Thursday, December 22, 2011

Together Again!

Pete and I finally made it to the movies to see the new Muppet Movie! I was apprehensive at first, there has been allot of crappy Muppet stuff floating around in the last few decades. Even when we went to Disney last year, the Muppet Experience totally crapped out, not even Disney seemed to care about the Muppets. But I must take my proverbial hat off to Mr. Jason Segal - AMAZEBALLS.
Not to insult Jim Henson's son, but I think it really took a Muppet to know a Muppet. Someone who truly loved and understood what The Muppets were all about and that was Jason Segal - A life long Muppet Lover. This movie has been his brain baby for years and years and I think he delivered just what all these babies of the 70s and 80s wanted, a REAL Muppet movie. Not a remake of a pirate movie or a Christmas Carol. A real original script where the gang bands together to come out on top in the end.
Even though it's still hard to listen to Kermit because it makes my heart ache for Jim, they really tried. The jokes were back to Muppet standards, the plot was smart and the musical numbers were fun and catchy.
I think whoever was in charge of The Muppets (Don't want to outright blame Disney or Brian Henson) lost site of who the Muppets were. They tried to gear the jokes towards children and the plots were recycled. They lost what made them so special. When I was younger I didn't understand half the jokes in the original movies. I didn't know what the hell a Presbyterian was??! But they were magical. They were talking and dancing frogs and pigs!! That's all we needed. The jokes were more geared towards the parents and when I saw my Dad laugh, I wanted to laugh. It was something we could watch together and both enjoy.
After Jim Henson died the magic went with him and suddenly The Muppets were unknowns. Sure the true fans stayed loyal and still loved them, but we wanted something new and were constantly disappointed. In the last 10 years out of all the children I nannied, NONE of them knew The Muppets on their own. I had to introduce them to all of them! So Sad. They can tell me every Pokemon character, every plot to all the Star Wars Movies and recite every Harry Potter book, but they don't know who Kermit is. It's not fair, why did Star Wars get to prevail??
This day and age the world has gotten a bit rougher around the edges. Not that The Muppets aren't edgy but to an 8 year old today, they do seem babyish. The Muppets are funny without hurting feelings. They don't rely on beating the crap out of each other or hurting someone else's feelings to be funny. They are kind of like puppet Ellen DeGeneres. They just make you feel good if you give them a chance to dance!
But now, with the release of the new Muppet movie, it's like they have a whole new lease on life!! Kids were seeing the previews on TV and seeing stars like Selena Gomez in the preview (So Smart) and they were relating to it. They had no idea what The Muppet Show was but if it was good enough for Selena Gomez it was good enough for them. Grown ups began to remember why they loved the old gang so much and children started to get interested. This isn't Elmo we're talking about here, Elmo is for babies as my goobers pointed out. The Muppets are for bigger kids. They were right to know the difference between Sesame Street and The Muppets but until now I think they were one in the same to them.
The movie was a wonderful ride. It was an adorable story that paralleled exactly what was going on in real life. The Muppets were back to their old tricks and it was so great to see the set of The Muppet Show up on the big screen. We laughed at the gags, we cried at Rainbow Connection and we actually clapped at the end ( I HATE when people do that by the way).
Seeing this movie through me right back to 1987, sitting on the couch with my parents, eating burnt popcorn out of a Florida Gator plastic cup. It was like a giant hug from my past, and right now being all preggo and emotional there wasn't anything I needed more. I went right home and hugged my old Kermit doll, the one with the pilly fur and missing tongue. I missed you buddy.
I left that theatre feeling so grateful for the trip down memory lane and so thankful that my children will get to experience The Muppets the way they should be. I pray that this helps them pick up again. I pray that when I take my own goobers to Disney The Muppet Experience will not only be fixed but added to. So thank you Jason Segal for keeping the dream alive. And Thank you Jim Henson for being the amazing, genius dreamer that you were. Your Magic Lives On In Our Hearts.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Secret Is Out!

Boy? Girl? Mermaid?
Well, I don't think it was that much of a secret. I have a feeling my lack of drinking and dropping off the face of the earth for a while kind of started rumors. Not to mention the "thing to do" right now is be preggers, so really I'm just following it "It"crowd. Or maybe I just really want to get a good jump on crossing things off my 40 before 40 list! In fact I'm killing two birds with one stone, because becoming a mother (#1) has forced me to finish a regimen of vitamins! I have been a Nazi about my prenatal vitamins and I think I have only missed 1 or 2 days in over 13 weeks! So I can go ahead and cross #10 off my list too.
Seriously though it feels really good (and Uber strange) to have it out in the open. It's like we can't take it back (not that we could) and it's all over (Even though it's just begun). It's a very strange feeling that I'm only just starting to embrace.
Unfortunately with friends and family there have been allot of miscarriages around and it was always in the back of my mind, it still is. It never really occurred to me that a woman could just get pregnant, and have a baby. Just like that without a miscarriage. I forget that a healthy pregnancy is the Norm, not a miscarriage. Even after our second ultrasound and hearing the heart beat we were still a little apprehensive about telling the world. By then our family and close friends knew but it felt scary to put it out into the universe. And by universe I of course mean Facebook.
There will always be things to worry about, I know that will never stop. But if I don't sit back and enjoy the ride I will miss all of the fun!! So far everything is looking perfect and they say we are right on track so that is what I will focus on!
It was an easy first trimester especially compared to some of my poor friends. I heard so many horror stories that I was convinced something was wrong because I wasn't living with my head in a toilet! I think I was just lucky and I am so grateful for that! I've said it before, I never win anything and nothing really ever seems to go my way the first time around so I really beat the odds with not being sick! I mean it was no picnic. I constantly felt hungover, I couldn't stand the smell of ANYTHING, I always thought I was going to throw up but never did, I didn't poop for weeks, I couldn't sleep at night and I had ZERO appetite. The only thing that made me feel better was seltzer water and watching Ellen Degeneres. Seriously, who knew she was cure for morning sickness??
Pete has been beyond amazing. So supportive and encouraging. He is reading up on his Daddy books and trying to learn as much as he can. Even though I have raised children for the last 10 years, I still need to brush up on the basics. How much do you want to bet that my Mary Poppins Nanny magic will disappear when it comes to my own child. All this time people thought I had the magic touch, but maybe it only works on children not of my womb!! Can't think like that...
We are going to find out the sex. A. I'm such a planner I really don't think I could just wing it when the baby gets here. and B. I wouldn't want even a second of disappointment when I see my baby for the first time. I fear that my "mothers intuition" would take a wrong turn and I would be convinced it was a boy and start bonding with my son. Then when "he" finally arrives and they tell me it's a girl, I just know there would be that split second heart brake and I can't take that. So for our first child at least, I definitely want to know the sex. I'm sure everyone has their own feelings about it and I'd be really interested to find out why you did what you did and for what reason!
I feel like I am training for a marathon now. I am just an information junky and would love to hear any stories (Only the good ones. Yup - No more horror please) about the birth of your children or your pregnancy! As soon as I get my energy up it's off to prenatal yoga and our first childbirth class. Can't wait to see Pete with that Sympathy belly on! He's going to be such an amazing father and I am so grateful to have him with me on this journey!! We are 13 weeks down and the clock is ticking until June. I always look forward to summer, but this summer will be like no other!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chopping #5 Off The List!

