Hold onto your hats! (and other accessories)

We brought two cars to church today because Jimmy had an early morning meeting.
On the way home, I was at a stoplight right next to Jimmy. The littles thought it was a hoot that they could talk to daddy through the open window. It was a long light, so many silly faces were made and games of peek a boo exchanged. It was adorable.
Then the light turned green.
And Vivy chucked her shoe out the window.
Always an adventure.


We live on a very bumpy road

Our life has always had some crazy mixed into it.
When setbacks occur, many call it a 'bump in the road'.
Well, in our little family, we tend to have a lot of bumps. I suppose it makes us drive slower to enjoy the scenery? It's become a bit of a joke now.
Kind of like when we came home from vacation in November and our bathroom was flooded.
Or the one time our septic system backed up on Christmas morning.
And then it backed up again on New Year's Eve.
How about the instance in which we came home from a 16 hour drive home to have no hot water.
Speaking of water- that one time I had to make SOUP for 400 people and our kitchen sink broke. How do you make soup with out water, I ask you?!

Seriously, it's a plague in the House of Graham. Something is always going wrong. And we laugh. Because if you don't laugh, you cry.
So what bump am I sharing with you fine people today?
Oh, only that our power went out. All day long yesterday. At just our house. For apparently no other reason than it was our house. I called PG&E, but they refused to talk to me because I wasn't the name on the account.. After I waited over an hour to speak to someone. Let me remind you that our power was out, so a corded (plug into the wall) phone was necessary to make the call. And if a toddler is anything, it's savvy to the fact that mom cannot leave the spot in which she is standing. So for 68 minutes, I sat listening to muzak and watched the littles ruin my house one cupboard at a time. We decided to celebrate that by going out to dinner! Wanna see pictures?


Pinkies up!

Would you like to know a fabulous way to spend a friend's birthday?
Why, high tea, of course!

There is an adorable little tea shop in Santa Rosa that is kitschy beyond compare. The kitsch is what makes it so charming, in my opinion. I honestly felt like I was walking into a home of a character from a book. 
Haphazardly stacked tea sets on every surface. 
Gaudy (and fabulous) hats hanging on the wall. 
And delicious food. Oh, the food....

It was a perfect use of a red lipstick day.


Mud happens

It's been a day...
I suppose it's always something.
But when you spend the time, money and energy to wash the car (or go get it washed by someone else, rather) It's quite upsetting that this happens on the way home.

Can I just go back to bed?



I'm really tired.
Does this count as my blogging for the day?
Please say yes.

If this does not suffice, I can always explain why I am so tired.
Woke up early to prepare myself and three children for the day.
Dropped off littles at Nana's, took Kate to school in Vallejo, drove back up to Napa for a meeting with caterers for upcoming event. Then went to party rental to choose tables, chairs and dishes. Picked Kate back up in Vallejo. Went to the linen rental warehouse to choose linens. Draw up a contract. Text and email in the car while Kate does homework. Pick up littles. Take whole family to a resource meeting for foster care. Come home to dog doo doo all over the carpet. Clean that up. Make dinner for the whole family and in-laws so my father in law can come clean the carpets. Toilet in Kate's bathroom clogs and overflows. Can't fix it. Put kids to bed. Try to take a shower to wash off this day. Shower handle breaks. Jimmy goes down to hardware store to buy a part. Out of three bathrooms in the house, not a single one is in total complete working order. Shower broken in one, sink broken in another and toilet broken in the third. It's like a round robin trying to get ready for bed.
You guys, I am exhausted.


That's why I never try to look cool.

I went to the gym tonight to run on the treadmill while Kate was at YW.
As I approached my chosen machine, there was a man in the neighboring treadmill walking without his hands on the guide bars. I was seriously impressed. The machine that he and I chose is a self powered uphill treadmill that is pretty tricky. To do it without hands takes some serious skill. I played it safe and held onto the bar for dear life. Because when you are watching Wheel of Fortune while walking a treadmill, sometimes distraction comes and missteps closely follow. I had just solved the final puzzle when my stud of a neighbor tripped and fell. I felt bad, but mostly impressed that I was able to suppress the laugh I had rising in my chest. You know what, though- he was okay. After all, his hands were free to break his fall.


I love our gym!

I like working out. A lot.
But I like the gym childcare a lot lot.
Today, I went to the gym for 1.5 hours in the morning to do a full workout.
Then tonight, Jimmy and I went with the whole family and did a class while the kids were in child care again. And afterwards, we picked them all up and took them swimming in the outdoor heated pool. It was so awesome. We finished our FHE with some time in the hot tub. Then we put the kiddos in jammies and everyone fell asleep on the way home!
Sometimes I want to kiss the childcare workers.
But I refrain.
That would be weird.
But weird.


