A Sweet Mother’s Day

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Ah Mother’s Day.  Still a bit strange to hear, Happy Mother’s Day.  Ive spent a lifetime on the giving end, and this marks just my second year on the receiving.  I guess third if you count the time I was pregnant.   My husband was on board this year and had made special plans.  Being the go-with-the-flow and chill-to-the-max kind of guy, that is saying something.    His plans included breakfast, a day at the zoo, dinner and a shopping treat of some sort, however all three of us were going on week two of a cold so in the end some plans didn’t make the cut.    But I still got my shopping treat!  As for the rest of his big plans, this was no disappointment to me because all I wanted was to hang out with my two favorite goobs and I got just that.  With a side of extra attention.

First and foremost, my husband let me sleep.  God love him.   He was up both Saturday and Sunday morning while I snoozed through Amelie’s morning nap and woke up to a clean living / play room.     Immediately when I woke up, these two greeted me in the hallway.   Amelie came scurrying up with a purpose.  Her arms stretched as she shoved her card at me while reaching up on her tippy toes.  It was as if she wanted me to pick her important Mother’s Day card over Daddy’s and read it.  Like right now.  In Motherhood you come across moments of surprise.  Not actual surprise, but a feeling of complete joy and excitement over something you can’t explain why.  Bewilderment.  It can be a tiny gesture, facial expression, or new word.   You find yourself amazed at how randomly these moments mean the world to you.   Like her motivation to give you a Mother’s Day card.

As for our day, we spent it at Underwood Farms in our home town.   A 5 minute drive.  I know, how spoiled are we.  This time, it was strawberry season so we were I was  pumped to pick my all time favorite fruit.  And of course pan for gold, and pet the goats as usual.

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So that was my Mother’s Day with my daughter but it is a bitter sweet day because my Mom isn’t here for me to celebrate with her. However my day wasn’t without its serendipitous ending.   See there is this book, called Every Daughter Should Have A Book Like This, which my Mom had given to me in 2008, filled with notes, highlighted poems, and thoughts.    I keep the book on the shelf along with the rest of Amelie’s favorites, but haven’t really taken the time to read all of it just yet.  I was just about to call it a day and while getting ready for bed I stepped out of my bedroom and what do you know.   There it was.   Laying at my feet, opened up to the dedication page.

My Most precious Earth Angel Daughter, Sarah Brook…

How do I put into words the feelings, thoughts, memories, and gratitude I have for the gift of being your Mother?  From the 1st time I heard the words “you are pregnant” to this present moment you have filled my life with meaningful purpose, fulfillment, indescribable joy and thankfulness.  Your spirit continually radiates thru your eyes, smile, voice and laughter enveloping all who encounter you with your love of life and playfulness.  In this way, you are truly “my  Otter girl”!

This book may sit unread for many years – perhaps after I have completed this life on Mother Earth.  Then one day you will come across it.

When you do, visualize and remember me sitting on my couch while you slept peacefully in my bed writing these words.  KNOW how very, very much I love, admire and respect you.  KNOW how much joy & happiness you bring / brought into my life.

And above all, KNOW I am always with you & I live in you and your children!

Your Ever So Blessed Mommy xxx

Im sure a little leprechaun I live with had something to do with this.   But there is no denying my Mom’s forethought when writing this.   Happy Mother’s Day to you too Mom.  Good night.

Valentines Day Weekend

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Happy Love Day!

This Valentine’s I was feeling the love.   And not just for myself…but for the two halves to my heart.   This year Nelson and I were especially looking forward to it.   Really its just another reason to celebrate with Amelie which is always the excuse to get festive.

I have to give hubs credit for his part in planning a lovely dinner at Geppino’s Sicilian Kitchen.   We have been trying to dine here for months and it was worth the wait!  The atmosphere is charming, cozy and you feel the kinship as it is owned and operated by an entire family.   We were treated to an evening of entertainment by a local musician and his guitar, and a heartfelt moment as the daughters stopped serving for a moment to publicly surprise their Mother with a personal gift of love an appreciation.   It definitely drew some Awwwww’s from all the patrons.  Dinner was delish!   Even better, its all a 5 minute drive from home.    Well, not before making a stop at Target to pick up goodies for Amelie’s Valentine’s basket.  Nothing like running through Target at 10pm in your date night clothes swerving down the aisle after a bottle of wine.

In the morning Amelie was thrilled with her basket.   We filled it with Pez, coloring book and jumbo crayons, heart shaped straws,  a light up baton,  box of building blocks and tulle skirt.   You know, just a few things.

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Amelie used her new crayons to make a Valentines card for her Daddy, and helped him read it.  And then tried to eat it.   Its moments like these I see him in his most natural form.   It’s a glimpse of the years to come and a reminder that within the collective soul of a family,  he can still forge his own special bond with his little girl, which is unique to the two of them.  And no one else.

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Two Pedis and a Park

Nelson treated us to mani – pedis, lunch by the fountains and an afternoon at the park topped with BBq’d ribs at home with Papa.    Well done my dear, well done.  Sometimes the best entertainment is close to home, or home itself.

