perked up when we got there and the different booths were abounding with FREE STUFF. It turns out that to Ellie a free pencil warrants as much excitement as a Christmas present because at the end of the fair she announced it was, "the best day EVER!" She came away with some mighty fine loot including a pedometer, a ruler made from recycled money, an energy efficient light bulb, several lovely pamphlets, and a couple of cloth grocery bags (I get pretty excited about those too).

From there we high tailed it over to the Heather Farms Garden Open House to check out the beautiful gardens with great examples of plantings that use native plants. Even though we're not actually doing any landscaping this year, I love to fantasize about it. Is that weird?

The lure of planting proved irresistible and after gelato we stopped at the nursery to pick up a couple of heirloom tomatoes and strawberry plants. I've been pouting all week because Osh was out of heirloom plants when I went last Saturday so that made me very happy.

And for our grand finale we released oodles of ladybugs over our roses in the hopes that they would eat all the aphids so I can plant those strawberries in the same beds. Let's wish them luck!

Swine Flu in Middle School

Friday, May 1, 2009

Yesterday I was quizzing Katie on what's up at her middle school. "Any recent drug busts?" I asked (because that did happen once). "Nope," she said.

"Well then, what's new?"

She shrugged, "just the no touching rule."

Oh boy! I am all for no touching. Touching in middle school can only lead to sorrow I imagine.

"What does that mean?" I wondered. Because I think I know what things mean and it often turns out I am WAY off base in teenager land.

"No high fives, no hugging, and no hand holding...it's to prevent swine flu," she said.

Seriously? I can't believe middle school is still so dumb.

 

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