Changing tide

I had never been to a ward combining type meeting before this morning.
It was strange.
The tension in the room was neither positive nor negative, yet hardly neutral.
When a meeting is so directed by the spirit, it feels otherworldly.
I did fine. I was fine. I had no problems with the change.
And then our dear friend, who grew up Jewish and joined the church in her 60's, came to hug me and say goodbye. We were who she chose to spend her first ever Christmas with. She has been to every birthday dinner at our home. She is our family. I just started sobbing! It's not that I won't see this friend anymore, it will just be different.
The paradoxical feelings I have are a tumult in my heart.
I know we will settle in nicely.
We will handle the change like champs.
But how I will dearly miss my Napa 2 Ward Family.


Say yes

As part of a group text, I get messages every once in awhile asking advice. Sometimes a member of the text will share an inspirational thought. The best is when a funny story is relayed. However, there are a few instances when a texter needs help. This afternoon, one such text came through.
"Help girls. There is a wedding today at the church at 4:00. These poor 20 year olds have nothing. I need serving dishes and anything to help. I just bumped into the sister missionaries frantically shopping with no budget."
Who better to help?!
And so everyone on this group text sprung into action. Each one of us had something to offer, even if just an uttered prayer.

I loaded my car with what was needed and headed down the hill at lightning speed. When I got to my friend's house, she jumped in the car and we sped over to the house where the reception would be held. Upon entering the house, we saw six missionaries with panic drawn faces. There was a hodgepodge of food and little heart shaped doilies hanging from the ceiling as the only meager decorations. While we were looking around, the father of the young groom said in Spanish, "See, people do care about you!"
My friend and I assessed the situation and got to work. We hopped in the car and said a prayer. The spirit that entered my car during the prayer had me in tears.
This couple was special.
I could feel God's love for them.
Food and flowers were purchased. Tables and chairs were loaded up. The bride's bouquet was hand tied (by me!) and a boutonniere wrapped. All the things we rounded up were brought back to the reception site and we rolled up our sleeves. It was a flurry of movement. Things happened so fast that it was hard to tell who's hands did what. Working in a foreign kitchen is tricky. But working in a foreign kitchen where you can't find a can opener or scissors or pot holders can get down right frantic. But it was okay. We improvised. And may have scorched a plastic placemat in hopes to use it as a potholder (I thought it was fabric). And I poked holes in the top of cans with a bottle opener when I couldn't find a can opener. The dish soap magically disappeared. The icemaker went on strike. There was one little speed bump after another. But time after time, there was something to save the day. Another texter showed up with all the desserts. Someone offered to watch kids. Others offered to help pitch in to pay for everything. It was a whirlwind of service.
After all the hard work, everything looked great.
The couple showed up.
The groom's family showed up.
We learned that the bride's family did not come. My heart broke. It had been a beautiful small service. As the mother of the groom explained it, she also said, "My wedding was just like this. My family did not come. I was getting married so I could get baptized. But no one" as she spread her arms wide, "did all this for us." I excused myself because my emotion was getting the better of me.
In the car driving away, I was overcome with so much gratitude. With tears streaming down my face I just thanked God that I was able to help. I am so grateful that I said yes. This experience taught me so much.
The friend that sent out the SOS text said this, "I was shopping this morning at Target and had already gotten my cart out. I felt the need to go to Safeway instead. Who does that?? Well, I did it anyway. As I was checking out, I saw the sister missionaries with the groom trying to shop for what they needed at Safeway. The missionaries had pleading in their eyes. I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I am so glad I followed that prompting." And then the text was sent out and the rest is history.
I have a solid testimony that God loves his children. He hears prayers. He allows us to see his miracles everyday, if we just open our eyes. And say yes. Always say yes.


Mothers are crazy

for good reason.
Can I tell you about the day?
Jimmy took the littles to the gym for the sole purpose to have someone watch them while I cleaned the house with Kate. When Jimmy left, I roused Kate and got to work. I put her in charge of the front room while I scoured the kitchen. The real kind of clean. And what we call "mom clean". I learned the three stages of clean from a wise friend of mine.

1) Company clean- where nothing is truly in its place, but all the surfaces look great. Otherwise known as 'stuff and shove'. This is the kind of clean that occurs when we see someone approaching our house up the driveway. 'Mad dash' status.
2) Kid clean- things are put away in their place, but not in an orderly fashion. I can look in your room and it looks fairly clean, but just skating by. 'We have to get somewhere but not before you clean your room' status.
3) Mom clean- things are put away where they belong. Dusting and vacuuming occurs. Piles of things bagged and ready to be donated or tossed. 'Clean with a toothbrush' status.

