Friday, February 29, 2008

Favorite Moment

I went out tonight, with girlfriends, for the first time in over a year. I didn't want to go. When you are a stay at home mom, your home can often feel like your prison. And yet, when the opportunity to leave presents itself, you suddenly develop a case of Stockholm Syndrome and come up with all sorts of excuses for why you couldn't possibly leave. I did just that. In the end, I went out of obligation and ended up having a wonderful time. But the best part of the night? Walking through the door and seeing everything with the eyes of someone renewed. Refreshed. All of a sudden, as I walked through all the dimly lit rooms, I saw so many artifacts of mundane beauty that it all just took my breath away. I was like an archaeologist in a fertile field, delighted by treasures tossed haphazardly at my feet and eager to learn more about this place.


This is a place where a row of bottles stand sentinel, waiting for their chubby fisted Commander in Chief to drink from them greedily while he doles out lopsided grins at you or The Wiggles--depending on who is more entertaining.


A place where heroes exist and answer to the name Daddy. Or Buzz.


A place where cars can talk.


And children play.


Until everyone is exhausted.


And collapse in satisfied heaps.


So it can all start again in the morning. How lucky am I? I get to call this place home.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Cheat Sheet

Things to Remember for The Next Time This Happens:

1. When your eyes feel like two burning orbs threatening to launch out of your skull and into a bucket of ice water, you can be confident sleep is absolutely nowhere in your near future.

2. Never eat a Chocolate ice cream and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard because you're stressed about your 3 year old's 103.6 fever if you are severely lactose intolerant. By the time your stomach is done making you it's bitch, your ass will be a ring of fire and it will be 2:00am.

3. 5:00 am. Cue the screaming, delirious toddler with a 103.5 fever (hey! it's down 1/10th of a degree!) who thinks the ceiling fixture comes to life during the night and tries to enter his ears.

4. 5:30am. After everyone is asleep, including the fixtures, crawl back into bed and shut your eyes because in 10 minutes the baby will start to wake--2 hours early. Get up out of bed, because he won't fall back asleep. You're not that lucky.

5. 6:00am. Say goodbye to The Mister, because he will have to leave on a business trip. That's just how these things work. Robbers, serial killers, and psychos, here's your chance. Kindly email for directions.

6. Resolve yourself to the fact you will get nothing done and everything your write will be crap. Oh, and you will look like Anne Ramsey from Throw Mama from the Train.

7. You will get into at least 3 fights with mom. But, she will bring over soup and supplies from the store and visit the boys even though she is mad at you because she's just better than you that way.

8. You will try to list ten things you've learned from this experience and you won't be able to think of anything that doesn't sound better with lots of bad words...

9. And bad words offend mom. Mom will call about the bad words and will let you know what she thinks of bad words and people who use them...

10. Which brings on fight number 4 and, hopefully, another store run. Thanks, mom! (Even though I'm 35 and I can say bad words if I want to. Just saying.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Another Flower

That's it! Stop the world, I want to get off.

Last fall Mikey missed his first ever picture day because he was sick. I was bummed, but not devastated because they do them again in the spring. I thought, surely he won't be sick for the second picture day, right? WRONG. Today, as I was just getting ready to go out and finally buy some mixing bowls, Mikey walks up to me and asks me to hold him. Um, what? Three year olds only want to be held when they are sick or scared, and since I didn't hear any monsters running about I knew he had to be sick. Sure enough, fever of 99.6--which shot up to almost 103 in less than 2 hours. He's been running a high fever all day, and a call to the pediatrician confirmed what I already knew--he'll be out for at least three days. So much for that second picture day. Mikey only seems to get sick on holidays or special events. At school he's missed the Thanksgiving lunch, the Christmas pageant, and two picture days. Maybe that's why I forgot the Valentines. I subconsciously just assumed he'd be sick.

I know I'm supposed to be a snapdragon, but right about now I sure would like to be a big, fat bush of Echinacea. Maybe then we could go a week or two without someone around here getting sick.

What Flower are You?

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

I love personality predictors. I'm always game for a quiz and love to read my horoscope (I'm a Sagittarius or a Rat, depending on the branch of astrology to which you subscribe). All of this is most likely because I'm 35 years old and still trying to figure out who I am. Well, according to This Garden is Illegal, I am a snapdragon. Problem solved!

"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."

That's actually pretty spot on. But what do snapdragons want to be when they grow up?