That's right, I am just flying through this 40 before 40 list! Look at me go! In case you don't remember (you really should be taking notes) #5 on my list was chopping down my own Christmas tree! Thank you Very Much New Hampshire! We actually bought a house down the street from a cut your own Christmas Tree farm! Or as Pete likes to call it "Get it yaself trees"
What a fun and super rewarding new tradition we have started! Usually we would pile in the car and head down to the IHOP parking lot to fight the masses for a $75 Blah tree that was already half dead. NEVER AGAIN!
This was so fun and sooooo easy! They provided saws and dollies to haul your trees back to them where they shake all the dead needles off and bind it all up for you! $45 got us entertainment for the afternoon and an almost 10 foot tree!!

There certainly was an air of "Hunter/Gatherer" as we waded through the pine tree forests. Every time I thought we saw a good one, it seemed to have already be taken or had a group of small children running towards it. You had to be quick and determined. At first I didn't really enjoy the idea of "killing our own tree" But then when I thought about the THOUSANDS of cut trees in those IHOP parking lots that don't get used, this seemed like a way better idea. And what a happy little life it lived, raised by a loving family with a dog and children, with a beautiful view of a barn and lake. Not too shabby. Now it lives with us.
We had the perfect spot to put this massive tree, right in the nook by our stairs! That way we could climb the stairs to put the ornaments on top and of course our star. We still needed a ladder for the front though. Because it wasn't shoved against a wall we had to make all the sides even!
Every year my favorite part of the holidays is getting out the ornament boxes and unwrapping the toilet paper to each ornament. It's like... well... Christmas! I never know which one I'm going to get and what memory it will evoke! I have my favorites from my childhood like the Czech glass ones and the babies in the walnut shells. There are my squirrels and polar bears which I collect like an addict. The racists ones from Pete's childhood. And the engraved ones that Pete started to get me the year we started dating to document all of our Christmas' together. Each one is so special and SHOULD have a place on the tree.
However this year we decided to go all Potter Barn on this tree's ass. Every year our tree looks the same, because every year we put the same ornaments on. This year we decided to go with a theme, a woodland theme! Since we have this giant farm house in the middle of the woods, it seemed fitting.
I must say it is the most gorgeous tree we have ever had, like EVER! It is covered in feathers and squirrels and mushrooms and all sorts of woodsy goodness, though as my sister pointed out, while cute, the felt penguin should not have made the cut. She's right. We have never had a tree like this before. It brings so much joy and warmth into our home. we can't help but sit on the couch and repeatedly say "Look at the Tree! Just look at it!" And the best part is I was still able to put some sentiment into it. My walnut babies made the woodland cut, The tree skirt was made by my Mom and it was on our tree growing up. Also most of the Squirrels were given to us by family and friends so that makes them extra special!
We even themed our wrapping! We have birch, birds and gnomes hugging our gifts under the tree. With hemp and raffia for bows and a galvanized tub for a tree holder the image works so well together. Also a little tip for making fancy paper go further - news paper! I bought a $9.00 roll of awesome paper at The Paper Source (Which only gives you two sheets) and really made it stretch by using it in pieces like strips. I would wrap gifts in newspaper and then add flare with the fancy paper. It gave all the gifts a unified look and I really made the good stuff stretch!
Now the hard part is waiting until Christmas to actually open all this goodness that is taunting us! And I have to let my inner child out and not be afraid of ripping the paper. Maybe next year we will have a new theme and the woodland paper won't match. I have my dreams set on a "travel tree" with vintage travel tags and all the ornaments we have collected from around the world on our adventures! But that's next year, for now I'm gonna cozy up to my furry woodland friends, and Pete.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Little Christmas Cheer

Christmas is here!! I love the Target commercial that is on now. The parents are saying goodbye after Thanksgiving dinner and thanking their daughter for a great time. When she closes the door and turns around the whole house has been decorated for Christmas and her husband is in an ugly sweater drinking eggnog. It really does feel like in the blink of an eye after you loosen your pants from too much turkey BAM! It's Christmas!
Well we LOVE Christmas around here and this is our first Christmas in our new home and we couldn't be more excited to dress it up and start some new traditions as a family! In preparation for the big tree event we started small with making some Cranberry/Kumquat garland, a few decorative pieces and I also made Pete his very own advent calendar! They were all fun to make, inexpensive and easy!
First the Garland...
We really should have used fishing wire but we couldn't find any so thread worked. We tied a match stick (with the sulfur part taken off, so it was just wood) to the bottom of the thread to catch the berries and then with a needles started to thread cranberries and kumquats. Usually I am very OCD when it comes to things like this and it has to be exact, like 27 cranberries and 1 kumquat REPEAT. This year I decided to chill out and i just strung however I damn well pleased. We made about 4 of them and other than Hurley trying to eat all of them, I think they came out great! We had to hang them off the chandelier to keep them away from Hurley until we had the tree, but now I may have to make more because I kind of liked how they looked!
Decorative pieces...
This was easy because most of the work was done at Thanksgiving! I just swapped out the orange leaves and Fallish things for pine cones and greenery. The cranberries and acorns still look great and I added a squirrel - of course! Also my forever a Girl Scout aunt, showed us all of the awesomeness we have in our own back yard! So by cutting a few branches and berries we made a really pretty piece to add some festive charm to the corner. But because it is real, you do have to keep it in water to keep it alive! we also kept it high up because we didn't want Hurley eating the berries. Damn that Dog. We also added some berries, and greenery to our lanterns and around the windows.
Advent Calendar...

