Hey guys. I hope your holidays have been just the best! We are back from our trip to Arizona and kinda sorta getting ourselves back into schedule. It's difficult because Rob's on winter break and Otto's school chooses to do a piecemeal schedule this time of year, only offering daycare on days when enough parents have signed up. We're feeling a little all over the place with life, but also full of pre-New Year energy and anticipation for what 2014 will bring. I have a lot of ideas brewing for this year, things I'm so excited about that I don't even want to put them into words just yet. My heart is full to bursting and I'm thinking, thinking, thinking about all the possibilities this life has to offer. It's a great, though a bit scary, place to have my head. Ha.

Our Christmas vacation was head-to-toes wonderful. It was busy but also just relaxing enough. I came down with a little throat condition (it was real bad) that kept any date nights from happening, but on the plus side... ok no plus side it was lame and I sounded like a creep and no one wanted to stand by me or be my friend. Boo. But other than a not-sexy-raspy-voice and too much coughing, the trip was just amazing.

We had an extended family photo shoot, hopefully the first of an annual tradition. I wanted to share this pic of Otto and Loretta and their three cousins. Seeing these cousins united, bonding, playing, just running shoulder to shoulder, arguing, and generally being friends and loving each other... it was one of the top highlights of the holidays for me. I'm a good deal older than my next closest cousin and just never got to be close to my cousins, at least not as a kid. I adore my cousins and am so glad to have relationships with them now, but as a kid I don't have memories of playing with my cousins, more babysitting them or being a mopey teenager reading in the corner while they played. Anyways, that's fine, but I just wanted to share that I love what I see when these kiddos, five of them under five this year (!), got together and buddied up. It was magic. And what a cute crew, eh?


currently... Christmastime and the livin's easy

Oh my gosh you guys I'm writing this post from my parents' PC and they have Windows 8 and I want to kill myself.

Currently is a weekly link-up that I happily co-host with the fabulous and amazing  Randalin ♥ of Harvesting Kale each week. We hope that you can participate by writing your own Currently post (using our themes or your own) and please join us by linking up. What have you been baking, loving, missing, craving, laughing this week? Over here, we have been...

Baking zilch since we've been getting ready for this weeklong holiday but SERIOUSLY Bing is the default websearch for Windows 8? It's completely impossible to figure out how to switch it to Google. My parents are screwed.

Loving my kids and husband for being awesome traveling companions yesterday during our 17 hour schlep from Eugene to Phoenix. My kids were troopers, yo. I got Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf! I finally found a Vogue which Imma read this week yippee! Like major yippee cayay muthafuckas! I seriously love Vogue so much, did you realize?

Missing how good a normal browser situation is and wondering why Windows 8 is the biggest piece of garbage ever unleashed.

Craving Dunkin Donuts and it's like a minute from my parents' house. This is gonna get dicey. Also craving the down time and family face time we're about to indulge in. Let the holiday times roll!

Laughing at these dogs that just CAN NOT handle it, haha, thanks Cassie for this: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mattbellassai/animals-that-cannot-even-handle-it-right-now I mean HOW IS HE ABLE TO BE WITH ALL THEM BEANS?   

My apologies for this post I'm tired and on vacay and it's actually unbearable wearing the itchy hair shirt that is Windows 8 and I'm out. I'm just out. XO Happy Holidays!

That was this week and then we are taking a 2 week break!
Currently is set to return again on January 9. 


snow day

We have had a weekful of snow days and now it's back to normal (thank goodness). Our first snow day, right after it had snowed overnight and we woke up to snow coming down like crazy, while we were still super excited at the wonderland and happy to spend a day holed up at home, was the nicest. French toast, a couple of outings into the yard (Etta watched impatiently as Otto and Rob played, then insisted on going out herself, then immediately scolded me, "Cold! Brrrr!"), a quinoa mushroom and rice bake (yum), board games and legos during Etta's nap, Christmas movies and cocoa with popcorn, and Etta in several wardrobe changes (pants layers are all the rage for near-2 year olds these days). It was just a perfect perfect day.

Now we are trying to play catch up from the rest of the week. Hurrying to get our Christmas to-do's together, for Rob to finish up his semester, and also just life things like groceries and chores. Snow days are fun, snow weeks a little grueling. But it's nice when you just adore the ones you're snowed in with.


currently... can't always get what you want

My wonderful guy... Otto sounded out, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," his favorite Rolling Stones song.

Currently is a weekly link-up that I happily co-host with the fabulous and amazing  Randalin ♥ of Harvesting Kale each week (sending Miss Randalin some healing vibes and virtual miso; I think her whole fam has been taken down with flu). We hope that you can participate by writing your own Currently post (using our themes or your own) and please join us by linking up. What have you been enjoying, buying, forgetting, drinking, anticipating this week? Over here, we have been...

Enjoying snow. Oh wait that is a lie. Otto has been enjoying snow. The rest of us have been trying not to cry since it's been a snow day every day in Eugene for a week, schools shut down, except UO so Rob's finals (that he has to give and take) and quarterly research have all still been going down right on time, as has all of the year-end stuff at my work, so we have been scrambling for childcare, driving on roads that our van is all like, "What? No! No!" on and otherwise going stir crazy and shaking our fists.