Thanks to Kara for the fun quiz.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Firecracker Favors

I never did post how I made Nicholas' Firecracker Birthday Favors. They were easy to make, a great kids' project, and everyone really enjoyed them. I saw the idea on Martha Stewart's website right here and was immediately smitten. Martha uses tissue paper and craft punches in various sizes. I had tissue paper, but I didn't have the craft punches. I also didn't have a big budget, and craft punches can run up to $20 or more a piece. Since I needed at least three, I knew there was no way I could spend $60 on three punches I would rarely, if at all, use again. I decided to improvise.

First, I took one sheet of basic printer paper and covered it in hearts of various sizes.

Many Little Hearts

Then I gave Mikey his crayons and let him go to town.

Color in the Hearts

After that, I ran the sheet through the color copier. I knew Mikey wouldn't color several sheets of hearts in one sitting. (Um, and I didn't have the patience time to draw out pages and pages of hearts) I also downloaded this font and printed out on 3 or 4 other pieces of paper the number 1, his initials and the month, date, and year of his birth.

Color Copies

During the Superbowl, I cut out all the little hearts, the initials, and the numbers.

Cut Out Hearts

When I was ready to make the paper, I tore out two long lengths of wax paper of the same length. Then I spread my hearts evenly across. I laid paper towels underneath everything because I wasn't sure how the wax paper would respond. It ended up not being necessary, but might be something you consider doing the first time around.

Laid Out and Waiting

The I laid on top the second sheet of wax paper.

Cover w/ Second Sheet

Set the iron to medium-low, covered the entire thing with one layer of paper towels, and started ironing. I ended up setting the iron a little hotter, but I think my iron might be a total piece.

Iron Together

It was that easy! Here is the final product. This is actually the second batch. Notice I was starting to run out of hearts! I went a little crazy with the first batch and almost didn't have enough to make more paper.

Wax Wrapping Paper

I originally planned on wrapping a slice of pound cake for each guest in the paper, but I ran out of time. Instead, I took 9 Valentine Hershey's Kisses (Nicholas was born on the 9th), rolled them up in the paper, and tied off the ends to make Firecracker Favors.


I'll be honest. There's a reason why Martha suggests tissue paper. It's thinner, and makes for a more pliable end product. The regular paper wasn't that bad, though, and worked fine for what I had intended. I would love to try it with different papers, or maybe even melt crayons shavings for a multi-colored effect. Who knows? Maybe, if I remember, I'll dust off this idea for Mikey's school Valentines next year!

Dusting off the Birkenstocks

Mikey started walking not long after The Mister and I completed 90% of our kitchen remodel (someday we'll have a backsplash). The cabinet installers agreed to put in the safety latches, but bailed 13 seconds after they hung the last cabinet. I guess they were tired of our little old house with it's crooked walls and uneven floors. I asked The Mister to do it a couple of times (17--who's counting?) but something always seemed to come up. It didn't help when I took away his motivation and started storing all the cleaning supplies on the top shelf in the pantry.

One day I decided I was tired of grabbing the step stool every time I needed to wipe down the counters and started researching recipes for homemade cleaning supplies. I found one, bought all the ingredients, and made it despite The Mister's scoffs and jeers and crunchy-granola-California-hippy-Birkenstock-mama proclamations. I'll admit I was a little worried I had fallen into some deep, dark, stay-at-home-mom place I might never crawl out of without a pile of glad rags and Patchouli oil, but sonofabitch it worked better than anything I had ever used. I've even found a way to use my homemade concoction in front of others without feeling like a wayward Jack Kerouac groupie. I just start spouting off about the environment, chemicals, mention a landfill every now and then, toss in a well timed sniff and shoulder shrug and before you know people look interested. Guilty, but interested. I usually seal the deal when I mention it costs about $0.30 to make. So, are you feeling interested and guilty, yet? If so, here is the recipe. It's a modified version of Alice's Wonder Spray from Clean House, Clean Planet, which in all seriousness is a fantastic book. Great cleaning supply recipes without the crunch of granola.

All Purpose Household Cleaner

2 TBS White distilled Vinegar
1 Tsp Borax (this is mildly toxic, so be sure to keep the final product in a safe place)
1/4 cup Dr. Bonner's liquid soap (I have peppermint scent) or 1/8 cup liquid detergent
1 16 oz. trigger spray bottle
essential oils

Mix 2 TBS of vinegar with 1 tsp of borax in the 16 oz trigger-spray bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with very hot, purified/distilled water. Shake until the borax dissolves completely.

