Monday, December 31, 2012

Here's to a Rockin' New Year's Eve

2012 ended just like it began {sort of}, with champaign and family that are more than friends. 

You may remember that last New Year's was spent with Hubby's siblings. {We are a group of five!} I have loved each of these people since the moment I met them. We have hung out together and vacationed together and found snippets of time to talk on the phone or video chat since, like, forever! Shared memories and jokes just get richer and richer. 

Brother's wife and I like to sneak off and laugh until tears roll down our faces. We laugh until we can't catch our breath. And we often get in trouble with our husbands. They think we are too rowdy? Or think we may be making fun of them somehow? SIL and I have talked on the phone and our stories make each other laugh/cry on the phone too. 

Hub's Sis is also important to our group of fun. She and SIL totally get how wonderful white Russians are and allow me to indulge in Kaluha and cream. And sangria in summer? Why, yes, thank you! Many an afternoon has seen one or three of us on the porch with a sangria. We know how to appreciate the small pleasures.

We three "girls" enjoy our time together often on the porch or in the kitchen watching SIL (Bro's Wife) cook. She loves to cook and she is incredibly good at it. 

The boys are often in another room taking techie talk, or re-wiring computers or trying to establish the fastest connection to something and typically talk in geek. 

Bro and SIL are incredible hosts. They have created a home that is so inviting and comfortable and are so generous with having family come and stay for our visits.   

SIL loves to decorate for Christmas. She usually has several trees with different themes. When we visit around Christmas time there are so many cookies and goodies we can never finish them all. It is a Christmas wonderland at their house. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be with them this time of year.



Monday, December 17, 2012

NYC Walkabout~Day 1

One week ago today I was on a train coming home from NYC. It was wonderful to walk around the neighborhoods of Manhattan.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Two Neighborhoods of NYC

I'm still recovering from my vacay in NYC. --You know the old joke: "I need a vacation to rest up from my vacation." TRUE DAT.

But I have to say the weekend was exhilarating! I came back physically exhausted but emotionally re-charged! Clearly, I am not from NYC. But, oh, how I love that place.

Let me tell you how I explore new places. I love to experience a new place in bite-size pieces. My first trip to Europe was two cities: London and Paris. I spent three days in both of these wonderful and vastly different cities. {And it was wonderful.} The key for ME is to take time to explore and taste and feel the place. And this means acknowledging that I won't be able to see every sight. In fact, I may not see some of the major sights. And, I have to be okay with that.

For this NYC trip, Jordan had a workshop (which was the purpose of the trip). This meant I was on my own. I was in the perfect frame of mind to explore on my own.

I mapped out a two-mile radius from our hotel to use as a baseline for my explorations. I used an old-fashioned paper map to sketch out the sights/places I hoped to find. And after many cups of tea, I headed out to see the local neighborhoods.

Here are a few photos of my first day's explorations. I hope you enjoy!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

WHAT A WEEKEND!

Guess where I was this weekend. I went to the BIG APPLE!

This is the reason I've been MIA for a few days. I have so much to tell you! It was a super good weekend.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Looked GOOD Today

You know I'm not someone that enjoys shopping. I don't enjoy the entire experience. You know: the clothes racks are too close together. I don't enjoy having to navigate around other people in my effort to find something. You know what else? Trying on clothes is such a hot activity. Hot, as in sweltering! I guess it's the lights...but by the time I leave from a shopping trip, I feel like I need another shower. I'm usually exhausted and disheartened.

I've talked about my issues with shopping before. I do have a sort of love affair with Ann Taylor. I love their classic clothes but rarely love their prices. I really feel defeated when I try to find my size. The clothes are so beautiful, but the fact that they rarely have my size makes me feel like I don't deserve to wear cute clothes. It feels like Ann Taylor only sells clothes from sizes 0 to 6. Talk about a self-esteem blow. 

On the other hand, when I do find clothes in my size, the sales staff presents wonderful, boutique-like customer service. They help me pair the skirt with a top that really works. They help me accessorize so that I feel well put together. I have tremendous confidence when I work with their sales associates to pull together a complete look. 