This I was particularly proud of! Again, super easy. All it took was some match boxes from the dollar store, some pretty Festive paper, a glue gun and some candy! First you empty the match boxes (save the matches you'll always need them!) and tape them together starting with 9 and then decreasing by two each time. You should have 5 levels. Then wrap each layer in pretty paper and tape or glue it on. Hot glue the levels together and with a marker or number stamps, add the numbers 1-25 on the outside of the match boxes. Fill with candy, toys or little fortunes/love notes. It's a really special way to count down to Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Thanksgiving to be Thankful for!

Thanksgiving is uber important for my family. On my mother's side of the family - The Drapers, the tradition has gone back 5 generations according to my Grandfather and not much has changed. Though we don't have finger bowls anymore (don't talk about it in front of my Grandfather) We do have a very similar menu to what he had as a child. We always have place settings, sit boy/girl (no married couples together), eat with real silver and my Grandfather carves the Turkey.
The Drapers do Thanksgiving the way it ought to be, I'm pretty sure my Grandfather gave a tutorial at Plymouth Rock about how to carve a turkey and why we must also have sausages served along side it. When I was a child we had Thanksgiving in my Grandparents basement. I think there were about 50 people there, well that's what it seemed like from the kid's table. When I got a little older we started to go up to Jaffrey NH to my Great-GrandMummy's and the table would stretch through the sun room into the house. We would play in the secret passages and barn and run in the fields until our pumpkin pie came bursting out of us. Then years later my Aunt Kim and Uncle Kip took over the hosting in their gorgeous, open concept home in Groton, Ma. That's really where it has been held for the longest time that I can remember. The best years are when our Maryland family makes it up, usually every other year and we have the whole clan together, which can reach to over 30!
For me, Thanksgiving isn't just another holiday, it really represents why my family is so amazing and reconfirms how lucky I am. It's like a recharge for me. My mother passed away just days after Thanksgiving when I was 17 and it is a really hard time of year. The only thing that really makes it bearable is being with Drapers. We have had so much loss in our family, that we are bound tighter than any other family I know. Cousins aren't just cousins they are like siblings, and my aunts and uncles are more like parents to me and that goes for our extended Draper family as well. I can't help but be moved to tears every Thanksgiving, no matter how many of us can come. I look around that table and the tradition and love basically punches you in the face. I wait for it all year. It's really a time to remember my Mom and others that we have lost, it makes me feel closer to them knowing that we are carrying on the tradition. And it really helps me prepare for the Holiday season. Though it's a happy time of year and I love it, it also brings allot of sadness. So for me, Thanksgiving is like the start of a hibernation in a sense. The way a Bear eats as much as possible before the snow so it can hibernate and get through the winter. I fill up on love and family and "Mom-ness" on Thanksgiving and it helps me get through the rest of the holidays without her.

But this year my Aunt Kim had rented out her Groton house, having moved to Hull Ma. It didn't seem that we would have a place big enough for the clan to gather. Then it dawned on me, CHELLO!! Pete and I just bought a giant house that is begging for a Thanksgiving dinner! And so, Pete and I were able to cross #6 off the list of 40 before 40. We got to host a big Thanksgiving dinner, small fro Drapers (16) but big in general!
This was a HUGE deal here! (Thank you Kim for taking this on for so long!!) Not just the physical aspect of figuring out how to arrange tables and cook food but also keeping my grandfather happy. Now that he has discovered email, I felt like I got one every ten minutes. "Remember the real silver.... I must insist on drinking from a real glass... The laid pudding needs to cook for 4 hours.... Should I bring my own Bourbon... Are you making the place settings?..." It was allot to keep up with, but that's what makes it so special.
We pulled it off beautifully. It was an amazing day and it all seemed to run so smoothly (with LOTS of help!) Pete smoked a Turkey on the grill to free up the oven and our amazing neighbors let us borrow their oven for the Laid pudding (that needed 4 hours to cook.) The thank you notes I received afterward from people were so touching. It really is just as important to them as it is to me and I was so happy to be able to continue it and hopefully we will be able to for years to come. Though next year we may reach 30! THAT will be the real challenge but we are ready!
Here are just a few small things we did to make the table look festive!

First were the ever important place card settings. We had plenty of wine corks saved up (Don't judge me) so I took some old Squirrel cards we had left over from our wedding (Thank you Etsy) and I made wine cork place settings. So much easier than I thought! I think it helped that I used the fake wine corks, they were much easier to cut. All you have to do is slice a small sliver off the bottom so they sit flat. I started with an exacto knife but really a big serrated knife worked way better. Then you make a slit on the top of the wine cork, big enough to slide the cards in. Easy Peesey and super cute!
We also took some left over vases (also from our wedding) and places some fake fall foliage in the middle. I found them at Joanne's Fabric. They were wire cranberries, acorns, leaves and other doodads. I stuck them in the middle with some green plant foam and then filled the outer edges with real cranberries and acorns and it was the perfect way to add a little color and a little Fall to the table! Our candle holders were filled with extra cranberries and whole nuts in their shell. It took all of 30 minutes to put it all together and it really looked great!
The whole day was allot of work and a ton of planning but it was so worth it. I think my Mom would have been proud...