Add the liquid soap or detergent last. Follow with 20 or so drops of an essential oil. I like lemon and lavender, or lavender and tea tree.

It's very important to keep the order of ingredients as they are. Adding vinegar to the soap will cause it to clump, and if you don't first add the hot water to the borax you will have a tough time getting it to dissolve.

Recipe for a Clean Home

I use this on all of my soapstone counters, my kitchen table, range, sink, and faucets. There isn't much this recipe hasn't been able to tackle. In fact, over Christmas when I knew company was coming, I went out and bought the most popular product on the market to clean my kitchen cabinets. I thought for sure I needed something commercial to clean a year's worth of grime. I threw it away after the third cabinet--it just greased up the cabinets even more! I ended up using my homemade cleaner to clean the cleanser and the grime off the cabinets. I should have never doubted my homemade cleaner.

If you try it out, tell me if it works for you. If you have a recipe of your own, please share!

Fast forward three years and we still haven't child-proofed our cabinets.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Favorite Moment

Um, I don't have one. Well, aside from The Mister not being killed. That one is obvious, and I already touched on it during my previous post. So, I basically already covered my favorite moment on Wednesday on now it's Friday and I've got bupkis. Unless, of course, you're willing to help out a poor mama.

My best friend since kindergarten called me today with great news. She and her husband were finally approved for adoption! I say finally because the process had been unreasonably delayed thanks to her agency contact's habit of keeping her head tuck firmly between her ass cheeks 99% of the time. Lucky for Kara, her contact's 1% effective rate was today.

Being the best friend that she is, Kara knew I was in a pinch and generously offered to loan me her favorite moment. While I did have to turn down her offer for logistic reasons (Hi! I'm not really adopting but let's pretend I am and celebrate, shall we?), it got me thinking that maybe the 5 of you and my mom some of you have had really great moments you would like to share, too. So, here's your chance to share your moment. If you're up to it, I'd love to hear what your favorite moment was this week. If you've read any of my previous favorite moments you already know it doesn't have to be life altering.

As for me, I'll sit here and wait for the great news I know is around the corner. I firmly believe that good always follows bad. It's the whole "Every time God closes a door he opens a window" philosophy. I am beside myself with excitement, because if Wednesday was any indication, we're winning the lottery right after we find the cure for cancer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Putting Things in Perspective

The Mister is a very hard worker. It's one of qualities people most admire in him, second only to the fact he is a phenomenal father and husband. I fully anticipate him one day waking up and realizing that he's holding the short end of the stick, after which he will trade me in for a newer, shinier model who likes to clean regularly and watch episodes of 24. Until then, I keep him stuffed with his favorite foods and desserts in hopes that one day he will gain an ounce and not look so terribly attractive to my competition.

Well, today my wonderful, hard working Mister was robbed. Without revealing too many details, he had with him a very large sum of cash for business purposes. He is fine, but furious. There was a significant amount stolen, and as small business owners we can't easily replenish what amounts to months worth of income. I am terribly shaken up and just want him to come home...NOW. Instead, ever the hard worker, The Mister is meeting his partner at the bank to review security tapes.

So, lessons for the week? Always kiss and hug the people you love; it's only money; karma is a bitch; and The Mister is still totally the best guy ever.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Birthday Cake

Snickerdoodle Cake

Sorry for the delay in sharing with you the recipe for Nicholas' birthday cake. The lawyer in me had trouble posting a copy-righted recipe on the internet. I did some searching and I found some recipes posted online that are, essentially, uncredited versions of the same cake I baked from this book so I feel better about the whole thing. Be forewarned: this recipe uses a cake mix. I love to bake and cook from scratch, but scratch cakes are usually drier and denser than a mix. They are also usually not as sweet. I happen to love the taste and texture, but most people prefer the sweet and soft crumb of a boxed cake. The Cake Mix Doctor helps me strike an easy compromise. The recipes are ridiculously easy, too, so if you are a novice baker you are practically guaranteed success. This cake was a bit sweet for my taste, but absolutely no one else agreed with me-- so there you go. OK, enough talk. Here's the recipe for Snickerdoodle cake and Cinnamon Buttercream frosting I found online.


