5.31.2011

fiesta!

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! In our world, Memorial Day Weekend = Eddie's birthday. As long as I've known him, we've thrown a big beach bash, complete with margarita machines, pinatas and in the case of his 30th: a mariachi band. It's a big weekend.

In the last couple of years, we've slacked. Majorly. On the whole party thing. This year, even with the focus on baby, I could not let his 35th pass by without a celebration with his best friends and our family. And, I really can't resist a good party. A really good surprise party, to be exact.
I kept everything simple and let our sunny patio venue - Beach Mex in El Segundo - do most of the talking (note: if you're in the neighborhood, it's worth a stop - best guac in town). We served up Coronas in buckets, margaritas in pitchers and lots of tasty treats, including make-your-own tacos.
The only fingers lifted involved a few clicks of the mouse and ... wait for it ... Margarita Cupcakes, from Annie's Eats. A note on Swiss Buttercream Frosting... it's well worth the whipping, beating and blending (and story telling to keep the surprise charade going). They were a hit.
Sources:
+ Invitation: Tiny Prints Summer Citrus by Hello Little One
+ Balloons, garland, stripey straws: Shop Sweet Lulu (arranged by Whitney and my mom - thank you!)
+ Napkins: Target
+ Candle blower-outers: our sweet niece and nephew

PS: Like the party pics? I was experimenting with a new toy. More on that tomorrow!

5.26.2011

celebrating le bebe.

I said this once to my best gal pals, and I'll say it again: it is so humbling to receive an abundance of goodness and gifts for a little person who isn't even here yet. I'm so grateful for family and friends and their support through pregnancy, and especially, when we get together and officially celebrate, like we did on Sunday.

Here are some pics from the French-inspired baby shower that still has me smiling, days later.
The sweetest touch was that the girls asked the guests to bring a children's book, which decorated the buffet table. We now have a beautiful collection of books, personally selected for the little babe by our dear friends and family. How special is that?

Here are some other quick details:

+ Invitations by Hello Little One for Tiny Prints.
+ Food: assorted breads, muffins and quiche from Jongewarrd's Bake N Broil (Long Beach); mixed green salad and fruit salad.
+ Dessert: cupcakes from Becker's, of course.
+ Favors: homemade Eiffel Tower and Fleur de lis-shaped sugar cookies.
+ DIY: garland, puffs, Eiffel Tower floral arrangements, name cards, diaper cakes and onesies (one for every single month of her first year!).
+ Friends: the best.

5.25.2011

bonjour bebe.

Hi, all! Time seems to fast forwarding so quickly. So many things moving in so many different directions - all good things - including a bright and beautiful shower thrown in my honor over the weekend.
Remember this team of girls? They did it again, this time, with Whitney, at her house, and the only downside was that I didn't get in on the planning with them! I will have more photos to share with you tomorrow, with so many cute french-inspired details. Oui!

5.18.2011

to do lists.

Earlier this week, my 3-year old niece asked me more than once, "when's the baby here?" To which I answered, "eight weeks!"

That seems like no time at all, doesn't it? Since I'm a natural born list-maker, and there's one currently scrolling through my head, here's what we have cooking at our house, in the way of projects before baby. I'm not anxious to get everything perfectly done by a particular date, but it would be nice to cross the biggies off this list in the next few weeks. And, if I had a couple of pads of paper like these, wouldn't that be a bonus?
{pretty paper products from See Jane Work}
 + Assemble: crib; Eddie's new desk chair (that has been in a box since... January); part of Eddie's new desk
+ Construct: desk top for said desk*
+ Finish painting: an old, small two-door cabinet that will be used as an office organizer / printer stand
+ Sew: extension to West Elm shower curtains to make 'real' curtains*
+ Install: curtain rod; blinds for two large windows (to match the rest of the house)
+ Finalize (and install): hardware for office cabinet and room hooks

Here's what's in progress:
+ Recovering: grandma's club chair (with the help of the fabulous Emily)
+ Awaiting: arrival of crib bedding (eta: first week in June)

*Requires backup. In the form of parents. Lots of help needed to get everything just right.

5.16.2011

8-month musings.