I was doing my 'mom clean' business in the kitchen and had just gotten to the toothbrush stage, I kid you not. Checking on Kate seemed like a good idea. When I rounded the corner, Kate was sitting on the ground half heartedly tossing toys into the toy basket. "What are you doing?!" I say in exasperation. Kate replies in her lethargic preteen tone, "Putting stuff away."
Then I calmly and a tad bit sternly explain that we have limited time to clean, please pick up the pace. And then the toothbrush is broken out again in the kitchen and I happily start scrubbing down the sink. After the 10 minutes of scrubbing the kitchen sink is finished, Kate is checked on again. But Kate is in the near same position, with very little progress made. I take a deep breath and welcome her to my cleaning party. In which, she is my honored guest and has the wonderful opportunity to work right alongside the master. She was thrilled, I tell you.
We moved on to the side board. I asked Kate to grab the bright yellow soup tureen I had stored in her bathroom during Christmas. I had a cotton swab getting all the nooks and crannies. My happiness using the q-tip made me unaware of the time that passed. Wait. Didn't I ask my daughter to get the tureen 10 minutes ago? I call for her and she saunters into the dining area.
"Where's the soup tureen?"
"I couldn't find it."
"The soup tureen? You couldn't find the BRIGHT YELLOW soup tureen? That I am positive was sitting right on your bathroom counter?"
"It wasn't in there."
:: mom walks into bathroom::
::mom sees soup tureen sitting on counter::
::mom gives daughter a look and places soup tureen in its rightful place::

Next, As I move my way through the house, I give direction to switch the laundry. With my furniture polish and microfiber cloth, I am having a ball scrubbing down the tops of all pictures on every wall in the whole house. Bliss. Completing the final frame made me realize I hadn't seen Kate in awhile. She's sitting on the floor when I walk into the laundry room. My darling daughter is sitting in a daze.
"Ahem. What are you doing?"
"Sitting on the floor."
"In the laundry room?"
"Because I couldn't remember what you asked me to do."
"But you're in the LAUNDRY room?!"
"Oh, yeah..."

And so the morning went. 
When Jimmy returned home, I was venting my frustration at being unheard all day long. Explaining that when I KNOW something is located somewhere and another member of the family tells me it's not there, it makes me feel like I'm losing my marbles. It happens all the time! Or when I say something and no one hears it. So frustrating! As I am venting this frustration, I receive a text that is very clear. A text that I needed to respond to by leaving home in a short time to get the matter resolved. So, I read the text to Jimmy, word for word. Following reading the text, I share the plan I have to get things in the car to attend to this text information. After nearly five minutes of explaining my battle plan, Jimmy just looks at me and says, "Wait. What's going on?"


It's a wrap!

There is a band of slippery plastic wrap around my ribcage that is terribly uncomfortable. And each time I reach up under my shirt to pull down the plastic that has creeped up- I pop a hole in it to make my situation worse. The situation I speak of is an essential oil body wrap party: post spray and wrap. Let's rewind 1.5 hours and I'll explain.
As I blissfully approach the hostess' front door, I have no clue as to what is coming my way. Hence the term, 'blissfully'.
I am out!
I have no children with me!
I'll be with my friends!
I did not know that would mean I'd feel like a plate of leftovers in my near future.
As each guests show up, we talk, we laugh. We are all in the blissfully unaware state.
As the teacher explains the benefits of a body wrap, I am nodding in agreement. Even after the part where she states that I will be measuring my body. Mmm hmm... yep, I can do that!
And then spraying oils directly on my skin, Sure, no prob Bob!
And then have a friend wrap that body part in plastic wrap. Uhh... I guess whatever works, I'm in!
After measuring spraying and wrapping, sit for at least an hour. Ahem. Well, oookay. I suppose so.
 Upon agreeing to these terms, I found myself in a side room with a friend measuring my arms and tummy. Each number is secretly written on a folded piece of paper to be tucked away for my eyes only. Then, we sprayed each other's tummies (yikes! cold!) and spun around as we were being wrapped. It wasn't half bad-ish. Just a warning: when you spray slick oil in a bathroom, surfaces may become slippery. Like, deck of a boat in a tsunami, slippery. I made it out alive.
Following our wraps, we got to enjoy some yummy smoothies- standing up.
And wait for other guests to wrap- standing up.
After all the standing came my first mistake. Sitting.
As I sat on the couch to listen to more information about why this wrap was so fabulous, that fabulous wrap started to creep up. Slowly. Now imagine this. A slimy, oily mess under your shirt. The shirt is protected by two, possibly three turns of a roll of flimsy plastic. And the protective barrier is inching its way north. I can feel my rolls sigh relief as the wrap gradually rides up. I am jokingly kidding about it while frantically trying to pull the wrap down- which was my second mistake. Because like I said earlier, my fingers kept popping holes. Just one hole at a time, puncturing my hope along with the plastic wrap.
The hour finally came to an end. I peeled the wrap off in the kitchen, not even caring about the shirt anymore. I swear, I threw the wrap in the trash with all the force I could muster. But seriously, have you ever tried to THROW plastic wrap? It's like trying to hang up on someone in anger using a cordless telephone. With my happy face back on, I re-measured my waist. And what do you know? I lost 1.5 inches! That wasn't so bad...