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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

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Hooray for a 3 day weekend!  What better plan than to visit the Ronald Reagan Library on President’s Day?   Lucky me it is nestled in the hills overlooking my hometown.   I visited the Reagan library when I was a tween and all  I can remember is that Mac N Cheese was Ronnie’s favorite dish….however that was well before Reagan’s Air Force One was a part of the ensemble.  For years I have been dying to see the new hangar in person.    This would be Amelie’s first trip to a museum and I can tell her that the first plane she was on happened to be Air Force One.

The weather was perfect and the Library was very festive with music, crafts, food, and historical figures.   We arrived in time to see Lincoln delivering his speech in the courtyard full of eager little ears.  We bought our tickets at $21 for each adult, and headed to the crafts where Mommy Amelie made her own Lincoln necklace out of a penny, red and blue paper stars and yarn.  It lasted almost the entire afternoon before she ate it.

Seriously, you really need a whole day to absorb and enjoy all that the Reagan Library has to offer.  It really is quite impressive and moving.   Some of the highlights were the Spy exhibit,  the Berlin Wall,   Air Force One , the White House Lawn,  the Communist exhibit and Reagan’s Memorial.

Being that it was so occupied on President’s Day the line to tour inside Reagan’s plane was about an hour.  That pretty much killed the day for us because after that Amelie was dunzo.    After which we rushed through the rest of the Library, but gives us a reason to return.  All in all it was a beautiful day and made for a nice family outing.

The White House Lawn

One word.  Peaceful.  Growing up in Moorpark and Simi I have always looked up over the horizon of Tierra Rejada Road towards the chief building on top of the hill…but not today.  Today we stood on top of the hill gazing back down at our hometown below.   The landscaping is a replica of the White House lawn.

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The Berlin Wall

“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace,  if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization:  Come here to this gate!   Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!  Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! ” 

– Ronald Reagan, June 12, 1987

Wow.  You just don’t realize how impressive or powerful somethings are until you see it in person.  Like this slice of the Berlin wall.    It was very imposing and dramatic in its stature and significance.  Ironic, that this piece of the wall is decorated with flowers and butterflies in cheerful colors,  yet it is cold and solid to the touch reminding visitors its true soul.

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Air Force One Pavilion

For years I have wanted to explore inside this pavilion.   You can see the bright lights at night from miles away, suggesting something spectacular occupies the inside.   The hanger is spacious, clean and bright!  The east wall is a window to the landscape outside.  For my fellow locals, you can see the infamous cross of Simi Valley from inside the hangar.  A couple next to us had a conversation trying to guess what the cross meant…I even heard them suggest it was where Reagan was buried.   How disappointed they must be to learn its a local hiking spot.

Stepping aboard The Flying White House was a neat experience.   It was out dated and stale but that is okay, because it was real.  After all this puppy put on a lot of miles having served for Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush.  Here is a random fact, Reagan always kept a cake aboard just incase it was someone’s birthday while they were in the air on business.  Good ol’ Ronnie.

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Presidential Motorcade

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Enjoying the rest of the tour

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Christmas Tree Shopping

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Last year we didn’t have a Christmas Tree.  I think every couple years you are allowed to skip the holiday formalities and just relax.   But this year I am not relaxing.   We now have our tree,  which was a fun experience for Amelie over at Stu Miller’s.   She even made a little friend at the tree farm and helped Dad and I with decorating.   And by that I mean she threw the ornaments everywhere and tangled herself up in the string lights.   I am definitely a Fraser or Noble Fir girl,  I just love the soft billowy pines and the unconventional shaping of the tree.  And the smell.  There is absolutely nothing like coming home to a warm house saturated with the aroma of a freshly cut Christmas Tree.   I have to admit I have been hamming it up a little and have swapped out television for an infinite playlist of holiday classics.    There are a few Christmas projects in the works that I will be sharing soon!

Pomegranate Molasses Glaze Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Black pepper, pomegranate (or cranberry) molasses, horseradish sauce and cornbread stuffing anyone?

Every year my company gives out a 19lb butterball turkey to each employee who signs up for one to take home for thanksgiving – I know, right!   We always have a turkey dinner with our families so I took my free bird and intended to give it to any friend or family who could use it.  However, surprisingly I had no takers, but I wasn’t about to let this gift go to waste which means I had to cook my first bird.   I wasn’t going to put myself on the spot for Thanksgiving dinner so I planned to cook this the following weekend for my little family.  I came across this interesting recipe on the Foodnetwork and after two thanksgiving dinners with both families, I had to try something different.

I modified my recipe because I couldn’t’ find pomegranate molasses at the grocery store so I used good ole fashioned molasses and canned cranberry sauce.   Since I changed it up a bit Ill give you my version:

  • 2 cups molasses
  • 1 can cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup prepared horseradish sauce
  • 4 table spoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons course ground pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare glaze while oven is heating up to allow the sauces time to meld. Mix molasses, cranberry sauce, horseradish, dijon mustard, and pepper in bowl then set aside and let sit for 30 minutes.