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Sleeping Room

When we first moved into our new home we knew that we were compromising the size of our bedroom for the size of our living space. I mean it made sense. This house gave us a huge dining room and a living room to die for in exchange for a bedroom that really only fits our Queen size bed, night stands and a dresser. And with the slanted ceiling Pete has to duck to get into his side of the bed. But it's super cozy.
The sky light lets in tons of natural light so the room feels bigger. The way the bed is positioned, (the only place it would fit) allows us to look at the stars at night and wake up to a view of the trees and the farm next door.
All of our bedrooms in the past have been really good sizes. Large enough for our desks, TV, chairs, bookshelves, etc. But they were all in apartments, so really you needed to keep all of that in your bedroom. But now we have a whoooooole house to lay out all our crap, not just a room or two. So we made the executive decision to NOT have a TV in our bedroom. I know, I know, pick your jaw off the floor. It's unheard of. Well it was for us anyway.
Beofre, I was a total insomniac, it would take me hours to fall asleep. I would have to have the TV on for the noise to even consider getting some shut eye. And even then I would wake up multiple times because my brain would be racing and I would wake up exhausted every morning.
But now the simple act of taking the TV out of the bedroom has made all the difference in the world! I have never slept so well in thirty years! Only when we are in Maine do I get this kind of rest! Not having electronics in the room has allowed my brain to shut off. Bedrooms are for sleeping and doin' it. All that other stuff needs to find it's own space or it will get inside your head.
The best part is I have finally found the time to read again. I have read 17 Novels and numerous "how to" and information books in the last few months alone! And now my gift to you is a brief summary of some of the novels that have lulled me to sleep at night. That way you will have some books queued up when you decide to yank that monster out of your bedroom too!
All SEVEN Harry Potter Books by J.K Rowling
For YEARS Pete has been trying to get me to read these books. And as I told him time and again, "I'm not into your Dungeons and Dragons Crap!" (Side note: My husband really isn't into any of that I just thought that's what Potter was) But then my goobers that I nannied for really started to get into them. We couldn't go anywhere without a book or two in toe. They became absolutely absorbed into this world and they were so sad that I had no idea what they were talking about. So I promised Ben that I would read the first one. And really that was all it took. I was hooked. I read a few books in between just to keep my head clear, but really I just zoomed through them and loved every single second of the ride. I may done it years after the masses but I did it on my own time and was able to watch the Movies as soon as I finished the book! I swear i was dreaming in Potter but it was worth it!
Sunday At Tiffany's By James Patterson
It started out with promise. A little rich girl spends her Sundays having tea and window shopping at Tiffany's with her imaginary friend while her high falootin mother ignores her. eventually she grows up with all sorts of relationship issues and runs into who she remembers as her imaginary friend. Not so imaginary. It was headed in a really great place but stopped short and didn't explain allot. I think there is a made for TV movie already hopefully that will be better.
Bossy Pants By Tina Fey
Let me start by saying I adore this woman and all she has done to pave the way for women in comedy, but I was never really into celebrity memoirs. I had heard a few good things and decided to try it out. My life would not be the same if I had not. I laughed so hard I peed a little. I seriously would keep Pete up at night trying to hold the laughter in but shaking the whole bed. This book is really just a series of essays (Very David Sedaris but from a woman's point of view) about growing up, her parents, becoming a woman, becoming an actress and becoming a mother. She is so honest and open you can't help but fall in love with her over and over again as you turn each page. I seriously think I did some real internal damage from reading this book it is LITERALLY side splitting humor. Can't recommend it enough! Pete read it as soon as I was done and also loved it - just so you men out there don't dismiss this! Aaaaand as a little incentive, you learn how she got that scar on her face...
Lost and Found By Carolyn Parkhurst
I bought this book because of her last novel The Dogs of Babel - Now there is an amazing book. This one, not so much. It essentially is about a reality game show that travels the world on a scavenger hunt in teams of two. She tried to say that the book is all about the teams and the secrets they reveal as they play. But she really only goes into depth on a few people. And she sprinkles in way too much lesbian stuff, and not even the good kind! I finished it, and it was okay at best but I was very disappointed. the Dogs of Babel is an amazing book that you should definitely read but dog lovers beware, sometimes it's hard to take!
Raven Stole The Moon By Garth Stein
This book fell into our laps because of his first novel The Art of Racing In The Rain - AMAZEBALLS. Seriously a MUST for any dog lover, or anyone with a beating heart. Stein can really tell a story. This book was not as good as Racing, but did not disappoint. It's the story of a mother who is enveloped by grief after  her little boy drowns in a village in Alaska. The story starts to weave us through her emotions and desperation to learn the truth while mixing in Inuit magic and Native American stories. You really get sucked into the mystery and you cheer for her tirelessly. By the end you're not really sure what is real and what is fantasy but its a really intense ride.
Me Talk Pretty One Day By David Sedaris
Sedaris is my home boy. He's the little gay man I always wanted and ask for every Christmas. I adore his work and have read all of his books up until this one and I am sad to say this was not my favorite. Again, a collection of essays which he is so brilliant at. It started off with such promise, stories of his childhood and his father. Essays about his father's desperation to turn his family into a band and growing up as a closeted gay boy. But then about halfway through He goes to France and never returns. Essay after essay that loose their humor and travel in and out of France. They had their moments but really they would have been edited down to the better ones. I still love you David, but you owe me.
Room By Emma Donoghue
I adored this book. I wanted to hug this book and tell it everything would be okay. I wanted to cuddle this book on a rainy afternoon and watch Ellen with it and give it warm cocoa. I will never quite know how Donoghue takes such an awful subject manner and makes you fall in love with it. It's the story of a college girl that is kidnapped and kept in a shed for years and years, repeatedly being raped by her captor with no escape in sight. But the story is told through the eyes of her 5 year old son who was born in this room and this room is all he knows. Its a story of unconditional love and bravery. You can't help but melt with every word that comes out of his mouth. He is so innocent and it's heartbreaking but I promise it has a wonderful ending. I read this in one sitting. I had to make sure everything would be okay.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Creative Space

So we are finally done with the office! This room was really important to us. Both of us being artists means we really needed a calm and creative space to get work done. For the last umpteen years we have been forced to share our "creative space" with a bedroom, guest room, cat room... But now we have a space that's just for us and all that goodness that will come out of us! uuuhhh... ew? Its a smaller room that eventually will be "hypothetical baby's" room so I wanted to paint it with warm soothing blues and greens. I didn't want to have to paint again! The slant on the ceiling made it hard to see where the wall stopped and the ceiling began so I made a creative decision to paint the slant blue! That was a bitch, eyeing it with tape! ugh! But I think it worked out. The room gets a ton of sun through the skylight and it's so cozy!! We repainted an old bookshelf and shelf papered the shelves and now it holds my vast collection of children's books. I know, I'm nuts but I can't get enough of them! Plus it's research because Eventually I will be writing my own in this very room! Our old Pic Nic dining room table is now our kick ass desk. Just because it's a desk, doesn't mean it needs to be metal or a traditional computer desk. Its the perfect size to hold Pete's mammoth computer fixin's and also have room to write or scrap book!!