Have your people call my people

imagine you're a Hollywood Star.
And you had a vision of grandeur.
So you went up to Wine Country to make that vision a reality.
And hired a specialist to tour you around the most gorgeous places the Valley of the Moon has to offer.
You were taken to a rose garden.
Century old ruins.
Sweeping vineyard views.
A terraced, ivy covered courtyard.
A lodge at the top of a cliff.
Stories high brick castle.
A charming, remote ranch.

I may not be a complete specialist and they may not have been Hollywood stars, but I got to spend the day making someone's dream come true in the most beautiful of settings. It felt like heaven.
Goodness gracious, I love my job.



Day two at the gym:
spin class at 6:00am
I don't know what part of that statement is worse, what I did or what time...
My bootie hurts so bad today. I actually liked the cycling. The work out was intense. INTENSE.
regardless of how my bootie feels, the rest of my body feels great. I think I might make this a weekly thing.
Do you think I can bring my own seat next time?



Because you're my people, I can tell you the truth.
I ran away from my kids and went to the movies tonight.
It was blissful.
And I am married to a saint.


Because what's a family, if not crazy?

Huge family dinner tonight.
Well, not so huge. Just a little huge. But I really like to use caps lock for effect. I can say that it was a little wacky. There were 10 adults and 10 children. It is rare to have man to man defense at family dinners, but I think we were okay. For the most part. If okay means, no ambulance was required. Because otherwise, I might use different words to describe how the night went.
Anxiety inducing.
A little scary.
But folks, we survived!

P.S.- my children were perfect. If perfect means that one climbed the piano and another smeared diaper contents all over the bathroom and another broke a plumbing fixture and then one also shattered a plate and their sibling tore their Sunday dress and stuffed my phone in their diaper... Angels, I tell you.


The best baby shower ever

Not an announcement.
We are not having a baby anytime soon.
But my friend, Lauren is having a sweet little girl any day now.
I planned a shower for her that I think rivals many a good thing.
We first ate at The Presidio Social Club right in the Presidio in San Francisco. It was delicious and chic and I felt so fancy.

Then the group drove over to Golden Gate Park to go on a private tour of the Conservatory.

Isn't that just so hipster, guys?! It was a fun day with fun ladies.


Kate's got the good daughter thing down

Last night Kate said, "Mom, I really want to get the kids ready tomorrow. Will you sleep in?"
Will I sleep in?
WILL I sleep in?
Will I SLEEP IN?!?!?!
Ummm.... hmm... do I really need to think before answering? No. No I do not.
And because Kate likes to spoil her mother, she also brought in breakfast in bed.

Egg whites with spinach and mushrooms. A bagel with peanut butter. Freshly squeezed orange juice. And because she let the littles help, pizza flavored goldfish crackers.
Every time a mother gets breakfast in bed, an angel gets their wings.
But every time a mother gets a breakfast in bed that is delicious, the whole choir of angels gets a trip to Cabo and a winning lottery ticket. Forget wings. Wings are for suckers.


I'm quirky

I like quails. I have been watching our property for the last decade waiting for a California quail to drop dead on the land so I could get it stuffed. Yes, I want to own an animal that has been treated by a taxidermist. Because the California quail is the state bird, I can't just go out and shoot one- and I wouldn't...
It seems strange, because it is. Who really wants a dead animal sitting in their living room? well, I do- but who else in their right mind?
In launching my new business, I have decided to set each table with a signature collectible. I was talking to my friend trying to choose what little figurine I would use. We went through animal after animal all the while forgetting about my obsession with quails. When she suggested a quail, because they were local, I literally hit her seat right by her head. I admit that I shocked this dear friend of mine, but no matter- I got the idea for my signature quail! Don't worry, not a dead one. I still haven't been lucky enough to find that gem. But, I did find these!!! 
The baby quail measures two inches tall. I'm going to hide that little guy on each tablescape as my signature. Isn't he cute? By the way, if you see any sickly looking quails, send them my way.


