she’s 1!: braden’s one-year-old birthday party

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged…mostly because I spend my life online editing and running AOL’s Roswell Patch news site now.

But I wanted to take a brief moment to post something on the birthday party we threw for B this past weekend. Thanks to inspiration found scouring other blogs and Pinterest, I think we pulled it off rather nicely. Take a look and see what you think.

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coffee and blogs

Good morning! Today is a busy day that includes chauffeuring my Mom to a medical appointment and then running to the Goodwill in Buckhead to see if there might, just might, be any unbelievable finds that have been waiting for me to come rescue them and take them home.
I’ll let you know how it goes…
For now, as I sip some coffee and scroll through some of my favorite blogs…I will leave you with a few inspiring stylings:

i love little nooks like this one that have so much going on...it's all about layering and light

{image from Things That Inspire}

how cool are these table and chairs?!

{image from apartment therapy}

spring cleaning…

It’s beautiful outside today…and we’re climbing to the mid-50’s, so spring fever is in full force!

Here are some things I’m looking forward to:

-Spring cleaning – I could never fully understand this concept growing up…I mean, weren’t you supposed to keep things clean year round? Now, I get it. I’m reminded of a Disney movie scene where cartoon animals are helping the heroine tidy up the house…I wish!
While I’m pretty sure cute bunnies won’t be on hand to assist me, I’m looking forward to throwing open the windows and doors while the attic fan is running. I’m looking forward to wiping down baseboards and shining the windows. I will also be tweaking the decor to welcome in some of that color that’s blooming outdoors. Fresh flowers are definitely a must. Somehow spring just makes you want everything around you to feel fresh and new!

– Gardening – Ok, so I admit it…I don’t have the greenest of thumbs. But, thanks to my inspiring sister-in-law, Stephanie, I really fell in love with trying to brighten the landscape and watching things grow last year. I can’t wait to get out there over the next few weeks to clear and plant, before the backyard turns into a jungle!

– Flip flops! – My love for spring/summer/fall fashion is not relegated to flip flops alone, but they are symbolic of all that is wonderful about warm weather fashion! I’m dying to de-layer and wear lighter fabrics. I can’t wait to paint my toes bright pink, live in vibrant colors and classic cuts.

It’s safe to say that I, for one, can’t wait for the frost to thaw and the first green bud to appear! Soon…very soon! 🙂

courage

Well, it’s only been three days since the closing ceremonies and I already miss the Olympics. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I love the Olympic games…summer, winter, it doesn’t matter to me. I love the patriotism and the fanfare. I love the beauty of skill and the adrenaline of competitive nature.

But most of all, I love watching a future dream turn to reality for the athletes. I love watching years of preparation materialize into a few precious minutes that take center stage.

I am always amazed.

From the comfort of my couch I sit in judgement, critiquing and applauding each performance. Certain exhibitions foster my own adrenaline and I tremble with excited nerves, as if my own physical alignment with a particular athlete will somehow affect the outcome. I honestly can’t imagine what it would feel like to be in their shoes (or skis, or skates, as it may be…).

That feeling was tenfold when I heard the story of Joannie Rochette.

If you don’t know the story, here it is: the Canadian figure skater had come to Vancouver several days before her events began. Her parents followed a few days later and her mother suffered a heart attack almost immediately upon arrival…before she ever got to see Joannie. Olympic officials and her father waited until morning to wake the skater, who was set to practice that day.

No one knew how Joannie would react. How would anyone react in that situation, honestly? But, after visiting the hospital where her mother’s body was being kept, Joannie headed back to the rink and went on with practice. Olympic officials were very clear that she did not have to continue, but many speculated that the ice was the only place she felt normal during those first few difficult days.

That was a Sunday. Joannie’s first event was on Tuesday. When she took the ice, cameras panned to the stands where her father, dressed in Canadian garb to show support for his daughter, was nearly hunched over weeping. As were many of the friends and family who surrounded him to cheer for Joannie.

Joannie herself was very composed as she took the ice and then proceeded to skate a nearly perfect routine that immediately placed her in the top three. With the flourish of her hand at the end of the routine it seemed a dam broke and all she had held back so carefully came rushing to the surface. She seemingly melted into a pool of emotion and was helped from the ice by her coach once she skated to the edge of the rink. As she sat sobbing and waiting for her scores to come in, she uttered something along the lines of: “this was for you Mama” in her native French.