1 Box Plain White Cake Mix
1 cup Whole Milk
8 TBS butter, melted
3 Large eggs
2 Tsp. vanilla
2.5 Tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 inch pans. Place all ingredients in bowl and mix on low for one minute, scraping down the sides as necessary. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for 2 more minutes, again scraping down sides as necessary.

Divide batter into prepared pans, smooth down top with spatula, and place both pans side-by-side in the oven. Bake for 27-29 minutes, or until golden in color and the cake springs back when you lightly press it with your finger. Remove from pans after an initial cooling period of 10 minutes or so. Then take out of pans and allow to completely cool on racks, about 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the frosting.


8 TBS butter, room temperature
3.75 cups Confectioner's Sugar
3 TBS milk
1.5 Tsp vanilla extract
1.5 Tsp cinnamon

Place softened butter in mixer and mix until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add Confectioner's Sugar, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Blend on low until sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and mix until frosting is light and fluffy.

Frost your now cool cake layers as usual.

After the cake is frosted, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes so the frosting can stiffen up. After that, you can slice, eat, and store in the fridge for a week.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Technical Difficulties

I am having problems with one of my sites, The Poem Company. Seems I put my money where I shouldn't have, and the person hosting my site fell off the face of the earth and took my money and our sites with her. I fully intended to remove my site to a different location this year, but didn't. Lesson learned: always trust your instincts. I'm trying to remedy this situation as fast as possible, of course. I debated posting evidence of my stupidity for all the world to see, but I figured my lesson learned can be someone's lesson spared. Besides, you've already seen me without my makeup so it's not like I have much dignity left.

Looking on the bright side, this just reaffirms my commitment to learn how to develop and manage my own website. It's never good to have all your eggs in one basket, especially when it's someone else's basket. Besides, Nicole can vouch for the fact I am impossibly fickle. I'll spare future designers from my personality by learning how to do a few of these things on my own.

In the mean time, click on over to The Poem Company and enjoy the "HEY LOSER, PAY YOUR BILLS!" message on display for all my clients to see. I love it. Especially since this loser paid her hosting bill 6 months ago.

UPDATE: If my email inbox is any indication, I am not the only one with this problem. I did get in contact with my old designer. Turns out she didn't fall off the face of the earth--just the internet, along with a handful of other sites. She explained to me there was a server problem and has offered to transfer over my files to my new host--an offer I gladly accepted. It's time I learn to work the back end of my websites!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Favorite Moment

You know what's great about crappy weeks? It makes it so easy to ferret out your favorite moment. For example, I knew my favorite moment this week certainly wasn't

  1. Forgetting my Mikey's Valentine's.
  2. Taking Nicholas to a pediatric urology appointment and getting questionable, if not downright concerning, news. (More on that later.)
  3. Getting up last night at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:00, 4:15, and 4:30 to deal with dogs, children, and my own cough attack after going to bed at 11:30.
  4. Stepping in dog poop during my 4:30 wake up call above and washing the floors for half and hour.
  5. Checking my email and finding out that for some reason none of the pictures were uploading to the blog.
  6. Letting Mikey carry into Target his really expensive sippy cup and arriving home later only to discover he left it somewhere inside the store.
No, there were a bunch of least favorite moments this week, which surprised me because Nicholas' birthday party went so well I thought for sure the good mojo would carry us through the week. Didn't happen.

I'll tell you what did happen. About 1:00pm today I was chatting with my friend Chrissy and lamenting the loss of the stupid sippy cup. It occurred to me that I brought it all on myself with my negative attitude all week. I decided that I was going to think positive thoughts about the cup, and imagined another mom finding the cup at Target and returning it to Lost & Found. Come Hell or high water, in my mind that sippy cup was coming home tonight. Chrissy agreed that was an excellent idea and said she would join me in the positive thought experiment. I called all throughout the day, but no one turned it in. The second The Mister got home I jumped in the car and headed to Target. I walked right up to Customer Service and the pimply faced 15 year old who is usually a bit of a punk was actually very kind and looked through all the bins. Nothing. I retraced my steps through Target, all the while imaging picking up the sippy cup and taking it home. And there, in a candy rack about 1.5 feet off the ground, tucked amongst the the fluorescent greens, blues, and yellows of Easter candy I saw it:

Ahhhh. Thanks, Chrissy! I should use this positive imagery more often. Maybe it will get me a tight ass and a million dollars.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Loving What Ya' Got. Or not.