Rise turkey in cold water and pat dry.    With butter at room temperature and mixture of salt and pepper to your liking, rub turkey with seasoning over the entire surface, inside the cavity and under skin by gently lifting skin with your fingers at the breast and working your way down.   Now is the time to add stuffing if that is your thing.   FYI, cornbread stuffing takes this recipe to the next level.     So, to truss or not to truss….that is up to you.   As for me I had to look up what “trussing a turkey” was.    Place your seasoned, stuff, and trussed ( if you are a boss) turkey breast side up on a rack in the roasting pan and add chicken broth to the bottom of the pan.

Insert your instant thermometer in the meatiest part of the thigh and  let it cook for 45 minutes at 450 degrees first, to get a nice golden brown.  After that turn down the oven temperature to 350 and bast the turkey every 15 minutes with the chicken stock.   When the temperature reaches about 160 degrees switch to basting with the molasses glaze every 15 minutes until the turkey is ready at 165 degrees.     Remove from oven and brush with remainder of molasses glaze, let cool and Vuala!

If you have any thanksgiving recipes you want to share, leave a comment!  You can find the original Pomegranate Molasses Turkey recipe here.

DIY Bumble Bee Costume

How to make toddler bumble bee costume

Even though this was Amelie’s second Halloween, I consider it her first since she can actually participated in trick or treating this year and caught on quite quickly to the concept.  It only took a few houses before she was pointing into her candy basket to make sure everyone knew where to put the candy.

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Bumble Bee Suit  I wanted to keep her costume simple, and classic.  It was down to a baby bumble bee or Pebbles Flintstone and Daddy voted for Bumble Bee so, there you go.   My goal was to make as much of her costume myself as I could.   First I found a Pottery Barn Bumble Bee costume on Craigslist for $15 (originally a $50 costume so I was stoked) .   The one thing it was lacking was a stinger and none of the similar costumes I saw actually came with one so I had to add it myself, which as easy.  After all, no little bee is complete without her stinger.   One styrofoam shaped cone from Michaels or JoAnnes and an 8×11 sheet of self adhesive black felt and you have a mighty little bee stinger.

Wings   I did away with the standard wings that came with the Pottery Barn costume and made new ones from glitter tulle that I purchased for less than $2 from a little ETSY shop called Shades of Glory Fabrics .   Making the wings from tulle is just the same as making a tutu.  I basically cut the tulle in random strips between 6″ and 18″ long, paired two strips of the same size together and tied them in a knot around the base – which in this case was a single pipe cleaner.   Sounds funny but it made real sense since I had them on hand, and it was easy to tie around the buttons on the back of the costume, securing them in place.  Lastley, I cut the strips as needed to give added shape.  Vuala, wings.

Antenna Headband   From Michaels craft store I purchased a bag of black glitter pipe cleaner (Note: I was almost impossible to find black pipe cleaner during the Halloween season and it took 4 stops to actually find it in stock) a set of gold puffs, and a black headband from Amelie’s collection.     Since I had plenty of supplies I made a few antennas until I came up with shape I liked best.   To get the perfect spiral shape I just wrapped the pipe cleaner around the handle of my duster  (depending on the size you want, there are plenty of household objects you can use)  and trimmed the length down to a more proportionate size for a toddler.  The best adhesive to use for this is a hot glue gun, which worked perfectly to add the puffy ball tips and secure the antennas to the headband.   In the end it took about 15 minutes to put together, and I even made a matching set for myself.

Honey Pot  What little worker bee would be complete with out a pot of honey to show for it, or in this case, a pot of candy!    Truthfully I didn’t think to make one until I was shopping at the craft store for other costume accessories and came across a pile of baskets on sale.   I picked this one out for about $3 and grabbed embellishments from the scrapbooking section.    The basket was another 15 minute project, since all I had to do was hot glue HONEY on both sides and speckle it with little bee stickers.   Done and done.  (I saved the remainder of the bee stickers to add to Daddy’s bee keeper netting. Dont think he was getting out of dressing up with us too)

suit – $15
tulle for wings – $1.69
materials for matching antennas – $5
basket and embellishments – $7
yellow duck tape – $4
set of styrofoam cones – $7
adhesive felt – $1.50
Matching Bumble Bee Costumes = about $40

diy bumble bee halloween costume DIY toddler halloween costume diy bumble bee costume wings how to make kids bumble bee costume cute baby halloween costume honey-pot-candy-basket homemade halloween costume making a bumble bee costumeBottom line, I had a lot of fun working on this and it was easy.  My goal is to make our family themed costumes each year, if God is willing!  I am always on the look out for great DIY costume tutorials so feel free to share ideas.

Thanksgiving weekend at Underwood Farms

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This holiday has been wonderful.  its always exciting with Amelie and she brings new life and meaning to these special occasions.  Its as if you are living them again as a little girl watching her discover new things and tradition for the first time.    The day after turkey day, we gathered with some of my husband’s family at our home.  We took everyone to our local farm to play with the animals, climb hay, chase chickens and pick out fresh goodies for dinner.  It genuinely was a wonderful day.