Speaking of scrapbooking, I have to get back on that! My old bureau which we tried to get rid of for years is now my scrapbooking center! Seriously, this was like the little bureau that could! We tried to sell it on craigslist and people kept saying they wanted it and never came to get it. We tried to give it to Big Brothers Big Sisters but we forgot to put it out on the right day. We tried to give it to Goodwill and then they forgot to come get it and eventually we had to move so it lived in our shed! But a tiny $2.00 jar of latex paint and some water turned this drab dresser into a shabby chic Armoire! I had some terrifying yet awesome hermit crab knobs that were From Anthropologie, marked down from $12.99 to $1.99 each, so I had to jump on them! I also had been hoarding some turquoise ceramic knobs from Homegoods. It took about 2 hours and VERY minimals tools (I'm still learning not to be afraid of them) And it really came out great! I wanted something that looked a little older but still could add some colour and this definitely did the trick!

Unfortunately even though I painstakingly painted the perfect colors and got everything the way I wanted, Pete has to put up sound foam all around the room in order to work from home! I was not a happy camper, even wanted to spend a few hundred dollars on foam that would match better! But at the end of the day, this foam was free and if it means my Boots can now work from home I'll take it!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thirties Shmirties

I have been meaning to get this post up for some time now, about 10 months to be exact. Maybe I was too busy crossing things off my list! You see, when I turned thirty I didn't feel the Grim Reaper on my shoulder or a pain in my chest caused by all the things I have yet to achieve. Instead I felt hope and excitement for what is to come.
I loved my twenties! I graduated college, fell in love, moved out on my own, starred in numerous plays and movies, traveled the world, found my soul mate, got married, adopted a dog... But most of my twenties were about reclaiming my youth. They were about pure gluttony and partying until 3am and getting up at 8:00am for work 6 days a week. They were about squeaking by in every sense of the word and burning the candle at every end possible. I wasn't really concerned with things like settling down, having a career or starting a family. But towards the end of the decade those things started to become more clear, as the image I had of myself became more clear. Dreams and desires became more defined and I had a better image of what kind of life I wanted to live.
I turned thirty on a cruise with my husband and some great friends. Instead of wanting to throw myself off the boat for feeling "old" I went zip lining and promised to embrace as much of my thirties in a positive way as possible. Now that the gluttony was out of my system, I vowed to take everything I learned in the last thirty years and apply it to a new life!
My best friend and her husband decided to make "40 before 40" lists when they turned 30. I love this idea, it shows that they are embracing their thirties and want to make sure they are really living life. Well I love lists, sometimes I make lists of lists I have to make! It's so satisfying to cross of each item!  I figure by making it public, it will make it harder to ignore. It's not all about doing huge, world changing things like curing AIDS, it's about doing things that you have never done before. It's about living the way you always dreamed you could. Each item you cross off your list, is confirmation that you are living the life you want and it's a great reminder to live life to the fullest.
So here is my list, though I have had to tweak it a million times, the first three lists looked like a travel channel line up. I had to really search for things that involved more than traveling - that's a list of its own! But the good news is, that I have already started to cross things off. My plan as the days, months and years tick by is that I complete AT LEAST 32 of these items before I'm 40. It's a good number. And who knows, the list may change and I'm sure I'll add more but for now I like the looks of it. The travel list may take a bit longer, but that's okay.

Katie's 40 before 40 List

1. Be a mother
2. Own a house - CHECK BITCHES!
3. Bake something from scratch by actually following a recipe to the T
4. Run a 5K (though its awful for my knees)
5. Cut down my own Christmas tree
6. Host a big Thanksgiving meal
7. Have my writing published
8. Own my own successful business
9. Get into a REAL exercise routine. One that becomes a way of life as opposed to doing it when I can.
10. Follow a regimen through, whether it is a bottle of vitamins or a tooth whitening kit, JUST FINISH IT!
11. Take 1-2 classes in interesting things every year i.e. photography, cooking, writing, pottery...
12. Learn another language enough to hold a real conversation.
13. Try snowboarding
14. Meet Tom Hanks, Chris Martin, Ellen Degeneres or Mandy Patinkin, hug them and say Thank You.
15. Learn how to knit or sew
16. Volunteer with endangered animals
17. Learn how to play Black Jack - like for real not just yelling HIT ME and crying when I loose $5.00
18. Get certified in SCUBA
19. Learn to horseback ride
20. Sing at an open mike night
21. Learn how to play the Ukulele
22. See the Aurora Borealis
23. Put together a real family tree for both sides
24.  Blog at least 3 times a week for at least 6 months - What What this is two for the week!
25. Write a Children's Book Series
26. Learn to drive stick - it's important for emergency escapes
27. Take a spontaneous last minute vacation
28. Watch the AFI top 100 Movies
29. Complete all my old scrap books that are lying around and then remain up to date on photo albums.
30. Be on Wheel Of Fortune
31. Enter at least one contest a week. I never win anything, but I never play either.
32. Be more computer Savy
32. Commit and study to be REALLY REALLY good at something not just skate by on being kinda good at a bunch of things
33. Get back into Dancing and explore different kinds beyond Modern and Hip Hop.
34. Plant a real vegetable Garden
35. Learn how to take a compliment
36. Be an extra in a major movie - with actual screen time
37. Order at least one new thing when eating out, instead of going to the old standbys!
38. Be at an ideal weight and stay there
39. Get rid of all the hidden crap in my closets, basement, sheds that we don't use but hold onto.
40. Learn how to rock climb