Sometimes you just have to improvise.

Immediately after Brow-Gate 2008:

Me.  No Make Up.

(Me without makeup. And, apparently, Chapstick.)

A couple of notes:
  1. Never again take a picture without makeup or Chapstick.
  2. Or under-eye concealer. Sheesh! It's called sleep. Try it sometime. (Honesty check: I actually don't sleep as much as I should, but the dark circles are worse than usual due to congestion from that little bubonic plague I had.)
  3. I have a scar above my right eye from hitting the corner of a coffee table when I was young; it is not a result of Brow-Gate. The wax job wasn't that bad.
  4. I am not cocking my eyebrow, or looking at something curious. That skinny little ski-slop of an eyebrow with the corresponding stump of a parenthesis brow? Compliments of Mei-Lin, thank-you-very-much. I am particularly fond of the way the (my) right brow pulls away from the (my) left brow, as if it's afraid of the former swooping down for a bite.
Me, Make Up

(Me with makeup. And, apparently, looking into a mirror with water spots.)

A couple of notes:

  1. Clean the mirrors. You weren't raised in a barn.
  2. Get a better under-eye concealer.

The brow filler I use for my scar wasn't looking so hot when I used it to fill in Ski-Slope Brow. It was one of those "good from afar, but far from good" situations. Up close, I looked like someone filling in her brows. I also wear makeup once, maybe twice, a week. That's actually being generous; I'm more of a bimonthly kinda gal. If you've ever filled in your brows, you know it requires a full face of makeup to pull off. I just can't do that everyday, so I decided to initiate Plan B.


Bangs. With IKEA household scissors. In my bathroom.

A couple of notes:
  1. Under-Eye concealer. Seriously.
  2. Lots and lots of under-eye concealer.
  3. More than 5 hours of sleep a night might also be good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Super Lousy Mom

Mikey doesn't have school on Friday or Monday because 63% of the US Presidents were born in February. This meant his class Valentine Party was today, which was no problem for me because I didn't sign up to bring anything. We showed up to school and I saw a couple of parents bringing flowers and presents, presumably for the teachers and teachers' assistants. Kiss asses, I thought, while mentally flogging myself for not thinking to do the same. Then I noticed some kids brought little bags, and that in those little bags were little Valentines. As in, Valentines for your classmates. Um, k-k-kiss asses? I already knew the answer. I forgot that because of the holiday on Friday the Valentine exchange would be today, Wednesday. Why it didn't occur to me that a Valentine exchange would occur during a Valentine party is beyond me. Hell, this morning I thought today was Monday so I'm just happy I didn't show up to school with an Easter basket.

I needed to get Mikey in class and figure out when this Valentine thing was going down. I walked briskly into Mikey's class and rushed the teacher.

JULES: "So," I said in that casual, offhand way people use to talk about the weather, "Are the kids exchanging Valentines today?" The last part ended up sounding rather shrill, so my plan to sound cool disintegrated in one brief, Peter-Brady-trying-to-sing-for-the-talent-show moment.

MRS. W: "We sure are! We're all going to put them in everyone's special bag they made earlier in the week! Mikey can just put his in his cubby until we're ready!"

(Whee! That's just flippin' FANTASTIC!)

JULES: "Uh huh. Yeah. Well. [ahem] And when might that exchange happen?" I felt myself rocking on my heels from side to side, like some Olympic sprinter warming up for a big race--in my case, against the clock.

MRS. W: "Oh, I don't know. Maybe 9:30?"

JULES: "Oh, really?" I managed to choke out. "In 30 minutes, huh?"

MRS. W: "Yes. But now that I have you here let me go over some paperwork real fast."

JULES: "Real fast."

MRS. W: "I'm sorry?"

JULES: "Oh, nothing! You were saying real fast?"

MRS. W: "I'm about to hand you Mikey's registration packet for next year. Now, it's really, really, really important that you stay and fill it out right now because spots fill up suuuuuuper fast for 4 year olds and you want to secure your spot!"

JULES: "He he he. Right now, huh?" A wave of Catholic guilt slapped me in the face. "IforgottheValentines." It all came out in a tumbled rush.

MRS. W: "Oh. Well, maybe you can get something and Mikey can just do the exchange at 11:30 during snack."

(Now there's a an invitation if I ever heard one.)