Every once in a while, Ann Taylor has some amazing "Final Sales". I once found a skirt in my size that was $10. I skipped walked (ever so calmly) to the check out counter. I was cautioned that "Final Sale" means "no returns and no exchanges". {For the record, I get "Final Sale".} 

Needless to say, Black Friday (and after) does not make me want to go shopping. 

But THIS year I shopped from home. CYBER MONDAY! Oh my gosh. It's wonderful, this Cyber Monday thing!! I got 40% off my entire total from Coldwater Creek. (And that was on top of the sales prices.) I also bought from JCP and I bought two things from AT (aka Ann Taylor). 

The packages from JCP and AT arrived this week. And today, I wore the new skirt and sweater from JCP with the new jacket from AT. The AT jacket was less than full price but was not a crazy amazing deal.

BUT, the skirt and sweater separates I bought from JCP, less than $35 for both! Ah-mah-zing!

I got really lucky and everything fit like a dream! And the AT jacket fit amazingly well! I got a beautiful jacket that I would never find in the store (in my size). And, I did not have to leave my couch.

I'm totally happy right now. I feel like I got great value and looked good too.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Yesterday was Sissy's Birthday

So, Sissy's birthday was yesterday. I totally meant to write a little more about her as a Birthday tribute.
A birthday card of sorts.

Sissy and I have a similar sense of humor so when we send old-fashioned birthday cards to each other... they usually make me snort-laugh which is super funny.


We also have similar taste in novels. She likes the books I give her. I've read two of her recommendations...she tends to buy mysteries for herself. One of them was super good and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sissy's Having a Birthday!!

Aren't we three of the cutest girls you've seen? The three of us are SISTERs! And I'm so lucky to have them.

Today is Sissy's birthday. She is the youngest!. When I was 3 years old, Sis was 2 and Sissy was 1. Whew! My parents must have had a lot of fun raising three young girls so close in age.

I won't tell you how old Sissy is today...because you have enough information to then guess my age...and today...I don't feel my age. 

Since I moved back to NC I've gotten to hang out with both of my sisters so much more! Which is a very happy thing for me.

While I was living on the west coast I only got to see my Sis and Sissy when I flew home....which was not nearly often enough. To celebrate Sissy's birthday, I'm sharing some photos of Sister time!





Clearly, we are still having a ton of fun!!

Happy Birthday, Sissy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

11/28 is a SPECIAL DAY

Thanksgiving-2012 (Just last week)

Today is my daughter's birthday! Look at her as an infant. 
Isn't she absolutely adorable? 

She has the cutest, teeny, tiny hands. And her mouth is so little and perfectly pursed. I just love looking at the precious gift we were given!

My girl is one of my absolute favorite people. Seriously. LOVE HER!

So, I'll try not to be too mushy here...but I have to gush a little.

Daughter and I enjoy hanging together. She makes me laugh. But the weird thing is that D says I make her laugh! How funny is that? Actually, I think she thinks her Dad is funny too. Some of the clues for this is when she says things like: "You two are so funny".




1. "This is my life we're talking about"
2. "Mom, stop talking. I'm thinking."
3. "Can I have a Bull Dog?" ("Bull" sounds like "boul" in "bouillon".)




1: D. had taken two of the set of three hepatitis immunizations. She was still in pre-school. If you haven't had this immunization...it hurts A LOT! Big needle and thick syrum in the muscle. Let me say, holding your little girl while this scary shot is administered is hard. Very hard. You know you are doing the right thing...but...

After the second shot (a month after the first) the nurse said just one more shot to go. {Which would be an additional 5 months later.} EVERY DAY D. would ask me how much longer until her shot. Every morning while we were driving to pre-school and every evening while we were driving home. "Mom, when is my shot again? How many sleeps?" I was so sad that my girl was so worried. When you are in pre-school time is measured in sleeps. And I could not imagine my sweet girl thinking about this for 5 months of sleeps. I told her to try to forget about the shot. It was going to be so long that she shouldn't be thinking and worrying about it. Her response? "I can't stop thinking about this. This is my LIFE we are talking about."