The little bump turned 8 months yesterday. Eight months! Where did time go? We are down to the wire with projects around the house, like finding space for all the wonderful things my thoughtful friends and family are showering us with, for which we are so, so grateful.
{kee-ka organic bodysuits}
It's very surreal to look at this new 'stuff' as ours; and I'm not just talking about the cute little onesies that Eddie brings home (he has such good taste!). I'm talking about the gear - the stuff that makes caring for baby easier, safer, healthier and in lots of cases... fun. As we piece together our old life with the new, now's probably a good time for some reflection.

I cannot take credit for this idea; I was inspired by Megan, via my best friend Amanda, who, after posting this, wrote me a lovely, encouraging note, recommending Megan's blog and this particular post. As usual, Amanda's caring words and advice came at a perfect time, and since then, I've been journaling pregnancy here and there.

This is life, at eight months along:

+ toasted english muffins with peanut butter can make any day better.
+ water is a different drink when paired with a lemon wedge.
+ chicken is touch-and-go.
+ drooling is fabulous.
+ is it possible to fall more in love with your mate? Try being pregnant. I've heard it only gets better.
+ the prego loss-of-memory thing: it's real.
+ as is swelling of the hands and feet when the weather is warm.
+ dear sleep: I won't get frustrated with you when I don't get my way (I frown as I type this, but, it's reality).
+ baby registry must be conquered w/girlfriends (thanks Staci, Rebecca, Katie and Christine).
+ spicy tuna on crispy rice: I'll see you in two months.
+ will I ever crave wine again? Ever?
+ in Trikonasana, I have never felt more like my old self.
+ things I have learned to live with, but will never love: weigh-ins, urine samples and blood draws. Yuck!
+ cannot live without these or these.
+ everyone has an opinion. On everything baby-related. Salt grains are helpful here.
+ coca butter is not for everyone, despite the hype. Sensitive skin need not apply.
+ it turns out that walking, as an exercise, is not really that boring. It's pretty nice. Especially with a partner.
+ it's okay to ask for help when you need it. And that feels good.
+ liberating: never having to have the 'who's going to be our designated driver tonight'-conversation; not getting distracted by window displays - why look? Nothing will fit; early evening dinners - they make the day seem so much longer, especially when you turn into a pumpkin at 9 p.m.
+ DIY projects - like painting furniture - should be reserved for the second trimester (and not the third). And a mask is a must. So is a really helpful partner. Like, say, a husband or a really good friend.
+ people are kind. Especially to those with bump.

I feel noticeably different in body, mind and spirit than I did back in the beginning. Life is good at eight months.

5.11.2011

sew.

Sometimes, we learn new things about our mates. Like last week, when I re-attached a button on one of Eddie's [cute, pink] dress shirts. I don't know if he ever really knew that I knew how to stitch.
I learned to sew on the machine in 7th grade, but like the piano, the knowledge I gained has been lost over years of neglect. I still know how to sew a button or two. Not that it's hard. But, it's rewarding, isn't it?

As I was stitching, I realized how soothing it is, especially when I'm accompanied by my grandmother's sewing kit; one of the many things she left behind that I will treasure forever (including my love for the retro step stool). Every time I open it up, I pick through it like it's the first time I've seen it. Like I can find something new about her that I didn't know.

But, as soon as I do, I realize that I've seen this box a million times. I can picture her, with needle tucked in her teeth and measuring tape wrapped around her wrist. And it makes me feel good. Come take a look inside.
Pretty cool, right? I wonder how old that Tropicana Resort & Casino mini kit is. It probably goes as far back as that 45-pack of needles that cost a whole 29 cents. I will never run out of emergency thread, needles, scissors or thimbles. This will get passed onto our little girl.

BTW, here's Eddie's shirt, left button re-attached and ready to go. I love this one.

5.09.2011

before and after: retro step stool + chair.