JULES: "Oh, that won't be necessary. 9:30 you say? And its...Oh! Look at that. 9:10."

MRS. W: "Don't forget the registration packet..."

JULES: "See you at 9:30!" Shit. Crap. Crappity-crap-crap-shit-crap. I am so flippin' screwed.

I will be positively amazed if anyone in the administration office can read one thing on that registration packet. I wrote it out so fast I shredded the paper with the sheer force I used on the pen clenched maniacally in my hand. I was out the door in less than three minutes. 9:13.

I peeled into the parking lot of the nearest Ralphs and all but threw Nicholas into the shopping cart as I ran into the store and flew into the Valentine section. Being the guilt stricken mom that I am, I scanned the racks for the fanciest, most expensive Valentines. Twenty-seven 3D Animal Valentines for $3.99? SOLD! I made a mad dash to the pen section for a red sharpie. I was willing to pay $52. I found a set of three for $4. Back down the aisle and now in a frenzied sprint to the self check aisle. This entire time Nicholas remained in the cart thanks to the centrifugal force caused by my running around.

It wouldn't be a deadline without a blue hair tossed into the mix. I just pulled out of my parking space when right in front of me appeared a 104 year old woman making a 65-point turn to get out of her parking space. She was in front of me the entire way back to school. I wanted to poke my eyes out with the 3D Valentines and use my red Sharpie to write "Move it, Grandma!" backwards on my windshield on the off chance she ever bothered to look in her rear view mirror.

Finally, finally, finally, I made it back to school. I parked in the closest space possible and called the co-room mom on her cell. (Yes, I'm the other room mom. The irony hasn't escaped me.)

JULES: "HOWMANYKIDSAREINTHECLASS?!?!?!" As I ripped open the Valentines and Sharpies with my bared teeth.

CO-ROOM MOM: "15. But put in two extras for the teache..."


CO-ROOM MOM: "I don't's 9:28 and I'm just turning in my registration packet..."


I quickly wrote out 17 times:
TO: My Friend
FROM: Mikey

I tossed Nicholas, again, but this time into the umbrella stroller. I grabbed the Valentines, locked the car, and started running through the school. And here is where I get crazy. No joke, as I ran through the parking lot pushing the stroller I suddenly thought to myself, Hey. Check it out. I'm running an no one is chasing me.


I tore open the gate, ran down the short hall, and opened the class door. Mrs. W. looked up with a shocked look on her face.

MRS. W: "You're here! With Valentines! And we're just about to start! Wow. You are a Super Mom."

JULES: "Actually, I'm just a really good Super Lousy Mom. Let's get this party started, shall we?"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I'm doing a little test. I switched off the comment moderation on the blog. You still have to enter the word scramble, but your comments should be immediate. Let me know if you have a preference one way or the other!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Homemade Birthday Party

Our little Nico is now 1 year old as of Saturday. To celebrate, we had a little family party at the house on Sunday. It was perfect. Quiet, small, and full of handmade, simple decorations and food by yours truly and big brother, Mikey. I went with a Valentine theme. I figured I could get away with the more feminine decorations since he's only 1. Hey, humor me; I'm a mom of two boys. I don't get many opportunities to buy pink so I grab onto them when I can!

Mikey and I started off by making a sign in honor of the birthday boy. Mikey did all the coloring and the entire time we worked on it he would say, "My daddy is going to love this." He did.

Birthday Sign

For decorations, The Mister, Mikey and I set about creating a picture mobile of Nico's 1st year. Looking at those pictures of him as a newborn tugged at the heart a bit, but I know the best is yet to come. We hung pictures of Nico immediately after birth from the light above the dining table. The rest of the pictures we stretched along our impossibly long, 8 foot slider. I was a little nervous about how people would receive this idea, but it was a hit. Sorry for the lousy pictures. My house is notoriously dark so I had to use a bit of flash for the pictures to come out but believe me when I say it all looked much better in person!



For favors, we made Valentine Hershey's Kisses Crackers. (As in firecrackers, not yum! crackers) Mikey and I made the wax paper together. It had hearts, "N"s, and Nico's birth date randomly through out.


We had a simple lunch of homemade enchiladas and brought in rice, beans, chips, and salsa from a favorite (local) Mexican restaurant. For dessert we had cake, of course. I made a Snickerdoodle Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream frosting and Breyer's "Fried Ice Cream". No one here is a particular fan of cinnamon, but I am impossibly anal and had to carry the Mexican theme to the end. Snickerdoodle cake isn''t exactly Mexican, but it has cinnamon so I convinced myself it all worked.