Katie's Travel/Adventure List

1. Go to our homelands and hunt down old relatives
2. Spend Christmas in Europe
3. Ride a gondola in Venice and be there for Carnival
4. See the Grand Canyon
5. Drive Cross Country
6. Visit AT LEAST 5 more states that I have never been to.
7. Climb The Eiffel Tower and read a book in a café in Paris
8. Revisit the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel (I purposely didn't go in when I was there to insure that I would return)
9. Go to Churchill and See polar bears in their natural habitat
10. Take a cruise to Alaska and kayak next to a glacier
11. Explore Machu Pichu
12. See the pyramids in Egypt
13. Go on an African Safari
14. Swim with great white sharks in South Africa - or lets be completely honest, maybe be on a boat, safely away from the side, in water that is near where a great white shark might be sleeping…
15. Spin a globe with my eyes close, point and go there.
16. Ride an elephant in Thailand maybe hit a full moon party and see the Grand Palace
17. Scuba the Great barrier Reef
18. Pet some sheep in New Zealand maybe go zorbing and see whales in Kaikoura
19. Go to an Ice Hotel in Sweden
20. Float in the Dead Sea
21. Visit a concentration camp
22. Wear a fuzzy hat in front of the Kremlin.
23. Revisit India and do all the things we were too scared to do and be there for Holi
24. Blow Bubbles on the Brooklyn Bridge
25. Live like a local somewhere for at least a month
26. Trek along the great wall of China
27. Be in Spain for La Tomatina
28. Stay in a hotel room on stilts on the ocean in a place like Bora Bora or Bali
29. Visit Stonehenge
30. Spend the night in a castle in Scotland or Ireland
31. Make a phone call in a London Red Phone Booth
32. Visit the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia
33. Visit Easter Island and see the Moai
34. Go Camping
35. Visit the Croatian coast and Islands
36. Go to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket
37. Hit at least 5 American random festivals or large food factories
38. Trek through the Amazon - when all the bugs have been removed
39. Take a super fancy train ride through the Alps
40. Swim with dolphins, whales or manatees

Do you have a list? Cause you should...
Cheers - here's to a life of adventure and living each day to it's fullest!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where The Hell Have I Been???

Wowee! Sorry about that everyone! I literally dropped off the face of the earth when it comes to blogging! I apologize to all 3 of you that have been wondering where my fabulously useless posts have been. Bottom line is, I got Lazy. I am so computer retarded that I would spend hours on making the perfect post. Everything would be lined up and the pictures looked perfect... Then I would post the thing and it comes out all dyslexic, the lists have become paragraphs, the pictures are all over, nothing is bold. It was driving me nuts. I'm sure I could take a class on how to blog or find a computer guru to tell me how to set it all up, but I lost my energy...
Because I started a new business!!

 Yup this post will now be a little plug for my new business Petits Lapins! We are Oooh Lala Clothes at Oooh Low Low prices! Basically what we do is buy and sell upscale, brand name American and European children's clothes.
We take all the hard work out of searching around for good deals in consingment shops and yard sales! No mom has enough time (Or enough purell) to spend HOURS searching through second hand stores in hopes of finding one or two little gems for their goobers!
What we have done is taken aaaaallll those gems and put them all together in an easy and affordable shopping experience. Right now we are on a trial facebook store at - go on plug that right into your browser (computer word!) and request us as a friend and let the shopping begin!
But Katie HOW DO I SHOP on Facebook??

I'm glad you asked! Its super easy! First thing you do is friend request us!
Then take a look at all of our photo albums for Boys & Girls sizes New Born to 5/6 or check out the outerware album! If you see something you want to purchase, make a note underneath it in the form of a comment.
When you are done shopping send us a Mesg with your:
Items Wanted
And BAM! I will send you a paypal invoice via email right then and once it's paid your products will be shipped off to you! Couldn't be easier!

Our goal for after the Holidays is to get a "real" online store up and running. Again see my comment about being a technotard, it's not easy for me but it will make life a lot easier!
The real goal is to open an actual brick and mortor store on the sea coast of New Hampshire. I have tons of amazing moms from Etsy who are interested in selling their couture baby products in our store, which would be amazing! Not only would we be helping out small businesses but we would be offering something different to the public. So much of the baby garb out there today is all the same!!
Anyway we are a ways away from a real store with the economy and everything else, but hopefully someday soon that will be a reality!

But Katie I am also a Technotard but I really want to shop!!

No worries! Why don't you book a Petits Lapins home show! Email us to get the ball rolling! But Basically you call all of your mama, grandma, nanny, gay male friends have them over for cocktails and appetizers and shops for amazing baby clothes right in your own home. Picture an old school tupperware party but with wine! A mama's night out for you and your friends and YOU will Receive a % of the party sales in credit to the store! So the more money your party makes the more loot you get to walk away with!! Perfect for Christmas shopping!! Email us to book a party!
So that's where I've been. Where have you been???
I promise to get back on the ol' blogging horse ESPECIALLY because Christmas is coming which means MORE CHRISTMAS MOVIE REVIEWS!!! What what!! Last year we watched over 35 Christmas specials, TV shows and Movies and this year we are hoping for even more! Send me your suggestions as it is right around the corner!!

Ah, feels good to be back.

Check us out!! sign up for coupons, deals and updates or to book a show in the NH/MA area!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Week's Worth Of Awesome

Well, the working week anyway. Now that I am jobless I have decided there is absolutely NO REASON for us to be picking around the kitchen desperate to find something for dinner. I can spend my days cleaning, writing & researching, doing errands AND make sure we have a healthy kick ass meal on the table! Don't get me wrong sometimes your body NEEDS to have sandwiches with chips and a pickle for dinner and when it's 99 degrees with 100% humidity my butt will not be standing over a stove! But this week I made some amazing dishes, packed with goodness and with minimal stove usage! Please note that I never follow recipes, I pour and shake until I think it's enough so if you ever want to try one of these recipes take it with a grain of salt, literally and adjust to taste! We traveled from Greece to Italy and back again to have some cozy, yummy and summer friendly meals! Monday Chicken Souvlaki, Dill Cucumber Yogurt Sauce & Mint, Lemon & Pea Cous Cous