Buying boring books. I am starting to enjoy something of a reputation as someone with INCREDIBLY BORING taste in books. Meanwhile I'm in boring book hog heaven! You Learn By Living is a book of essays by Eleanor Roosevelt and so far it's like the 1950s version of Lean In (another book I'm reading right now). And then Farm City by Novella Carpenter (about her squat farm in Oakland) has really captured my imagination which inspired me to get another of her books The Essential Urban Farmer which is a manual on how to operate an urban farm, from bee keeping to canning to vegetable beds and more. I haven't started it yet but the illustrations by Bronwyn Barry are fantastic and I'm hoping it helps guide me as I take on a backyard garden and canning as 2014 challenges. Boring books are the new Project Runway since Project Runway really isn't Project Runway without Tim Gunn, now is it All Stars? No, it is not. Although I will still lower myself to watching All Stars tonight, along with Love Actually on AMC. Back to Books! I also ordered A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster which I am excited to dig into. Rob side-eyed me extra hard for that one, haha. I think all this reading must mean I am finally over the sleep-deprivation hump that was my wonderful second child. It feels really great to be curled up with a book every day once again.

Forgetting how fun it is to be a kid and say words like, "stupid poop butt." Otto is reminding us that it is not only fun to say potty words, but to sound them out and write them on notes. We are finding some pretty hilarious papers around our house these days. Yipes.

Drinking warm things. Drinking in this time with my kids, even though it's frustrating to be stuck so much at home.

Anticipating time with my family in just a week! We'll be off to Arizona for Christmastime with our families and I can't wait to just kick it at our parents' houses, hang with our siblings, and let Otto and Loretta run amok with their cousins. Also sunshine. Also tamales. Also a possible date night or two.  

That was this week. Here are next week's themes: 
baking, loving, missing, craving, laughing


the project-per-month PROJECT month 10

Project-Per-Month Project HOW IT WORKS... If you want to join in the project project, and you totally should, here are the rules...
Pick a single, manageable project off your to-do list, just one.
- Determine that you WILL do it, come hell or high water, even if you have to stay up late one night
- Give yourself specific goals.
- Give yourself a deadline: the end of the month.
- Give yourself a budget.
- Do yourself proud.

My November project was to add a little warmth and personality to my kitchen, a room that holds a big place in my heart. We are renting the perfect house, in my taste, tall ceilings, white walls, old wood floors, and architectural details galore... and if I could I would live here forever, reinforce the 101 year old windows (because Hello heating bills) and spend the rest of my life happily updating countertops and fixtures and turning the yard into a food garden that I don't kill (one can dream!).

My updates were simple, a large format print over the oven that really embodies the way I want to approach feeding myself and my family and then a huge office plant and succulents near the sink to add some life. I really love how it turned out.

Yes we actually use our kitchens and ain't nobody got time to stage their counters and do their dishes for a photoshoot, haha. This is real life :)

My favorite part of this project is the way the "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants." poster came out. Isn't it awesome?! I came across this phrase on Pinterest and found it came from Michael Pollan, someone I read recently (although I read The Omnivore's Dilemma and this phrase came from In Defense of Food which is now on my reading list). I reached out to Jess from I Rock So What to hand-letter the print (she does this on Fiverr) and can I just say THAT WOMAN IS A-FREAKING-MAZING. Thank you, Jess!

My whole budget for this project was supposed to be $40 and I spent $43 including plants, plant pots (thrift store ftw) and the print. I'm lucky though, my work was able to do the print on scrap so I didn't have to pay the fortune that Kinko's wanted. ::clicks heels::

I always loved my kitchen but now when I'm in there I like really, really love it. It feels personal and simple and just right.

For December Rob is joining in with me on our project, which is to turn Loretta's bookcase into a dollhouse as her Christmas gift. I can't wait to see how it comes out!

For those of you joining in on these projects here and there, please do let me know. I started a Pinterest board for us, although I'm pretty sure I missed some. Send me links and I'll add your projects to the board! Also, because there was a request (that basically MADE MY MONTH haha) there is now a project-per-month PROJECT button you can grab on the right sidebar.

And now for a moment of CAMERA-RELATED REFLECTION... I just wanted to take a moment to gripe about the image quality of these pics. More and more I consider myself an amateur photographer and I really care about how my photos turn out. I recently ordered a zoom lens for my camera and was so excited to FINALLY be able to take inside shots that weren't at 55mm (my original lens) which is really too zoomed in to show any kind of context in our small-roomed house. Well, the new lens zooms from 18 to 55mm alright, but that's about the extent of it. The pictures I took turned out grainy and I'm really unhappy with them. I'd hoped to take family pictures with this lens in a few weeks and now I'm pretty sure I'll be taking all of those shots at 55mm, which is fine, but I'm just annoyed. A word of warning, you get what you pay for and Amazon reviews can be misleading. A cheap 18-55mm zoom lens is a cheap 18-55mm zoom lens. Don't fall for that baloney. 


currently... season's greetings

Currently is a weekly link-up that I happily co-host with the fabulous and amazing  Randalin ♥ of Harvesting Kale each week. We hope that you can participate by writing your own Currently post (using our themes or your own) and please join us by linking up. What have you been loving, wishing, moving, riding, needing this week? Over here, we have been...