Snickerdoodle Cake

Parenting Tip: I know it's hard in this day and age, but don't give your baby any candies, sweets, cookies, etc. their first year of life. First of all, they don't need the sugar--if they want something sweet they can have a fruit. But, mainly, it's so you can see the look of ecstasy when the first bite of cake touches their lips on their 1st birthday. The looks on Nico's face was priceless. He couldn't get the cake down his pie-hole fast enough. At one point he had the entire slice in both hands and was trying to shove it all in with one bite. We couldn't stop laughing, and ended up giving him another piece just because it was all so amusing.

Chew, Chew

All in all, it was a great day. Thanks for letting me share it with you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Favorite Moment

No. Words. Necessary.

WHAT?! HELLO?! WHO?! I'm Permanently Surprised.

I really don't care much about my hair. If it weren't for the fact that I am 75% gray prematurely, I doubt I would get it cut and colored regularly. My eyebrows, on the other hand, are an entirely different matter. Every other week, without fail, I'm at the salon waxing down the beasts. Today was no different, except for the fact I walked out of the salon looking like this:

I even have the same suicidal expression. Oh, wait. No I don't. I look permanently stunned. My eyebrows are so arched I look like someone is repeatedly biting my ankles. I know I'm not crazy. My best-friend-ever Kara came over to drop off a birthday present for Nico and after she got over the initial shock of seeing so much of my eye sockets exposed to fresh air, all she could stammer was, "They're...they're...they're not even the same size! One is crooked and really thin and the other is...really, really thin." In other words, they look like crap.

I knew the second the girl ripped the wax off my face that they were going to be too thin. It was one of those now that didn't feel right moments. One brief, terrifying look in the mirror and my worst fears were confirmed. Early 90s Drew Barrymore brows. What did I do after I was confronted with such horror? I smiled and tipped the girl 20%, naturally. Petunia Face would understand.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Circus Act

I bought this print, called Juggling, from the very lovely and talented Ashley Goldberg the other day. Do I even need to explain why?

Between the boys, The Mister, the house, the blog, the website, and the business, I am stretched pretty thin. Add to that "the bills" and I'm ready to sell everything and go live off the grid in some field in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Mister can make furniture and I'll bake artisan pretzels while Mikey and Nico play music on instruments we've fashioned out of the scraps from The Mister's aforementioned furniture business. Selling everything, though, would require "the energy" I don't seem to possess. So, instead, I'll bitch.

I know I'm not the only one with a full plate, but I feel like I am the only one who can't seem to keep it together. So, because I am a big seeker of advice from those more sage than I, kindly share your sanity tips in the comments below. I have a few books on living a simpler life that I may have to dust off and re-read. I think it's time.

Monday, February 4, 2008

How to Hang a Wall of Pictures

There are a 1,001 ways to do this, and I am positive there is at least one tutorial out there that employs my method. It's an easy, straightforward method so if you haven't seen this before it should inspire you to finally hang up your family pictures.

Now, I know there are many design guros out there who loathe an abundance of family photos. I have read, repeatedly, that it is just too much, too kitschy, too suburban, and too overdone. Well, too bad. They obviously hold this view because they have cold, black hearts and have no family willing to pose in a picture with them. If you love someone, why wouldn't you want to see their smiling mug at the start and close of every day? Seems logical to me, but maybe I'm just a big ol' suburban softie. I'm going to assume you're a softie, too, and want to hang some pictures. Here's how you do it.

1. Begin by taking accurate measurements of the area in which you want to hang the pictures. My area measured 100 inches, even.


2. Cut a roll of paper (butcher, shipping, presentation, etc.) and cut to size. I use gridded paper, which helps later on as you lay out the pictures. Lay out the paper on the floor or table, which ever is easier and can accommodate the size of the paper.