2: I was usually pretty chatty on the drives home from pre-school. One evening D. didn't seem receptive to my questions of "What did you do today?" But I was always so giddy when I picked her up I couldn't stop myself from trying to engage her in chatter. Finally, D. pleaded, "Mom, stop talking. I'm THINKING". Love that!

Okay. Last one.
3: One of D's favorite pre-school teachers became a family friend  She would often sit for D. at her house so Hubs and I could have a date night. You guessed it. The teacher had a bulldog. D. was completely in love with this big sweet animal. Almost daily D would ask, "Can I have a Buuuull dog?" I would always say, "No honey". And she would say, "Can I have a German Shepherd?" (Her uncle had a German Shepherd).  Again, I would say "No". To which she would say "Well, then can I have a Buuuuullll dog?".

She started practicing her negotiating skills young. Love that!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Baby Girl!  Love you!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday after Thanksgiving

It's Sunday after the big holiday and I'm chillin' right here on the couch. Hubby made cinnamon rolls and hot tea (with milk!) which was heaven. It was nice to have something warm from the oven. 

Thanksgiving was a great success at my house. I will post about this fun day soon. It sounds like everyone else had a good day too. Good food, great friends and family visiting and even some good football.

Black Friday was a non-event for me. I don't really enjoy shopping, and really don't like shopping in crowds. I haven't purchased any gifts yet. I have time. {Right?}

Speaking of Christmas shopping...I know there's a lot of talk about if starting Black Friday on Thanksgiving is "wrong". Some find it to be offensive that Retail continues to push the Christmas season earlier each year. Because I don't shop on Black Friday, I can't really offer an opinion.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Outside My Window

I have a wonderful tree outside my bedroom window. Every chance I get, I leave this window open. There is usually a bird that is nestled inside the foliage that wakes me up with lovely songs. In the summer months, sometimes the bird(s) are awakened and sing just a little when they should be sleeping. --I think that the light in the bedroom must confuse them. I kept this window slightly open almost all summer. I was always surprised by how early the birds begin their morning chirps. Let me just say it is before actual sunrise.

This window is by my closet. I often see branches moving and assume it's a bird making themselves at home. This morning it was a squirrel.

There must be some sort of berry on the branch tips because Squirrel was going from limb to limb and furiously eating something. Squirrel did not know I was there. He did not feel me watching {spying}as he kept stretching a little too far for his next berry.







If I want to see Autumn, I just have to look out my window! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Less Than a Week

I'm super excited. I can not even believe that the major holidays are here! Next week is Thanksgiving!! I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year. I can't remember hosting Thanksgiving before. I've hosted Christmas, but not Thanksgiving.

I got all fancy and created an evite to make sure my family did not make plans to go somewhere else for the big day. 

Two years ago we celebrated and my parents'. This was their first Thanksgiving in their new house. It was the first time we ate in their new dining room. The food was amazing {as always when Mamacita hosts}. It was also our first Thanksgiving since our move back from Seattle. Having the family Thanksgiving at the Parentals' was also a celebration of having our families together in the same town. 

I know I've mentioned this {maybe 100 times?}, but Daughter, Husband and I lived in the Seattle area for 7 years. That is seven Thanksgivings spent across the country from our extended family. While living in the Pacific Northwest, we sometimes felt our holidays were very quiet with just the three of us. I yearned for something that felt more formal. I wanted a reason to dress up. I wanted to feel like I was at a party.

So, in 2007 the three of us started our own Thanksgiving tradition. We made our Thanksgiving reservations at the Magianno's Restaurant. They have a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving meal (including turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes). It was wonderful. The food was great! And the atmosphere was festive. And we looked Mah-vah-lous.

Below are photos from 2008 and a single photo from 2007. (2007 is the one where D and I had long hair.)

We enjoyed that so much that we celebrated Thanksgiving (and D.'s birthday) at Magianno's the next two years (the last two Thanksgivings we had in Seattle). In the photos above (2007 & 2008), you'll see we are standing in front of Christmas decorations. The mall outside of the restaurant was usually beginning to decorate for Christmas and we usually found our way over to some of the greenery for our T-Day pics. 