I wanted a healthy delicious dinner that would also be refreshing! The Greek know how to do it right, and in fact the Mediterranean diet is huge right now. Because of the power packed antioxidant rich foods like Oregano and Olive oil, this isn't just good tasting its good FOR you! And it allowed me to use FIVE different fresh herbs from our garden! This is a super easy, super fast meal that is great for a hot summer night. Chicken breast Pita bread Plain Greek Yogurt Cucumber Red onion Kalamata Olives Feta Cheese Tomato Cous Cous Peas Lemon Dill, Oregano, Mint, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Pepper Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Red Wine Vinegar First mix Olive oil, Lemon juice, red wine Vinegar with Crushed pepper, thyme and oregano and set aside. Cut tomato and red onion into thin wedges and halve olives. Add in crumbled feta and pour half of the above mixture over it and set aside. Wash chicken breast and soak in remaining mixture of oil and vinegar. Bake at 375 until done, set aside to cool. Peel and chop cucumber and add to yogurt along with fresh chopped dill, put in refrigerator to chill. Make cous cous according to package, add half a bag of frozen peas, lemon zest and chopped up mint and lemon balm. Warm the pita bread and then fill with yogurt mixture, chicken and veggies and serve cous cous on the side. Tuesday Chilled Cantaloupe Soup With Prosciutto, Tomato Mozzarella Sammies This is hands down one of my most favorite things to make and eat! And its so fast you can whip it up in less than ten minutes. AND NO OVEN OR STOVE! It was crazy hot today and I actually worked, so I was out of the house from 5:30am-7:30pm. I needed something crazy fast with minimal effort. This is based on Italian cuisine and the key here is to use FRESH ingredients. Make sure your melon is ripe and cold, and make sure your basil and tomato are at peak freshness! I promise this will change your life. You're Welcome. Ripe cantaloupe Mint, Salt Baguette or bread of choice Prosciutto Mozzarella Tomato Basil Olive Oil, Pepper Cut melon in half, scoop out the slimy seeds and take off rind. In a blender add all of the melon meat, fresh mint leaves and a few cranks of sea salt, puree until smooth and put in fridge. Cut Baguette in half and cut into sandwich size portions. Drizzle a little olive oil on bread and crank some pepper on them. Slice mozzarella and tomato and layer on bread. Add a slice of prosciutto and fresh basil. Dunk Sammies into Cantaloupe soup, eat and thank me later. Wednesday Campanelle with Lentils, Sausage and Arugula Miss Martha Stewart made with recipe without sausage and with Orecchiette pasta (the ones that look like little bowls) But I thought Campanelle are more fun and we had a ton of left over sausage in the freezer from a BBQ so I decided to add a lil' goodness to this. It's such a healthy meal, what's a little sausage? If you've never played with lentils, now is your chance they need to be your best friend. They are filling and delicious and packed with fiber and nutrients from B vitamins to Proteins. At only 230 calories for a whole cup have at them!! And a fun twist is adding Arugula to a pasta dish. Most of the time you see this peppery devil in a salad but when cooked up it is a peppery, lovely filler to any dish! It cooks down allot so be generous! It's also considered a "super food" and an aphrodisiac so you can feel good about what you're eating and maybe feel good later.... Capanelle Pasta White onion Olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic Tomato Arugula Lentils Italian Sausage Parmesan Cheese Water or chicken stock

Cook Pasta until al dente and Lentils until tender In a pan add oil and cook chopped onions with a pinch of salt until brown. Add 1/4 cup of water or chicken stock and stir to loosen brown bits from the pan. Stir in chopped tomatoes and spices to onion mixture and remove from heat. Cook sausage and either slice or crumble, drain and set aside. In deep pan add lentils, onion/tomato mixture, pasta, sausage, chopped arugula and 1/2 cup of water or chicken stock, mix and serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top!

Thursday Taco Lasagna

I love anything with Mexican flavors! A little cumin and cilantro and I'm a happy gal! I love making burritos and enchiladas but this is also a fun twist. I used the no boil noodles to eliminate that step which is great because the wet noodles are harder to work with! I like my food spicy so I add tons of red pepper and hot sauce. And my new favorite discovery (well not so new) is using Greek plain yogurt instead of sour cream. I would bathe in sour cream if I could but it's so fatty. The low fat versions don't taste very good so I have replaced ALL my needs for sour cream with Greek Yogurt! It's more creamy and has ZERO FAT! Don't know how those Greeks do it but I applaud them! Another way I cut fat but add protein is by Using Morning star meal crumblers. Some people might find this scary but I'm telling you they are amazing! They have a great consistency and they take on whatever flavor you want! I also use them in chili and half the time Pete has no idea! This is also a meal I put in the "end of the world" category because if you don't have fresh ingredients you can almost always find 90% of them in your cupboard! You can also skip the Ricotta part and use any other type of noodles to make a cheesy taco noodle bake! No boil Lasagna noodles Morning Star Meal Starter Crumbles Tomato Onion Corn Black beans Cilantro, Cumin, Red Pepper, Paprika, Garlic Low fat Cheddar Cheese Olives Jalapenos Can of Tomato soup Salsa, hot sauce Low Fat Ricotta cheese one egg Greek Yogurt Brown "meat" and add onions and spices. Mix in tomatoes, beans, corn, olives, jalapenos and stir. Mix in tomato soup, salsa and a handful of cheese into mixture and set aside. Mix fresh cilantro and as much hot sauce as you want into ricotta cheese and add one beaten egg. Set aside. In lasagna pan add a heaping ladle full of meat/tomato mixture and spread evenly. Layer lasagna noodles on top, no need to overlap, they will expand. Spread Ricotta mixture over noodles and more meat sauce on top and repeat! Cover top with a healthy layer of cheese! Cook Covered at 375 for about 40 minutes and take cover off the last 5 to brown cheese. Serve with a heaping dollop of Greek yogurt

Friday California B.L.T. Salads

This is pretty self explanatory but OH SO GOOD! I could eat BLTs for every meal, and in fact there have been days in my life where I did! The bacon makes it breakfasty! But to cut out all the bread and add a little more substance I love turning them into salads! You can add whatever you want to this salad but I like keeping it simple to really let the BLT flavor shine. I'm using turkey bacon to make it a little heart healthy but that's getting thrown out the window because I am also frying up the left over Prosciutto from Tuesday to make it crispy and crumbling it on top! I can't waste that goodness and it will be perfect on the salad! And if you've never had a "California" BLT (Avocado, Lime, Black Pepper) you are in for a summery treat!

Arugula, lettuce, or spinach Tomatoes Turkey Bacon Sliced avocado Lime Juice Mayo Black Pepper Put a large heap full of washed greens into bowl. Cook bacon until crisp and them crumble into large pieces. Slice tomatoes and avocado. Toss everything together with a spoon full of mayo, just enough to lightly coat. I find it easiest to cover the bowl and shake the crap out of it to evenly cover everything. Sprinkle salad with lime juice and fresh cracked pepper
It has been a week of good eating!! But not the kind that makes you want to kill yourself! We have covered all food groups and gotten tons of lean proteins and nutrients! Hopefully you guys will try some of these recipes or have them inspire you to try something new! I'd love to hear about it if you do!! There are no real mistakes in the kitchen, it's all about experimenting! And again, not the kind that makes you want to kill yourself, like playing Beirut with white wine! Never. Again.
Bon Apetit!