The Wall on the Floor

3. Lay out your pictures until you are satisfied. Tips:
  • Think to the future and leave space for future pictures. I have one more partial row I want to add underneath, so I knew I had to group my pictures higher than normal to accommodate future shots.
  • Go back to the wall you plan on hanging your pictures and see if there is an area where your eye naturally rests. Make a note of that area, and be sure to put a favorite picture in that spot during your floor set up. You'll be looking at that picture over and over again, so make it one you won't get tired of.
Dry Run

4. Time to start measuring. Begin by tracing an outline around each of the frames. Then, remove the frames on-by-one and measure from the tops and sides where the hanger sits. Don't assume the hanger is in the center of your frame. Frames are mass produced and hangers are frequently off center. You want to know exactly where the nail will sit. Mark that spot with an "X" on your paper. Tips:
  • In the empty outline of the frame, make a quick note on the paper of the picture. For example, "Me + The Mister," "Buddy + Buster," "Cancun." You don't think you'll forget the layout, but you will.
  • A quick and dirty way to measure is to turn the frame face down on the paper--still within it's outline, just slightly lower. Measure how far down the hanger is, and mark that spot on the paper. You don't need to take side measurements of the hanger, because you'll just use the hanger (remember you can see it) as a guide. You'll get a better idea of what I'm talking about when you see the picture, below.

5. Once you are done measuring, remove all the frames from the paper and tape the paper up on the wall exactly where you want the pictures to hang. Look to the future and consider any potential crown molding, trim, draperies, etc.


6. Tap a nail into all those little hanger marks. You can completely insert the nail if you think the paper won't pull it out, but it is safer to just tap a small hole for all the pictures, remove the paper, and then go back and hammer in the nails.

7. Hang up your pictures, and you're done! If you've taken the time to measure accurately, you shouldn't have any problems. Now you have a wall of memories to enjoy everyday for years to come.

Everybody up.

Things I Hope to Never Forget...

Koal Bear

That stage where they hold on to you like a little koala bear. It's pretty cool.

My Friends say, "Helen?"

Do you remember that radio PSA on the dangers of smoking? Where that raspy man's voice was talking, hacking, and coughing and at the end it turns out it was a woman named Helen? Yeah, that's me. My voice is fine, but I am hacking like someone with a 3 pack a day habit. Disgusting. What's especially fun is the wheezing. If I breath in a certain way I actually sound like a car stalling. According to my dad, who is only the best doctor ever, I have a bronchitis induced asthma--which is another way to say my bronchials are inflamed and pissed off. Pretty much going to wait this bitch out, and complain about it nonstop to all of you in the mean time.

In other news, our darling little baby Nico will turn 1 on Saturday! The Mister is in a wedding on that day (a subject that cannot be broached without us getting into a squabble) so we are celebrating on Sunday. Since this wedding is also occupying our Thursday and Friday, I have to have everything ready to go by Wednesday. I have a crafty mama this weekend and today, so hopefully this week and next I will be able to share all that I have been doing behind the scenes. That is, if I can execute all my grandiose ideas. Otherwise, I'm off to the party store for Elmo crap.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Favorite Moment

I have never had a fancy cell phone. All my cell phones have been of the "free with plan" variety and I always use them until they are within an inch of total system failure. Last November, at my youngest brother's wedding, my other younger brother couldn't help but take pity on my uncool state.

Brother: "Jules, where's the camera mechanism on your phone?"
Jules: "It doesn't have a camera."
Brother: "No camera?! Do they make phones without cameras?"
Jules: "They're hard to find, but when I was going to court the rules were no camera phones."
Brother: "OK. But what about the antenna?"
Jules: "Oh. Well. That. I kept fiddling with it, broke it, and then lost it. But I still get reception. Most of the time."
Brother: "Jules. Seriously. This is embarrassing. I'm getting you a new phone."

Turns out he wasn't kidding. Look at what he dropped off at my parents' house on his way to a conference.

It's the iPhone-ish phone for people who live in Verizon coverage areas. I have no idea how to use it, but am I the worst person ever to be so excited about a stupid phone? Maybe it's not just the phone, but also the pride I feel for my little brother. Here is the shy kid I used to beat up on relentlessly. The guy I used to make fun for always playing his stupid video games (mainly as a way to deflect attention from the fact he always beat my ass in said stupid video games).

It turns out that if you are very gifted at playing video games, companies will hire you as a producer and pay you handsomely to manage a team of designers and coders who create all sorts of cool video games. These companies then pass on all sorts of cool perks to their invaluable producers. Perks like, for instance, access to really cool phones that you can pass on to your not-so-cool older sister.

Thanks again, lil' bro. I'm really, really proud of you.

Jules the Bulls

p.s. Youngest lil' bro who just got married in November, you're not exactly chopped liver, either. :)