Do you remember the trip Whitney and I took to the Rose Bowl Flea Market 100 years ago? It was such a fun experience, and if I wasn't almost 8 months pregnant (!), I would make a run for it next month (view schedule).
I didn't bring home anything in need of too much work. Remember the lamp? It was an easy project, thanks to Whitney's counsel, and it makes me happy every time I see it in its corner. Whitney, on the other hand, was a bit more adventurous and she has been busy re-making this retro chair and step stool.
How amazing is it? When we stumbled upon it, I explained to her that I had been on the hunt for one for years; my grandmother - the best pie maker I know - always had one in her kitchen, and as far back as I can remember, it wasn't just a catch-all for her aprons. It was my favorite seat in the house. Back in October, when I saw this rusty metal stool, Whitney knew I had to have it. And so she fixed it for me.
She has some photos of the process, and I'll have that, plus what she used to make it shiny and new, to share with you soon.
It fits perfectly in our kitchen, and it might just be my favorite thing in our entire home.

Speaking of favorite things and my grandmother, I took a dive into her sewing basket last week. I'll have some pics to share with you this week!

5.06.2011

moms: happy mother's day.

I have so many new-mom friends out in the world to which I want to say: Happy First Mother's Day. How special 2011 is for you!
{photo by Mora Photography :: from this fun night}
To my own beautiful mother: I am looking forward to celebrating you on Sunday. Happy Mother's Day. I love you.

5.04.2011

summer garden pasta.

This recipe is one of our favorite pasta dishes, and it might have been one of the first Barefoot Contessa recipes I ever made. So, while it's not exactly a new weekend recipe, it is new to this blog. And, while it's not exactly summer yet, it sure feels like it in Southern California.
While we got our clean on on the year's most beautiful Saturday to date, we let some grape tomatoes and basil hang out in a bowl of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes all afternoon. As you can imagine - the longer it sits, the better it gets, and it was a perfect way to wind down a long day, because in about 20 minutes, we had this beautiful bowl of pasta to inhale.
We've enjoyed this pasta so many times that we've varied it slightly, depending on what we have on hand. In Saturday's case, it was Spaghetti (not Angel Hair, which I prefer in this dish), grape tomatoes (and not cherry) and we added some shrimp, which are a great, light addition if you're craving some protein.

Here's The BC's original recipe with a couple of notes. Halving it makes plenty for two. Enjoy.

The Barefoot Contessa's Summer Garden Pasta
From The Barefoot Contessa At Home, page 121

4 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
good olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
18 large basil leaves, julienned, plus a few extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried angel hair pasta
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Combine the cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup olive oil, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a large bowl (note: this will be the bowl that you dump the pasta into, so make it big (and pretty, if you're serving family style)). Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for about 4 hours.

Just before you're ready to serve, cook the pasta al dente, according to the instructions. Drain well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Add the cheese and some extra fresh basil leaves and toss well.

Serve in big bowls, topped with some fresh basil and parm on each serving.

If you'd like to throw in some shrimp, here's what I do after thawing (if frozen), cleaning and deveining:

Season shrimp with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a tablespoon (or two, depending on number of shrimp) of olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until shrimp are pink.

Remove shrimp from pan and toss into bowl of tomatoes and basil (which I usually do before adding the cooked pasta to give the warm shrimp a chance to mix and mingle with the bowl of goodness).

PS: While I'm a big fan of all The BC cookbooks, her At Home is probably my favorite. I highly recommend it.

5.02.2011

weekend ritual.

I cannot believe it's May. But, in a good way. I'm anxious for summer, and especially for July, and after our first real beach weekend in what feels like months, it feels closer than ever. As with most Saturday afternoons, sun or no sun, we usually toast with a turkey sandwich. This time, we enjoyed lunch with a crystal clear view of the ocean, before tackling a few lingering projects as it relates to space-making and organizing for the babe.
Like... cleaning out the garage, which is much easier to do on a full stomach. Today's stuffy nose is proof of the dust found, swept and discarded (thanks to Eddie) and old space found for new... stuff.

We (well, mostly Eddie) put a first coat of paint on an old television stand that we're planning to use in the office / nursette and I'm on the hunt for hardware. Cute knobs make things so much cuter. Will certainly have before and after photos, soon!

We have a few other spaces to cleanse, and that's what's in store for the next week or so. Until then, we're picking up items for the room, one-by-one, and things are slowly starting to come together. Which is good, because although I'm not paralyzed by the July deadline of baby, it's, you know, like, there. Would be nice to get the space together before then, wouldn't it?

Oh, by the way, we ended our Saturday with one of our favorite simple, summer-ish pasta dishes, which I'll have to share with you this week!