Because I'm a diva

I felt the need to push myself upon the Relief Society activity and insist on bringing dessert.

I've gotta give those poor sisters a break...
You know, our wards are combining soon. We will no longer be the ward family that exists now. I have been attending this ward since I was married, almost 15 years! I don't know what the changes will be, but I do know that I will miss the sisterhood I have felt in this ward. These people have heard my stories, seen my battle wounds and helped me grow. I was a spring in my step newlywed when I first met most of my ward family... they've watched this baby grow up. It will be difficult for me to acclimate to a new normal. Especially because this group is used to my shenanigans by now.


Newest family member

BYesterday, when I was driving into the city, I had a tiny little thought, "Hmm.. I really think I'm ready for another foster care placement.."
Never mind that I was dealing with strep throat and driving into the city for something huge and just plain maxed out already. Then Jimmy called me after just finishing serving the boxed lunches and said those words, "The county called." I knew before he even telling me about this new child that I would say yes.
Our new little girl is articulate and curious and precocious. She is already a Graham. In fact, this new addition even looks like a mix between older and younger sisters. It's only day one, but I'm already in love.



Wow. TODAY. Today!

Cool stuff is going on over in the House of Graham.
Started the day off better than the previous few, as I had a couple doses of antibiotics in me and a better night sleep and, oh yeah, the excitement of TODAY!

Because what did I have planned today, I ask you? well, why would I ask you.. it's my blog. I'm telling the story. You, dear reader, are the one trying to figure why the freak out I keep writing 'today'. This is why: I got to be a vendor in the Sketchbook Series! Not jumping up and down yet? This is why you should be:
The Sketchbook Series is a National series of seminars traveling from city to city where Mary Phan from Very Mary Inspired teaches professionals from the creative careers how to properly and beautifully sketch for their business and clients. But folks, this is not just seminar. It is planned and hosted by event professionals! Like, big people in this field. Companies featured in big name stuff.

That's a gist of what the Sketchbook Series is...
but what I got to do was feed them all. Seriously. The best. The best of the best. I walked into the building feeling like a kindergartener in a university. Just entering the lobby with its expertly designed textures was a breath of fresh, gorgeous air. Every person I passed was more gorgeous than the next. And all their offices- cannot even. Upon receptionist's delivery of myself into the conference room, I was floored. Every surface was jaw droppingly styled to match a dream board created by Roque Events. Every single tiny detail was coordinated in such harmony, I swear I walked into a dream. There was grass growing as a backdrop on the wall. And tiny gold bud vases everywhere filled with all shades of bright orange and pink buds of fresh flowers. The sign showcasing my food was hand crafted by Laura Lambrix herself. It was an honor. 

That's all the best of it. The worst of it- I came in with a cart full of food with a janky wheel. It was awful. The sound I made passing all of those chic offices brought stares. Approaching the conference room delivered anxiety I don't think I have felt in this earthly state. But, I had to put my chin up and walk in that room with the screeching cart and interrupt an artist at work to bring them my humble food. Once I had done my duty, I waited for a photo op and left. They are posting my info and photos for the next year. and tagging me in their PR. Such an opportunity I could not even imagine. And I had it TODAY.


So, doing things with one hand tied behind your back isn't hard enough?!

Let's try TWO!