I cried.

Joannie Rochette eventually placed third in women’s ice skating and took home the bronze medal. Had courage under fire been taken into consideration she should have taken home the gold, if you ask me.

Stories like Joannie’s are the reason I love the Olympics. That type of poise and determination inspire me, encourage me and motivate me. Not everyone could have stepped out onto the ice in front of millions after losing their mother, much less still excelled.

I want to be like that. I want to give a command performance in everything I do – whether it’s for an audience of millions or merely two – despite the circumstances that surround me. Most of the time I wonder if I have that kind of grace within myself. So often I’m reminded that I cannot do it on my own. I don’t think most of us could. Constantly I’m reminded that I, myself, am unable to “step onto the ice and perform well” without my own cheering section (family and friends) or my Coach (the Lord).

Personally, I don’t want to try.

family-style cooking…

Unfortunately, I tend to worry. I also tend to be a people pleaser. Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely stand up for myself and I have my own opinions, but I generally want others to be happy…and I sometimes see it as my job to help them get there.
This is a problem on vacations when I feel like I need to bring something home to show family that I was thinking of them while I was away. I can spend a good chunk of time worried over finding a meaningful gift for each person that is within budget…it’s a difficult task…especially when you’re in Europe dealing with the added problem of a weak dollar.
In Rome I focused on enjoying myself during the first part of the week, but as our return flight edged closer I began to scope out gifts and panicked when I realized that budget, meaning and luggage space were definitely going colide in a way that made it immpossible for me to accomplish finding anything.
And then my genius husband came to my rescue.

After making several local Italian friends who schooled him on different areas of his native culture, he purchased three jars of a sauce called “Nduja” (it comes from the region his family originates in Italy) to share with his family at a big dinner some night upon our return. And then he called it a day. Ah, to be so uncomplicated.
I, on the other hand, still looked and worried and looked and worried over what I should get my family. Finally, he convinced me that I should do something similar with my family and we ended up purchasing a bottle of wine, a block of cheese and some chocolates.
This Sunday, I will be cooking an Italian family-style meal for my family and sharing all the goodies we brought home for them in a way that also allows us to share some stories and quality time.
Genius.

I have been looking over recipes trying to find the perfect Italian recipe to share…I think I’m going with homemade pesto pasta, since it was a favorite of mine over there.


Wish me luck…I’ve never made pesto before, but I believe I’m up to the challenge. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Here’s the recipe I’m thinking about using, in case anyone feels like trying it for themselves:

Ingredients
2 cups basil leaves
2 cups arugula leaves
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cups hot cooked linguine (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)

Preparation
Place first 6 ingredients in a food processor; pulse 7 or 8 times or until mixture forms a smooth paste. Add cheese, broth, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined. Combine pesto and pasta in a large bowl, tossing to coat.

Oh, and by the way, the Naniamo bars were excellent!!

inspirational compilations…

I don’t feel very well today, so I am distracting myself with inspirational blogs.

There are some really good ones out there.

I don’t really feel like moving and at the same time I feel like running out and trying to spruce up my house on the cheap. Instead, I think I’ll compile some of my latest inspirations into a file so that I can continually refer to them. While I do that…check out this post on decor8.

I LOVE the way the photos make me feel, it makes me want to design a space around them. I probably won’t ever do it, but I love thinking about it for now.

iPhone love…

I don’t have much to say right now…

It’s been a rough couple of days actually, but I felt the need to write…to focus on something else. Anything else.

So I’m just going to say that the iPhone is amazing.

Seriously.

Who knew the my entire electronic life could be wrapped up in one tiny package so neatly? It’s like a clutter-hater’s dream!

Of course, there are so many iPhone apps that it’s hard to choose a favorite.

But for me, in these last couple of days especially, the “Holy Bible” app has been an easy go-to resource when I’m feeling low and need to seek God’s Word for myself…right then. If that’s the only reason I loved the iPhone, I think that would still make it one of the best investments of my life.

So, thank you Dad and Mom.