Below is our last Thanksgiving in Seattle (2009). D. turned 20 that year. We did not know that we would be leaving the Evergreen state before our next Thanksgiving. 

Now that we are back in the same town as our extended family, we took up the "old" tradition of Thanksgiving hosted at home.  ~The first year we were at my parents (like I said). This felt very right and natural as we had spent so many Thanksgivings with them before our big move to WA. It was familiar and new at the same time.

This year I volunteered to coordinate the celebration. And, I yearned for a Magianno's feast. I've been loving our new traditions and yet missed our Seattle tradition too. 

So...guess what? We are having the Magianno feast! This year with a twist. We will pick up the feast and have the gathering at my house. The best of both worlds is about to happen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One More Pink Tent Post

Charlotte, NC ~ 1st Morning of Avon Walk
I've decided to give you the scoop on the things that I was not adequately prepared for. I need to state very clearly that most of this was my fault. Most. {I'm referring to Our Pink Tent Weekend}

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dakota

Two of my favorite people lost their sweet Dakota this weekend. They are heartbroken. I am heartbroken for them. 

I wasn't sure I would talk about this loss here. But I found that I couldn't talk about anything else. This is all that is on my mind. 

Losing someone you love when they leave this earth is truly hard. And really, really sad. And this weekend, my loved ones experienced this loss with Dakota. The fact that Dakota is a German Shepherd does not change that she is a "someone".

I have nothing I can offer to ease their sadness. My own losses do not offer any comfort. One loss does not ease the burden of another loss. 


All I can do is let them know I love them. Let them know I loved her. Let them know I am sorry for this hole they have in their heart. 

I can honor their loss by honoring Dakota's memory. I can honor her life and the happiness she gave while she was with us. Dakota will be missed. Perhaps this is all there is to say.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday with Sissy

Sissy & Me {And Jacob}
One of the nice things about being in my hometown is that I'm near my two sisters. And my two sisters are two of my best friends.

You may remember that Sis and I have had parallel playdates at her house. I paint, or scrapbook or whatever while she reads or does whatever. Typically I do very different things with each of my sisters. For instance, Horseback Riding with Sis as well as Moonlight (i.e. dark) Canoeing. {I don't think I've written about the canoeing.}

Sissy and I usually go shopping together. Sissy has real style and helps me make it fun. Sissy has a good eye and can find things and totally put together cute outfits. After shopping with Sissy, I almost always have at least one new outfit that makes me feel pretty AND that was on sale or consignment or some other gratifying purchasing experience.

Last weekend, Sissy and I went shopping for a new work outfit for me. We got a simply adorable skirt for an amazing deal and a leather jacket. I need to put that outfit together for you so you can see just how cute it is! 

Anyway, this weekend, Sissy and I decided to "shake things up". Yes...we decided to do something different together. We decided to paint! And by "we" I mean "she" wanted to paint! Of course, I always want to paint. So, when Sissy said "I want to paint", I wasted no time setting up the easel and paints. The paint supplies were all set up before Sissy even got to the house.


I have a new easel (you may have noticed). So I painted with my easel and Sissy painted at my kitchen desk with my desk easel (tabletop easel). I forgot to take a picture of Sissy's painting. But we both painted the Girl in Rain Boots. Mostly, we painted the boots. I'm super excited how this turned out. It's my first "big" canvas that I painted without a net (or instructor). The paintings I've done at Sis's house have been smaller canvases. I'm feeling quite inspired again.

The question is: What will I do with all these paintings I'm painting? I have to find homes for them. Think about it...let me know what I should do.

P.S. Here's one last look:  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our Pink Tent Weekend~Part II

One week ago Danielle finished a MARATHON! We celebrated this by sleeping in a tent. Good Times!


More images of our weekend:


1 ~ CUPCAKES with dinner //\\ 2 ~ Our Tent //\\ 3~ D's side of the tent //\\ 4~My side of the Tent. And that's me inside the sleeping bag. ZONKED OUT.