Not only was I nearly crawling today from being so sick, my workload was such that my best was required of me. Dude, I was sitting in a chair just trying to grate a single carrot for a quarter of an hour. That's not Stephanie time. But, I was going to pull it together, gosh darnit! Who cares that I can barely move? To heck with it all that I have numbed taste buds, I can pull together anything by memory! Because the opportunity I have shan't be wasted. And so, amidst my temporary handicap, I soldiered on. That's what soldiers do. However, when power outages roll through at different times during the day, a soldier sits down and sobs. Here I am trying to chop cilantro by candlelight and I just broke. It felt like in half. While I'm blubbering away and smelling like fresh herbs, the towel literally gets thrown in. We packed up my car with my precious food intended for greatness. Jimmy packed the kids in his car and we drove down to finish prep work at the in-laws. WE successfully completed 34 gluten-free, elegant boxed lunches. It took me more than I have in me to finish a task that normally would have taken two hours- tops.
I am used to operating at diminished capacity. Because in my life, there is ALWAYS a wrench thrown in somewhere. I let it roll off my back. No biggie. I got this. But this is everyone, right? There's never a break from life. To be thrown so far out of my comfort zone brings me such frustration! I want to pick up the wrench that messes up my gears and pitch it right back where it came from.
But then I think, "isn't just last week that I flippantly thought in a relief society lesson that trials really do bring us closer to God?!" What the freak is wrong with me?! No more flippantly thinking. None. Next time I should think, "Trials are great for everyone else- but I'm happy here in my happy bubble thinking happy thoughts."
Seriously, I didn't enjoy the going through. But I am writing this from the future (No really, I am. The time stamp states Sunday, but I'm writing on Tuesday. You know, to fulfill that 'write everyday on my blog' new year goal?) And in the future, I am grateful. I am closer to God. He did help me. He did keep His promises. But sometimes in the moment, I wish I could have both my hands.


Doubly grateful

Last night, after the joy I felt receiving my logo.
Well, and making this for somebody:

Who wouldn't feel joy with that cake in their presence, ammiright?!
I came home shivering and spiked a super high fever.
Rather than do anything else, I laid on the floor in the fetal position in front of the fire. All night.
Instead of getting to rest, I had a wedding a birthday party to cater today.
And so, I went to work.
And sat on the ground.
And my staff buzzed around me and did everything.
While I couldn't swallow due to a sore throat.
While I couldn't stand up without feeling faint.
They took care of every detail.
My mother in law came to help.
My daughter came to help.
Both parties were a success.
Thank goodness for the amazing people I have in my life!


In preparation for something cool

I had this designed:

Bu the same company that designed and branded logos for my favorite chef: Thomas Keller. I am connected to greatness just a little. And I am giddy.


A day of firsts...

It was my first time:
-hiring a design firm (not an etsy shop) to design my logo
-having a photographer and food stylist help me photograph things for a website (it's getting official!)
-poaching lobster tail in a butter emulsion (oh.my.goodness.)
-having an email conversation with an event planning big dog.
-making a (the best) german chocolate cake from scratch (holy crap! If you ever need a chocolate cake recipe...)
-letting Kate do one whole catering component by herself (from start to finish!)
It's been a good day.


Bottom to the top

Today was busy!
I went shopping for four events- one of which I cannot wait to share in a future post.
Another of the events is a wedding where the bride and groom have chosen to have an ice cream bar. While shopping at Target I had two emotions running through me:
1) Temptation- I had to put things in my cart that are all on the no-no list of the health challenge I am doing right now.
2) Shame- just look at what I was pushing around in my cart.
Not a single healthy thing in there, folks.
A third 'event' I purchased food for was the photo shoot I will be having tomorrow with fancy pants food. Because I'm launching a website. FINALLY. One of the things I forgot to purchase was scallops. Because I buy all my seafood at Whole Foods, I totally forgot to pop in there amongst the many stores I entered. The pouring rain made the day ultra hard. That, and the grumpy cashier at Trader Joe's. In the decade I've been shopping at TJ's I have never, ever met a rude cashier. I did today. And because Trader Joe's is my happy place, I felt violated. I walked around the rest of the day in such sorrow. In all seriousness, I was more than upset. I think I might go back a bring that cashier a cookie tomorrow, then he'll be nice to me. But I digress.
So, the combination of emotion and inclement weather caused me to miss a stop in my shopping trip. Jimmy had to run out and get the scallops at 9:00 tonight. He texted me in a panic. Whole Foods had run out! I asked for head on shrimp- none! Lobster tail?! YES! He grabbed the tail and came home. When Jimmy walked in the door, without a word, he just held up the wrapped seafood and:

Because there were two things I needed and the counter did not have- I got my lobster for FREE! And they were closing up shop. But, yay. Guys, for the stressful day I've had. A day that caused me to sit for a full five minutes in a daze, responding to no one, just got better.


Sneaky, Sneaky...

I have a friend that went out of the country for nearly a month and is arriving home in the very wee hours of the morning tomorrow. In fact, her family of 8 are in transit as I type.

The group that gets together weekly decided that we would surprise them with groceries. Luckily we had a key!
Here's our handiwork:

It was so fun doing something goofy at this late hour!
Let's hope she doesn't read this before seeing her surprise...