Loads of Fun!!

It's finished!! Our Laundry room is finished and I couldn't be happier! Having the laundry in our actual house as opposed to the basement makes all the difference in the world! I don't have to trudge down to a damp, dark smelly basement with spiders and God knows what else AND our living room smells of fresh laundry! All it really took was a little help from our friend Bill Clifford who helped move the monster to the other side and a $282 check to our local electrician who spent a hot five minutes changing the plug for our dryer and moving it over! Worth every penny though. We now have an amazing laundry room and more storage! Stacking the washer and dryer was definitely the way to go, not only did we gain some room but you only have to bend over once which definitely makes a difference! And oh the music it plays! I swear the dryer goes on for like 4 minutes with a little jingle, gently letting me know it's done instead of scaring the crap out of me with a siren like beep! And they have Wrinkle prevent! Best invention EVER! Instead of having the clothes just sit there when I forget or don't feel like folding them right away, the dryer goes on for a minute or two every five minutes and it prvents wrinkles! Amazeballs! It feels so good to finally have a room officially done with brand new appliances. Lots of rooms are coming along but won't be "officially" done until we get some brand spanking newness up in them i.e. new fridge, new tub, new bed... Even though its the smallest room in the house, it gets used every day and it prevents us from being nakie so I say that's pretty important!

Un jardin de notre propre!

Want to know one of the BEST things about owning your home? GARDENING! For years Pete and I spent HUNDREDS of dollars on flowers, mulch, seeds, you name it. And it was all for some ungrateful landlords. All of our money, sweat and tears were really only building equity for some ass hats. But we love to do it and always wanted to be proud of where we lived so we sucked it up. But now... It's all ours!!! A Garden of our own! We can do whatever we want and know that not only are we building ourselves equity, we get to enjoy it for years to come!! However my problem is wanting it all to be done NOW! But plants grow (did you know that?) so you have to plant and wait and then see what needs to be done. Our front gardens had a few surprises that popped up in the mulch, We still aren't sure what everything is. My Mother In Law gave us some great advice, saying we shouldn't pull anything up for at least a year because who knows what it will turn out to be! So for now we are keeping what is there but have added some of my favorites! Lambs ear which is so darn soft and blooms a really unique flower, and also lots of Lupins and Lavender!! Love those "L" plants! We have Lilac trees and Lily of the Valley on the side of our wall. If I had my way our whole front yard would be a sea of Lillies, Lavender and Lupin! But Like I said for now, we have to wait and let nature do it's thang! However that didn't stop me from putting in a few kitchy garden accents like my turquoise mushrooms and a few signs! Gotta give love to the Fairies! And it's so fun to get creative! You really can let your imagination fly when it comes to gardening. I found this old wagon at an antique shop for $5! We drilled a few holes for drainage and added a few rocks and filled with soil and some fresh flowers from the flea market! For about $12 we have a really cute, interesting plnater for our front yard! We finally found a spot for our Llama. This Llama was purchased by Pete about ten years ago at a heroine yard sale, yup. It has been in our bedroom, dining room and living room. I swore he wasn't making this last move but SOMEHOW he ended up in the moving van (Even though I offered the men mucho dinero to "accidentally" drop it out on the highway) But I will say that I think she has finally found her home in our raised garden bed. A few wooden pots of different sizes and colors and some rocks and mulch makes the perfect hiding spaces for the top of our septic system, which was not going to grow grass! Though we can't really agree if she is a llama, an Ibex or a deer, we definitely agree that she has never been happier in a spot! We are still working on the "Water feature" though. I spent about an hour in my Wellies and rubber gloves, knee deep in rank water, snakes and dead leaves. While it was nice of the previous owners to set up the foundation for a water feature they obviously never took care of it! We finally got it cleaned out and filled the bottom with river stones and added a zen bell fence. The only problem is we have had the hardest time with the fountain part of it! We need to keep the water moving to keep the mosquitoes from laying eggs. We wanted to go solar so we wouldn't have to worry about plugging it in and hiding the wire but after MUCH research the solar fountain I got barely produces a light trickle and the second a cloud covers the sun it stops! Ah well for now it will do. I want Koi but Pete says we have enough pets! We also finally got our herb garden in! There was already a square bed with ant eaten rail ties so we cleared it out completely and filled it in with Maine mulch! What is Maine mulch you ask? Blueberries and lobster shells - and it is THE BEST! The goobers I nannied for gave us money to plant something to remember them by. And they always helped me cook and Gabriel loved to garden and Ben loved when things were "free" meaning you could pick and eat them, so an herb garden was the perfect choice! We have the most amazing array of really healthy herbs and we can step right out of the kitchen and pick them! Next year we will put new rail ties in and maybe some rocks, but for now it has been such a joy having fresh herbs. You CAN NOT beat Fresh herbs in cooking! Tonight I am making Chicken Souvlaki (Fresh Thyme and Oregano) with A Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (Fresh Dill) And Lemon, Pea Cous Cous (Fresh Mint And Lemon Balm) You cannot beat that! And may I just add, while I was outside taking all these pictures I left a plate of cooked chicken on the edge of the counter and Hurley Van Lou inside. I came in to him sitting on the floor and looking longingly but he DIDN'T TOUCH IT! He had about ten minutes to swipe it! What a good boy. And speaking of dogs, if you rub your dog's in mint and lavender its supposed to keep those nasty ticks away! Our deck is finally starting to feel like home! The Double Papasan got a new coat of weather resistant paint and some outdoor cushions. Our table set (Craigslist for $100) just needs a coat of rust free black paint and the outdoor cushions and umbrella make it the best place to enjoy a cocktail or some BBQ. There is something about an outdoor rug that really ties it all together and gives you that indoor/outdoor feeling. We love having morning coffee (which I am starting to get into) and after work cocktails our here. We have twinkling lights at night and some solar lanterns for extra color!
It's just the start but I think we are in great shape. It feels so good to be doing all this work FOR US. We have 30 more years to perfect it all. Some day the hot tub will be in, the fire pit will be dug and the vegetable garden and bocce ball court will be in. But for now, it's home.

"Gardening is a way of showing the World that you believe in Tomorrow."