Loving leftovers. I could eat Thanksgiving leftovers for the rest of my life. We are planning to recreate the key elements this weekend (green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese except I'm going to try Martha Stewart's recipe even though Rob will mourn that there's no Velveeta in there but gruyere, people, gruyere!, mashed potatoes, and gravy) oh and mascarpone cheese cake and potentially rolls and I may go nuts and also do a tofurkey. So essentially all of it.

Wishing that I'd been on it and finished my project-per-month PROJECT for November on time but alas the finishing touches are happening Saturday. Part of this project was a large format print and Kinko's wanted four million dollars for it so I had to do a little work-around that took a few extra days but saved me ::calculates:: four million dollars.

Moving holiday decorations into the living room, complete with our janky $20 fake tree that we bought last year and thank goodness we didn't try a real tree this year because Loretta. Here is the best thing ever... girlfriend likes to take down the candy canes and snap them in half with her fists and then just throw them on the floor and walk away. It's so tragic and hilarious. Candy cane death all around us.

Riding a high that Danny Brown retweeted me this week. I was shocked and amazed when Ot started busting out lyrics in the kitchen the other day. Like my face was all, "what is happening right now?" and so I tweeted that Rob's got some 'splainin to do! Bam! RT! I'm famous! Rob thought I'd get like 100 new followers. I was like, nope, these guys are gonna take one look at my bio that's all, "I'm a freaking mom!" and move on, haha. Anyways, here's Ot's jam. He's tantalized by this "rude kid" who goes around partying through life and making messes on purpose. Honestly, I'd rather have my Jagger-loving child who wants to learn guitar for Christmas be exposed to this than most of the cartoons on tv, so Rob's off the hook.

Needing to get my holiday ish together in the next week. I've got holiday bark to make and cards to throw in the mail and Christmas morning for the kids to pre-arrange before we leave for Arizona (we're coming back Christmas day and doing our own little holiday on the 26th) but I'm not sweating most of it. I just need a little Bailey's and Love Actually and a night and I can knock it out. Except Etta's gift. Well, I'll talk more about that when I post my project-per-month PROJECT this weekend, but we're doing something pretty cool for Loretta and we need to get that going super soon. Whatever, mostly this time of year I just need a bottomless bowl of Hershey's candy cane kisses and I'm set.   

That was this week. Here are next week's themes: 
enjoying, buying, forgetting, drinking, anticipating


BubyNoa Handmade Toys & Kids Accessories (10% Off)

Sometimes your eyes fall on an item (art or a tshirt or a potted plant or book cover) and it just stirs something in your heart. That's how I felt when I stumbled upon the Etsy shop BubyNoa this past weekend. So I am very excited to introduce you to this amazing shop full of upcycled, handmade, eco-friendly, and just darling and thoughtful kids' toys and accessories and other bits and pieces... and I'm so happy to share that Mirit, the shop creator, has been kind enough to offer us a discount. (Thank you, Mirit, you are super cool.)

In her own words, Mirit on the inspiration behind her amazing shop:

My inspiration comes from my environmental concerns, nature, my experience, my children. My life :)

I care deeply for the environment and I have a lot of love and true admiration for animals. I wanted bubynoa to incorporate all of these feelings and beliefs in each and every product.

The love and concern for wild animals and their habitat inspire me when creating my wild animal dolls. My inspiration for my dog dolls came from an actual black dog that I saw when travelling. “Ceci the cat” was created in honor of my brave feisty and wonderfully crazy black cat Ceci who was also a rescue animal.

I see bubynoa as an educational tool; each item is eco friendly and ethically-sourced and then there is the finished product that entices and engages. I create the lions, rhinos, elephant and giraffes to introduce them to children. Those animals and their habitat are on the verge of extinction, and we can change that by teaching and raising awareness at a young age. When a parent purchases a rhino doll for example, they are introducing a whole new world to their young child. Now the child recognizes the animals in movies or books and a conversation is started."

I am excited to use this code myself for a special little someone and I hope a few of you are also inspired to support BubyNoa and save a little green at the same time this holiday season. For 10% off your purchase use code "4OTANDET" valid through 3 February 2014.


Mom's Night In

Mom's Night In

I have been daydreaming about a quiet night to myself lately. Rob's finals are coming up and with the holidays and the kiddos, a spa weekend with my ladies is soooo far from reality but a little Mom's Night In would be totally manageable... if I could just stay awake past Otto's bedtime. I'd love to plug in the Christmas tree and curl up on the sofa with some Thai takeout, a Vogue, and Love Actually playing in the background, with a bottomless cup of coffee (spiked with Bailey's of course) and Hershey's candy cane kisses on the coffee table. Like a little retreat right in my own front room.

Not sponsored or anything. This collage is just through Polyvore but if you are interested in any of these items (or want to buy me that tank top for Christmas) here are the links...