Christmas Eve

It took me years to train my husband's family to let me go fancy when it comes to holidays. I can party with cocktail weinies and paper plates with the best of them, but I feel especially festive when I get to produce and event. I love my job. I love providing my clients with great food and festive tablescapes. However, when I get to treat my family, it really brings me joy.
The first Thanksgiving I served a plated dinner with multiple courses, people were not happy. I think it's maybe because I eliminated any root vegetables adorned in marshmallows. That was nearly a decade ago. Now, when I break out the big guns, people actually get excited! Christmas Eve was no different. I really wanted to go nuts on this one.
First, came the table:
Inspired by the Christmas classic, 'A Christmas Carol' Complete with a toile linen, brass French horns, Gold leaf scrolls for place cards and red accents. Top it off with fresh white flowers and candles- you've got yourself one fancy table! We started the evening with a gorgeous cheese board- but I forgot to take a picture. Unfortunately, the rest of my pictures are so so...

First course:
Cauliflower Vichyoisse with chive oil and a seared scallop.
One of my favorite healthy and delicious starters. Often, our family will have this as a main dish.

Salad Course:
bibb lettuce and baby arugula
pomelo, pomegranate, pepitas and grapefruit vinaigrette
Unfortunately, the avocados I bought were gross, so I had to scrap them. So, so sad.

Main Course:
Seared halibut
haricot verts
roasted rainbow marble potatoes with lemon dill sauce and a creamy beurre blanc.
Halibut is my favorite fish of all time. I have been wanting to do it for a holiday, but it's so dang expensive! We were able to pull it off this year!

And dessert, the most intimidating of all:
Pavlova with fresh raspberries, homemade fudge and whipped sweet cream.
It was heavenly. I was terrified to make this most simple dessert. But now, I'll tuck it away in my recipe box for another day- it was so easy! I was afraid of nothing!

Honestly, I do not do these fancy dinners to show off or anything, I make this food and set the table because I LOVE to do it. The process that is torture for some is bliss for me. The planning, shopping at specialty markets, choosing flowers, the hard work is just so awesome. It's even better when I get to share with the people who are usually in the background helping me pull it all off.


It's following me!

This year, our home was bogged down by Holiday Goodies.
We had all kinds of confections hanging around the house.
Just when I thought I had contracted permanent dental damage from all the sweets, Jimmy came home with home baked goods from his coworkers. I was happy that they shared, but seriously dreaded the insurmountable task of the necessary bite from each tin. You know, so I wouldn't be lying when I told them how good everything was when I see them at the office party.
The first tin was fudge- creamy, delicious, sweet.
Then came the thumbprint cookies- crumbly, rich, sweet.
I had gotten into the groove of things and prepared myself for the sugar overload that would come with my final bite.
Upon opening the last tin, I had an almost deflated reaction... home made Chex Mix. Seriously? I was not excited to take the obligatory bite, but I love my husband and I did not want to disappoint. (Because I'm sure out of all the crazy things I do, refusing to try a bite of cereal snack mix would be the top offender...)
I grabbed the smallest little handful I could and munched on it mindlessly.
And then, like a literal switch being flicked, my eyes lit up. With out using a single word, I grabbed the tin and sat in a corner of the couch and started munching away. It was just the reverie I needed to pull me from my perma-sugar coma. I think Kate even tried to snatch a piece and I slapped her hand away. It seems cloudy in my mind but I think I might have even hissed a little...
And so a monster was born. I started thinking about Chex Mix nonstop. You think I am kidding. That I am just saying this to be funny. No joke, I thought about the snack mix so much that it became a mini obsession. When I was in full blown cereal mode, I started seeing the bags everywhere. It got to be so humorous that each new sighting warranted a picture sent via text to Jimmy.

And to curb the cravings and sleepless nights. I broke down and got all the ingredients needed to make my dreams come true.
I did it. I made the perfectly customized homemade dream. Extra nuts, no wheat chex and miso for flavoring. My hard work yielded two gallon sized bags of the heavenly savory treat. It lasted 36 hours. My work here is done.



We love our sweet Genevieve. Like, a lot. I think we have to love her as much as we do because some days I think I want to give her back. Jimmy called me in a panic while I was at a meeting today. Little Miss Vivy had gotten out of her crib and ambled out of her room holding her head. Isn't 18 months too young to be part of the 'Get out of my crib when I'm supposed to be taking a nap' club?! She has done everything young, that one. Rolled over from front to back at two weeks, back to front at 6 weeks and took off all her clothes in bed when she was not even 2 months old. I suppose she's been trying to break out of things since she was born...
Today I joined a gym solely for the child care.


2016 Goals

Well, folks... I've done it again. I set some pretty high standards for myself for the next 365 days. But I love working hard and I love to strive for excellence. And so, here I go with a year trying to improve who I am. When January rolls around each year, I am bogged down with sweets. My head is foggy from all the family gatherings in which I am navigating the different personality types. My nights are filled with catering events. Having a January in my life is refreshing and this year is no different. My goals for the year 2016 are:
  • Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables a day. I have very little problem eating healthy when I put my mind to it. However, my downfall is usually when the two weeks between healthy eating challenges of which I am always taking part. Rather than try to avoid sugar for a year (which I tried last year and made it to April) I wanted a positive goal. Avoid= stay away. DON'T. Eat= go towards, DO. My fridge is stocked and I'm ready to eat!
  • Exercise daily. I love exercise. I HATE starting exercise. Once I buckle down and actually move my body, I love it. The anxiety of getting there is awful. I have noticed that when I don't take a day off, my weeks go better. What's helping me to keep this goal is my definition of exercise. Yes, I will do videos. Yes, I will go running. Yes, I have signed up to join a gym. Yes, walking to our mailbox will count as exercise. Our mailbox is a quarter mile away. My goal is to move. To move a lot. It is to lead an active life again. I lost almost 100 pounds before I had Vivy. I want her to know the mother Kate got know very well. I want Vivy to meet the mom that hikes nearly every day and plays tag. That girl is so full of energy that I tend to think we'd get along.
  • Pray and Read Scriptures daily. This is something that has become a daily habit already. In fact, I a surprised at how I've been able to keep up with this. When I was in church as a teenager and we were asked to pray or read daily, I thought that this was just an ideal that was a lofty, unattainable goal. I honestly thought that no one ever did these things EVERY day. Well, my life has changed. What I thought was impossible has become my life. I don't mean this in a boastful way. I am more grateful for this blessing than is easy to express. and the reason I have put this as one of my goals this year is because I don't want to this important habit to go by the wayside while I'm trying hard to accomplish the other goals I have set. I aimed high this year so I need all the help that comes from a daily habit of communing with the Lord.
  • Clean out one drawer or shelf a day. I have read 'The life changing magic of tidying up' multiple times now. It makes me want NOTHING in my home, save my family. I want to live in an empty box with the people I love and enjoy the simplicity of life. The method stated in this book requires chunks of time I do not have. There is a toddler living in my house that would have a heyday if I chose to organize a whole pile of ALL my clothes at once. Although I am 100% behind the method set forth in this book, it is so all encompassing that I kept putting off beginning the project. I have no issue throwing things away. I am sadly unsentimental about stuff- to the point that I think it might be a disorder- so getting rid of things is not my issue. My daughter, she's the issue. In fact, as I type she is playing in a puddle of water in the middle of the kitchen floor. No joke. Which leads me to my next goal...
  •  Blog daily. At all costs. I have never regretted setting aside time each day to document my life. I write it for me. What used to be a way to communicate with other stay at home moms has become an outlet for me. I don't really care about comments or who reads this. I have not chosen to write to appease an outside source. I am writing because it makes me happy. I am writing because I love to look back and reflect on what I've accomplished. Or screwed up on. I like to see what I still think is funny. I blog selfishly and invite all to read!
  • Read and Study the Sunday School lesson each week. I cannot tell you how many times a year I have to keep talking myself into attending Sunday School. I fell uncomfortable in there. I feel like I am surrounded by people who all know more than I do. It becomes a discussion between returned missionaries that I feel I'm imposing upon. I am not stupid. I have a testimony of the gospel. But Sunday School is just plain hard for me to enjoy. This year, I will try my best to enjoy. If I don't, come December, meet me in the mother's lounge.
  • Do my visiting teaching monthly. I suck at visiting teaching. Harsh words, harsh truth. I do not have a testimony of visiting teaching. This is why- I hate it when people tell me what to do. I have joined book clubs more than I can count. I love reading. I love talking about books I have read. I love eating food that I did not cook. I love dressing up and getting away from my children. I hate book club. I HATE being told what I have to read. And then there's visiting teaching. I love visiting people. I love serving others. I love dressing up and getting away from my children. I hate being told who I have to be friends with. It feels fake to me. Possibly because I (not trying to sound boastful) visit people all the time. I bring meals to people or stop by to chat. In all of these cases it has started with a prayer to find others to serve. I suppose I do already do visiting teaching, but they're never on my list. I know it sounds horrible, but visiting teaching is something I absolutely dread.
Lots of goals. High expectations. I love the opportunity I am given each new year to examine my life and strive to improve. I like myself better when I try hard. I'm with me all day- might as well like the company.